New sculpted capitals ready for the Propylaea

Two capitals sculpted from new marble by two skilled stone masons working on the Acropolis’s extensive reconstruction project are to be placed on the roof of the western hall of the Prolpylaea this week. The molds, sculpted by Giorgos Desyptis and Aristeidis Cladios, were made according to guidelines set by the Acropolis Monuments Conservation Service (YSMA) and are the organization’s pride and joy. Up until very recently, the capitals of the Propylaea, worn by time and other trauma, were reconstructed with the controversial method used by Nikolaos Balanos during the reconstruction of the Acropolis monuments in the 1920 and 1930s: Pieces of four different capitals were stapled together to form one, according to YSMA director Maria Ioannidou. When it was removed from the temple, the service decided not to replace it again, and one of the reasons is that Balanos is known to have stapled together mismatched sections of the monuments in random order. The pieces that are in bad shape and being removed from the temple are expected to go on display at the New Acropolis Museum, in a way that highlights earlier conservation work on the monument. The director of YSMA also reiterated that conservation work currently being carried out on the Parthenon, the Propylaea and the Temple of Athena Nike «are going well» and are expected to be completed by early 2007. Visitors to the Acropolis can already see visible changes on the Temple of Athena; among others these were outlined in a lecture series organized at the Gounaropoulos Museum in Zografou earlier this month. The lecture series was actually the first time the public was given a clear idea of what has been happening on the Acropolis for the past 30 years. The last lecture was delivered by civil engineer D. Michalopoulos, and it was on the reconstruction of the Temple of Athena – the smallest of the Acropolis’s monuments, but also one that presented the toughest problems. «The problems we had already accounted for, as well as those we encountered as the temple was being deconstructed, revealed that monuments with smaller parts, in relation to the other monuments on the Acropolis, require just as much time and the same quality of work,» he said.