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Article

Abstract

It would be difficult to envision Thomas Bruce as a Greek. Bruce, the Scotsman better known as the Seventh Earl of Elgin, is now famous (to some, infamous) as the namesake of the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. From 1799 to 1803, he served as British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in Constantinople. In 1801, after receiving permission from the Ottoman government, he began removing marble friezes from the Acropolis, then in danger of destruction due to the ongoing Greek War of Independence. In an effort to preserve the friezes, Lord Elgin had them shipped home to Britain, where he would eventually sell them to the British government. Two hundred years later, this "expatriation" of the Greek sculptures has provided the ideological battleground par excellence in the debate over the proper home of items of cultural property.

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