At present it is impossible to see the surviving Parthenon Sculptures in their entirety in a single place. A new book combines photos of them to replicate as closely as possible how the complete surviving set would look.
Saturday November 27, 2004
Book recreates Parthenon Marbles as a single entity
Let’s be thankful for small mercies! The Parthenon sculptures have returned from the British Museum in London and some others from the Louvre in Paris to join their few remaining counterparts in Greece, until now in the Acropolis Museum, to bask in the sunshine on the Parthenon itself!
Not yet a reality, this scenario is presented in a faithfully illustrated book by Ephesus Publications. For Helbi, who firmly believes the return of the Parthenon sculptures is only a matter of time, this book is a step in the right direction. The foreign public has already been convinced it is time for them to return. The British Museum has had them long enough. As our readers are only too well aware, all that is needed is the completion of the new Acropolis Museum so that the sculptures will be in sight of the Parthenon, one of UNESCO’s 10 World Monuments.
This bilingual edition (Greek and English) has illustrations of nearly all the remaining Parthenon sculptures for the first time in one publication, revealing not only that “masterpiece of sculptural art” but giving the argument for their return, which Ephesus presents as a “national issue of the utmost cultural importance.” The author is the archaeologist and director of the Acropolis Museum, Dr Alkistis Horemi-Spetsieri. Photographs are by Socratis Mavromatis from the British Museum and the Louvre. The book was launched at the Weiler Building in the presence of the author, who in her prologue mentions that the “great dispersal of the sculptures” (60 percent of which are in the British Museum) “does not permit the reconstitution of the extant decoration, the reunification of which is a demand of the majority of scholars.” The story is told of the campaign to bring the sculptures back to Greece, an effort which began with the founding of the modern Greek state. In August 1982, the late Melina Mercouri, as Greece’s culture minister, raised the issue at UNESCO and with the British government. Since then, the Greek and British governments repeatedly tried to find a solution. “I cherish the belief that the day will come when a rising sun lights the prime minister’s office and 10 Downing Street and he declares it time to right a grievous wrong, that half of the sculptures torn away from the Parthenon by Lord Elgin be restored to its entity and context. It is a matter of honor, a matter of conscience. It is a cultural imperative,” writes Mercouri’s husband Jules Dassin in the prologue.