Memorandum submitted by the International
Organising CommitteeNew Zealandfor the Restitution
of the Parthenon Marbles
We are responding to the notice dated 10 February
2000 which calls for written evidence to be considered in your
enquiry titled "Cultural Property: Return and Illicit Trade".
Our organisation has only recently been formalised,
although for many years Philhellenes in New Zealand have been
gravely concerned regarding the fact that the Parthenon Marbles
are still located in the British Museum. The membership of our
organisation is growing rapidly.
Our submission, which we ask you to treat with
concern and respect, deals with the matter of the return of the
Parthenon Marbles, presently located in the British Museum, which
were taken by Lord Elgin from Athens in the early 1800's.
The history and circumstances as to how the
Marbles were taken from the Parthenon has been widely documented
and publicised over the years. It is not our intention to go into
the details of these.
What is clear is that the Marble Sculptures
were taken at the time when Greece was under the rule of the Ottoman
Empire. The Greeks, had they been self-governing, would never
have given permission for the Marbles to be removed from what
is a unique national masterpiece of art and history. That the
Marbles were actually cut from the structure of the Parthenon
is painful to know.
Great Britain has always been a world leader
in matters of law and order and more importantly natural justice.
The injustices which occurred, when the Marbles were taken by
Lord Elgin from a people who had no say in the matter, dictates
that these Marbles should be returned to from where they were
We know that the British Museum has held the
Marbles in safe-keeping since the early 1800s. This is appreciated
by Greeks worldwide and they now look forward to their safe return.
We understand the return of the Marbles would be compensated for
by the Greek Government and that they are prepared to enter into
the following conditions:
1. The Marbles shall be returned only after
the completion of the new Acropolis Museum being built to house
2. All costs for the return of the Marbles
and the cost of a complete set of copies to remain in London should
be met by Greece.
3. That Greece makes no other claims for
the return of their ancient artefacts in the museums or collections
in Great Britain.
We trust that you will consider the above and
make the proper decision to facilitate the return of the Marbles
to their rightful place.