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Definition of the Elgin marbles from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

the Elgin marbles

 
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a set of marble (= hard stone) sculptures of the 5th century BC from the outside of the Parthenon in Athens which are now in the British Museum. They were bought in 1801 by Lord Elgin from the Turkish authorities who were governing Greece at that time. Elgin sold them to the British government in 1816. The Greek government has asked Britain to return them to Greece many times.