George Clooney's Lebanon-born British wife Amal Alamuddin is urging the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece
George Clooney's Lebanon-born British wife Amal Alamuddin is urging the return of the Elgin Marbles to GreeceGetty

The new Mrs George Clooney returned to work to begin her first case after her honeymoon -advising the Greek government on reclaiming the Elgin Marbles from Britain.

The human rights lawyer arrived in Athens on Monday for a three-day visit with her boss of chambers, the Australian lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, according to the Telegraph.

Mrs Clooney will hold talks with Anonis Samaras, the Greek prime minister and Konstantinos Tasoulas, the culture minister. She will also visit the Acropolis Museum where some of the 2,500 marbles are kept and is where the Greeks hope to house the British Museum's collection, should their case be successful.

Speaking to the Guardian, Alamuddin said: "In my view returning the Parthenon Marbles to Greece is the just thing to do.

"I hope that an amicable solution to this issue can be found, given the longstanding friendship between Greece and the UK.

"But I believe it is prudent for the Greek government to seek legal advice – including in relation to ongoing efforts to engage UNESCO – and of course it is for them to determine their next steps in light of this legal context."

Supporters of the cause to bring back the marbles to Greece were jubilant. "We really welcome celebrities getting involved. As campaigners we chip away at changing public opinion, but people take notice of celebrities, so it's good news for us," said Eddie O'Hara, the chairman of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles, which has campaigned for their restitution for 30 years.

"We would hope that it will move the argument along by engaging more people."

"Every time an international visitor sees them, that's to the discredit of the UK. Giving them back would be a grand gesture on cultural and ethical grounds.

"This monument has a special place in Western civilisation and it should have its integrity restored.

"They are sculpted elements of the Parthenon which were sawn off by Lord Elgin's agents."

The friezes should be returned as "soon as possible" the British Committee argues.

The Elgin or Parthenon Marbles has some of the finest sculptures the classical Greek world has ever produced
The Elgin or Parthenon Marbles has some of the finest sculptures the classical Greek world has ever producedWikipedia

Her husband also supports returning the marbles back to where they were originally from. While promoting his film The Monuments Men this year, Clooney told the Greeks they were right and that it would "probably be the right thing to do" for the British Museum to give up the sculptures.

Alamuddin was first asked to provide legal advice to the Greek government regarding the marbles in 2011, long before she met George Clooney.

The Elgin or Parthenon Marbles were built nearly 2,500 years ago as a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. It has also been a church of the Virgin Mary of the Athenians, and also a mosque. When the city was under siege by the Venetians in 1687, the Parthenon was used as a gunpowder store. A huge explosion blew the roof off and destroyed a large portion of the remaining sculptures.

Between 1801 and 1805 Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, removed about half of the remaining sculptures from the ruins and from the building itself. Lord Elgin was passionate about ancient Greek art and transported the sculptures back to Britain.

The British Museum claim to have a legal right to the sculptures, which were acquired from Lord Elgin by the British Museum in 1816 following a Parliamentary Select Committee enquiry which approved the legality of Lord Elgin's actions.