A stunning symbol of the birth of European democracy, philosophy and science; a culture and society which was so ahead of it’s time, society seemed to collapse in on itself after it’s fall – this is what one thinks of when one thinks of the Acropolis. It was a marvel at its zenith. Centuries of looting and destruction later – and two centuries of archeological annihilation and reconstruction – and its difficult to even comprehend what is left. It has become a great wonder of the world, and as such, archeologists feel the need to ‘renovate’ it.
Would you ‘renovate’ the works of Plato or Shakespeare to make them more appealing to the modern reader?
I would hope the answer is a resounding never! I am aware that buildings are different and in order to ‘experience’ the buildings, people desire to appreciate them in their former glory. Many would also prefer to read Shakespeare in a modern translation – but then you lose the substance and essence of the language.
Does it not then stand to reason that if you rebuild and re-plaster a monument then you lose the substance and essence of the monument? And the sad truth is that with Plato or Shakespeare you have the luxury of preference. However if you reconstruct a building because it’s not aesthetically pleasing then that’s it; there’s no returning it to what it once was!
We slur older generations for looting, destroying and desecrating places we now cherish. Is it not then (at the very least) plausible that future generations will criticize us – especially due to technological advancements, which will likely allow a virtual reconstruction to be enjoyed alongside the natural ruins – for our ignorance in ‘reconstruction’?
And for what purpose do we vandalize – sorry preserve – ruins? So that cattle wielding cameras can gawk at it by the busload with no real concept or understanding of what it is they are really witnessing? So that they can take photos, which will be invariably left to rot on dusty memory cards or the hard-drivers of old computers? Eager to mill through – and not truly appreciate – what they are told is a ‘must-see’.
I don’t claim to be any more of an expert on these matters than them. A year of Archeology at University taught me little more than the fact that I find it loathsomely boring. But I can at least appreciate my own ignorance towards what I’m viewing and understand that if you spend your life gawking at the past in awe, you miss what’s all around you – a society (not just Greece but Europe) that owes much of its great ideas to the people of the Acropolis and not the rocks they used to construct it.
It would seem though that I am the minority – yet again – here and that vandalizing past glories is what the majority hails as progress at least in the naïve days of the early twenty-first century.