Clooney is currently promoting his latest film The Monuments Men. The film is based on the true story of a team of Allied soldiers whose mission it is to save artefacts from the Nazi forces during World War II.
During a press call for The Monuments Men at the Berlin Film Festival, a Greek reporter asked Clooney whether he thought Britain should return the Parthenon Marbles home.
“I think you have a very good case to make about your artefacts,” Clooney answered.
“Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing if they were returned. I think that is a good idea. That would be a very fair and very nice thing. I think it is the right thing to do.”
The return of the contested artifacts is one of the longest-running heritage controversies in the world.
Lord Elgin removed the marbles from the Parthenon between 1801 and 1805, when he was an ambassador to the Ottoman court in Istanbul – hence why the artefacts have often been referred to as the Elgin Marbles. At the time Greece was under Ottoman rule and the ancient monument had been reduced to a store for gunpowder and munitions.
The collection of ancient marbles was brought back to Britain by Lord Elgin and later bought by the British parliament in 1816 and presented to the British Museum. The collection includes more than 70 metres of beautiful frieze – which depict amongst them a procession of warriors and horses – as well as roughly half the surviving sculptures from the Parthenon.
Greece has been campaigning for the return of the historic marbles for decades. Originally the British government refused to return the marbles to Greece because, they argued, there wasn’t an adequate space to house them.
Since then Greece has built the Acropolis Museum, a spectacular new building at the foot of the Acropolis and with views facing the Parthenon temple.
The British Museum argues that the Marbles were ‘legally acquired’ by Elgin and as such has become an essential part of their collection in London. The museum trustees say that though anyone has the right to express their view, they still believe it is of ‘public benefit’ to have the sculptures remain as part of their collection.
What do you think? Should the Parthenon Marbles be returned to Greece? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.