Speed Reads


Greece thinks Amal Alamuddin Clooney could solve the West's longest-running cultural spat

Amal Alamuddin Clooney might be on her way to remembrance for her involvement with a controversial part of the Parthenon.

Last month, Doughty Street, where Clooney is a barrister, announced that Clooney would visit Athens from Oct. 13-16 to advise the Greek government about the Elgin Marbles. The Elgin Marbles are a set of Greek marble sculptures that were originally part of the Parthenon and other acropolis buildings. They are currently on display at the British Museum, but Greece has long hoped to reclaim the statues.

The 2,500-year-old Elgin Marbles, which date to the fifth century B.C.E., have fueled a wider debate among art historians over whether works of art should be returned to their home countries. The discussion about the sculptures' location has become "the West's longest-running cultural row," The Guardian notes. The sculptures were moved to London in the early 19th century, "when it was considered fashionable for major European powers to collect ancient art from other cultures," according to The Associated Press. They gained their current name when Lord Elgin sold them to the British Museum between 1801 and 1805.

Clooney, along with lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, hosted talks with various government officials in Greece, including the Greek prime minister and the culture minister. Clooney and Robertson also visited the Acropolis Museum, which is home to the portion of the Elgin Marbles that aren't in the U.K.

Costas Tassoulas, Greece's culture minister, said at a press conference Wednesday that UNESCO, the U.N.'s cultural branch, is urging Britain to reconsider a year-old proposal to join in a "mediation process" to decide the sculptures' fate. Greece hopes to regain all of the Elgin Marbles that were once part of the Parthenon. If its efforts are successful, the country would display the collection at a museum near the Acropolis Hill.