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Southern Europe: 'Greek Heritage belongs in Greece' says Danish paper
The Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad has published an extensive article calling for the return to Greece of the Parthenon Sculptures exhibited in the British Museum .

Greek Heritage belongs in Greece says Danish paper
Detail of relief showing the battle between a Lapith and a Centaur, located in Britain. 
The heads are in the National Museum of Denmark [Credit: Ethnos]

The catalyst for this article was provided by the exhibition 'Transformations: Classical Sculpture in Colour' on view at the Glyptotek in Copenhagen, in the context of which a video provided by the British Museum presents a metope which is in Britain from which the two heads are missing and are in fact displayed by the National Museum of Denmark .

"This relief depicts a struggle between a Lapith and a Centaur" reports the newspaper. "In ancient Greek mythology the first epitomizes a civilised people, while the second represents the primitive Centaurs, whose body was half man and half horse" and which, says the article, symbolizes the Greeks fighting against the Persians.

The article continues with the story of the theft of the Parthenon marbles by Elgin, at a time when Greece was under Ottoman occupation, adding that Greece has repeatedly called for their return, but England has not responded.

The article calls on Denmark to set a "good example" by returning the two heads (acquired by Morosini's Danish officer, Moritz Hartmann, in 1687", who participated in the infamous bombardment of the Parthenon) so that they can be restored to their original position, adding: "the copies will have the same value for us, but not the same for the Greek state, and their return would send an additional message to the British Museum."

The article also stresses that, since the independence of Greece, there has been ongoing maintenance of the monuments on the Acropolis and that the sculptures would be "better displayed at the Acropolis museum rather than at the British Museum".

The British Museum, of course, holds the lion's share, but fragments of the pediments, the frieze and metopes of the Parthenon are also to be found in the Louvre, Munich, Copenhagen, Palermo, the Vatican etc.

Some of the sculptures were completely destroyed in the shelling by Morosini and all that survives of these are but a few sketches made by Carey and others.

Detailed information about what is where is provided by Greek archaeologist Alexandros Mantis in his book titled 'Disjecta membra: The looting and dispersal of the ancient artworks of the Acropolis'.

"The sculptural decoration of the Parthenon survived until the time of the explosion almost intact except for some damage caused by the Christians when the temple was converted into a Christian church", writes Mantis. "The destruction and abandonment of the monument was also the starting point for the looting and pillaging of its sculptural decoration." Thus, "on September 27, 1687 the civilized West, in an attempt to destroy the Asiatic Barbaric forces barricaded on the Acropolis, the Parthenon suffers the most severe blow in its history, transforming the long majestic colonnades of the monument into voluminous ruins, consigning some its most prominent architectural sculptures to oblivion."

Source: Ethnos [November 18, 2014]

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