3D Robot carves Elgin marbles

I don’t want to start a huge argument about who owns the Elgin marbles or what should be done with them.

I just think it’s exciting that a robot has been developed that can machine a full-sized 3D replica out of a block of marble. They are practicing now on Carerra marble and plan to switch to the Greek marble sourced near Athens that was used for the Parthenon.


“Roger Michel, executive director of the Institute of Digital Archaeology, believes the long-running dust-up can be resolved with the help of 3-D machining. His University of Oxford-based research consortium has developed a robot with the ability to create faithful copies of large historical objects.”

As a museum-goer, I think it’s nice to see originals but I also enjoy seeing exact replicas, such as the Titanosaur in the American Museum of Natural History in NYC.


I would be OK with seeing the Elgin Marbles replicas. If the British Museum doesn’t want them, maybe the Metropolitan Museum in NYC would buy them? But that’s just me personally. Some people are only happy with originals and are willing to pay a fortune for them. (cf. "Antiques Roadshow.)

With large 3D printers able to create entire houses, I wonder how long it will be before museums will be printing as well as sculpting replicas.



OOPS, sorry, I forgot to write “OT.”


I would be OK with seeing the Elgin Marbles replicas. If the British Museum doesn’t want them, maybe the Metropolitan Museum in NYC would buy them? But that’s just me personally. Some people are only happy with originals and are willing to pay a fortune for them. (cf. "Antiques Roadshow.)

I read that article earlier today. As a young lad of 11, I visited the British Museum on a family vacation and though the Elgin Marbles were the coolest things ever, and been interested in the saga ever since then. I visited the BM one more time as an adult, and made a pilgrimage to the Parthenon as well.

My compromise (which will never happen in a million years) is to make two sets of copies. One set would be placed in the original positions in the Parthenon. One set would be in the British Museum. And the originals would be returned to Greece and placed in the Acropolis museum, which has an entire purpose-built floor that is empty awaiting return of the originals. Or maybe the originals remain in London and the copies go to Athens.

Regardless, seeing copies in context either on the Parthenon itself or in a nearby museum would be better than not seeing copies. Chances of this happening are very close to zero.


We’ve all been following the marbles, initially visiting Athens in '79, and later the British Museum as well as the various articles…

Make a copy, give the originals back is the best for all, if Greece wanted ana copy of those or any other antiquity, work with them, work it out… A huge bit of early history, they need to be shared, returned…

OOPS, sorry, I forgot to write “OT.”

Sorry, the rules are the rules.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to report you to WendyBG.


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We’ve all been following the marbles

Although some of us seem to have misplaced ours…


There are two technical challenges that I can see

  1. The first is alluded to by their testing with a different marble; marble may have grain which can be compensated for if working by hand, but may cause problems to automation.

  2. The milling machine used has to work in six axis, requiring a wrist and knuckle, in order to do undercutting. Commercial machines which do this are relatively rare and software to properly handle this ability is just as rare.

(Built a CNC machine shop for the fun of it about a dozen years ago)

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My contact with the Elgin Marbles is string of unrelated occurrences.

My aunt was the housekeeper of a hotel on Margaret Island in Budapest, Hungary. When she found out I would be visiting London she told me to look up her former boss. She gave me a name but nothing else. There were just a few entries with that name in the telephone book so I called them up one by one asking if they happened to be my aunt’s former boss.

The former boss turned out to be an expert in Persian art. He gave a very artistic tour of London including Queen Anne silver at Sotheby’s and an amazing exhibit of Japanese paintings. One called “The Return of the Fishermen” was just a huge white canvas with a few pen strokes of black ink. The Return of the Fishermen? There is nothing to be seen there! So I just kept staring at it. Bit by bit a river appeared. A road appeared. A bridge appeared. People appeared on the bridge. They had fishing poles on their shoulders. The more you looked the more you saw! The most amazing painting I have ever seen. The tour included a visit to the British Museum and the Elgin Stones. Uncultured me was unimpressed.

Back in Paris, after being disappointed by the Mona Lisa, I stumbled on the Venus de Milo in the Louvre. That stone was so alive that I got an erection and an unstoppable urge to caress her which I did. She outclassed the best Paris night clubs in eroticism. Stories for another day…

The Captain
makes no pretense of culture, just life…


The old joke about a guy who jumps into a cab in NYC and asks the cab driver how to Carnegie Hall and gets the response “practice” (only to be exceeded in stupidity by the “East Asian” cab driver I flagged down on Houston Street earlier this week and was clueless about how to get to Katz’s Deli - which has been a landmark since 1888 at 205 Houston Street) points towards the numerous ways there are to get to the Louvre.

It all started with my building that CNC machine shop. I had never actually seen a CNC tool except on TV, so I started with a second hand manual Bridgeport vertical milling machine. I took the physical external design (where carious controls were “meant” to be located, desirable options, etc.) from photos of commercial units being sold on E-Bay. I decided to try a number of novel hardware modifications and a completely unique control setup (both of which worked superbly - after a couple of years of troubleshooting). Since I was clueless about software choices (went with Mach2/3) and how to wire/use stepper motors, servo motors and so on.

Anyhow, during the tail end of the learning curve, I was giving a lot of assistance to a guy in Paris who was one of France’s leading luthiers of electronic stringed instruments. He was building a machine to cut the scrolls and profiles of his products. We stayed in occasional contact over the years (I’m guessing he inhaled too much mercury in his youth as his emails were universally hilariously weird).

Anyway, I mentioned to him that we would be spending some time in Paris a number of years later and he said he would be happy to give us a walking tour of the Paris he knew as part of the “radical youth” during the 1960’s. How cool was that?

What I didn’t realize was that he had moved to Strasburg and had to travel to Paris for our walk (or I would have not imposed on him). He was staying with the best man (and his wife) from his wedding and he walked the feet off of us for a day (including a tour of the fascinating and huge Père Lachaise Cemetery).

That night, we were invited to the home of the couple who he was crashing with. She was a curator at the Louvre and he was an art instructor there. After a wonderful meal, they invited us the next day as their guests and she gave us a tour (including some of the spaces not normally open to the public). While it wasn’t our first (or last) visit there, it was one of the most exciting ones.