The director general of UNESCO, Amadou Mahtar M'Bow speaking from atop the ancient Acropolis on a gray morning as smog obscured the city of Athens below, yesterday launched a $10-million appeal to save the most beautiful monuments of classical Greek civilization.
The Acropolis, said M'Bow, a Senegalese classicist and art historian, "after resisting the onslaughts of weather and human assailants for 2,500 years, is threatened with destruction as a result of the damage inflicted by pollution and industrial civilization."
The Greek government has already pledged $5 million. In addition to the $10 million international appeal M'Bow announced. Hours after the appeal was launched from the sacred citadel above Athens, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization received its first contribution: $30,000 from American Express.
Calling for a crash program of research and prevently measures "until the establishment of a suitable zone of purified air," M'Bow, in cooperation with the Greek Government, urged the international community to rise above national and ideological considerations to rescue the monuments of this 5th Century B.C. citadel from "dilapidation and decay."
As a first step, all removable pieces of sculpture, including the famed caryatids, the six contemplative maidens who have held up the porch of the Erechtheion for 2,500 years, will be dismantled and placed inside a museum. This intricate technical process began in October with the removal of the only remaining sculptures from the western pediment of the Parthenon.
Beyond references to continuing research and dismantling, plus the production of fibreglass replicas of the Acropolis' statuary which the British Museum has agreed to undertake, however there is so far no specific program or budget on how the UNESCO funds will be spent.
"The main problem," said Minister of Culture Constantine Trypanis, "is to completely clear the air."
Thus far no such preventive programs exist. The first tentative stone taken by the Greek government and this area have met with little success.
Although visitors are now banned from entering the Parthenon, and planes are prohibited from flying over it, an official ban on the use of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] fined fuel oil in shops and flats surrounding the Acropolis this winter has been neither respected nor legally sanctified.