Mental Health

Who is the owner of the past?

owner of the past
owner of the past
owner of the past British politicians divided on whether the marbles should be returned to Athens or kept in the British Museum.

The owner of the past search to discover who truly owns the past typically entails looking deeper into the cultural history of various communities and studying their cultural endowments to determine who owns what and to what degree the community was involved in forming the cultural legacy.

Exploration of the Elgin owner of the past marbles or the Parthenon marbles becomes essential in attempting to address who owns the past. The transit of the Elgin marbles from the Athenian museum to the British museum sparked debate, with scholars and British politicians divided on whether the marbles should be returned to Athens or kept in the British Museum.

According to Rudenstine, “…the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during 1799-1803 secured a contentious authorization from Ottoman officials to take artifacts from the Acropolis” (1999: 356). The removal of the artworks and their transit by ship to the British Museum sparked a public discussion about the British Ambassador’s actions. The dispute over indigenous cultural items is unavoidable as long as we figure out who owns the past. Cultural items of a community, such as works of music and language, and other forms of cultural heritage expression, remain the property of the community, which retains control over them all.

In reality, the earliest residents of any cultural legacy or art pieces believe that they have absolute power, management, and display of their cultural heritage, not the local incoming metropolitan museum or anyone else. So, in light of this new understanding of cultural ownership, who truly owns the past? The intense argument over the Elgin marbles resulted in the marbles being sold to the British government, who then deposited them in the British Museum.

owner of the past: Before agreeing on the contentious sale of the marbles, the Greeks wanted the Elgin marbles returned to the Athenian museum because, according to Jenkins (1999), they desired a reunion of all their cultural legacy in Parthenon to restore the “organic element.” The reunification of the cultural heritage preservation of cultural homogeneity and cohesiveness would aid in providing tourists with the chance to view and appreciate the Greeks’ cultural legacy in its entirety.

Jenkins continues to lament the fact that “…at the moment, our cultural legacy lacks coherence, uniformity, and the historicity of major museums”. This loss comes as a surprise to Jenkins since Greece, a country blessed with a rich cultural history, is suddenly devoid of its wealthy historical, cultural museums.

Furthermore, returning the marbles to their historical and original location would allow for a greater comprehension of the sculptures and architectural shapes. Hamilakis observes that “presenting all the Elgin marbles in their original historical and cultural environment would permit their fuller understanding and interpretation” (1997: 316) because it is necessary to place a marble or any other piece of art in its context to understand and interpret or even appreciate its values.

Furthermore, returning the marbles to their historical and original location would allow for a greater comprehension of the sculptures and architectural shapes. Hamilakis observes that “presenting all the Elgin marbles in their original historical and cultural environment would permit their fuller understanding and interpretation” (1997: 316) because it is necessary to place a marble or any other piece of art in its context to understand and interpret or even appreciate its values.

This article is curated by Prittle Prattle News.

By reporter

About the author

Smruti Alinje Bhalerao, Editor, Prittle Prattle News

Topics