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Why Cultural Riches Should Be Returned to Their Nations? Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2020


Cultural treasures refer to any tangible and movable object that is typified by aesthetic, historical, and/or scientific interests, which relate to history or pre-history and culture of an individual state (Cuno 68). The main reason of asserting that an object is a cultural treasure is to preserve a nation’s cultural heritage, prevent it from getting lost. Artifacts include metals such as bronze and other trade items that have been used for studying and understanding the origin of man and his developments.

According to Cuno (70), the fact that these properties have the ability to converse either openly or through association, aspects of time or space make things reached on and be protected. If it would be agreed that cultural treasures are important in preserving a nation’s identity, then it would be right to say that they should be returned to their countries of origin. This paper highlights the reasons why cultural riches should be returned to their nations.


First, cultural riches give a country identity. There are certain materials that are associated with specific countries. Properties that related to individual countries distinguish them from other countries that do not have the materials (Cuno 72). This implies that if cultural items would not be returned, individual nations may lose their identities. For example, the Egyptian Rosetta Stone that is found in the British Museum is attributed to Britain, but not Egypt.

Cultural reserves are important because they encourage and maintain a tourist economy in many parts of the world. It is evident that the Rosetta in London generates a lot of money to the British government, which could be earned by Egypt (Cuno 78). Most tourists visit archaeological sites to learn more about the past events of man using artifacts. As a result, hey generate huge revenues. In turn, increased earnings improve the economy of certain nations.

Most tourists are attracted by varied cultures in a state. Parthenon in Greece and Rosetta in London are a few examples of material cultures that attract tourists and earn the host nations a lot of money (Waxman 81). It is critical to indicate that if cultural riches would not be returned to their countries, then tourist industries of the mother states would lag behind in terms of development.

Nations use their cultural heritages to say good things about themselves. Waxman (84) argues that people would always want to be associated with good things. Citizens of individual states would be proud of their cultural riches. They would learn about their past through the study of the culture of the early people. In addition, they could learn the achievements and failures of their ancestors. Through enlightenment, they would improve their ways of life and avoid a repeat of mistakes that were committed in the past (Williams 23).

Cultural wealth should be returned for the sake of their dignity. Nations would be respected if their wealth would be within their territorial boundaries. The more a nation would be rich, the more it would be respected among in relation to others. Moreover, a country with various cultural heritages is more prestigious than one that does not have a huge collection of cultural riches (Waxman 86). It is significant to indicate that cultural heritage is part of developments of a nation. Thus, a country with many development activities would have a good reputation. This gives the importance of returning cultural artifacts to their countries (Williams 76).

Waxman (89) states that cultural substances are understood better when they are studied in the environment where they originated. For example, Elgin marble is an architectural material, which can only be understood if it would be studied in the context of the Parthenon Temple, which is in Greeks. This implies that if one studies some aspects about the Elgin marbles outside from the Parthenon, it would be difficult to understand the concepts (Williams 90).

In addition, the return of societal wealth is a sign of detaching from colonial masters, breaking the myth that the original owners were unable to look after their own cultural heritages. This would give a reality about misconceptions of many colonial powers who took away societal riches of their colonies (Waxman 92). Therefore, if the cultural riches would b e returned, then the myth would be broken.

Another reason why they should be returned is that some of them were acquired illegally. Some were stolen while others were acquired through bribing of officials who were in charge. However, countries of origin realized later. Parthenon marbles and Benin Bronze were obtained though illegal ways. It would be important for governments of states where items were obtained to adopt strategies that would return them. After they were acquired, they were sold to markets of host countries with or without the knowledge of the authorities.

Some of cultural reserves have religious and cultural attachments of the area from which they were obtained, but have no attachments for those who view them anywhere. In some cases, selling them or taking them away from their sources is a sign of disrespect to their descendants (Waxman 95). It is also a crime to display some spiritual aspects publicly for entertainment. It would be advisable to return the riches because their presence in host nations may cause misfortunes to countries of origin.

Finally, it would be important to underscore that some countries, such as Greece, were not able to take care of their cultural riches due to lack of places to keep them. However, nations that were poorly prepared have improved infrastructure. For example, in Greece, Athens has established a modern museum for preserving cultural marbles that remained after illegal exports in the past (Waxman 97).

Governments in many countries are adopting control measures in areas that were characterised by unfavourable situations with regard preservation of cultures. For example, measures have been put in place to reduce the level of sulphur (IV) oxide because it interferes with sculptures. Since many countries are ready to maintain their cultural heritages, then materials should be returned to their right places for preservation.

Although this paper has recommended that all cultural materials should be returned to their countries of origin, it is also critical to underscore that such a proposal has cons. For example, some nations would not be in a position to effectively manage their artifacts, leading to destruction and/or loss of cultural heritages. In fact, some would not have adequate funds to allocate to agencies for cultural protection. In addition, it would result in less integration of cultures across the world because cultural riches would only be restricted to certain areas.


In conclusion, it is evident that there is an urgent need to return cultural treasures to the countries where they originated. Keeping another country’s wealth denies it the right to utilize its resources. Host countries do not generate revenue, yet huge cultural wealth belongs to them. Some nations have spiritual attachments to their cultural materials, which could cause misfortunes if they would be displayed in other parts of the world. In addition, some were acquired illegally and they should be returned. Finally, they are meaningful if they are studied from their original environment.

Works Cited

Cuno, James. Whose culture?: the promise of museums and the debate over antiquities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012. Print.

Waxman, Sharon. Loot: the battle over the stolen treasures of the ancient world. London, United Kingdom: Macmillan, 2010. Print.

Williams, Paul. Memorial museums: the global rush to commemorate atrocities. Oxford, England: Berg Publisher, 2007. Print.

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