Elgin Marbles replica creators want British Museum to return originals to Greece

It is hard to know how the deadlock over the demands of Greece for the return of the Elgin Marbles will end. But one solution might involve a set of replica statues carved not by ancient Greek craftsmen but, believe it or not, by a robot. ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent reports

An Elgin Marble replica - carved from the same material used on the originals 2,500 years ago - has gone on display in London for the first time.

The 3D replica's creation reopens the conversation on a long-running dispute between the UK and Greece.

The Marbles – a set of sculptures that decorated the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple at the Acropolis in Greece – were taken by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century when he was the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

The pieces - also known as the Parthenon Marbles - are currently located in the British Museum, despite Athens repeatedly requesting for the UK to relinquish them.

In a bid to find a new way to settle the dispute, the Oxford-based Institute for Digital Archaeology (IDA) used 3D cameras and a giant robot to carve a horse's head into marble provided by Greece, thus creating a near-exact replica of one of the Marbles.

The British Museum retains legal ownership of the works. Credit: On Assignment/ITV News

The IDA team, led by Roger Michel, developed the 3D robotic machining technology in a bid to create "faithful copies of large historical objects".

They believe the British Museum should exhibit their replica and give the original Marbles to Greece.

"That way, Greeks can regain their cultural heritage, and the British Museum can retain its status as the world’s greatest historical collection," the IDA said.

The replica horse head was scheduled to be able to be viewed from 5pm on Tuesday at London's Freud museum.

A giant robot was used to carve the replica (Credit: Laura Veschi for Robotor and the Institute for Digital Archaeology)

Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has called for the marbles to be returned to Greece on many occasions, even offering to loan some of his country’s other treasures to the British Museum in exchange.

Conservative former culture minister Lord Vaizey will chair a new body aiming to return the sculptures to Greece. The ex-MP for Wantage and Didcot has also suggested reforming the 1983 National Heritage Act to give greater freedom for museums to dispose of objects in their collection and deal with restitution requests.

Prime Minister Liz Truss has previously ruled out supporting a deal to return the Elgin Marbles to Greece, despite George Osborne, chairman of the British Museum and former Tory chancellor, saying there was a “deal to be done” to share the Marbles with Greece.

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