A sculpture depicting Zeus and Hera, king and queen of the ancient Greek pantheon of gods, has been permanently removed from the Acropolis in Athens for safe-keeping, a project supervisor said Saturday.
The sculpture — one of the last of the original decorative pieces adorning the 2,500-year-old Parthenon temple — will be showcased in the Acropolis Museum in Athens and will be replaced by a copy, architect Vasso Eleftheriou said.
“This is the same method followed for other Parthenon sculptures that have been removed or are to (be removed),” Eleftheriou told state television NET.
The Parthenon metope, or decorative frieze space, removed this week had been defaced by early Christians during the fall of pagan worship in Greece, and further damaged in later centuries by acid rain.
Another five metopes are to removed in the coming months, the Ethnos daily reported this week.
The Parthenon has sustained significant damage in its long history. It was bombarded during a 17th century Venetian siege of Ottoman-held Athens and underwent modifications that turned it first into a church and then a mosque.
In the early 19th century, workers employed by British ambassador Lord Elgin tore down a large number of decorative friezes from the Parthenon.
They were shipped to London and were eventually put on display at the British Museum where they remain to this day.
The British Museum has turned down Greek calls for their return, arguing that the Marbles are part of a world heritage and are more accessible to visitors in London.
Inaugurated in June 2009, the new Acropolis Museum includes a section reserved for the disputed Parthenon Marbles.
It was Greece’s top tourist draw last year, attracting more than 1.3 million visitors, compared to some 990,000 people who visited the Acropolis ancient citadel itself.
… raising, of course, the obvious question: why can’t they put some copies of those things in the British Museum up on the Parthenon???