Letter to The Economist
April 4, 2000
Via fax & e-mail: 011-44-171-839 2968/9
It was with much optimism that I read your articles regarding the return of the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles to Greece ("Not Carved in Stone", "Stones to Die For", March 18).
The arguments the British government has utilized in the past to keep the marbles in the British Museum have worn as thin as the patina that was ruinously scrubbed off by its workmen in the Thirties.
Claims that the Greeks do not have the know-how to maintain the marbles no longer apply as Greece has developed among the world's most advanced programs in the preservation of antiquities. Plans for the construction of the new Acropolis museum further dispel the claim that the Greeks have nowhere to house and properly display the marbles, which also quiets the claim that Athens' air pollution will take its toll on the sculptures.
Moreover, the "slippery slope" argument is a smokescreen. It assumes that if the British government ultimately returns the marbles to Greece, then a dangerous precedent will have been set, and soon the major museums of the world will be emptied of their archeological treasures. Many of those treasures are Greek, yet Greece has always only requested the return of the marbles--an integral part of that most Hellenic of cultural symbols, the Parthenon.
The cultural legacy of Greece has contributed so much to the world. Surely the Greeks themselves deserve to have a part of this legacy returned to its birthplace.
The American Hellenic Media Project is a non-profit organization created to address inaccuracy and bias in the media and encourage independent, ethical and responsible journalism.