Essay 167 – Historical objects should be brought back to their country of origin

GT Writing Task 2 / Essay Sample # 167

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

It is often argued by many that historical objects should be brought back to their country of origin.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.


Model Answer:

There has been great controversy concerning the demands for the return of historical objects to their nation of origin. This essay will explore the social, moral and practical arguments for and against, and then state that, on the whole, repatriation is not the right thing to do.

To commence with, some believe that important artefacts belong to their nation of origin; so, repatriation is morally correct. These objects have a genuinely unique association with the place where they were created or found and therefore should always be an integral part of the cultural history of that area. Apart from this, one can only readily appreciate a historical object in its historical backdrop. A case in point is the Elgin Marbles, currently reside in the British Museum in London. The marble originally constituted part of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, and therefore it is only visiting the place a visitor can truly appreciate the intended effect of the sculpture. In the British Museum, the marbles appear as mere juxtaposed fragments, seeming bereft of their meaning by the loss of their geographical and historical background.

Having said that, affluent nations sometimes simply have better resources to preserve, restore and protect historical objects than their nation of origin. It is then a moral obligation to conserve the object for the future generation, and if it is best achieved by retaining in a foreign nation then that has to be the course of action. Moreover, the historical backdrop of an artefact is more than just its country of origin. That is to say that many artefacts have symbolic and historical meaning that often transcends their origins. In fact, they establish an intimate connection with the land and culture that artefacts are housed. A very good example is the Egyptian obelisk. It was brought to New York in the nineteenth century, has considerable symbolic significance to Freemasons as a connection to their predecessors.

In fine, we should propose a world where historical artefacts from other places and times are shared. However, museums are for unlocking the past, not overturning it, and therefore they should keep their treasures for the benefits of the world.

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