*To my English readers: I apologize for every mistake. Please be aware I am a Spanish writer who translates what you have asked for.
Between the years of 1801 and
1805 Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, removed
more than half of the sculptures of marble that decorated the Parthenon in Athens, claiming
to have the permission of the Turkish authorities, at that time the rulers of
Greece. Afterward, Lord Elgin brought the sculptures to London and sold them to
the British Museum, where they have been on public and free
display since 1816. But in 1816 there were yet many who questioned the legality
of Elgins’s actions.
Of course, the
British Museum refuses to let go the remarkable sculptures, defending its ownership and
arguing that the marbles are an extraordinary chapter of the Human history,
better preserved maybe thanks to Lord Elgin. Although the real concern
about this legal battle is whether or not it
could set a dangerous precedent to judge other cases. Nefertiti's bust in Berlin or Egyptian mummies could be the next targets.
Same apllies to the pediment, the triangular spaces formed by the horizontal and raking cornices of the roof at
each end of the temple. These were the last parts of the building to receive
sculptural decoration (437-432 BC), of course, in bright colours. They comprised colossal statues in the
round and the themes were drawn from Attic mythology.
|Marbles of the pediment from the Parthenon.|
On display in the British Museum
|The Parthenon in Athens without pediment decoration.|
In 1980 the Greek government launched an international campaign for the restitution of all the Parthenon sculptures, mainly those in the British Museum (there are some more in the Louvre, the Vatican, Copenhagen, Vienna, Munich and Würzburg). The position of Greece is that Lord Elgin committed pillage by leaving the country with the marbles, so now they must be returned to Athens, to the New Acropolis Museum, built to that purpose.
|Fragments of metopes from the Parthenon.|
On display in the British Museum.
|New Acropolis Museum in Athens.|
Should those sculptures return to Athens, they would be on exhibition at the New Acropolis Museum, which welcome visitors just in front of the Acropolis. In that more than improbable case, the visitor could live the unique and moving experience of admiring together most of the 92 metopes of the Parthenon. These pieces were the first parts of the whole entablature to be decorated and each one reproduced a self-contained scene, usually two figures. The subjects were taken from legendary battles and symbolized Athenians victories against the Persians.
|Ideal reconstruction of the West pediment|
and metopes of the Parthenon.