A University of Mississippi class focusing on “Who Owns the Past?: Ethics in Archaeology” recently traveled to New York to learn about the financial, legal and political considerations in the ongoing international battle to properly preserve ancient artifacts.
Hilary Becker, assistant professor of classics, teaches the 300-level class made up of Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students. Over spring break, the class visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fordham Museum of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Art, and Christie’s Department of Ancient Art and Antiquities, among other educational attractions in New York.
“This is an opportunity to look at ethical dilemmas, using current events and case studies involving antiquities and ancient sites,” Becker said. “There are cases like the famous Elgin Marbles that once graced the Parthenon, but they’re in London now. The fact that they’re in London means millions of people can see them each year, but the Greeks think they should be in Athens because they would attract people there, and the marbles are also part of their heritage.”