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According to reports on and , visitors to Athens this summer will be able to see something no one has seen for almost thirty years: the Parthenon, free of scaffolding. The scaffolding will return in September, however, when restoration work on the temple’s western facade resumes.

As Reuters reminds us:

Building the Parthenon took nine years from 447 BC and the sculptural decorations took another 10 years to complete. Restoration has already taken longer than it took to build.

[ . . . ]

It became a church for nearly 1,000 years and served as a mosque under the Ottomans for nearly 400 years after that.

The greatest blow to the structure though came in 1687 when a Venetian mortar ignited the Ottoman Turkish gunpowder store inside and widespread looting followed.

Unfortunately, moderns who tried to repair the structure often did additional harm:

Between 1898 and 1938, restoration workers rebuilt large parts of the building and concreted in parts of the columns and blocks that were missing. But they used iron ties to hold the blocks together and replaced many in the wrong place.

The iron ties have since rusted and as they did so expanded causing cracks to appear. The ancients also used iron ties, but coated them in lead to prevent rust. They have lasted well.

Today’s restorers, Reuters reassures us, use corrosion-resistant titanium to tie the temple’s blocks and columns together.

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