Posted on 01/20/2014

Photo taken on January 20, 2014

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British Museum
United Kingdom
Elgin Marbles

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NC294 British Museum - Parthenon Sculptures, Seated Gods

NC294 British Museum - Parthenon Sculptures, Seated Gods
British Museum - Elgin Marbles, Some Gods

The Parthenon Sculptures were created for the metopes high above the ground, to decorate the temple to Athena in Athens. The work was completed around 440 BC. The sculptures represent a procession, with scenes from the then current mythology.

The main characters seen here on the East Frieze are, from left to right, seated: Hermes. Dionysos, Demeter, Ares, Nike, Hera, and Zeus. There then follows the Peplos Group, with again seated, Athena, and Hephaistos.

Seeing how the Parthenon had suffered damage over the centuries, Lord Elgin undertook the task of rescuing the remaining decorative carvings at his own expense. In 1801 he removed as much as he could, then in successive expeditions until 1812 his team took away around half of the original carvings. Some originals had been ground down for building materials, while others had suffered irreparable weather damage.

Elgin was almost bankrupt when the stones arrived in England, but the British government stepped in to purchase them from him, then presented them to the British Museum.

Even in those days there was controversy about removing the sculptures from Greece. The British not only said then but also still maintains today that the works would suffer damage if returned to Athens. The Greeks say that their conservators are the best in the world. They also claim that the 19th century British restorers actually degraded the stones.

The debate will rumble on, with politicians posturing as it suits their cause. Meanwhile, we are able to enjoy the marbles, now at eye level. I first saw the Elgin Marbles when I was nine years old, and they are still magnificent 56 years later. In another 56 years the marbles will still be there. Unfortunately, I won't.

Photographic Details

Taken at 1316hrs on 20th January, 2014 with a Nikon Coolpix S3300 compact digital camera, post processed with Adobe Photoshop. This image is a composite of six photos.

©2014 Tim Pickford-Jones.

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