In a gesture of uncommon magnanimity, the British Museum has offered to loan Greece the pirated Parthenon Marbles. According to the news, the Deputy Director of the famous museum, Jonathan Williams, proposed a “Parthenon partnership” to loan the Greeks their own priceless heirlooms looted by more than 200 years ago.
Williams suggested the museum would let Greece have the marbles on the condition that they be returned. The Brits say the Marbles will not be given to Greece permanently. A quote in the Sunday Times tells the British side:
“We will loan the sculptures, as we do many other objects, to those who wish to display them to other public around the world, provided they will look after them and return them. The sculptures are an absolutely integral part of the British Museum. They have been here over 200 years.”
The ever-fair British claim they want a so-called “Parthenon partnership,” which Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis seemed to agree with at one point. The sculptures, which are 17 figures and part of a frieze that decorated the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple on the Acropolis, were taken by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin in the early 19th Century.
For many Greeks, the British position on the marbles is no different than that of the Nazis who looted countless priceless objects from Greece during World War 2. In fact, Germany has made sincere efforts to make amends for crimes committed in previous eras. This story in Greek Reporter details the famous Benin Bronzes taken from Nigeria in colonial times.
The British Museum houses looted antiquities from all the world’s great civilizations. The Rosetta Stone, the unique 14th century BC west African treasure, the Bronze Head from Ife, objects of the Waddesdon Bequest associated with the Rothschilds, and priceless finds from Assyria to Yaxchilan in Mexico are inside this museum.
I won’t get into how Henry Christy and others purchased items and collaborated with the museum. The point is, that almost all these pieces of history were stolen by pirates from Cortez to Elgin. And now, the museum’s trustees so kindly offer Greece a loan of their heritage. How British.