What are the Parthenon Marbles?

The Parthenon Marbles, or Elgin Marbles as they’re also known, are a collection of Classical Greek stone sculptures created by architect and sculptor Phidias. They were originally part of the temple of the Parthenon, a 2500 year old temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens.

The Parthenon was a church for 1000 years before it became an archaeological ruin with only approximately half of the original decoration and sculptures intact by 1800. It is regarded as one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments.

Why are the Parthenon Marbles so controversial?
Parthenon Marbles

The Parthenon Marbles were acquired by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, also reffered to as Lord Elgin, in Athens between 1801 and 1805.

Much controversy surrounds the sculptures to this day with rumours that Lord Elgin, in fact, did not have permission to remove them at all, although the British Museum says he acted with the full permission of the Ottoman Authorities, for whom Lord Elgin was an ambassador for at the time.

Lord Elgin transported the sculptures by sea to Britain and then sold them to British Parliament in 1816. There was an inquiry into the actions of Lord Elgin which approved actions and they were presented to the British Museum where they have been housed ever since.

Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin

The Greeks have demanded that they be returned to their homeland. Greece maintains they were taken illegally during the country’s Turkish occupation and should be returned for display in Athens. The Greek government has disputed the British Museum Trustees’ legal title to the sculptures. Some suggest that Lord Elgin bribed Turkish officials and effectively stole the marbles.

But the British say that Lord Elgin legally purchased the statues from the Ottoman Empire before Greece won its independence and that it would set a disturbing precedent for major museums if they were returned.

Many British historians consider them relics of an Athenian civilisation rather than the modern Greek state.

Roughly half now survives: 247 feet of the original 524 feet of frieze; 15 of 92 metopes; 17 figures from the pediments, and various other pieces of architecture. It also includes objects from other buildings on the Acropolis: the Erechtheion, the Propylaia, and the Temple of Athena Nike.

Around 65 per cent of the original sculptures survive and are located in museums across Europe. The Acropolis Museum in Athens and the British Museum in London have about 30 per cent each, while other pieces are held by other major European museums, including the Louvre and the Vatican. The British Museum also has other fragments from the Parthenon acquired from collections that have no connection with Lord Elgin.

You can now have your very own piece of highly controversial Greek History to adorn your walls with our stunning plaster copies of the Parthenon Marbles. Our perthenon marble replicas have been expertly recreated using silicon & fibreglass moulds. 

This beautiful piece measures 1640mm x 1030mm and is an exact replica of this piece of the Parthenon Marbles. Purchase online here

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Parthenon marbles

Parthenon Marble Plaster Replica

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