Friday, 26 August 2011


The story of Troy is one of the most famous stories in Western literature, something that the ruins of Troy should be thankful for as it is a distinctly underwhelming site to visit, a site of barely standing walls, bricks and holes. All that is really here are memories of legends that have echoed down through the ages, legends only remembered because of a poem transcribed from the oral meanderings of a blind poet named Homer around the 8th Century BC. About 500 years separates the end of the Trojan War and the Iliad, the first book of Western literature with prose no doubt embellished by time and poetic license alike. It is a poem that means Troy is still a place worth visiting, to try and imagine it as Helen saw it, the city Achilles attacked, the city that Hector lost his life defending. Imagination rules here.

The Trojan Horse from the movie Troy, standing in a park in Cannakale
Troy lies about 30 kilometres from the city of Canakkale, also the base for seeing the Gallipoli peninsula. Troy is one of the major drawcards in this part of Turkey, the Trojan horse made for the 2004 movie Troy takes pride of place in a downtown park in Cannakale. We shared our trip with an Indian couple, maybe honeymooners, and an Afrikaans family. Our guide for the day was Ali, kind featured and soft-spoken, with a particularly strong English accent.  He was also embarrassed as our bus was over an hour late. This led to a somewhat prickly environment. The guy from South Africa was obviously annoyed about having to wait, Ali obviously acutely aware of his company’s failure to pick up its clients on time.

The Trojan horse at Troy itself.
Still apologetic after arriving, Ali leads us through the ticket booth. For such a famous site, the grounds are sparsely occupied, although we had been told that several million people come to the sight annually.  A large wooden horse, a rethinking of the famous Trojan horse, guards the entrance to the sight. Before entering the grounds, Ali took time to briefly explain the history and re-discovery of Troy. Troy become a powerful city on the back of its location, which allowed for complete control of the Dardanelles (control of the Dardanelles is still important now, as it partially led to the Gallipoli campaign more than two thousand years later), which meant that every ship from the Aegean Sea heading to the Black Sea had to pass via Troy. Ships would have also had to stop here to wait for favourable winds, meaning that the success of Troy was likely largely based on the collection of taxes from ships.
Troy actually comprises of at least 9 distinct cities. The first city, Troy I, was founded in the 3rd millennium BC, Homeric Troy (probably Troy VII) destroyed around 1200 AD. The city was rebuilt by the time of Alexander the Great and he prayed at the shrine of Achilles  in 334 BC on his way to conquering Asia Major. The last reincarnation of the city was Troy IX or Hellenistic Ilium, which was founded by the Romans during the time of Augustus and was an important trading city until the establishment of Constantinople as the eastern Capital in the 4th Century AD. Constantine was believed to have initially strongly considered the possibility of making Ilium the new imperial capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, an idea swayed by the historical links Rome had with Troy but in the end decided against such a move because Troy’s large natural harbour was silting up, a process that eventually lead to its decline in later Byzantine times.

What remains

Surprisingly, given its historic place in Western literature and the fact that there was a city here until at least the 5th Century AD, the knowledge of the location of Troy was seemingly lost through the Middle Ages. The township that once thrived declined as the harbour silted up, taking away the key advantage and reason for the success of Troy, access and control of the Dardanelles. It seemed to many people of medieval Europe that the tale of the Trojan War was a collection of epic poems and folk tales of ancient people, framed in fiction rather than fact. Many doubted that Troy actually existed, comparing it to the lost civilization of Atlantis. Others placed Troy in other parts of modern day Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Scandinavia, Italy or England.

The 18th Century saw an upsurge in an interest of classical studies, and the re-discovery and identification of Troy was seen as the holy grail of classical studies, the legends still seductive after nearly 3,000 years. While its location and very existence were issues of discord, some were convinced of the existence of Troy and many searched for it using clues supplied by the Iliad and other historic sources. A Scottish journalist named Charles Maclaren used the geographical clues given in the Iliad and he placed the site of Troy somewhere in northwestern Anatolia. Recent research has confirmed that the geography talked about in the Iliad would have been representative of Troy 3000 years ago. For example, the fields that surround Troy now would have been a large harbour, fed by the river Scamander. Further geological findings have reconstructed the coastline as it would have been during the time of the Trojan War and the findings support the description of the Trojan coastline in the Iliad. Scholars have concluded that there is a consistency between the location of current day Troy and locations such as the Greek camp, the geological evidence, descriptions of the topography and accounts of the battle as described in the Iliad.

