In the latest skirmish over the Elgin marbles, Greece accused Britain of arrogance in saying that the ancient sculptures from the Parthenon were better preserved in London than in Athens.

The outburst was prompted by a new book, "Lord Elgin and the Marbles," by the British historian William St. Clair, which says that in 1937, workers in the British Museum damaged the fifth century B.C. marbles by trying to remove their honey-colored patina with scrapers and powerful cleaners.Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the book buttressed Greece's case for the marbles' return.

Britain acknowledged damage but said it was exaggerated.

Many museums fear that if Greece does win back the marbles, the way may be opened for other nations to reclaim treasures.