Studying ancient architectural artifacts in Greece | 6/21/2019 | Staff
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An architecture major who also has a talent for drawing, Penn junior Zahra Elhanbaly is helping her history of art professor pursue the mystery of surprisingly large architectural artifacts found at the bottom of the Aegean Sea.

The carved capitals they are studying are made of marble discovered in the harbor of the Greek island of Paros. At about 2 meters square, they are on the scale of those topping columns at the Parthenon and date to the same period, but their history is unknown.

Mantha - Zarmakoupi - Assistant - Professor - Research

Mantha Zarmakoupi, an assistant professor, conducted her research this summer on Paros where the artifacts are stored. Elhanbaly, who is from Aliso Viejo, California, accompanied her for two weeks and was tasked with creating highly detailed architectural renderings.

The opportunity was made possible through a student internship supported by the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program, which includes a stipend to cover living and travel costs.

Mantha - Exciting - Work - Italy - Greece

"Mantha has already done exciting and innovative archaeological work in Italy, Greece, and Turkey, and now she is venturing boldly into underwater areas," says Michael Leja, chair of the History of Art Department. "It's wonderful that students like Zahra have the opportunity to share in the remarkable discoveries she has been making and to make their own contributions to the public presentation of those discoveries."

Elhanbaly, who is also pursuing a minor in art history, took Zarmakoupi's Architect and History course last year. "I've always been interested in conservation and architectural restoration, preserving older buildings, and reconstructing them," she says.

Paros - Storeroom - Hundreds - Objects - Harbor

The two worked together in the Paros storeroom that holds the hundreds of objects excavated from the harbor. They focused on the three large capitals, the piece at the top of a column that connects it to the structure above.

"Part of the experience was talking to professors about their theories on this piece. Was it a...
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