Fleshing out the Acropolis bones

Nearly 150 years of excavations on the summit of the Acropolis have laid bare the limestone base, now worn slippery by millions of pairs of shoes, on which the monumental buildings of the fifth century BC were erected. But in some years, if plans presented on Sunday by a leading Acropolis expert are implemented, tons of earth will be used to restore the surface of the citadel rock to its classical form. Speaking at the end of an international meeting on the 27-year-old Acropolis restoration project, architect Manolis Korres, who has headed restoration efforts on the Parthenon, proposed covering the exposed bedrock with earth. He said exposure to the elements was damaging the monuments’ foundations and destabilizing the rock itself, as well as the enceinte. In classical times, he argued, the soil on the walled summit of the rock was distributed among a series of artificial terraces that contained sanctuaries to the gods. The Acropolis Restoration Service, which manages work on the citadel, wants to implement Korres’s plans after 2006, when a 31.5-million-euro cycle of restoration is due to end.