Famous disputes over ownership of ancient artefacts





France has agreed to return more than one dozen Maori heads taken from new Zealand more than a century ago. Here are some other ongoing disputes between nations over prized ancient artefacts:  

Probably the most famous, and one of the longest running, disputes over ownership of ancient artefacts is the battle between Britain and Greece over the Elgin Marbles.

The collection of classical Greek marble sculptures - also known as the Parthenon Marbles - were originally part of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens. But in the late 18th century Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire at the time, obtained a controversial permission from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Acropolis.

From 1801 to 1812, Elgin's agents removed about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon. The Marbles were transported by sea to Britain where they eventually came to be exhibited in the British Museum.

The Greeks want them back, claiming that the marbles should be returned to Athens on moral and artistic grounds. They argue that presenting all the existing Parthenon Marbles in their original historical and cultural environment would permit their "fuller understanding and interpretation" and also that the marbles may have been obtained illegally and hence should be returned to their rightful owner.....



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