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Elgin Marbles

Elgin marbles

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History plays a vital role in our lives, sometimes without our notice. As for the Athenians, the Elgin Marbles are a significant part of their history that they feel detached from.


The 'Elgin Marbles' is a term which refers to the collection of stone objects- sculpture, architectural properties and inscriptions which was acquired by the Lord Elgin, while he was the ambassador to the Sultan of Istanbul. In the mid nineteenth century, the Elgin Marbles was used to describe the collection contained in the Elgin room at the British Museum.

History of the Elgin Marbles

The Parthenon, from which the Elgin marbles were derived, was one of the best, ancient architectural masterpieces ever created by the Greeks. It has become a symbol of aesthetic perfection, architectural beauty and environmental harmony. After a long history of war, the Parthenon, referred to as the 'Temple of Idols' took the Athenians approximately 15 years to build, starting from 447 BC. In 432 BC, it was dedicated to the goddess Athena and after being slightly altered, was turned to a Christian church in 450 AD, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In 1204, the Franks turned it to a Catholic church and in 1458; it was turned by the Turks into a mosque.

However, the stripping of the Parthenon began, on the arrival of the British in Athens, to 'acknowledge' the quality of this Greek art. Thomas Bruce, the British Ambassador in 1799 took with him a team of molders, architects and painters to make drawings of the temple. After claims of bribery by Lord Elgin, the looting began, starting from the sculptures within the Parthenon temple. These items extracted are what we refer to as the 'Elgin Marbles'.

Today, these marbles have contributed to the development of the Art in England, thus enhancing their prestige and wealth. As of this date, there is a demand of the return of these sculptures by the Greek government. Will these 'Elgin Marbles' remain in the hands of so called 'thieves' or would they be returned back to their origin?


Additional Resources

Dolostone   Epidote   Faux Marbling

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