Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Mr David Orchard

A Proposal in Relation to the Elgin Marbles

  1.  I am a retired civil servant. I worked as a professional engineer in the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Public Building and Works, and the Property Services Agency. My submission is made as an interested private person.

  2.  I regard the Elgin Marbles as items of cultural property, historically belonging to the Greek nation, and historically acquired by legitimate purchase from the Ottoman Empire, and presented by the purchaser to the British Government for display in the British Museum.

  3.  The display at the British Museum has provided an outstanding example of Greek art in the Classical period, and has informed and inspired generations of Britons.

  4.  Removal to London has ensured that the Marbles have been preserved from further damage, loss and excessive weathering.

  5.  It seems to me that, were the ownership settled by arbitration, the certain result would be a serious worsening of British-Greek relations. Minds must be applied to produce a solution which safeguards both countries' essential interests.

  6.  Sculptures can be copied. I suggest that two copies should be made of the Marbles, if possible by Greek sculptors using marble from the original quarries (or a near equivalent). The obvious physical damage and weathering would be neglected in the copies.

  7.  The first copies would be for display by the British Museum. The second copies would be for the Greek Government (should they wish it) for mounting on the Parthenon in the original positions.

  8.  The original Marbles would be released to the Greek Government on the receipt of the first copy set, on the understanding that they will be housed in specially built accommodation in Athens in a controlled atmosphere to prevent any further deterioration.

  9.  There should be an inter-governmental agreement that no further copies should ever be made except to replace those in the Parthenon.

  10.  The operation should be made a "World Heritage" project.

March 2000

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