REVIEW OF DOROTHY KING'S BOOK ON THE PARTHENON MARBLES

Blonde, glamorous and a fearless hunter of treasures, archaeologist Dr Dorothy King would perhaps inevitably be dubbed the 'female Indiana Jones'. Such sobriquets can be both a blessing and curse. Invitations to academic conferences and TV programmes have dropped through the letterbox, but so, too, has a request to pose in Playboy (she refused).

Thankfully, the publisher of King's first book, The Elgin Marbles, has resisted a front cover picturing her draped over the torso of Poseidon and declined to make much of her headline-grabbing exploits as scourge of the Greek government's application to reclaim the marbles from the British Museum.

The main narrative is a winding history of the Parthenon and the outcrop on which it sits, the Acropolis in Athens. Ploughing through nearly 2,500 years of Persians, Romans, Christians, Byzantines, Ottomans, Anglo-French and Anglo-Greek squabbles is exhausting work. King is equally unstinting in her 60-page description and interpretation of the Parthenon's metopes, pediments and frieze in a style.

In a style breezy and informal, she defends the legality of Elgin's acquisition of the marbles and argues that he saved them from destruction or decay, adding: 'The Parthenon sculptures which Elgin brought back have been in the British Museum far longer than Greece has existed as a country.' King also chastises Greece for failing to care properly for the marbles it has.