I decided to continue my discussion around the Elgin marbles for this week’s blog posts because one, I find this situation to be fascinating, and two, because they were discussed in our readings for this week’s class. This post discusses the financial implications that the Elgin marbles have had.
The political struggles did and still do transfer to the financial struggles that have resulted from the removal of the Parthenon marbles. Elgin had funded the project with his own money and thus introduced a personal dimension of finance into the situation. In 1816 Elgin sold his collection of the Parthenon marbles to the British government, which then presented the marbles to the British Museum. Regardless of the reason for the selling of the marbles by Elgin to the British government, it is evident that financial factors were at play in the situation during the nineteenth century.
A difficult financial situation still exists in today’s case of the Parthenon marbles. As of 2010, the financial problems in Greece have escalated due to poor tax-collection and the reluctance of the wealthy to pay taxes. This situation presents Greece as an unstable home for the Parthenon marbles. Furthermore, the New Acropolis Museum opened in 2009 to a very welcoming populace. The construction of this museum purposely places a huge emphasis on the display of archaeological remains, and Athens has spent millions of dollars on the museum which is ready to house the Parthenon marbles.
The return of the marbles would improve Greece’s current financial situation. The financial struggles of Greece are having negative effects on the Parthenon’s modern archaeology and the presentation of it. The Elgin marbles presents us with a situation concerning archaeological ethics and how morality is often highly affected by finances. Even though morals/ethics and finance are supposed to be two very different topics of interest, they often intersect, making it necessary to consider them both at the same time.