Visitors stand in front of Parthenon sculptures at London's British Museum. WALTRAUD GRUBITZSCH/PICTURE-ALLIANCE/DPA/AP IMAGES
CAIRO – 24 May 2022: The United Kingdom plans to undergo official talks with Greece regarding the possible return of the Parthenon Marbles, which have been in the British Museum since 1816. No date has been set for the negotiations yet.
The disputed sculptures were stripped from the Acropolis in 1801 by Lord Elgin, and were deposited at the London Foundation. The carvings were designed between 447 BC and 432 BC. The group consists of marble slabs, figures, and friezes depicting a procession celebrating the birthday of the Greek goddess Athena, according to ArtNews.
The UK is known to have resisted calls from successive Greek governments to return the sculptures, arguing that they had been obtained under legal means.
In March 2022, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated that his government had no plans to move the ancient marbles out of England.
But scrutiny of this position has deepened amid an increasing number of European and North American institutions returning objects taken during colonial times from their countries of origin. The Benin Bronze Collection, a collection of objects looted by British forces from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897, was at the forefront of the repatriation wave.
In September 2021, UNESCO's advisory board called on the UK to "reconsider its position and move forward in an honest dialogue with Greece".
The British Parliament said that because the museum operates independently of the British government and can make decisions about the works in its collections, it must decide the fate of the Parthenon Marbles.