Greeks retreat on Elgin Marbles: Country backs down on challenge to regain sculptures after rejecting advice of Amal Clooney

“Greeks retreat on Elgin Marbles: Country backs down on challenge to regain sculptures after rejecting advice of Amal Clooney”

via “Daily Mail

Greece has backed down from a legal challenge to regain the Elgin Marbles after rejecting the advice of actor George Clooney’s barrister wife Amal.

The high-profile human rights lawyer gave the Greek government a 150-page report urging them to take Britain to the International Criminal Court for the return of the 5th century BC sculptures just two days ago.

However, Nikos Xydakis, the culture minister, said yesterday: ‘One cannot go to court over whichever issue and besides, in international courts the outcome is uncertain.’

George Clooney's barrister wife Amal (pictured) gave the Greek government a 150-page report urging them to take Britain to the International Criminal Court for the return of the 5th century BC sculptures two days ago

The Greek government has now backed down on the Elgin Marbles legal challenge and said it would follow a 'diplomatic and political' approach instead, arguing that the climate was slowly changing in Greece's favour

Instead, Athens would follow a ‘diplomatic and political’ approach, he said, arguing that the climate was slowly changing in Greece’s favour.

He added: ‘The road to reclaiming the return of the sculptures is diplomatic and political.’

There had been disquiet at the Greek government paying legal fees over the marbles at a time of austerity, though one shipping magnate had reportedly offered to pay the barristers’ fees.

The Parthenon sculptures are part of the collection popularly known as the ‘Elgin Marbles’, which were acquired by Lord Elgin in the early 1800s when he was ambassador to the Ottoman court.

The British parliament purchased the art treasures in 1816 and gave them to the British Museum.

For the past 30 years Athens has been demanding the return of the sculptures, which had decorated the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis in Athens from ancient times.

The British Museum recently turned down a proposal by UNESCO, the UN cultural agency, to mediate in the dispute.

A legal recourse had been suggested by lawyer Mrs Clooney, who is part of a team advising the Greek campaign.

Earlier this week, she said it was ‘now or never’ to win back the Elgin Marbles.. . . .


The man who returned his grandfather’s looted art

“The man who returned his grandfather’s looted art”

by Ellen Otzen via “BBC News

Captain Walker, seated, on the right, in Benin City after British troops looted the palace

At the end of the 19th Century British troops looted thousands of works of art from the Benin Empire – in modern-day Nigeria – and brought them home. One soldier’s grandson inherited two bronzes but recently returned them to their original home.

“It’s an image that’s deeply ingrained in my memory. The dead body seemed unreal. It’s not a picture you can easily forget,” says Mark Walker.

He was 12 years old when he first saw his grandfather’s diary – the photographs inside made a deep impression.

“They were very faded, but perhaps the most shocking one for me was a partly dried-up body being held up by two men on a pole.

“Clearly the people lifting the body didn’t actually want to touch it and that seemed to me to capture the feeling my grandfather also had about them. It was something so horrible you wanted to keep it at arm’s length,” says Mark.

The pictures were taken by his grandfather, Capt Herbert Walker, in West Africa in 1897.

The two Walkers never met – Herbert died in 1932, 15 years before his grandson was born and Mark’s grandmother showed him the journal, titled To Benin and back, while he was staying with her in 1959.

The diary cover

The Benin Kingdom, which is now part of Nigeria, had a wealth of natural resources including ivory, palm oil and rubber which the UK was keen to control.

Mark Walker spoke to Witness on BBC World Service Radio

But in January 1897, seven British officials who were on their way to see the Oba of Benin – the king – were killed in an ambush.

The Times of London reported that the men “on quite a peaceful mission” had been “massacred by the King’s people”.

Map of Nigeria showing location of Benin City

It is unclear who, if anyone, ordered the killings and there are indications that the mission was not as peaceful as the British press described it. Although its leader, acting Consul-General James Phillips had sent a message to the Oba asking to discuss trade and peace, he had told London he wanted to depose him.


Art I Love: Sensoji Temple

"Sensoji Temple in Edo" (1809)

“Sensoji Temple in Edo” (1809)

I’m Living In An Archaeology Dig!

I’m apparently living out my dream in an Archaeology Dig!  Students were told today that in the building of the new college library here on campus, they found a massive ancient burial ground!  According to what I’ve been told, they estimate at least 1400 years old.  They believe that the people here were commoners who died peacefully, and after looking at the bodies, they are certainly mostly whole.  It is incredibly fascinating to see.  The students are allowed to simply wander around the burial spots at least until Monday when they will be closed off by the historians and archeologists.  I’ll post more pictures soon.  So Cool!!

Art I Love ~ “The Green Parasol”

“The Green Parasol” by Emanuel Phillips Fox (1912)