Geoffrey Robertson here dissecting the matter of the Elgin Marbles – their ownership, the truths and myths surrounding the British Museum’s claim on them, and a wider exploration of the matter of cultural properties appropriated by other countries through a variety of means. Setting out the case that it’s possible to work out where these artifacts should reside, he maps out existing treaties in play and what a better further iteration would look like.

While I typically love reading his insightful and incisive analyses of situations I found this book to contain a LOT of repetition, almost as if it were an anthology of separate papers presented as chapters. By the last couple I was skipping sections because I’d already read them 2 or 3 times hence.

During the course of writing this I stumbled on an FT review of the book by the chairman of the British Museum, where he airily dismisses Robertson’s case as being based on mistakes. It amused and dismayed me therefore to see arguments made in the comments section against what the author had said, parroting exactly the stories and mythology surrounding the marbles that Robertson had addressed and skewered in the book. Humans, eh?

In the matter of the Parthenon Marbles, there’s just no case to answer – they must be returned.

Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure
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