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Zeus in Exile: Archaeological Restitution as Politics of Memory

Working Paper #13, Summer 2000

Can Bilsel

This paper is an analysis of the current debates on the Zeus Altar, not only in terms of its present possession and copyright, but also as a collectively negotiated construct of memory. By investigating the case of the Pergamon Altar, I hope to show the shortcomings of the present literature for and against repatriation, which often treat the archaeological monument as mere cultural goods. A reconsideration of the Zeus Altar as embodiment of collective memory, which is at the heart of political negotiations today, may bring a new perspective to the definitions of cultural property, national patrimony and historical heritage.

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