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Using a specially designed laser, conservators have labored since 2011 to strip away the black grime that encrusted the statues.

Sculpted in the late fifth century B.C., the draped figures served as columns for the Erechtheion, one of the temples that stood on the Acropolis, the sacred rocky hill that rises 512 feet (156 meters) above the modern Greek capital.

The maidens, known as the Caryatids, stand more than seven and a half feet tall (2.3 meters). Originally, six of them held the roof of the Erechtheion’s south porch on their heads.