Conservation of the Propylaia

The Propylaia are built of white Pentelic marble on a foundation of yellowish poros. Grey Eleusinian stone was employed for decorative effect. Characteristic of the Propylaia marble is the significant geological heterogeneity. The non-calcitic inclusions are responsible for specific alterations and successive flaking. A similar form of deterioration is not encountered on the other Acropolis monuments. 
Conservation was carried out initially on the toichobate of the interior of the Pinacotheke of the Propylaia, on columns in the west hall and on ceiling coffers in the central building. Today conservation of the surface of the Propylaia follows and supports the work of anastelosis with preliminary consolidation and systematic conservation of the surface of the architectural members in situ or after their dismantling. In addition systematic conservation is being applied to architectural members that are not included in the restoration programme but have severely damaged surfaces.
The surfaces that are being conserved as part of the present programme of anastelosis of the monument are those of the east façade and the south wall of the east colonnade, the doorway wall of the central building, the lintel of the doorway wall, the north wall of the central building, the columns of the Ionic colonnade, the Ionic column capital from the Balanos anastelosis and the coffers and beams of the ceiling of the central building.

Interventions Completed
The damage caused by the methods employed in the restoration of N. Balanos and the extensive effects of atmospheric pollution on the monument have made it necessary to undertake a full-scale conservation intervention.

In 1981-1982, the second-from-south architrave block of the entablature of the east portico of the Propylaia was restored, following the study by A. Tzakou and M. Ioannidou. The intervention, which included dismantling the architrave and its adjoining architectural members, their conservation on the ground and resetting on the monument, repaired the damaged architrave and adjoining members caused by the rusting of the iron reinforcements used in the Balanos anastelosis.

In 1990, the dismantling of the restored coffered ceilings of the central building of the Propylaia was begun, a procedure that was completed two years later, in 1992. At the same time, a study was initiated for identifying the fragments from the ceiling coffers and beams. This was completed in 1996 and as a result a large number of coffered slabs were obtained that could be used in the new restoration.

In 1998, with the approval of the relevant study by T. Tanoulas and M. Ioannidou, work began on restoring the south wall of the east portico of the Propylaia. A total of 38 blocks of the south wall and the architrave block that connects the south wall with the southeast Doric column were dismantled. After their restoration, the architectural members were reset in their original positions. The work was completed in 2001. Consolidation and conservation of the central lintel of the Propylaia was begun the same year.

In February 2002, the big project of restoring the superstructure of the central building of the Propylaia was initiated, based on the relevant study by T. Tanoulas and M. Ioannidou. During the course of the work, special application studies are being made by the civil engineers V. Paschalidis († 2003), V. Papavasileiou and the architect K. Karanasos. In order to perform the work it was necessary, in addition, to dismantle the rest of the architectural members that had been restored by N. Balanos. Two inserted programmes, the need for which became evident while the study was being applied, have already been completed: the restoration of the north wall and the restoration of the east colonnade of the central building of the Propylaia. In each case it was found that Balanos' intervention was more extensive than had been supposed on the basis of information in the publications, Balanos' archive and from the study of the monument itself. In the course of the ESMA intervention, a total of 55 architectural members of the north wall of the Propylaia and 35 architectural members of the east colonnade were dismantled. The members were then restored and reset, an intervention that was completed in 2004.

Ιn 2011 the restoration of the south wall superstructure of the Propylaia central building was realized by using material lying on the ground and by rearranging previously restored marble blocks. Eight blocks lying on the ground were placed in their original positions; eight blocks, restored during the Pittakis-Rangavis intervention, were rearranged; and three more blocks of new marble – of which one was an exact copy of an ancient member kept in the British Museum– were incorporated into the monument. The project was carried out following the architectural study of the architect Dr K. Karanasos.

Interventions in Process
The current programme of restoration of the Propylaia South Wing started in 2012 and will have been completed by the end of 2014. The project aims at making full use of the surviving original material for the restoration of the particular part of the monument. Thus, 44 members lying on the ground will be restored in their original positions, nine more members, which had been previously placed in wrong positions, will be rearranged, while two more members of new marble will be added. This programme completes the restoration intervention of the years 1946-1954 and 1957-1960 carried out by E. Orlandos andE. Stikasand is going to contribute significantly to the better understanding of the monument’s architecture. The project is based on the architectural study of the architect Dr T. Tanoulas and on the study of structural restoration of the civil engineers M. Ioannidou and V. Papavasileiou.

The NW. corner of the central building faces serious structural problems, because of both anthropogenic factors (e.g. explosions) and material failures in the particular area.  The present restoration intervention aims mainly at dealing with the structural problems of the capital on the NW. column and of the architectural members of the overlying entablature. For this reason, the capital and ten more members will be dismantled, conserved on the ground and restored in their original positions. Three more ancient blocks and one more of new marble will be placed on the west edge of the north wall, contributing to the structural and architectural restoration of this part of the monument. Seizing the opportunity of this intervention, four ancient drums and a new one will be placed on the Doric colonnade of the west façade. This intervention will contribute to the increase of the didactic value of the monument, mainly by using ancient material lying on the ground. The architectural study was made by the architect Dr K. Karanasos and the study of structural restoration by the civil engineer M. Ioannidou.

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