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June 14, 2017, 08:29 PM

The city of marble

By Michael Morel

Ruins in Athens Michael Morel

Greece - Athens, Greece - The Greek side of my family recently visited me in London before we all headed off to a big fat Greek wedding in Athens. Banter over the Elgin Marbles was all but inevitable, and I ended up learning more about marble than I ever expected.

Modern Athens is a city with marble in abundance. Indeed I walked on countless sidewalks, staircases and curbs made of the stuff, all amid otherwise ordinary building materials. It's beautiful but slick, and I slipped on it quite a few times.

Of course the ruins are full of marble as well. One of the mountainous monasteries just outside the city is made of marble reclaimed several times over from previous structures. If you visit be warned the steps of the Acropolis leading up to the Parthenon are slippery.

Some say marble is more precious than wood in Greece. That may be a stretch but after spending a week in the country I am inclined to believe it.

Back to the Elgin Marbles. Is there a saving grace to the fact that a substantial portion of the Parthenon lies in the British Museum? The controversial possession may ultimately prove to be an unsustainably unjust relic of the UK's imperial past, but there may be an unintended benefit to its time spent in London.

The Elgin Marbles have been sheltered from weather for the last two hundred years. That is long enough to have an effect on their preservation, especially when you consider the poor air quality in Athens. London's atmosphere is nothing to brag about, but I have never seen smog as severe as Athens. I would not be surprised if it had a corrosive effect.

History is long. I have faith the UK's conscience will eventually compel it to return the Elgin Marbles to their rightful home in Athens. Hopefully by the time that happens, Athens' air quality will have improved, along with the rest of planet Earth's.

Story Type:  News

ID: 100674

Date Modified: June 15, 2017, 08:04 AM

        
 
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