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Archaeology

The Removed Sculptures of the Parthenon October 5, 2008

Filed under: The Parthenon Marbles' Issue — Argy @ 7:02 pm

THE REMOVED SCULPTURES

The Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures
The pictures presented here show some of the most eloquent examples of the dismembered Parthenon Sculptures, which, at present, lie separated mostly in the British Museum of London and also in the Acropolis Museum of Athens. The viewer will be able to see “virtual reality” images of some of the sculptures, coming from the pediments, the metopes and the frieze. The parts in London are indicated in colour, what has remained in Athens is presented in white. These two sets of images are then digitally combined to prove the vital necessity of the reunification of all these sculptures. Those Parthenon Marbles that are on display at the British Museum make up approximately 60% of the total remaining sculptural material of the Parthenon. The need for their reunification with the other 40% approximately in Athens, is a cultural imperative that must be accomplished. It will be to the benefit of every visitor (scholar or not), who will seek to view the Parthenon and its historical environment.
History of the Parthenon
The Parthenon Sculptures are not freestanding pieces of art. They were created as architectural and symbolic parts of the temple of Athena, built in the 5th c. BC at the height of the glory of ancient Greek culture. The concept realized in the construction of the building is balance through symmetry, summed up in the triad of metopes, frieze and pediments. The monument is fully understood only with its sculptures and the sculptures are meaningful only next to the temple, in their natural and historical environment. The Parthenon still stands as a great monument after 2,500 years, and is considered a powerful symbol of freedom of thought, democracy, philosophy, harmony and liberty. It is the foremost monument of Western civilization. UNESCO has selected the Parthenon as its logo, and has placed the Acropolis in the World Heritage List.
The Parthenon Sculptures
Of the 97 surviving blocks of the Parthenon frieze, 56 have been removed to London and 40 are in Athens. Of the 64 surviving metopes, 48 are in Athens and 15 have been taken to London. Of the 28 preserved figures of the pediments, 19 have been transferred to London and 9 are in Athens. The Parthenon frieze is considered to depict the procession of the Panathenaic festival. The metopes show: on the eastern side the Gigantomachy, on the western side the Amazonomachy, on the northern side the Trojan War and the southern side the Struggle between the Lapiths and Centaurs. The eastern pediment depicts the birth of Athena and the western pediment shows the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the patronage of Athens.
Proposal for co-operation
Greece is asking for collaboration of Great Britain in the name of the monument itself and in the name of the World’s Cultural Heritage. This can be effected through bilateral cultural and educational co-operation. More specifically, the proposal envisages the exhibition of the reunified Parthenon Sculptures in a large hall of the New Acropolis Museum Greece and Geat Britan can share in the restoration and the revival of the Parthenon. Displaying the Parthenon Sculptures in unity will enable un to enhance our reading of this unique monument, develop scholarship and reveal to future generations the achievements of mankind. Texts and images by E. Korka, Head of the Department of Greek and Foreign Archaeological Intitutes, Organisations, and international Issues, from the edition “The Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures”, Hellenic Ministry of Culture, 1st edition Athens 2002, 2nd Edition Athens 2003. (KAPON editions)
Of the sculpted decoration of the temple, the following have survived:
Metopes
East side (Gigantomachy)
in the Acropolis Museum: all the plaques (14)
West side (Amazonomachy)
in situ on the monument: all the plaques (14)
North side (Trojan War)
in situ or in the Acropolis Museum: 13 whole or fragmentary plaques
South side (Struggle between Lapiths and Centaurs)
in situ on the monument: 1 plaque
in the Acropolis Museum: 11 whole or fragmentary plaques
in the British Museum: 16 whole or fragmentary plaques (fragments of 6 of them are also kept in the Acropolis Museum)
Pediments
East pediment (Birth of Athena)
in the Acropolis Museum: 4 figures (C, H, N, P)
in the British Museum: 10 figures (A, B, D, E, F, G, K, L, M, O)
West pediment (Fight between Athena and Poseidon)
in the Acropolis Museum: 8 figures (B, E, J, K, S, U, V, W))
in the British Museum: 4 figures (A, P, Q, T)
fragments of the same figure in the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum: 6 figures (C, H, L, M, N, O)
Frieze
The frieze depicted the Procession of the Great Panathenaea and originally comprised 115 plaques (119 relief surfaces, since the corner stones are numbered twice). Of these 112, whole or sections, have survived:
West side (all the 16 plaques are preserved)
in the Acropolis Museum: 13 plaques
in the British Museum: 2 plaques
fragments of the same plaque in the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum: 1 plaque
South side (41 plaques are preserved)
in situ on the monument: 2 plaques
in the Acropolis Museum: 12 plaques
in the British Museum: 24 plaques
fragments of the same plaque in the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum: 3 plaques
North side (46 plaques are preserved)
in the Acropolis Museum: 24 plaques
in the British Museum: 15 plaques
fragments of the same plaque in the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum: 7 plaques
East side (9 plaques are preserved)
in the Acropolis Museum: 3 plaques
in the British Museum: 1 plaque
fragments of the same plaque in the British Museum and the Acropolis Museum: 5 plaques