D e b a t e
The opening of the new Acropolis Museum in June 2009 was one of the most important museological events of our century so far. Nick James paid it a visit (
83: 1144–51)and we have pleasure in offering three more reactions from different viewpoints.
Behold the raking geison: the new Acropolis Museum and its context-freearchaeologies
New for old
In December 1834 Athens became the capital city of the newly founded Hellenic Kingdom.King Otto, the Bavarian prince whose political and cultural initiative shaped much of whatmodern Greece is today, sought to design the new city inspired by the heavily idealisedmodel of Classical Hellas (see Bastea2000). The emerging capital was from the outsetconceived as a
of Hellenism, a Foucauldian ‘other space’ devoted to WesternClassicism in view of the Classical ruins it preserved. The Acropolis became, naturally, thefocal point of this effort. At the same time, however, and as Greek nationalist strategies were beginning to unfold, Classical antiquity became a disputed
, a cultural identity of sorts contested between Greece on the one hand and the ‘Western world’ on the other(see Yalouri2001:77–100). Archaeological sites thus became disputed spaces, claimed by various interested parties of national or supra-national authority wishing to impose theirown views on how they should be managed — and to what ends (Loukaki2008). The Acropolis was duly cleansed from any non-Classical antiquities and began to be constructedas an authentic Classical space, a
project still in progress. As Artemis Leontis hasarguedinherdiscussionofGreeceasaheterotopic‘cultureofruins’,theAcropolisofAthens,now repossessed by architectural renovation and scholarly interest, functions ‘
as a symbol not of Greece’s ancient glory but of its modern predicament
’ (Leontis1995:40–66; see also McNeal1991; Hamilakis2007:85–99).
When we ascend to modern Greece’s ‘sacred rock’ today, we are faced with a vibrantlandscape of modernity at work (Figure 1): cranes and scaffolds, architects, engineers andmarble cutters, all striving to return the ruins to an imagined ‘authentic state’ — pre-Morosini (when, in 1687, Venetian artillery saw that the Parthenon be turned into a pileof ruins), though deﬁnitely post-Elgin (when, in 1801, the notorious Scot removed whathe could from the standing monuments in order to make his own investment in Greece’sClassicalpast).Moretothepoint,wearefacedwithasimulacrumofaruin,sinceasigniﬁcantpercentage of what now stands on the Acropolis is
in order to support the old
History and Archaeology, University of Ioannina, Dourouti Campus, Ioannina GR45110, Greece (Email: email@example.com)