Reading in the news this last weekend, it appears that Easter Island is the latest country to ask the United Kingdom for the return of an artifact. They join countries like Egypt, Greece, India and Australia who still have claims on treasures taken from their lands. For hundreds of years, our people have been going around the world taking items that weren’t ours. It’s been a collector like mentality, where the splendour of the world had been brought home to be gawked at by the monarch and their subjects. It was a time of colony and exploitation where we didn’t matter what trouble we may cause.
Of course we’re not the only countries to do this, most of our european neighbours had the same colonial instincts that we did. Our museums are full of pieces that have been pillaged from the further reaches of the world. Some have been explained as ‘gifts’ from grateful nations, some were just spirited out of the countries, but all of them brought away from their countries. As these countries have developed and realised what has been raped from their lands, they want these artifacts back. From the Parthenon Marbles, Elgin brought from Greece, to Egyptian works of art through to the Koh-i-Noor diamond that currently resides in the Queens crown. This last few weeks the Easter Island government has asked for the Moai statue in the British Museum to be returned.
Many argue that these are now in our keeping and should remain in the UK sighting the possession is nine tenths of the law theme. They say these have been here for hundreds of years and were given by the countries at the time. They say that we’re protecting them and displaying them in the UK, so allowing people outside the country to view them.
I think however, we as a country as a whole should return all the artifacts we have collected, if the country we took them from request their return. It may make our museums less ‘rich’ but imagine if something had been taken from our country, like Nelson Column for instant, we’d want it back. I’m all for relics to be shared, like on a loan, but the ownership should remain with the country of origin.The Parthenon marbles should be viewed where they were meant to be displayed, in the Parthenon Let the Easter Islanders have their Moai back, it was created by their own, and deserves to be returned.