Antiquity / Art / Cultural Heritage / Greece / Innovation

Athena Rises: Social Media & the Campaign to Reunify the Parthenon Sculptures

The Acropolis at Night. Photo used with copyright permission from photographer Nikolaos Chatziandreou, AcropolisofAthens.gr

The Acropolis at Night.
Photo used with copyright permission from photographer Nikolaos Chatziandreou, AcropolisofAthens.gr

Athena Rises: Let’s talk social media and the Global Campaigns to Reunify the Sculptures of the Acropolis

The Acropolis invokes the power of Athena, the goddess of  war, wisdom, law and justice, science and art. A monument that universally represents cultural heritage and democracy. At it’s most vulnerable moment and on a scale never before seen, the temples of the Acropolis experienced shocking destruction and brazen theft, casting a shadow that waits to be lifted when justice is delivered.

As though there was a conspiracy to silence the sculptures – including the solitary Caryatid sister, the sculptures have endured a shipwreck; the spectacle of being home interior decorations for the morally and financially bankrupt Ambassador Lord Elgin; a grand standing production of dubious due diligence by the British Parliament and placed on view at the British Museum; and, finally, they endured  the most damage by the callous uneducated “cleaning” of the colors and patina at the hands of the British Musuem.

Yet, perhaps, with patience, calculations and tactics that would even make Sun Tzu blush and bow in honor, the warrior spirit of Athena rises again. This time, Athena wields a just swift sword in the form of social media.

* * *

Social Media: Education, Self-Organization & Collaboration

Social media is dramatically changing the landscape of democracies, social issues, business innovation and global campaigns. Imagine the global impact of social media on the Arab Spring; presidential campaigns in the western world; fundraising for social causes in lesser known or traveled areas; and influencing multinational corporations to act in regional labor and safety standards such as in Bangladesh. There is no hiding anymore.

Social media is circumventing complacent bureaucracies or bureaucrats in all organizations – government, business, non-profit and society in general.

With the power to access millions of people, a paradigm shift is happening.

First, let’s talk numbers.

These numbers reflect the potential of social media for global campaigns.

Now, let’s talk actions about education, self-organization and collaboration on behalf of the reunification of the sculptures of the Acropolis.

Education:

One of the most important and significant actions of global campaign is raising awareness through education. People need to know the value and importance of the Acropolis and how it is integrated in every single person’s daily life.

The social media channels available today are ideal to share the history; architecture; the arts; the economic loss of stolen cultural heritage; the truth of the theft along with the moral outrage that a diplomatic representative, the Ambassador of Britain to the Ottoman Empire, literally hacked sculptures from the monument for his personal residence.

Be creative with multi-media platforms. The President of the American Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, Michael Reppas wrote Why Don’t We Just Sue The British Museum, A Litigator’s Perspective On The Elgin Parthenon Marbles Debate. Imagine taking the one dimensional solitary experience of reading a book to multifaceted approach with access to millions. If Reppas would create a YouTube video reenacting his version of a potential courtroom drama, he would be creating an experience where the greater public could share, comment and exchange thoughts together.

When one hears and sees a truth, it appears even more glaring and the continued silence by the British government even more tasteless. The power of the voice speaking the truth is undeniable.

Take the motto to heart, if you know something, share it and link it – be it video, photographs or articles. Use social media to educate.

Self-organization:

Social media amplifies the message and accelerates self-organization. No leaders are necessary. Just the individual freedom to join, activate and unite for the common purpose to reunite the Parthenon sculptures and all of the other sculptures taken from the Acropolis.

Think global.

  • Recognize and support all industries touched by the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens: tourism, trade, academia, historians, authors, filmmakers, architects, scientists, politicians, museums, NGOs, law enforcement, legal community – to name a few.

Combined with the social media campaign already in place, this is a powerful network of millions.

Collaboration:

Now, let’s talk about the real power. All efforts have been done to educate, self-organize and now the force of Athena’s sword of justice and fairness – is in the power of collaboration.

  • Join forces. Actively, generously ‘like’, share, follow, Tweet, RT, MT, comment and <3!
  • Support others who have suffered a similar injustice of looting or plunder of cultural heritage. Share the power of the movement to preserve and protect other cultural heritage monuments being threatened by war, the environment and economic difficulties.
  • Set up a neutral organization as the authorized crowdsource funding organizer asking for $1/person to pay for shipping and return of the sculptures.
  • Now, let’s be honest, there are more treasures in the ground yet to be discovered and billions of forgotten artifacts gathering dust in national museum basements that would make the most complicated compulsive hoarder appear sane. So, imagine the confidence to create bilateral loan agreements between governments offering first options to exhibit and study never before seen national artifacts outside of the country on a regular basis.
  • Lastly, with each exhibit loan, create a win-win with a percentage returned to local museums or countries; select reproductions from the local area available for purchase at each exhibit location; and create opportunities to exchange technical expertise with all partners, museum, local businesses and artisans.

