Art has a long and painful history. Many ancient artifacts have been illegally removed or poached throughout the ages and many sacred architectural structures have been disrespected or destroyed so they finally fell into ruin over the centuries. The Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens is no exception. The temple was originally dedicated to the goddess Athena and was the centerpiece of the building project dating back to about 2500 years ago. The Parthenon was later converted into a church, a mosque, and was used for gunpowder storage before a large explosion blew off the roof in the 17th century and left it in ruins.
Most sculptures and reliefs have been removed from the building, as they cannot be reattached to the structure anymore. One of the largest requisitions of sculptures, also known as the ‘Elgin Marbles’ (named after Lord Elgin who acquired them over 200 years ago), is located in London. Since their transfer to Britain, these sculptures have been on display in the British Museum, although there in still an ongoing discussion with the Greek government over the legality of removal of the find.
Yet all the dispute dwarves next to the beauty of these fragments. They exude a sense of graceful timelessness that few others do. Even after two and a half millennia, they are full of mysteries waiting to be solved. Researchers of the British Museum, working closely with scientists from the Acropolis Museum, study the sculptures extensively to uncover their secrets, in order to promote understanding of ancient Greek culture and by extension, our own.