Part of the World Heritage monument on the Acropolis in Athens, the Erechtheion is a temple from the Golden Age of Greece with many unusual quirks and a history of destruction, occupation and desecration of the worst kinds. Awareness of the Athenian Acropolis and of course the justly famous Parthenon is high, but the Erechtheion has somehow been overlooked.
So what is it about this particular building that will interest and excite viewers
Begun in the third quarter of the 5th century B.C., the remaining ruins are what time, the
environment, robbery, politics and war have left. Along with other sections of buildings on the Acropolis, the Erechtheion caught Elgin's eye; large pieces of scuplture, along with architectural friezes, ceiling fragments and columns were stripped from the building as part of what used to be known as the Elgin Marbles.
Collection or demolition?
When Elgin's dismantling took out one of the charismatic maidens that supported the roof of the south porch, it threatened to destabilise the whole building. Not only were the local Greeks appalled, but so were the British, inspiring an outcry in the British press as well as by Greece's favourite British son, Lord Byron.
The ensuing arguments and political manoeuverings still resonate today, with good reasons on all sides for either keeping things as and where they are, or returning them to the original keepers. The pros and cons of all the issues need to be aired impartially to engage more people and stimulate discussion, with the final result being to preserve and display all of these great archaeological works most effectively, whereever that may be (Beresford, forthcoming in 2016).
Lord Byron’s war of words
The stance that Lord Byron took against Lord Elgin was passionate, and lends itself to our programme in ways even the poet himself might be surprised at. The heartfelt pleas from many since then still hit the headlines from time to time, even now.
Our aim is to promulgate a greater understanding of this beautiful building, to explore how so many incorrect and inaccurate assumptions about the layout, the use and the religious cults housed here could have arisen. We will challenge and debunk some of the simplest notions that profoundly affect our view of the building and the religious significance it holds.
Cults, priestessess and sacrifices
Exploration of the functions of the cults, the gods and how they were viewed and appeased with ritual slaughter and dedicated virgin priestesses will give viewers a new understanding of the life and times of the middle and upper classes in Athens. Along with in-depth interviews and discussion with various experts in the field, expert presenter Dr Alexandra Lesk will explore the reasons that so many erroneous assumptions have been made and accepted, arguably as dogma, about this building, and why it is so important to challenge these old theories and revisit the evidence in search of the truth.
We intend to produce the best quality programme to raise the profile and status of this
intriguing and contradictory building. We recognise that we are fortunate to be able to employ the information freely given by respected archaeologists, together with the 3D modelling and visual effects expertise of John Goodinson, combined with the skills of our producers, writers and main presenter.
Many of those working in the field use CAD programmes to work out models of the buildings, but these programmes are designed for architectural purposes rather than artistic ones, whereas John’s skill as a 3D modeller, vfx designer and illustrator gives him the disciplines and knowledge to reconstruct artistically as well as functionally.
Analysing the evidence
Alexandra is an archaeologist with a respected thesis to her name, many published articles and an engaging screen personality. An ideal presenter of her own work and the story of the building, she has advised and provided the intricate details that make the 3D modelling and reconstruction John is creating probably the best in the world today.
We have completed and released our programme pilot. The producers and writers are
currently working out full programme content and preparing for the tricky fundraising
The aim is to fund a feature length programme that can be broken down into either
a 2 or 3 part mini-series and will also lead to a full series of similar programmes looking
at other important buildings in a new and unique way, in Greece and around the world.
If you would like to contribute to the project have information or knowledge that will
be useful to the programme then please let us know by email to project leader: