As marble is an extremely hard material, it can show the smallest defect. Yet all the ingenuity of the ancient Greeks has been carved into the marble of the Acropolis. This year, 230 specialist Greek scientific and technical personnel are celebrating 30 years of restoring and preserving the monuments.
Restoration began in 1975 with the foundation of the Committee for the Preservation of the Acropolis Monuments (ESMA) by Constantine Karamanlis, then prime minister. In 2000, the independent Acropolis Restoration Service (YSMA) was created and funding was provided by the Third Community Support Framework.
In previous years, mainly between 1984 and 1999, inadequate funding forced the work to proceed very slowly, though without affecting the quality. Some talk of the delays, but any criticism ignores the difficulties and importance of the undertaking.
Such a restoration project demands what the Acropolis restoration crews have described as respect and love for ancient Greek art, as well as motivation and inspiration from the spirit of the ancient artisans.
Over the last four years, 1,000 architectural pieces, weighing a total of 2,315 tons, have been disassembled and refurbished. More than a thousand (1,100) large ancient fragments and many smaller ones have been positioned and reassembled, and 690 supplementary architectural sections and 90 new sections from new marble have been affixed to the ancient fragments.
All this has been carried out with meticulous care since not only are architectural sections considered to be a separate work of art, but even the smallest piece as well.
Matching a fragment with another is carried out with painstaking patience and exhaustive searches among thousands of fragments. The process of disassembling, meanwhile, brings engineers and technicians face to face with highly complex and ingenious techniques unsurpassed by today’s technology and know-how.