Imagine the power of a million, two million people who learn, understand and act on an injustice over 200 years old – the theft and destruction of the very icon of world heritage; democracy; foundation and principles of architecture; and, the capacity of human endeavors, the Parthenon.
The International Organizing Committee – Australia – for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles (IOC-A-RPM) will host a two day second International Colloquy Parthenon: An Icon of Global Citizenship beginning on November 15, 2013 at the University of Sydney Nicholson Museum that will concentrate the dialogue in four areas: education, economy, activism and litigation. A call for papers and expert speakers is open until July 31, 2013.
The IOC-A-RPM, founded in 1981, is the first of its kind. Afterwards, Melina Merkouri, actress and Minister of Culture for Greece, launched her campaign that then inspired the formation of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.
When asked ‘why now’, Dennis Tritaris, Secretary and Public Affairs Officer of the IOC-A-RPM responds,
“Justice towards history and the monument needs to be restored.”
“We need to always remember that the case of the Parthenon Marbles is unique because of its size and historical importance. Almost 50% of the surviving collection is exhibited in the British Museum. We are not talking about one statue, one relic or a piece of treasure but for a collection of numerous sculptures and fragments. The Greek side has expressed many times that they don’t claim the return of every single piece of ancient fragment from every museum in the world. By returning the Parthenon Marbles based on the merits of this individual case there will be no “Opening of the flood gates”.
The Parthenon a temple built in 447 BC to the patron goddess of Athens, Athena, who according to Greek mythology represents the wise, heroic warrior with courage, justice and fairness while also representing the arts. An architectural feat completed in 15 years, the Parthenon integrates the function of the temple with the visual experience of the visitor or in other words a manifestation of the Golden Ratio between geometry and the arts. The very structure of the Parthenon, its creation, function and history represents human accomplishments on a monumental scale as well as, sadly today, the human capacity of greed on a grand scale.
At the center of this campaign is the questionable “acquisition” (or as some may say – theft) by a diplomatic representative in an occupied country. During the occupation of Athens by the Ottoman Empire, over 50% of the Parthenon sculptures were taken by then Ambassador and Lord Elgin for his home in Scotland that were later purchased by the British Parliament for the British Museum.
The campaign for the return of these Parthenon sculptures is gaining momentum, especially via social media. The timing is remarkable in that by engaging social media tools – such as Twitter, Facebook, Vine, ThingLink and YouTube – people are connecting around the world who otherwise may never have met. Together these global citizens are acting and respectfully demanding that the British Museum return the sculptures to the Acropolis.
As a result of taking this dialogue onto the global stage, supporters are also reaffirming the constant need to educate the public on issues of cultural world heritage and creative endeavors that mark human achievement through the centuries. As Tritaris says,
“The best weapon against of damage or looting of cultural property I believe is the widespread education of one nation’s public. People need to know about them so they can protect them.
Also open communication with the World Community and international collaborations and cultural protection treaties would be beneficial.
We need to understand that there is not a chance that Elgin’s actions would be able to be repeated in that scale today. The knowledge and understanding of cultural property’s value for a nation is enough to safeguard its protection.”
The second International Colloquy Parthenon: An Icon of Global Citizenship in November becomes a critical gathering for experts and activists. The question becomes not ‘if’ but ‘when’ the British Museum will return the sculptures so as to be a good global citizen. For every day that passes a real, restored, revitalized and now through social media, virtual Parthenon of the 21st century is materializing, representing the very best of Athena in human endeavors – democracy, global cooperation, innovation in science and technology, the arts, architecture and ultimately, justice.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C. (Please follow 9 Muses News copyright use policy.)
RESOURCES: International Campaigns Supporting the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures
Comite Suisse pour le Retour des Marbles du Partheon (Swiss Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles)
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