Not much but bricks.

An Englishman, Frank Calvert, was taken by Maclaren’s findings and purchased land from a local farmer in 1865, land that he believed hid the ruins of Troy. Calvert shared his find and belief that this was the site of Troy with a rich German called Heinrich Schliemann in 1868. Schliemann was an interesting character. He married a snotty Russian in 1852, who withheld conjugal rights until she felt he had made enough money to deserve her affection. He managed to corner the trade in indigo (and presumably was granted rights by his wife), and managed to turn a tidy profit, enough to easily support his ambitious wife and a growing brood of children. In 1856, he managed to force another monopoly and gained control of the Russian market supply of saltpeter, sulphur, and lead, constituents of ammunition needed by Russia during the Crimean War. He proved to be such a successful businessman that he was able to retire in 1858 aged 36. He turned his attention to proving the historical accuracy of the Iliad, with the biggest pull being  Troy itself. He dedicated his life to this task, divorcing his precious Russian wife in the 1860s and remarrying a Greek woman in 1869. He had two children with his new bride and reluctantly allowed them to be baptized, but solemnized the ceremony in his own way by placing a copy of the Iliad on the children's heads and reciting one hundred hexameters during the ceremony.

Schliemann upped the excavation effort although his techniques were rustic and rudimentary. Thinking that Homeric Troy must be in the lowest level, Schliemann and his workers dug hastily through the upper levels, reaching fortifications that he took to be his target, a tactic that Calvert strongly disagreed with. The site is acned by the rough trenches built by Schliemann to uncover Homeric Troy, with deep ruts still visible from where he cut down into the cities. Later archaeologists have condemned him as having destroyed the main layers of Troy VII. Some have even suggested that Schliemann did what the Greeks couldn’t do, by “destroying and leveling down the entire city walls to the ground”.
View down one of Schliemann's trenches. The farmland you can see was once a large harbour.
Because of this, Schliemann is a cowboy to some, a father of archeology to others. Both view- points are valid; archeologists of the time were almost always treasure hunters, intent on discovery but also on looting. Schliemann illegally smuggled out of the country many of the golden and other historic treasures he found. One collection of treasures are known as Priam’s treasures  (named after King Priam, the King of Troy during the Trojan War, father of Paris and Hector) which are now housed in Berlin. The authenticity of the treasure has been questioned and it appears that they likely predate Homeric Troy and therefore Priam. Schliemann initially wrote that he had seen the gold glinting in the dirt and dismissed the workmen so that he and his wife could excavate it themselves, later removing it in her shawl. However, this was untrue. Schliemann later admitted fabricating it; at the time of the discovery Sophia was in fact with her family in Athens, following the death of her father.

Whatever his faults, Schliemann is readily acknowledged as the re-discoverer of Troy, although he was initially convinced that Troy II was Homeric Troy.  His team found a large gate known as the Scaean Gate (part of what we know call Troy II, a gate he described as strongly resembling a gate described in the Iliad: "I have proved that in a remote antiquity there was in the plain of Troy a large city, destroyed of old by a fearful catastrophe, which had on the hill of Hisarlık only its Acropolis with its temples and a few other large edifices, southerly, and westerly direction on the site of the later Ilium; and that, consequently, this city answers perfectly to the Homeric description of the sacred site of Ilios". Unfortunately for him, Troy II was seemingly destroyed by catastrophe, not war and Troy VII is now considered Homeric Troy. This Troy dates to around the 12th Century BC, with a destruction layer at around 1190. Bodies broken by violence have been found, as have arrows, although not in the quantities one might have associated with a ten-year siege of a city. However, the timing does fit with the classical date of the sack of Troy by the Greeks that has been recorded as happening in 1183 BC.

Wall from Troy VII.
All that still stands of Homeric Troy are a few strong walls, walls that withstood 10 years of siege and warfare, until defeated by the trickery of the Trojan Horse (if the legends are to be believed). Ali pointed out to us the burnt walls of Troy II, the strong walls of Troy VII, the roman ruins from Troy IX. The great halls and palaces are gone, and the site is underwhelming and surprisingly small. New research using magnetic imaging, has shown a ditch that may have surrounded Troy VII, which suggests a much bigger city (maybe of up to 50,000 people) may have existed here, giving more support to Troy VII being Homeric Troy.

