Memory

In my exploration of Heinrich Schliemann, a German archaeologist and businessman, I came across information about his involvement in funding the demolition of a medieval “Frankish tower” at the Acropolis of Athens. The transformation and adaptation of monuments under the prevailing zeitgeist is quite revealing. If you’re interested in the Acropolis changes, Dr. Rachel Kousser’s article on Khan Academy is worth a read.

Within and beyond the ancient world, the Parthenon had many lives. Rather than ignoring them, it is useful to acknowledge these lives as contributions to the building’s extraordinary continuing vitality. […] When contrasting its present-day state with the first photographs taken in the mid-nineteenth century, we can see how much has been intentionally removed: a Frankish tower by the entrance to the Acropolis, an Ottoman dome, mundane habitations. […] In its current iteration, the Acropolis has been returned to something resembling its pristine Classical condition […] This feels like a loss: a retardataire effort to reinstate a selective, approved version of the past and to erase the traces of a more difficult and complex history. As such it stands as an example, and perhaps also a warning, for our current historical moment.