Leave no opportunity for collaboration unanswered.

As Athena wields the sword of justice, her bird, the owl, symbolizes wisdom and a slice from her tree, the olive tree, offers peace. In the same way, social media today advances justice, wisdom and peace for human kind and, in this case, the reunification of the sculptures of the Acropolis.

By Keri Douglas, writer/photographers, Washington, D.C. (Please follow 9 Muses News copyright use policy.)

RESOURCES: International Campaigns Supporting the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

AcropolisofAthens.gr

American Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Australian Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles

Comite Suisse pour le Retour des Marbles du Partheon  (Swiss Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles)

Elginism

Global Greek World

I am Greek and I Want to Go Home –

International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures

Marbles Reunited

Melina Mecouri Foundation

The Acropolis Museum

Please share other organizations to add to the list.

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12 thoughts on “Athena Rises: Social Media & the Campaign to Reunify the Parthenon Sculptures

  1. I must add – The team of curators and educators at the Nicholson Museum in Sydney, Australia is using social media in a remarkable way. They inform, share photos and have lively exchanges via Twitter. In the case of the LegoAcroplis sculpture that is being built, they even demonstrate the visit of Lord Elgin and his removal of sculptures from the Acropolis. Here is a Storify post.

  2. Pingback: Unearthed: 23rd June 2013 « The Archaeology of Tomb Raider

  3. Some years ago I attended a conference in Athens on the Restitution of the Marbles (the late Jules Dassin was key-note speaker), and became interested in the removal of the Marbles which gave me the idea for my ebook novel – ‘The Devil’s Legacy’.

    My intention in mentioning this is most assuredly ‘not a sales pitch’.

    As an Englishman my hope and desire is that my novel may serve to highlight the need to, and justice in, returning the Marbles. If it can awaken/stimulate an interest in the subject, however small, then I will feel that I have succeeded.

    I am very pleased that I have recently signed a book deal with a Greek publisher to have it translated into Greek and published in hard copy later this year.

    At this very difficult time for the people of Greece, my novel is, I believe, a good – ‘thought provoking – Greek positive – escape and enjoy it – yarn’, which may bring a little pleasure to its readers. ‘The Devil’s Legacy’ is an adventure/mystery set in the present day with flashbacks to the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and focuses on the original theft of the Parthenon Marbles and return to their rightful home in the New Acropolis Museum.

    I am trying to awaken/stimulate interest in like-minded people to an issue close to my heart – ‘The Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles’.

    Yours sincerely,
    Tom Jackson
    Athens

  4. Καλημερα –

    Thank you for your note.

    Congratulations on your book deal with the Greek publisher. Your novel sounds fascinating and timely.

    If you are on Twitter – send a tweet to @KeriDouglas and I’ll forward to others.

    Good luck with your book!
    Keri

  5. Thank you, Keri, for bringing this forward. I’ve been fortunate to visit several iconic ancient civilization “wonders” in my adult lifetime, and believe they need guardians like your self to remain intact for the generations to come. Your thoughts on their protection in the 21st century are “spot on.”

  6. Dear Theresa
    Thank you so much for your kind words.
    Wonderful people are working on the protection of cultural heritage and often across traditional boundaries. Social media is effectively removing limitations and creating an opening to global collaboration for the common good of humankind.
    Thank you!
    Keri

  7. Hi Keri.
    Watched your video presentation with great interest at the Sydney Colloquy this past weekend. Having read ‘Athena Rises…’ I feel excited at the prospect of activism. The focus will need to be the British people especially, so they might be convinced to apply sufficient pressure on their Politicians to instigate an amendment of the Museums Act, which is currently being used as trigger for a circular game with the British Museum.
    Thank you muchly.

  8. Thank you so much for your comment!

    Yes, you are so right!
    Everyone has a friend in the UK. Why not reach out, share the history, the facts and the injustice. The return of sculptures is just a matter of time. Plus, there is plenty in the basements of museums to share and do more exchanges of artifacts. In the end, the public gains more, the truth in history and the opportunity to learn, experience and see more treasures of the past. Everyone gains.

    Am so happy you enjoyed the Sydney Colloquy. Dennis and Rene did a great job!
    All my best,
    Keri

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