The sculptures on the facade of the Parthenon, also known as the Elgin Marbles, consist of a large collection of marble sculpture, which was transported in Britain in 1806 by Thomas Bruce, ‘Z Count of Elgin, ambassador in the Ottoman Empire from 1799 till 1803. Taking advantage of the Ottoman reign of the Greek territory, Lord Elgin managed to obtain permission (the firman) by the Ottoman Sultan to remove the marbles in order to enumerate and register them in schemes, but later he moved on to their abstraction and their exportation out of the country.
The Parthenon is the greatest monument of the Athenian State and the apex of the Doric order. Its construction began in 448/7 B.C., whereas the opening was held in 438 B.C. at the Panathenean Games and the sculpture decorations were finished in 433/2 B.C. According to sources of antiquity, the architects who worked for the construction of the Parthenon were Iktinos, Callicrates and possibly Pheidias, who was also responsible for the sculpture decoration. It is one of the Greek temples that is entirely built of marble as well as the only Doric temple with anastatic metopes. Many parts of the sculpture decoration, the architrave and the coffers of the ceiling were drawn with red, blue and gold colour. Pentelicon marble was used, except from the stylobate, which was built of limestone.
From a total of 97 surviving stones of the frontispiece of the Parthenon, 56 are in London and 40 in Athens. From a total of 64 surviving metopes, 48 are in Athens and 15 in London. From a total of 28 surviving figures of the frontispieces, 19 are in London and 9 in Athens.
Seeing the Parthenon through ancient eyes | PBS