Debate the Ethics of Repatriation Egyptian Artifacts Term Paper

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Ethics of Repatriation-Egyptian Artifacts

Egyptians making efforts to get their artifacts back

The artifacts that get stolen from a country are hard to get back as, the country from which they are stolen would have to ask the authorities of the other country to help them find those artifacts or fight a legal battle in the courts of the other country which can not only be very time consuming but also expensive. Although now there are laws that require the countries to return the stolen items to the ones that they originally belonged to but a lot of the disputed items were returned long before these laws were implemented (Durham, 2007).

It was last year that the chief of Egyptian antiquities; Hawass got together with 25 other countries in the search of all the artifacts that were stolen or were even gifted. He said that the museums and the authorities who refused to return the artifacts would have to face serious consequences and true to his words he really did made sure that the museums who didn't return the artifacts faced serious boycott not only from the Egyptian museums but from other countries as well. According to Hawass since he became the chief of the antiquities he had been able to recover 5,000 artifacts that were stolen or gifted (Al-Shalchi, 2010).

However, this process of getting the artifacts back requires the co-operation of various governments, the agencies working in them and most important of all, these deals and searches needs proves that the artifacts were actually stolen, illegally taken out of the country or were gifted and many a times this causes problems since there are often gaps found in the historical records (Al-Shalchi, 2010).

Arguments in favor of Returning these Artifacts

The correct and ethical approach

There is a reason why the historical artifacts are so important, it is because they tell a story about the place that they belong to and in returning something to the place that it was originally from is the correct thing to do as, it is only in that place that the real value of that artifact can be appreciated (Merryman, 2006).

Artifacts convey more knowledge when observed in the place they belong to Artifacts are a very important part of the past or the history of the place, it not only helps the people belonging to that place remember the history and the importance of their place but also let the tourists feel a part of the history by telling a story about the era in which it was made or it existed, for example; Elgin Marbles are currently being showcased in a museum in London whereas, they originally belong to Athens as they were a part of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens. For this reason they are not exactly serving their purpose as, a person who has not seen that place before won't truly be able to appreciate the beauty and the significance of those marbles. Therefore, they would do more good in Athens -- the place that they actually belong to -- rather than lying in a museum in London, which is so very different from the place of origin of those marbles (Merryman, 2006).

Historical part of a place

As, mentioned above it the original place where the artifacts would make the most sense because they would belong to that place, they would also mean a lot more to the people who belong to the place where the artifacts are from and since not everyone has the money or the resources to go to other countries to see a part of their heritage, it is unfair to those people as well. Therefore, the best solution is to return the artifacts to the place that they originally belong to (Merryman, 2006)..

Illegally acquired artifacts

Most of the artifacts that are not present in their place are origin are acquired under doubtful circumstances, for example; the Axum obelisk originally belongs to Ethiopia and was taken by Mussolini as a war trophy although, later on the actions of this kind were taken notice off and the obelisk was returned back to Ethiopia in 2005. Another such example is of the Parthenon Marbles that were taken by Elgin from the Ottoman authorities when they invaded Greece (Merryman, 2006).

During the colonial rule and later on by the thieves, archeologists and the adventurers thousand of artifacts were stolen or taken from Egypt. Now the Egyptian authorities want all those artifacts that are a part of their heritage back. These Egyptian artifacts can be found all over the former colonial countries. For example; the 3,500-year-old bust which belongs to the Queen Nefertiti who was the wife of the famous Pharaoh Akhenaten, is currently in Germany where it is being showcased at the newly re-opened Neues Museum in Berlin, the architect of the Great Pyramid at Giza is located in Germany as well, the Louvre palace in France has a painted Zodiac from the Dendera temple, bust of Anchhaf who was a builder of the Chepren Pyramid is currently present at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (Obaji Ori, 2009).

In 1972 there was an agreement signed by the United Nations according to which the artifacts had to be returned to the place that they originally belong to, for this reason the Egyptian archeologists are now eager to find the original basalt slap that dates as far back as 196 BC, the reason why this basalt slap is so important to the Egyptian archeologists is that it is a key to the modern interpretations of hieroglyphics; in the 1980s an ancient fresco fragment was stolen from the tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt and currently it is present in a museum in Britain and is wanted back by the Egyptian archeologists. As a result of all these efforts to get their artifacts back the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities has been able to secure 5,000 artifacts since 2002 (Obaji Ori, 2009).

Artifacts; a huge source of tourist attraction

Tourism can be a huge source of income for a country and if some other country is keeping the artifacts that don't belong there and earning tourism trade because of it, this means that they are earning what is actually the right of the country to which those artifacts originally belong to and therefore, must be returned to the place of their origin (Merryman, 2006).

When the tourism trade or the top tourist countries are talked about Egypt's name definitely comes up as, it is a country whose economy heavily depends on the tourist trade in terms of the employment as well as the foreign currency income, but when the artifacts that belong to Egypt are found in other countries it affects the tourism for Egypt as they don't get the tourism that they deserve because of it and since Egypt highly depends on its tourism, the artifacts belonging to it needs to get returned. Because the Egyptian government understands the importance of tourism it has been trying to increase it by introducing more and more attractive offers and packages for the tourists and also, by internationally commercializing the tourist spots in Egypt to increase the awareness and to attract more and more tourists. The Egyptian government had the target of reaching 14 million visitors by 2011 (Merryman, 2006).

Artifacts; a reminder of an oppressive past

This illegal or unfair way of keeping the artifacts reminds the people of the oppressive past that their ancestors had to face, for example; at the moment the Rosetta stone is being kept in a museum in London and although the Egyptian government has asked the British government to return their artifact but it has not happened yet, similarly, the Nigerian government has been requesting the British government to return 700 of the Benin Bronzes but their requests are constantly being denied by the British government. This refusal of the requests, rather the denial of the laws by the British government clearly reminds one of the political powers that Britain once imposed on the other nations, now it is doing this by showing a sort cultural ownership of the artifacts that actually belong to other nations. This kind of behavior is what prevents the people from forgetting the oppressive past and the injustices done to their ancestors (Merryman, 2006).

Availability of better resources to move artifacts

In the past it was considered a difficult task to transfer an artifact from one place to another let alone a different country or continent. However, now this can be easily done as, now the technology has improved a lot, there are more resources and better equipment. Where, in the past there used to be the fear of damaging the artifacts in the process of transportation now, these chances are minimum as all the factors such as; suitable temperature, ideal environment, the amount of humidity etc., can be controlled. Therefore, the transferring was never as easy in the…

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