Helen of Troy may have been the face that launched a thousand ships but Troy is the city that has led to millions of words being written, many a great deal more eloquently than me. The legends and words will keep bringing people here and more secrets will be revealed. The key to Troy is to think about what was, not what is.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Gallipoli. Nearly 100 years ago, this place, a modern day paradise with pine groves that grow right down to the long, yellow sand beaches that are lapped by the crystal clear waters of the Dardanelles, was hell on earth. Thousands came here to fight from all around the world and legends were born; John Simpson, the medic with a donkey who helped countless wounded, the Turkish soldier dragging an injured Allied soldier to safety. Thousands came here to die. Mustafa Kemal, the Turkish commander who later became Ataturk the father of modern Turkey, famously told his men "I don't order you to attack, I order you to die.” They did.

Enlisting poster from Australia.
Our tour group of 30 consisted entirely of Australians and New Zealanders, all drawn to this place of suffering by a shared knowledge that something important happened here, something bigger than war. It’s the sort of place that demands the utmost respect. For example, I thought at the bare minimum, one should wear a shirt. One of the young guys on our tour failed in this regard. These sorts of situations bring out the grumpy old man in me. I was hoping two things that a) he was an Australian and b) that I wouldn’t have to ask him to put his shirt on.  When we reached ANZAC Cove, he did the right thing; he covered up, saving me from doing my curmudgeon impersonation. We spoke to him later; he was from Whangarei, in New Zealand. 100 years earlier, men like him and me died alongside each other here. Now we come to pay our respects to those that died and shake our heads at the futility of war.

ANZAC Cove as it is today
Gallipoli was the brainchild of Churchill, who was at the time the First Lord of the Admiralty. He was convinced of Turkish fragility. He wanted to ensure that Russia had access to its Black Sea ports and eventually hoped to open up a Balkan front against the Central Powers. On the first count, the Turks were far from fragile. With a grasp of modern warfare and weaponry boosted by its military links to Germany, and a growing surge of nationalistic pride, the Turks were no pushovers.  The intelligence that the Allies were reliant on was far from intelligent: it greatly underestimated the strength and size of the Ottoman Army in the region, used maps that were wrong or failed to accurately show the topography of the region. The region where the troops landed is rugged, rising to several hundred feet above sea level, with the Turks dug in in strong positions that allowed their machine gunners to dominate the peninsula. In summer, it was brutally hot; the reverse in the winter. All in all, it was one of the Allies biggest failure of the war and a failure that Churchill almost never recovered from. World War 2 largely redeemed him but the Gallipoli Campaign remained a large blight on his proud record. However, the blame is not entirely Churchill's. Minister of War Lord Kitchener, hero of Africa, took too long to commit to the plan. Naval admirals refused to continue bombardments at key times and the generals refused to admit that the tactic of just throwing huge numbers of men at well set and positioned machine guns wouldn't work. Ironically, the greatest success of the campaign was the evacuation. Troop numbers steadily reduced and by December 1915, plans were made to evacuate all troops. It was done with little fanfare or loss of life, via the use of cunning ruses like self-firing guns and a change in troop patterns that deceived the Turks into thinking that more men remained than there actually were.

The terrain was demanding. This outcrop was know as the Sphinx.

 Every stop on the tour we did around the peninsula was poignant. First stop was ANZAC Cove, a small, nondescript beach, where Turkish machine-gunners shooting from elevated positions killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands of ANZAC troops on the eventful first day landing on the 25th April, 1915 (now enshrined as ANZAC Day, Australia and New Zealand’s shared day of remembrance). Walking to the first Allied cemetery from ANZAC Cove, we come across a World War 1 bunker, possibly used by the Ottomans to pour bullets down onto the beach.  The small cemetery overlooked the ocean shaded by a large Trojan oak. 

Allied war cemetery

Around the corner from here is a memorial that contains Ataturk’s immortal and highly evocative words.

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives....
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country
Therefore rest in peace,
There is no difference between the johnnies
and the mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours...
You, the mothers
who sent their sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears”

The memorial with Ataturk's speech.
I had to wipe away my tears and I’m no mother. It’s hard not to shed a tear here in this place of sorrow. Gravestones of young men in their prime cut short, the youngest on the Allied side a mere 15 year old, who like so many lied about his age to go to war. The last gentlemanly war, it’s been called, as if a gentlemanly war wasn’t an oxymoron. I would prefer to think of it as the last major conflict of naivety, a war where the honour of battle still held a glamour, a mystique to the masses. Bonds formed here, between soldiers, friendly and enemy, familiar and alien. But make no mistake, this was warfare at its most brutal. A medieval war fought with modern technology.

