PDA

View Full Version : Egypt demands return of artefacts from the Louvre


Lemmie
07-10-09, 15:11
France's Louvre Museum says it is open to the idea of returning ancient Egyptian fresco fragments at the centre of a row with Egyptian officials.

Earlier, Egypt's head of antiquities Zahi Hawass told the AFP news agency that the Louvre had bought the fragments knowing they were stolen.

Egypt had severed co-operation with the Louvre, pending their return, he said.

The Pharaonic steles, on display in the Louvre, are reported to be from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, near Luxor.

A Louvre official said "the process for returning them has been engaged".

But France's National Scientific Commission for Museum Collections still has to give its approval before they can be sent back, AFP reports.

Ancient Egyptian artworks and relics are displayed in many of the world's top museums, but in recent years Egypt has stepped up pressure to repatriate some of them.


Thought this might be an appropriate place to post this news story. :D

In a nutshell, Egypt is demanding the return of several purportedly stolen artefacts that were sold to the Louvre Museum in the 1980s. What makes it worse is that Egypt's Head of Antiquities says that the Louvre knew that the items were stolen. As such Egypt has stopped co-operation with the museum until the items are returned.

The Louvre says that "the process for returning [the artefacts] has been engaged."

Some have drawn parallels with the Elgin Marbles - parts of the facade of Athens' Parthenon Temple and other parts of the Athenian Acropolis - that were taken from Athens between 1801 and 1812 by the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, the Earl of Elgin.

Discuss, repatriation of artefacts to their countries of origin - for or against? For in all cases, or just some?

Cochrane
07-10-09, 15:31
It's an interesting question really. Clearly, Egypt has more than just some rights to it. However, ancient cultures have influenced all of our modern societies, far beyond the areas where they originally lived. As such, an ancient egypt relict is mainly part of Egypt's cultural heritage, but also, to some degree, part of ours.

A fair solution might be returning any artifacts that have not been legally sold back to their country of origin, but lending them to museums all around the world for extended periods of time. Ancient history as seen in a museum can certainly help tourism, so I'd say it's in those countries's interests as well.

Dennis's Mom
07-10-09, 15:43
I agree any artifacts obtained through illegal means should be returned, but in the case of Egypt, "tomb raiding" has been a pastime for centuries. Who is to say what was obtained legally and illegally? Clearly there are modern standards and practices, but what of objects obtained long before "archeology" was anything other than a curiosity and hobby?

In many cases, these "ex-pat" objects were actually saved from what would have been environmental or careless destruction. The Parthenon was slowly being dismantled for building materials when Elgin took the sculptures. It's impossible to guess what state they'd be in now had they not been removed and sent to Britain?

xXhayleyroxXx
07-10-09, 16:02
i swear iv heard this before years ago... maybe it was for the british museum?

i think its nice that it's in the louvre so people can see, but egypt do have the right to have them back.

2kool4u
07-10-09, 16:08
Lara croft did it!!!
:vlol:

Pretty cool.

Tombraiderx08
07-10-09, 19:21
Of course they were stolen, they arent in the tomb :p
Thanks for sharing :)

Admles
07-10-09, 19:23
They can damn well leave them at the Lourvre until after my January trip to Europe :p

Then they can move them back!

tombofwinston
07-10-09, 21:15
I wonder who Sold them to the Louvre :whi: .

xXhayleyroxXx
07-10-09, 21:21
I wonder who Sold them to the Louvre :whi: .

grave robbers? haha

Megalith
07-10-09, 22:16
Every culture's heritage should stay in its homeland regardless of its influence on other cultures.
I don't want to see Stonehenge's megaliths in Greece just like i don't want the Elgin marbles to remain in Britain.

Sir Croft
07-10-09, 22:40
I wonder who Sold them to the Louvre :whi: .

Nobody. If memory serves me, artifacts were stolen during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt and brought back to France.

Phlip
07-10-09, 22:45
Lara can be hired by the Louvre to take them back.

Sir Croft
07-10-09, 23:19
Lara can be hired by the Louvre to take them back.

I don't think she has a good reputation with the Louvre staff.

Lemmie
07-10-09, 23:55
I agree any artifacts obtained through illegal means should be returned, but in the case of Egypt, "tomb raiding" has been a pastime for centuries. Who is to say what was obtained legally and illegally? Clearly there are modern standards and practices, but what of objects obtained long before "archeology" was anything other than a curiosity and hobby?

Obviously I agree that illegally traded artifacts should be returned to their home countries, certainly in modern cases today (unfortunately the illegal trafficking of ancient artefacts continues to be a big problem). However I am unsure about those taken from places in the eighteenth, nineteenth and (early) twentieth centuries - especially in Europe and in particular places like France, Spain, Britain and the USA.

The acquisition of artefacts such as the Elgin Marbles, Tutankhamun's Sarcophagus and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (the first two examples in the British Museum and the third in Berlin) is reminiscent of European Imperialism, where Europeans, with sufficient money, free time and interest would visit their colonies and protectorates and explore and take pieces of ancient antiquities and structures.

Of course, this is a double edged sword as this process advanced understanding of archaeology and history of the wider world quite a lot, and we have to thank Victorian gentlemen of leisure for their work and their time - the Rosetta Stone is a very good example - however by modern standards, these acquisitions can hardly be seen as legal. But I think to modern nations like Egypt or Greece, which were founded in their modern states by nationalist movements, it must grate that nations which once ruled them or were ambassadors to their rulers now have priceless artefacts of incalculable value.

In many cases, these "ex-pat" objects were actually saved from what would have been environmental or careless destruction. The Parthenon was slowly being dismantled for building materials when Elgin took the sculptures. It's impossible to guess what state they'd be in now had they not been removed and sent to Britain?

Unfortunately the Parthenon has been abused over the years, particularly after having been used as a gunpowder store during the Ottoman Era. I feel that even though the Elgin Marbles are in much better condition than much of the remaining structures of the Athenian Acropolis, they should be returned for several reasons;

a) We already have plenty of Greek and Roman sculpture of similar quality but less symbolic importance, as well as rougher pieces from Roman Britain, so I feel it would be a nice gesture to return such iconic pieces.

b) There is debate as to whether Lord Elgin actually received proper permission by the Ottoman Empire to remove parts of the Parthenon, and when he did so, he damaged many pieces of what he brought home and left behind irreparably.

c) In Britain the Elgin Marbles have been rather badly kept themselves, damaged both by soot and grime and also by subsequent cleaning attempts at the beginning of the twentieth century.

d) The Greek government is trying to relocate various fragments of the Acropolis from all over the world and precedents have already been set by institutions such as the University of Heidelburg, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Catholic Church.

So I think, in an unconcious way, the British Museum is reinforcing an Imperialist attitude. Although there are various good reasons for the statues to remain in Britain as well.

Every culture's heritage should stay in its homeland regardless of its influence on other cultures.
I don't want to see Stonehenge's megaliths in Greece just like i don't want the Elgin marbles to remain in Britain.

I started to agree, and in principle I do, but I can't say that every country should only display artefacts that originate from their own country. Partly because the influence of other cultures on one another cannot be underestimated, and the context in which the Elgin Marbles were taken should be understood to help us understand philosophy, literature, art and scholarly discourse in Enlightenment and Regency Britain.

Seeing standing stones in Greece would be nonsensical, and Greece have their own Mesolithic/Neolithic remains anyway. But having Greek sculpture, especially from Athens, the proverbially learned and philosophical city in eighteenth century Britain had an enormous cultural impact.