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Parthenon’s geometric & sculptural secrets explained in Nashville

In the last three hundred or so years, archaeologists, artists, architects & mathematicians have begun to rediscover some of the secrets designed into the Parthenon – from the geometric corrections in the angles of its columns, to the way in which the sculptures were carved. A seminar at the copy of the Parthenon in Nashville will help explain these using the most accurate replica existing of the original building (but bear in mind that although the building itself may be similar, much about the Parthenon is derived from its context on the Acropolis rock – something that Nashville’s Centennial Park can never hope to emulate.)

Nashville City Paper [1]

Symposium explains Parthenon’s structural oddities, sculptural secrets
By Alexa Hinton
March 31, 2006

A closer look at the façade of Centennial Park’s Parthenon will reveal that the columns do not stand exactly vertical but instead all lean inward slightly, said Parthenon Director Wesley Paine. The temple’s horizontal lines curve slightly, and the columns, which appear to taper off evenly in width from bottom to top, are actually widest in diameter about a third of the way.

“There are mathematical and structural oddities that make the building look so perfect,” Paine said. “The Parthenon is not the only ancient temple to have these refinements, but it is regarded that they all come together most beautifully in this building.”

People speculate that the deliberate features are meant to make the architecture more pleasing to the eye, Paine said, but a symposium Saturday at the Parthenon called The Parthenon: Architecture, Sculpture and Politics in Ancient Athens will address many of the ancient temple’s physical mysteries.

The symposium’s panel will feature Dr. Lothar Haselberger from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Barbara Barletta from the University of Florida and Case Western Reserve University’s Dr. Jenifer Neils, who will detail Parthenon’s architectural secrets and the meanings behind the sculptures embedded into the temple’s exterior decoration.

The panel coincides with the Parthenon’s current exhibition, Photographs of the Athenian Acropolis: The Restoration Project 1975 – 2001, which documents the archeological site’s 25 years of refurbishments and repairs.

“This is a great opportunity for people to see the photographs of the real thing and hear these lectures from within the recreation,” Paine said. “I hope perhaps it creates a greater appreciation for the classical Parthenon — not just the hands that built it but the minds that thought it up, as well as our Parthenon, which is what the ancient Greeks wanted us to see as it all put together.”

What: The Parthenon: Architecture, Sculpture and Politics in Ancient Athens symposium at The Parthenon
When: 2-5 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Parthenon, Centennial Park
Cost: $5 for adults,$2.50 for seniors and children 4-17, children under 4 are free
Info: 862-8431; parthenon.org