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Restoration of Athenian Acropolis monuments national priority for Greece: official

The preservation of the centuries-old cultural relics crowning the Acropolis hill in Athens is an issue of national priority for Greece, a Greek official in charge of the task said on Thursday.

Restoration of Athenian Acropolis monuments national priority for Greece: official
The Acropolis. View from Pnyx [Credit: © YSMA Archive]
Standing on the hill, Vassiliki Eleftheriou, director of the Acropolis Restoration Service, said restoration of the cultural relics has always been a difficult and delicate task for her agency.

Eleftheriou and her colleagues have to move forward with their restoration and maintenance work while keeping the Acropolis hill open to thousands of tourists every day.

Work at an open archaeological site does not progress at a very fast pace. Reporters at the scene saw only two cranes operating on site while archaeologists and craftsmen were confined to a small corner near the hill's entrance to do their job.

To maintain the structural integrity and authenticity of the monuments, archaeologists are careful with the decisions and materials they use.

Before any decision to restore the relics is made, a multidisciplinary committee of scholars will examine the proposal submitted by archaeologists, architects and other specialists.

Restoration of Athenian Acropolis monuments national priority for Greece: official
Ballon photography of the Acropolis monuments from the West, 2011 
[Credit: © YSMA Archive]
Only the best materials are used. For example, the white marble used for completing the eroded architectural elements is quarried from the same mountain as the antiquity.

Comprised of experts who have won international acknowledgment for their work, the Acropolis Restoration Service was set up with the aim of preserving the masterpieces constructed in the 5th century BC.

As technology advances, the service is constantly seeking the best materials, tools and techniques to reverse the damage caused by time, environmental pollution and the human factor, according to Eleftheriou.

To stabilize the monuments and address static problems, for example, Greek experts used titanium to reinforce broken stones in the past four decades.

The use of the latest technological tools such as 3D filming is also helping Greek experts and officials to document the site with more accuracy for further scientific research as well as bringing it closer to wider audiences.

Restoration of Athenian Acropolis monuments national priority for Greece: official
Parthenon. Interior view of the north side with restoration completed. View from the southwest 
[Credit: © YSMA Archive]
The Acropolis Restoration Service is also seeking wider and deeper collaboration with other countries, including China, on the know-how of antiquity protection. Eleftheriou believes this is an efficient way to ensure the Acropolis monumental ensemble is better protected and passed down to future generations.

Despite the lingering debt crisis in Greece over the past few years, the restoration and protection of the Acropolis hill has never ceased, partially due to the funds they receive from both Greek government and the European Union.

"Funding has never been a major problem. The Greek state always supported us. This is a national treasure and its protection is a national goal, a matter of national priority," she said.

Since 1975, the total cost of the restoration works on the Acropolis hill stands at 100 million euros (109.02 million U.S. dollars), according to Eleftheriou. Considering the size of the project, the amount was small, she said.

Authors: Maria Spiliopoulou, Tian Ye | Source: Xinhuanet [November 12, 2016]

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