Comparative 3D Scanning of Historical Casts: The Parthenon casts at the British Museum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


The British Museum houses a vast assortment of objects in storage, including a relatively little-known but important collection of plaster casts, first initiated in the early 19th century with the purchase of the Elgin Collection. While the Parthenon marbles now rank among the British Museum’s most famous and, of course, contested objects, few visitors are aware that Elgin’s collection also included moulds and casts of Parthenon sculptures left in situ at Athens, which he commissioned after he was appointed to the Constantinople Embassy. These are very important – not only because of their association with the notorious figure of Lord Elgin – but also because of their archaeological significance: firstly, as a documentary record of the condition of the sculptures at the time of moulding; and secondly, as an example of 19th century archaeological practice, when it became increasingly common to record objects in situ through the making of moulds and squeezes. Running alongside these archaeological significances is the fact that the moulds and casts are also illustrative of 19th century craft practice. The significance of these objects as documentary records depends on their accuracy, which is strongly tied to the practices employed by the plaster craftsmen, known as formatori. In this paper, I discuss my use of comparative 3D scanning to try to enhance our understanding of these interdependent factors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCasting. Ein analoger Weg ins Zeitalter der Digitalisierung?
Subtitle of host publicationEin Symposium zur Gipsformerei der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin
EditorsC. Haak, M. Helfrich
Place of PublicationUniversitätsbibliothek Heidelberg
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-946653-19-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-946653-20-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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