As disputes between the UK and Greece rage over the rightful owner of the Parthenon Marbles, the Institute for Digital Archeology (IDA) has found a solution for now: a near-perfect replica – made by a robot – which will be on display at the Freud Museum in London.
In January, the Oxford-based institute announced plans to replicate the Parthenon Marbles, which originally adorned a Temple of Athena atop the Acropolis, with state-of-the-art stone carving technology known as Robotor’s name.
They wanted to forge a win-win solution for the UK and Greece by making copies for educational purposes from the British Museum, while returning the original and culturally significant artefacts to Greece.
In August, the institute had taken 3D scans of the marbleswhich have lived in the British Museum since Lord Elgin brought them from Greece in 1801, under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire, as a gift to Queen Victoria.
British Museum staff refused IDA director Rogel Michel’s request to take these scans, but he and his team surreptitiously captured them anyway on tablets and smartphones, with the help of spy officers. security and floor staff.
“We regularly receive requests to digitize the collection,” a British Museum spokesperson told Artnet News. “It is not possible to systematically accommodate all of these elements.”
Finally, IDA has now completed a large-scale reproduction of the Selene Horse of the Marbles, as well as a metope depicting centaurs and lapiths fighting at Peirithoos’ wedding feast, all from the same Pentelic marble as the originals. .
The unveiling coincides with the announcement of two antiquity-themed exhibitions at the Freud Museum in 2023: “Freud’s Antiquity” and “Tracing Freud on the Acropolis,” director Giuseppe Albano told Artnet News.
An undated open letter on the IDA website notes that the British Museum says its aim is to educate, then pointed to a comment by the institution’s deputy director, Jonathan Williams, saying “people come to the British Museum to see the real thing”, referring to the replicas of IDA.
Michel went on to point out that the museum already houses replicas of the Parthenon marbles in two rooms adjacent to the Elgin Galleries.
If they intend to teach, Michel pointed out that the IDA specimens would prove more useful – pieces are missing from the British Museum exhibits and the pure white hues of the marbles distort their original bright colors. IDA copies can also pair with virtual reality and be painted to better match the antique.
The British Museum’s spokesperson told Artnet News that “there is no question of replacing the Parthenon sculptures with replicas”.
When asked if these replicas could in fact offer more utility to the institution, they replied: “Visits to the Acropolis Museum were facilitated in 2013 and 2017 for 3D scanning. These demonstrate the collaborative and enduring relationships the British Museum has with leading academics, partner museums and communities across the world.
IDA’s 3D scan of the horse Selene from the British Museum will accompany its replica at the Freud Museum, with lectures at the Louvre afterwards. He also designed a 3D model of the British Museum’s Duveen Gallery, which houses even more marbles.
Meanwhile, repatriation negotiations between the British Museum and the Greek government are said to be underway.
“A very sensible agreement has been reached and there is a fast and furious timeline for their conclusion,” Michel said. The National, believing that the negotiations will end before the Greek elections of 2023.
“The reality is that the British Museum is going to have [to] give back a lot of things, ”continued Michel. “It’s great to think that something that’s been brewing for 200 years can be solved through technology.”
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