In this essay, I review the issue of repatriation from the Lebanese perspective. I examine the history and context of how artifacts from Lebanon were illegally exported and present one example where the objects have been returned. It is alarming that, even in the twenty-first century, Western politicians and curators do not want treasures returned to their countries of origin as they have become part of the local heritage of the Western people.

There are two important things to consider in a historical monument: its use and its beauty. Its use belongs to its owner, its beauty to everyone in this world, to you, to me and to all of us. Therefore, it is beyond our right to destroy it.1 (Hugo 1832: 621; translation by L. Tahan)

Nearly 200 years ago, Victor Hugo in his article “Guerre aux Démolisseurs” (War on Destroyers) wrote that historic monuments belong to...

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