From The Parthenon To The British Museum: Celebrity and Controversy with Helena Meskanen

From The Parthenon To The British Museum: Celebrity and Controversy with Helena Meskanen


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The Parthenon has stood tall on the top of the Acropolis in Athens for nearly 2500 years. In this webinar, we will trace its rich history from construction, through the Roman and Ottoman periods, all the way to the early 19th century, when some of its sculptures end up in London.

When the Parthenon was built in the fifth century BC, it was a period of time when the Athenians were claiming a place as the leading Greeks. The use of myths on the sculptural decoration of the building reflects these concerns, with many events taking place in Athens itself. The symbolism would not have been ambiguous to anyone, especially to Athens' allies and enemies. The best sculptors and architects were hired to do the job, and they employed a range of methods to counteract optical illusions and improve visibility; this has led to the popular statement that there are no straight lines on the Parthenon!

But perhaps the most current aspect of this iconic building is the controversy over the location of its sculptures. We will examine the context of their removal by Lord Elgin, and different arguments made in the debate on their return to Athens - where a new museum is ready to welcome them back. In the end, we will also survey a few more modern buildings that have taken their inspiration from the Parthenon, testifying for its enduring appeal through time and space.

Led by archaeologist Helena Meskanen, this interactive seminar will deep dive into the most iconic building from ancient Greece, and you will leave with a greater understanding of its history and significance, both for the ancient Greeks and the modern audience.

Dr. Helena Meskanen is an archaeologist specializing in ancient Greece, with research focusing on ancient Spartan religion. She has been leading tours of the British Museum for 3 years and feels passionate about the wide range of objects on display, and the stories they tell about the museum and the cultures that created them.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.