The British Museum chairman, George Osborne, has mooted the possible return of the Parthenon (or Elgin) marbles to Greece. This is thoroughly good news.
The British Museum houses some of the world’s most incredible artifacts. Among these, are large parts of Greece’s most famous building, the Parthenon. This fifth-century BC marble temple is dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena and dominates the hill of the Acropolis in Athens.
Archeologists have been trying to piece this building back together for decades. However, reconstructing the ancient masterpiece is a little tricky when half of the Parthenon’s splendid marble is sitting in London! Therefore, it’s no surprise Greece has been asking for its most breathtaking piece of history to be given back for a while.
It seems only fair to return something to its rightful home. Indeed, late last year, Germany became the first country to hand back the Benin bronzes looted by British soldiers in the late nineteenth century, and others are following suit. Restitution is gaining traction and now the British Museum's chairman has stated that “seeing them in their splendor in Athens” is something to be sought after, and has also acknowledged the dubious historical and legal ownership of the marble.
This enormous decision to give back the Parthenon’s marble is not just up to Osborne, as the rest of the British Museum staff have to agree with this action also. This may well happen as a solution to this dilemma has been put forward that surely cannot be ignored – recreating the structures using 3D printing technology.
The Institute of Digital Archaeology has the means to replicate the works of art to be indistinguishable from the originals, blemishes and all. Using ground stone from the original Pentelic quarries in Greece, a 3D printer can be programmed to reproduce the huge sculptures from the exact same building materials. The British Museum already has tons of replicas – many not even being as authentic as this technique can provide – so why not create another?
Using the 3D printer, the institute’s aesthetic demand can be met, while Greece can importantly have its “crown jewels” back.
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