Editorial

Needed: A comprehensive inventory of the loot

Summary

Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Berkshire, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Sheffield, and Windsor all have ‘Little pieces of Ceylon’ so to speak.

Some members of the House of Representatives, USA, have urged Britain to communicate earnestly with Greece regarding the return of some marbles. Well, the Elgin Marbles, sculptures ‘remvoed’ (read, robbed) from the Parthenon in the early 19th Century by Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin. They are currently with the British Museum which claims that Lord Elgin had obtained permission for theft from the Ottomans. No decree to the effect exists though.

The British Museum doesn’t want to return the loot. That’s not unusual for thieves.

It’s been 46 years since ‘A catalogue of antiquities and other cultural objects from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) abroad,’ by P.H.D.H. De Silva was published. It lists a considerable set of known artifacts stolen from this island.  There are over 15,000 items listed. 

The loot it seems has ended up in 23 countries and 140 holding facilities.  The vast majority are in Britain.  Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Berkshire, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Sheffield, and Windsor all have ‘Little pieces of Ceylon’ so to speak.  All stolen goods.  For antique and historical value, each and every amulet, the tiniest statuette, the most fragile manuscript with hardly legible lettering, is priceless. 

Now this would necessarily be an incomplete inventory. It’s a work in progress. We cannot get an exhaustive list, but we can try.

The Pepper Spray Club suggests the following:
(1) The Commissioner General of Archeology provides the Cabinet with an inventory of all  archeological treasures including manuscripts looted by the Portuguese, Dutch and British.
(2) Cabinet Once the INVENTORY is presented to the Cabinet it should decide on a strategy/mechanism to a) obtain as complete a list as possible, and b) get back our looted heritage.

And, speaking of ‘marbles,’ it looks like we’ve acted as though we’ve lost them forever or else have conveniently retired them!

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