Turkey uses Human Rights to reclaim Halicarnassus artifacts

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- Thursday December 13th, 2012 - 23:44 - Source: The Guardian
Turkey turns to the European Court of Human Rights, in an attempt to reclaim artifacts that were created for the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus from the British Museum, which acquired them in the 19th century.
Two marble statues from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Photo by the Trustees of the British Museum
Turkey is turning to the Human Rights law to reclaim sculptures that once were part of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, or the Tomb of Mausolus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The tomb, built around 350 BC, measured 45m (148ft) tall and is believed to have partially collapsed during Medieval times. Artifacts and sculptures from the Mausoleum were acquired by the British Museum in the mid-19th century AD.

 

Experts think that the unprecedented lawsuit will probably argue that the United Kingdom breached article 1, 1st protocol of the European convention of human rights, stating: "Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions."

  

A spokesperson for the British Museum said: "These pieces were acquired during the course of two British initiatives, both with firmans - legal permits issued by the Ottoman authorities - that granted permission for the excavation of the site and removal of the material from the site … to the British Museum."

 

The Turkish case in the European Court of Human Rights will be a test case for international reclamation of art and relics, which would impact many museums. Nations desiring the return of cultural artifacts such as Greece, seeking the return of the Parthenon marbles, and Nigeria, desiring to retrieve the Benin bronzes, are keeping a close eye on the case.

 

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