Hellenic Leaders
2 min readNov 29, 2023

Reuniting the Parthenon

Latest developments

In an interview with BBC this past Sunday, November 26th, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis once again called for the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece. The Prime Minister compared the marbles being on display in the British Museum to “cutting the Mona Lisa in half” and further clarified that the issue is not one of ownership but one of reunification. The day after Mitsotakis gave his televised interview, he was set to have meetings with leaders of both major UK parties. He met with Labour leader Keir Starmer, but just before his scheduled meeting with Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Sunak canceled. Senior conservatives have said that the cancellation was due to Mitsotakis’ “commentary” ahead of the meeting.

Historical context

The Parthenon sculptures consist of nearly 250 feet of the Parthenon’s original frieze, fifteen sculpted relief panels, and seventeen pedimental figures. The British Museum also houses artifacts that Lord Elgin took from other Acropolis sites including the Temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaia, and the Erechtheion. Lord Elgin, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century, claimed to have received permission from the Ottomans to remove these sculptures. The British Museum officially holds that the legality of their continued claim to the sculptures rests on the fact that a select committee of British Parliament deemed the transfer of the sculptures legal in 1816.

Expert analysis

One needs to take into consideration a very important issue for the British Museum, and this is the question of ownership. The British Museum cannot move its position if this raises questions about other collections — collections that were acquired under similar conditions as the marbles. This is the big concern of the British Museum. I think that this concern is justified, and actually I am very much in favor of protecting the British Museum as such because its contribution to world culture is tremendous…The British Museum should not be damaged by doing the right thing: the reunification of the Parthenon.

Angelos Chaniotis, professor of ancient history and classical studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, on the Greek Current in December 2022.

The big picture

The Acropolis Museum, a world-class facility devoted to the preservation and exhibition of the site’s artifacts, currently displays plaster casts of the missing marbles. The Parthenon is a world monument, visited by millions each year, yet many of its sculptures are on display in another country thousands of miles away.



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