What are the Elgin Marbles and why are they so controversial?


The Elgin Marbles is the common name for a massive collection of Ancient Greek sculpture which has been on display in the British Museum since the early-1800s. The collection includes 75 metres (247 feet) of the original 160-metre (524-foot) frieze from the Parthenon temple in Athens (below). The frieze is the highly decorative section above the columns in classical Greek architecture. The collection is controversial because its namesake – the seventh Earl of Elgin – removed the treasures from Greece with the permission of the Ottomans, who occupied Greece from the mid-15th century until 1821. For decades, the Greeks have called for the priceless artefacts’ return, but the British Museum defends its ownership as legitimate.

Answered by Dave Roos.