It is an issue of precedence, a Pandora’s box, once they start giving stuff back – where will it end? Even British regional museums would like important local material returned.I was shocked on my first visit by the lack of ‘British’ material, and I am embarrassed by their attitude, especially given the importance of the Parthenon to Greek culture. We had the same thing with the Benin bronzes
To the great societies past, present and future go the great objects of history and as important as they are to individual societies these objects can never truly belong to the societies who created them but are rather the conglomeration of world history and the property of all peoples pride. The return and taking away of objects is a tradition as old as any object ever created and someday the sarcophagus' of Nelson, Napoleon and Washington may hold pride of place in Chinese museums and even if the Greek marbles are returned to Greece doubtless they would not be there for long!
Fair point Tim, I like the idea of Washington in a Chinese museum, it will all make sense in a millenium or two!
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