Caryatids, the famous 2,500-year-old Greek statues located at the Acropolis Museum in Athens have just gotten a facelift. The black grime that encrusted the marble maidens has been stripped away using a specially designed laser system.
At the start of the cleaning project, conservators of the Greek museum decided not to move the maidens, but to work on them where they stood in the museum’s public gallery. Curtain walls had to be used as a safety measure to protect the eyes of the visitors from the laser beams that conservators, wearing protective goggles, used to clean the statues.
The laser system was developed in the late 1990s by scientists at the Institute of Electronic Structure and Laser of the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas of Crete. It uses two pulsed beams of radiation to remove the dark crust of dust, minerals, and metals off the statues.
After conducting several tests with the laser system along with different kinds of cleaners including chemical poultices and micro-sandblasting, conservators and technicians of the Acropolis Restoration Service decided that this laser technique was the best option.
The result is astonishing and as Acropolis Museum director Dimitris Pandermalis said: “This is the first time in a hundred years that you can see the marble without smoke and dirt and really appreciate the quality of the statues. You can see every small detail and the impressive play of light and shadow.