Eighteen members of the United States Congress, including both Democrats and Republicans, sent an official letter to Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister urging “earnest” talks for the return of the Parthenon Greek sculptures to Greece.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, They said: “The Marbles have been the source of controversy among western allies for many decades. Greece has long wanted these Parthenon Marbles back.”
The Congressmen group, which contained both Republicans and Democrats, included the chair of the Foreign Affairs subcommittee covering around Europe and the chairs of the Oversight and Rules Committees.
The U.S. Congress members said that Greece wants to see the Greek sculptures returned by 2021, celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the Greek War of Independence of 1821.
The eighteen members who signed the letter are:
- Gus M. Bilirakis
- Carolyn B. Maloney
- John Sarbanes
- Dina Titus
- Chris Pappas
- James McGovern
- Barbara Lee
- David N. Cicilline
- Donald M. Payne, Jr.
- Tim Ryan
- Grace F. Napolitano
- William R. Keating
- Lucille Roybal-Allard
- Mike Quigley
- Lizzy Fletcher
- Peter Visclosky
- Andy Levin
- Sheila Jackson Lee
The 2,500-year-old marble Greek sculptures have been the subject of dispute for over three decades, with Greece and the international community frequently calling on England and the British Museum to return them to their place of origin.
Lord Elgin has removed the sculptures roughly and illegally from the Parthenon between 1801 and 1805 sold them to the British Museum. The British Museum has frequently refused to return the priceless Greek sculptures.
UNESCO strongly supports the need to resolve the issue by returning the sculptures through negotiations between the two sides.
The last survey on the issue of the restitution of the Parthenon Sculptures was conducted by the UK government in 2018 with 2658 adults surveyed. The survey found that 56% of respondents believed they should be returned to Greece, with 20% objecting to their return and a surprising 24% responding they “don’t know.”
Because of the British Museum Act of 1963 bans any property being returned Parliament would have to change the law to return the Marbles to Athens.
The Greeks have some of the remaining Marbles laid out with spaces for those that remain in Britain.
Greece is going to hold an international meeting next year bringing all the committees together for the official launch of the new campaign.
The Parthenon Greek sculptures
Parthenon, a temple that controlled the hill of the Acropolis at Athens. It was built in the middle of the 5th century BCE and dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena Parthenos.
Pediments present the sculptor with the challenge of filling a triangular space and in this case a large one of 28.55 meters long with a maximum height of 3.45 meters in the center.
Fifty outstandingly rendered figures decorated the pediments (but survive only eleven). These Greek sculptures were sculpted in the round despite the fact that the back would not be seen from ground level, 16 meters below. In addition, the ends of the pediments had a lion-head sima or gutter (in this case false), one of which, from the north-east corner, survives.
2. The Frieze
The frieze measures 160 meters in length, is almost one meter high and includes an astonishing 380 figures and 220 animals, mostly horses, all carved in low relief (maximum 6 cm) overlapping across 115 slabs. Through a combination of surviving pieces and drawings, 90% of the frieze can be reconstructed. Running around all four sides of the building between the outer colonnade and the inner cella, the narrative of the frieze begins in the south-west corner. Such a design was an Ionic feature and more typical of treasury buildings.
3. The Metopes
The Parthenon is again exceptional in that all the metopes were filled. The 92 metopes were carved in high relief (up to 25 cm in depth and almost in the round), and each slab measures around 1.25 x 1.2 meters. Thirty-two metopes, alternating with triglyphs, were placed along the long sides of the building, while each façade had 14. All the backgrounds were originally painted red.
The most important metopes were on the east side, as this was the principal entrance to the temple. Here the Olympian gods fight giants for control of the universe; four scenes show chariots but some of the gods remain unidentified due to their damaged condition. The west metopes depict Greeks fighting Amazons, the latter being another metaphor for foreigners and, as such, they wear oriental hats and costume.
4.The Parthenon Frieze. Block E VI
The sequence continues with the other gods: Poseidon, Apollo, Artemis, and Aphrodite together with Eros (38-42). The three first gods have survived in good condition and with their faces, whereas Aphrodite is preserved only in small pieces. The figure of Eros is preserved in a cast.
5. The Parthenon horse of Selene