ATLANTA — Art, monument or embarrassment?

The “Confederate Memorial Carving” in a state park outside of Atlanta is again stirring controversy, as Georgia officials try to decide what, if anything, to do about a huge sculpture that memorializes three of the South’s Civil War heroes.

Chiseled into a side of Stone Mountain, the carving of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson spans three acres and is the largest high relief sculpture in the world – even larger than Mount Rushmore.

Controversial since its 1970 unveiling, the sculpture has drawn renewed scrutiny since the massacre of nine black worshippers at a church in South Carolina last month.

The Atlanta NAACP called this month for the carving’s removal along with dozens of Confederate monuments on government property around the state. Atlanta’s city council last week urged Gov. Nathan Deal to study additions of famous Georgians such as Martin Luther King Jr. to the Stone Mountain carving.

“At some point in Georgia’s history, people found it necessary to honor this particular period,” Atlanta Councilman Michael Bond said. “We’re saying: Georgia is more than that.”

That would take action from Georgia’s General Assembly due to a state law protecting the carving from any changes without legislative approval..

The effort isn’t winning over some professional history buffs.

“The idea that somehow you’re going to erase history is ludicrous,” Stan Deaton, a senior historian with the Georgia Historical Society said.

Paul Hudson and Lora Mirza, authors of the 2011 book, “Atlanta’s Stone Mountain,” don’t want to see changes to a work they consider both art and artifact.

According to their research, a Civil War widow dreamed up the carving around 1909. It took more than 60 years and three artists to complete the carving 42 feet deep into the side of the granite mountain.

The carving “was a time warp by the time it was completed,” Hudson said. “It started during Jim Crow and ended with the civil rights era.”