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Countries battle over artefacts|
In 1810, a total of 56 sculpted friezes, depicting gods, men and monsters, were removed from the Parthenon in Athens by British ambassador Lord Elgin.
They were brought to Britain and housed in the British Museum where they have remained.
Repeated calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles to their homeland have fallen on deaf ears, with the British Museum adamant they should remain in a place where they can be seen by international visitors.
To facilitate transport, the column capital of the Parthenon, the Erechtheum cornice and many metopes and slabs were sawn and sliced into smaller sections. One shipload of marbles on board the British brig Mentor was caught in a storm off Cape Matapan and sank near Kythera, but was salvaged at the Earl's expense; it took two years to bring them to the surface.
While the artifacts held in London, unlike those remaining on the Parthenon, have been saved from the hazards of pollution, neglect, and war, they have also been irrevocably damaged by the unauthorized "cleaning" methods employed by British Museum staff in the 1930s, who were dismissed when this was discovered. Acting under the erroneous belief that the marbles were originally bright white, the marbles were cleaned with copper tools and caustics, causing serious damage and altering the marbles' colouring. (The Pentelicon marble on which the carvings were made naturally acquires a tan colour similar to honey when exposed to air.) In addition, the process scraped away all traces of surface colouring that the marbles originally held.
[ Last edited by changabula at 2007-2-27 08:09 PM ]