THE Greek delegation to UNESCO launched a new campaign last Monday October 6 for the return of the Parthenon’s famous Elgin Marbles.
Currently housed in London’s British Museum, the marble friezes, which depict fascinatingly intricate sculptures of mythological scenes, once adorned the pediment of the Parthenon, perhaps Ancient Greece’s most iconic structure.
Ioannis Maronitis, campaign organiser and President of UNESCO’s seat in Pireus, said: “Our objective is to inform the Greek public of the situation and get them behind the campaign.”
“Not just the Greeks, but all world citizens who value justice and cultural heritage must support the return of the marbles to Greece.”
In 2009, Greece opened a new museum on the Acropolis in Athens designed to house the temple’s eastern frieze.
The museum’s President, Dimitris Pantermalis, said: “The British Museum and the United Kingdom used to say that Greece was not capable of looking after the marbles correctly.
“This argument no longer holds water! We have a completely new museum with a superb view of the original archeological site.”
The Parthenon, the temple which dominates the skyline of the Greek capital, was not always so well preserved. The Ottoman Turks used the site to store gunpowder during their struggle for control of Greece, and it was badly damaged during a Venetian bombardment.
Greece has been asking for the return of the marble friezes, which stretch to 75 metres long, since 1983. Lord Elgin, the British diplomat to the Ottoman Empire, removed them from the temple on the Acropolis in 1803.