Thursday, May 26, 2011

Restoring Beauty and Perfection

Want to behold one of the greatest archaeological renaissance projects without boarding a plane?

The Acropolis Restoration Project in Athens, Greece is reassembling the Parthenon, "a 100,000-ton, three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle with 70,000 individual pieces—combining the latest science with the techniques of ancient Greek architects and builders."

12 interactive slides take you through the ambitious project, in which the builders are combining ancient and modern tools to create the transformation.

First they had to identify all the pieces, then correct some previous restoration mistakes.

The team also turned to the very quarry the ancient Athenians used. Just 12 miles from the Acropolis, the quarry is known as Pentelicon. "Scholars estimate that in the time of Pericles, the Athenian leader who spearheaded the Parthenon's construction, workers cut 100,000 tons of marble from Pentelicon. The quarry remains a rich source of marble even today."

As in ancient times, the Parthenon workplace today is less a construction site and more a sculptor's studio. Master stonemasons do all carving by hand.

"When the Acropolis Restoration Project began 30 years ago, Manolis Korres and his colleagues could have chosen to approximate the Parthenon's original state, adorning it with sculptures and friezes, and painting it in vivid colors. Instead, they decided to preserve what has survived for two and a half thousand years—a majestic ruin, a witness to what we needlessly destroy, and the beauty and perfection that we can create."

Report and image via NPR and Nova.