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Art and technology at the Acropolis Museum

20 June 2013 / 19:06:52  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Why are there so many attachment holes on the sculpture of the horseman with the unbridled horse on the west frieze of the Parthenon? How had the sculptures which are today in the British Museum been taken down in 1803? And how had the second part of the north frieze been carved?

On the day of its fourth birthday, the Acropolis Museum surprised its visitors with new insights. The archaeologists were explaining how the large marble slabs weighing 9-12 tons had been lifted to the required height with the help of scaffolding and how subsequently the sculptors had carved their impressive figures and scenes on them.

And if today we see just a rider with his left hand raised, technology shows us that things had not always been this way. Actually, the horseman had not raised his hand but he had been pulling the reins of the horse. A fox fur hat, called "alopeki" in the past, is clearly visible on his head, which is said to have been destroyed but the probability of it being separated and sold is also considerable. The archaeologists presented, with the help of the digital method, three-dimensional images of the elements of the frieze of the Parthenon which show something new and different from the original exhibit displayed in the traditional way.

"We have organized archaeological activities to answer the question of why we do not organize periodic exhibitions. It is very important for us to present to our visitors the exhibits the way we see them. So, once we have obtained the first results of the analyses of the forms and colours of the scenes and figures, we are eager to present them," said Dimitris Pandermalis, director of the museum.


The "Ancient Colours" programme which presents a collection of ancient figures that have partially kept their colours has been running since last summer. In addition to the videos that visualize the entire process, the visitors learn that ancient Athenians had available dyes obtained from different minerals found in the region of Lavrio.

"Last year, we moved the studio from the second underground floor to the main part of the museum. This enables the visitors to see how the marble sculptures had been created," adds the archaeologist.

The marble slabs with the sculptures had been attached to the larger marble blocks in the frieze of the Parthenon. Dimitris Pandermalis showed how some of them had been extracted with the help of crowbars. This had formed cracks in the marble which had split it. Other fragments of the frieze had been cut in two to be taken down and carried away. In some cases, the figures had been extracted several decades after their moulds had been made which today allows them to be presented in their original form.

The central part of the eastern frieze of the temple was destroyed in the 17th century, during the bombing by the military forces led by Francesco Morosini during the 6th Venetian-Turkish war.

The laser cleaning of the caryatids is another of the restoration processes which the visitors can watch live.

The museum's director added while presenting his report for the past year that the archaeological excavations with a total area of ​​1,000 square metres under the building were ready to be exposed.

According to Dimitris Pandermalis, it is expected that new activities will be launched at the museum in the autumn.

Over the past year, the museum has been visited by 1,036,059 visitors and by over 5.5 million people from its opening to today. The museum states that its work is based on satisfying the interests of the visitors. Many of them want to have a memento of their visit to the museum to keep in their homes and that is why the archaeologists are working to create high-quality copies of the exhibits, two of which are already available in the two shops of the museum.

Tags: Historythe Acropolis MuseumTechnologyExhibitsArchaeological activitiesVisitors
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