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Travelogue J6

February 13, 2019

Now on a level with the site’s main structures, I gingerly picked my way across the slick rock surface and walked the length of the southern retaining wall. I alternated between contemplating the sea the other side of Piraeus and consulting the numerous informations panels for visitors. Over the course of half an hour, I came to appreciate just how the Parthenon and neighboring structures had been scattered to the four winds. The site had seen the fires of the Persian Wars and several barbarian raids, the Ottoman occupation and the Venetians’ unintentional detonation of the arsenal hidden within the Parthenon, the departure of the Elgin marbles and continuous repurposing of materials left behind. It was no wonder that precious little had remained standing by the time archeologists and conservationists began their work in the 19th century.

Indeed, I was taken aback to learn just how much work had gone into the site as I then found it. Work had begun by gathering what war, artifice and human ingenuity had scattered, identifying the remnants as best as possible, and storing them at the site or nearby for later use. Reconstruction of certain edifices then began in earnest. Iron rods, strong mortars and sculpted replacements allowed roofs to be raised, courts to be enclosed, columns to be erected, statues to be displayed. Where early conservationists had used suboptimal materials or methods, later conservationists went over and redid the earlier work with the benefit of recent advances in conservation science. In this way, over the course of decades, the site had slowly regained something of its original shape.

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