Statue of a Turkish soldier saving an injured Allied soldier.

The heart-strings continued to get pulled. Near Quinn’s post, stands a statue of the Turkish soldier pulling an injured Allied soldier to safety, seemingly justifying the term gentlemanly war.  Maybe, it was war-time propaganda although reports do speak of it or something similar happening on the frontline. We come to Lone Pine, the main Australian memorial and cemetery where 2,000 odd Australian men died one day in an area about the size of a rugby field .6,000 Turks were injured or killed defending the position. 

Lone Pine, the Australian memorial and cemetery.

Around here were trenches, sometimes only 10 metres separating the Turks from the Allies. This was by no means unusual. The Turks and the ANZACs co-existed so closely that they could often talk easily from trench to trench. They had armistices to bury the dead, recognizing it did no man any benefit to be around the stench of decay. The area is littered with tunnels, mostly now collapsed in the unsteady sandy soil, with gnarly and mostly rotten old sleepers dressed with rusty barbed wire.

Barbed wire. If you look carefully, bullets can still be found.
Next was the largest Turkish memorial in this part of the peninsula, a cemetery and open air mosque containing many members of Ataturk’s 57th Company, the ones that he urged to die for their country (legend has it that no man from this company survived the whole campaign). The Turks, even more than the Allies suffered heinous losses, in defence of their homeland. I took a few minutes to ponder and marvel yet again at the Turkish welcoming of generations of New Zealanders and Australians, who have come to pay tribute to their fallen heroes, men who died trying to invade Turkey. Do you think America welcomes with open arms busloads of Japanese tourists coming to honour the Japanese dead at Pearl Harbour? Or France, lays down the red carpet for German tour groups who wish to tour Nazi battlegrounds? It’s really should be no different here but Turkish people have welcomed ANZACs here since the 1920s.

The main Turkish memorial and cemetery on the peninsula.

The warm welcome ANZACs get here is maybe an extension of the war itself. As the war progressed, both sides got familiar with each other. The Allies allowed an old Ottoman batman to hang his platoon's washing on the barbed wire without attracting fire. It’s said that there was a "constant traffic" of gifts being thrown across no-man's land: dates and sweets from the Ottoman side, and cans of beef and cigarettes from the Allied side. Both sides spoke in glowing terms about the other. Initial British propaganda had portrayed the Ottoman Army as cowardly, apt to "melt away at the first show of force and the cold steel of a bayonet". Later, the ANZACs spoke highly of their foe. In his poem ANZAC, Lieutenant Oliver Hogue said "I reckon that the Turk respects us, as we respect the Turk; Abdul's a good, clean fighter-we've fought him and we know."

After the Turkish memorial, there was the Nek. Here, in a piece of land about three tennis courts in area, immortalized in the movie Gallipoli, 350 or so Australians were killed or injured in a few short hours, knocked aside in a futile attempt to cross the 27 metres that separated them from the Turkish line. Turkish machine guns and a mis-timed naval bombardment ensured that this was, like so many other missions during the campaign, a suicide mission. 

The New Zealand memorial at Chunak Bair.
And lastly, Chunak Bair, the only success of the Gallipoli campaign, albeit fleetingly and for me the most poignant. New Zealand soldiers managed to overwhelm and take the position for a time before it too was lost. It took a large toll. A division from Auckland was wiped out. William Malone, in charge of a Wellington bulletin, refused an order to attack during the day, deeming it a suicide mission. He clashed with his British superiors as exemplified by this diary entry about a superior “He didn't know and knew nothing. Had no defensive position, no plan, nothing but a murderous notion that the only thing to do was to plunge troops out of the neck of the ridge into the jungle beyond”. His battalion, attacked at night. They won but Malone paid the ultimate cost. However, his decision saved many men their lives. Even still, 711 out of 760 in his battalion were either injured or killed. He was viewed as a hero by his men, for his clashes with superiors on their behalf. In 1923 the soldiers of the Wellington Regiment paid for the construction of the Malone Memorial Gate, white marble gates at the entrance to King Edward Park; New Zealand's largest war memorial commemorating an individual soldier. Today, at Chunak Bair, a New Zealand memorial graces the plateau, the first of its kind to be built on the peninsula after the war. A wall lists those men who died during the Gallipoli campaign, many young, all far from home.

