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Parthenon Marbles Photos

For now the Parthenon Marbles are in the British Museum and well worth the trip. But if England is not in your plans and you don't want to wait for their return to Athens you can visit some of them here by clicking on the photos.

East Pediment

The entire middle section of the east pediment is missing but we know the subject is the birth of Athena from Pausanias who visited Athens in the second century AD and from a drawing by Jacques Carrey who visited in 1674 when the sculptures were still in place. Around 500 AD the Parthenon was converted into a Christian Church and most of the sculptures were destroyed. In September of 1687 a Venetian shell that hit the Parthenon, which was being used by the Turks to store gunpowder, blew the building apart and shattered the remaining statues.

West Pediment

The Subject of the west pediment is the contest between Athena and Poseidon. Unfortunately there is not much left of the statues but we know about it from Pausanias and Carrey. In 1749 there were 12 figures on the west pediment according to Dalton. When Lusieri arrived to draw them for Lord Elgin there were only four left. Whether they were ground into lime and mortar for building or taken away by travelers is not known but even before Elgin arrived there was a lively trading in antiquities.


The Metopes are the rectangular slabs that went around the Parthenon with mythological scenes carved in high relief. All the Metopes in the British museum come from the south side of the Parthenon and show the battle between the Lapiths and the Centaurs.

The Frieze

The Parthenon Frieze went around the entire building and shows a procession which is said to be the Panathaneic Festival which takes place on the birthday of Athena the patron of the city of Athens. Another theory is that it shows the story of Erechtheus which is one of the founding myths of Athens. The problem is that with some of the frieze in London and some in Athens it is difficult to get a complete picture of what story it is trying to tell which is a reason there is a variation in opinions. Returning the marbles to Athens will give scholars are clearer picture and increase our understanding of the ancient world. It has been suggested that the Parthenon frieze could be one of the most significant and profound documents of mankind. Perhaps containing important messages to us from the past. One of the conditions of the display of the Parthenon frieze is that no copies are allowed to be shown with the originals.

The Caryatid

Taken from the building called the Erechtheum this statue was one of the four maidens who were pillars holding up the porch. Elgin replaced her with a brick pillar until they finally made a copy. These statues were very popular with the Sultan and it is unlikely he would have permitted Elgin to take it had he known what was going on.

For more photos of the Acropolis see:

Return to Parthenon Marbles Index

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