A Brief History
On January 18, 2008, the Euphronios Krater, a bowl for mixing wine with water that dates back to around 515 BC, was unveiled in Rome, Italy after having been stolen from an Etruscan tomb in 1971 and then held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City since 1972.
Many other ancient or old items have been taken to foreign lands without the consent of their home country, and we ask, “Should these treasures be returned?” Some of those items include:
Panels and art from The Amber Room in Russia, looted by Germans during World War II. Art and 1,000 pounds of Amber were stolen, dating to the 1700s.
The Honjo Masamune Sword, dating to about 1300 AD, was taken by Americans from Japan in 1945. Its present location is unknown.
A headless statue of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius dating back to 180 to 200 AD, taken from Turkey and bought by the Cleveland Museum of Art. A lawsuit is currently deciding the fate of the art.
Note: The Cleveland Museum of Art has decided that Native American artifacts belong to those indigenous people and will no longer display such art in keeping with the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).
Question for students (and subscribers): Should all national treasures be returned to their home country? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Lindsay, Ivan. The History of Loot and Stolen Art: From Antiquity Until the Present Day. Unicorn Press, 2014.
Vikan, Gary. Sacred and Stolen: Confessions of a Museum Director. SelectBooks, 2016.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.