Wall  with the names of the dead from New Zealand.
Ironically in a place of so much death, it’s a place that saw the birth of a national identity for three countries. While it might be naive to say that Gallipoli was the birth of a national identity for both Australia and New Zealand, Gallipoli certainly was something that solidified a true national identity for both countries, as entities distinct from Great Britain. The fight bought with it the realization that they were both independent countries, however small and new, that could play a role on the world stage. The belief in the invincibility of the British Empire started to erode here, taking an almost fatal blow in World War 2 before fading out in the 1970s as Britain moved into the EU and Australia and New Zealand looked towards Asia and the Pacific. For many in both countries, ANZAC Day is seen as the day when both countries became truly independent.

For the Turks, the victory can be seen as sowing the seeds for the rise of the national of Turkey from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire under the leadership of Ataturk, who first rose to prominence here. The Ottoman Empire may have been in its death throes but the seeds of struggle to fight for a Turkish homeland were sown here-before growing into a full-blown independence movement culminating in the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. 86,000 Turks died here, double the number of Allied deaths. Mustafa Kemal, at the time a corporal, rose to fame at Gallipoli. His commandment at Gallipoli was the stuff of legends. Nearly killed at Chunak Bair (a stopwatch gifted to him by a German official prevented shrapnel from entering his body), he rose with Turkish aspirations until he assumed the name Ataturk, Father of the Turks, becoming the first president of the new republic in 1923.

Perhaps this is truly why ANZACs are welcome here today. The Turks recognize a kindred spirit, a shared destiny, a determination to make three countries great that had its foundations here. For New Zealanders and Australians, don’t feel that you miss out on anything by not going to Gallipoli on ANZAC Day. If anything, the lack of pomp and ceremony is more befitting the memory of those men who died in tunnels, those men cut down by machinegun fire or killed by disease. And remember to spare a thought for the Turks, both living and dead, who have generously nourished the Gallipoli legend. Lest we Forget.

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Imagine that your landlord writes a letter for an acquaintance that says that the friend is entitled to take a look around your place. If, in the process of looking, he finds something that captures his eye, he should just take it. Then, when you complain to the friend, they say don’t worry about. I’ll be able to take better care of your stuff than you can. If you ask to see the letter, the friend says that he has lost it but no fear;  honestly he did have it once. This is the situation that Greece, playing the wronged tenant found itself in, in the early 1800s. At this time, Greece was merely a province, one of many, of the vast Ottoman Empire (playing the role of the landlord). The Ottomans gave Lord Elgin (the friend), the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, a free pass to look around Athens .  Elgin found his way to the Acropolis and there, the friezes that adorned the Parthenon, captured his imagination. He had them removed and shipped back to mother England. The collection of friezes became known as Elgin’s marbles and when he ran into some money trouble (some versions say that he did it  from the goodness of his heart), he sold his collection to the British government who in turn gifted it to the National Museum. This is where the marbles still sit today, amid much tension and acrimony.

The Acropolis is on the top of the hill in the centre of the picture.
Lord Elgin first went to Greece as Ambassador in 1798. He was clearly interested in the Parthenon from the start- this was a period when classical studies were very fashionable. His interest can be seen by the fact that he asked several members of the government if they would be interested in casts or sketches of the statues- no official interest was forthcoming. On arrival, Lord Elgin soon started making casts and drawings of the sculptures. It was from this time onwards that his intentions became murkier. Apparently, he noticed that some statues had been recently (in the past years, recent is a relative term when you’re talking about Greek history) lost, or rather they had been recycled, broken down for their lime content and used in gardens around Greece and the Ottoman Empire. In 1801, Elgin actively started to remove friezes and other statues from the Parthenon and ship them back home, a process completed by 1812. This was done under the authorisation of the Sultan, although no Ottoman copies of the letter have survived. Indeed, the only document purported to show the authorisation is an Italian translation, apparently owned by a friend of Elgin. 

At the Parthenon
Even though the legality of the removal was at best questionable and while many admired the marbles, not all of the public admired the pieces or valued their worth. Many people were of the opinion that the pieces were of a poor quality and didn’t display the ideal beauty believed to be implicit in classical art. Among the haters were several high-profile detractors. Lord Byron, perhaps the epitome of British romanticism of the time, called them “misshapen monuments” and strongly objected to their removal from Greece, calling Elgin a vandal. His views were telegraphed in the poem "Childe Harold’s pilgrimage".

