The restoration of the pollution-ravaged friezes of the Parthenon is set to gather pace, with the removal of a further 17 metopes from the Athens landmark for cleaning, the Culture Ministry’s Central Archaeological Council (KAS) said yesterday. Of these 17 metopes, 14 will be from the west side of the Parthenon which, experts say, is in a «lamentable state.» Another metope – depicting a Centauromachy – will be taken down from the south side and two more from the north side. The cleaning of architectural elements and sculptures from the Parthenon began in 1976. But efforts have gathered momentum in recent years mainly due to the Athens 2004 Olympics and – chiefly British – criticism that Greece has abandoned its ancient treasures to acid rain and pollution. Last year six metopes were removed from the west side of the Parthenon. KAS was reportedly hesitatant about approving the removal of an additional 17 metopes – fearing it would leave the Parthenon bare – but finally decided that the work is crucial if the landmark is to be preserved.