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Beginning in 1800, the British ambassador to Constantinople, Lord Elgin, began having workers copy — and eventually remove — many of the relief sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens.  These sculptures, many examples of which we examined this Unit in regards to the decorative scheme and thematic content of the Parthenon, have resided since at the British Museum in London. 

In recent years, the Greek government has formally petitioned the British government to have the sculptures — commonly referred to as the “Elgin Marbles” — returned to their native country.  This debate has only intensified when a museum opened in the summer of 2009 in view of the ancient Parthenon in Athens to house all of the artwork originally located on the structure (as the Parthenon itself goes through a period of conservation).

For this assignment, you will research online the debate and arguments made concerning the Elgin Marbles, and present an argument as to why they should or should not be returned to Greece.  To accomplish this, you must complete the following:

Review the types of sculpture originally made for the Parthenon as discussed in the assigned readings and Unit Lesson file.  In particular, consider how the images created are representative of the fifth century Athenians who built the Acropolis and ancient Greek culture in general.  You might also wish to explore the British Museum website and what imagery and information it offers on the Parthenon sculptures and documents in it’s collection; access the main museum site by clicking HERE ( and searching for “Parthenon” or “Elgin.”  Moreover, you might want to read briefly about the new Acropolis Museum in Athens built to house these artifacts by clicking HERE (  (source: Smithsonian Magazine online).

Begin with an overview of the cases by both sides by watching this video from National Geographic that briefly reviews the topic: tw_480x360_464k.mp4

Conduct online research to further explore and refine your understanding of the arguments for and against the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece.  You will likely run up against a number of editorial statements and impassioned viewpoints from one side or the either…which is perfectly fine.  However, you must be able to determine the validity and persuasiveness of the argument being made, not just a “he said / she said” situation.  Some questions to consider to get started include asking what document gave any right to Lord Elgin to remove the sculptures in the first place, and if such a document exists what rights did it provide?; are there any formal statements from the British Museum regarding why they will continue to hold on to the sculpture?; should ancient artifacts?

Next, write a 3-4 page statement answering the following questions:

How are the Parthenon sculptures (both from the pediments and friezes) representative of the fifth century Athenians who built the Parthenon?  (Provide at least one example of imagery from the Parthenon to support your point! You CANNOT use images from the assigned readings or lesson file, though.)
Do the Parthenon sculptures, including those at the British Museum, still resonate today with how those who seemingly own or argue for being the rightful owners of these objects see themselves? 
Based on what you have learned regarding the arguments for and against, and your own research, what do you think should be the solution?  Clearly explain your stance and offer examples to support your argument and viewpoint.

Submit your paper directly to the Unit Seven discussion board by copying-and-pasting your text into your post.  Remember to either link directly to your images or attach to your post as files.  Do NOT submit an attached Word document as your submission; this will not be accepted.Students must reference their sources at the end of their discussion board post.  Please use either MLA or Chicago Style format.

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