Dull is the eye that will not weep to see
Thy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removed
By British hands, which it had best behoved
To guard those relics ne'er to be restored.
Curst be the hour when from their isle they roved,
And once again thy hapless bosom gored,
And snatch'd thy shrinking gods to northern climes abhorred!

While there were detractors, high profile and influential ones at that, Elgin and his marbles proved to be a big hit with the British public. After initial discussions with the British government failed in 1811, he was able to convince the British House of Commons by a vote of 82-30 to buy the collection from him in 1816, for the tidy sum of 35,000 pounds. They were then given to the British Museum for safekeeping. They proved a hit with the punters with record crowds flocking to see them. And there they have stayed, despite Greek claims for their return that have only gotten louder as time goes by.

The Elgin marbles in the British Museum, London.
The Acropolis itself still dominates the landscape of central Athens. It’s an awesome sight to look up and see it perched on the hill, 3,000 odd years of history where Socrates may have once talked and angered people, where the genesis of modern day democracy happened. You can't help but let your attention drift up to it, whether you are eating a delicious Greek meal (there are many), exploring the back streets and shops or just taking a stroll. The Acropolis has been under restoration since the 1970s. Today, a large crane stands as an eyesore in the middle of the Parthenon. Scaffolding covers other aspects of this iconic building (as it does of many of the historic buildings in Europe). 

Under renovation.
A new museum is being made that will house the treasures of the Acropolis, Athens and greater Greece. The Greeks hope that the marbles can be returned, at worse on loan and preferably for good, to be displayed in this new museum. Apparently, the directors of the British Museum are considering the loan of the marbles back to Greece, under the provision that Greece acknowledges British ownership. This is unlikely as any such acknowledgment may reduce Greece’s moral argument at a later date. The Greeks have made it known that they would like to reunite all of the Parthenon sculptures (others are found in different European museums and some have already been returned from Sweden, Germany, the USA and the Vatican), so as to improve visitors understanding of the Parthenon as a whole.

So why won’t Britain return the marbles to Greece. Some arguments are made to say that the Greeks can’t be trusted with them, that pollution in Athens would have destroyed them (ignoring the fact that some restoration done in Britain significantly damaged some of the marbles); that over half of the original marbles are lost and the rest are too fragile to transport; that the marbles were obtained legally, it was just that the Ottoman Empire rather than the Greeks themselves that was the authority who agreed to their release. Other arguments centre around the fact that the British museum has collections from all around the world, acting as a sort of highlights package for world culture. Fears that fulfilling Greece’s claim would also lead to an emptying of museums in North America and Europe, museum collections made in many cases through the plundering and purchase of stolen or shadily acquired goods. The Berlin Museum, for one, will be watching closely. It holds the bust of Nefertiti, a famous Egyptian bust either taken legally or via shady means by a German archeologist (depending on your point of view) that is now an icon of both Germany and Egypt. It has featured on Berlin postcards and on German postage stamps and has been described as the ancient world’s most famous bust of ancient art, only rivaled by that of Tutankhamen (which Egypt has possession of). 

The bust of Nefertiti-safe and sound in Berlin
The bust of Nefertiti has been in Germany since 1913, a year after it was discovered in a dig by a joint German-Egyptian group, although it was not displayed to the public until 1924, further highlighting the idea that it was probably taken in somewhat of a dishonest manner. Egypt has been demanding the return of the bust since this time. It survived much of World War 2 hidden in bunkers around Berlin, before being placed in a salt-mine towards the end of the war where it was discovered by American troops (thankfully not Russian) in 1945. It was then given back to the Germans, with the Americans ignoring pleas from the Egyptians that it should be repatriated back to Egypt. It has been displayed in museums around Germany ever since. Even Hitler, ever the politician, was seduced by the bust. When Goering suggested in 1933 that the bust should be returned to Egypt, Hitler told the Egyptian government that he would build a new Egyptian museum for Nefertiti: "In the middle, this wonder, Nefertiti, will be enthroned, ... I will never relinquish the head of the Queen."

Greece has made repeated pleas for the return of the Elgin marbles. Despite the many reasons given for their retention in Britain, one of the main reasons the National Museum and by proxy the British Government have is that Britain best knows how to preserve Greece’s heritage (such a view would only have been strengthened by the failure of the Greek economy). A cynic would say that it comes down to less altruistic reasons and has more to do with the fear that a big drawcard would leave the British museum and perhaps take with it other treasures in an later day domino effect. I feel that this is closer to the truth than any other of the excuses given by the Brits and is an extension of paternalism and imperialism that is best left in the past.