The Parthenon frieze today, whether you look at it in the New Acropolis Museum or the British Museum, is on full display, easily observed by any visitors who stand in front of it. When it was on the Parthenon though, it was a much harder entity to observe – hidden high up, inside the outer columns & thus blocked by the outer beam containing the metopes.
Because it is hard to get access close to the Parthenon because of the restoration works, it is not so easy to see today, just how obscured the sculptures actually were in ancient times. I first looked at this as part of my university thesis, twelve years ago, when I noticed this issue from looking at sectional drawings through the building & then later on a 3D CAD model that I constructed.
It was not a completely unplanned problem though, as the depth of the relief of the carving of the frieze is carefully graded from top to bottom, to enable them to be ore clearly seen from below.
At the time that I was researching the issue, I came up with possible theories on why they might have created such a large amount of sculpture that was almost hidden in this way – but was unable to prove any of them & reached no firm conclusions on the subject. I’m very interested to see what other ideas come up as a result of this new research project into this aspect of the Parthenon’s sculptures.
You can find out more about Emory University’s Parthenon Project here. As with the Caryatid Hairstyles Project, that I mentioned a few days ago, its great to see that so much research is being made into the art & architecture of ancient Greece – and that even with sites as intensively studied as the Parthenon, it is still possible to rediscover many more new things from its ruins.
Parthenon puzzle is doozy
Art students try to solve mystery behind frieze
3:06 AM, Nov 11, 2012
It’s one of the mysteries of the ancient world, an architectural enigma that has puzzled art historians for centuries.
And one that a group of students were trying to solve on Saturday in Centennial Park.
The original Parthenon in Athens, Greece, was an architectural triumph devoted to the goddess Athena. And in spite of being held up as a masterpiece of the Classical Era, art historians for centuries have wondered why its designers hoisted an immaculately sculpted frieze to a spot partially obscured by the Parthenon’s iconic columns.
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