The one thing we should return?

April 10 2012

Image of The one thing we should return?

Picture: Adrian Pingstone

There was news this weekend that the Turkish government has formally requested the return of a 1st century BC stone relief, the Samsat Stele, which is held in the British Museum. The Stele thus joins the Elgin Marbles as an artefact of international dispute.

I'm generally not one for repatriating items such as the Marbles. But I've always thought that 'Cleopatra's Needle' in London probably should be returned to Egypt. Unlike objects in the British Museum, it is not preserved for study by scholars, or a destination for the world's tourists. Instead, it is largely forgotten, hidden by trees, and eaten by pollution to such an extent that its hieroglyphics have become unreadable. I doubt many would notice if it was replaced by a replica. Would you miss it?

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