Historic Athens Acropolis
In the world between the Propylaea and the Parthenon, a great many monuments stone island jas maat 92 attracted the eye of Pausanias, who was always ready to describe and repeat what he had heard about them, primarily in regards to the votive offerings of the Athenians to gods and heroes and about the small shrines which emphasised the importance of the main temple.
This ancient traveller mentioned the building devoted to Artemis Brauron, the foundations of which, along with some stairs, can be seen carved into the rock to the suitable as one emerges from the Propylaea. The worship of this goddess was carried out solely by women, and her priestesses have been preadolescent ladies. Artemis, an unrepentant virgin, wanted to be served by pure creatures who needed to wear tunics just like the skin of a bear, an animal sacred to her; hence the little priestesses had been called arktoi (bears). One spectacular monument inside the enclosure of the shrine was a bronze replica of the Trojan Horse. Centuries later, the Franks used the debris from the Brauronion to assemble the fortification tower on the outer southern nook of the Propylaea. The marks of this building can still be seen on the marble wall. Behind the sanctuary of Artemis, adjacent to the wall, there was an extended constructing known as the Chalcotheke, during which the bronze votive offerings dropped at the Parthenon have been saved. In ancient times, it was the custom for warriors to dedicate their helmets, shields and weapons to the gods, while the citizens supplied statuettes and utensils made of the identical materials. Seven rows of narrow steps had been hewn out of the pure rock, right in front of the western aspect of the Parthenon, and were used by the faithful to position their gifts to the goddess Athena.
Of all the monuments expressing the piety of the Athenians, the colossal bronze statue of Athena Promachos was probably the most outstanding, as it stood right opposite the jap door of the Propylaea opening onto the Acropolis. Standing on a marble pedestal, the goddess’ statue, armed to recall her descent from a really historic deity of warfare, would flash and shine in the Attic sun. It was seen from the Bay of Phaleron, and will need to have seemed as though she had been showing travellers that this was her City, bearing her name. The Athenians known as her Promachos in gratitude for her assist within the battle of Marathon. This was one of many three statues of the goddess created by Phidias, the second being the gold and ivory one inside the Parthenon, and the third one commissioned by the Athenians residing on the island of Lemnos, which portrayed the goddess as lithe and stunning, holding her helmet fairly than sporting it, with the sweetness of a girl. There is a Roman copy of this Lemnia Athena in Bologna, Italy, which has astonishing delicacy of feature.
Though the Romans could have neglected the unique Greek sculptures during their years in power, at the very least they have left behind echoes of their lost perfection.
Alongside the northern wall, between the Propylaea and the Erechtheion, was the dwelling of the arrephoroi, two girls who conducted a secret nighttime ceremony at concerning the time of the summer season solstice. Nobody knew the exact date of this ceremony, nor was anyone allowed to see the very younger priestesses carrying out the ritual. Silently, they’d carry the goddess’ sacred objects, coated in order that not even they themselves knew what they were, after which they’d slip out by a secret stairway outdoors the wall to the foot of the rock. They adopted a path to the sanctuary of Aphrodite to the east, and after handing over the lined symbols, they took others, additionally lined, which they would then bring back over the identical secret path by means of the evening. It appears that all this was a part of some fertility rite, which had survived from the years through which some great female divinity was dominant.
There were different sanctuaries on this outer side of the north wall, something like chapels dedicated to major divinities whose temples were in town. Thus, apart from the sanctuary of Agrotiki Aphrodite, the place the secret ritual of the arrephoroi would take place, there was an altar dedicated to Olympian Zeus and Pythian Apollo. In addition, the goat-footed god Pan was worshipped in one of many pure caves in the rock. It is claimed that the Athenians venerated him particularly after the battle of Marathon, as a result of they believed that his look on the battlefield terrified the Persians and created what we have now ever since then called panic. Beside the cave of Pan was the Klepsydra spring, with access from the Propylaea by stairs carved out of the rock. Klepsydra was a natural spring with an irregular flow of water, which nonetheless assured the Acropolis a supply of water in occasions of emergency.
The realm between the home of the arrephoroi and the Erechtheion was most likely studded with statues and altars dedicated by the Athenians. When, earlier this century, the archaeologists started clearing away the stays of later buildings, they have been dazzled by the number of sculptures they discovered, primarily statues of young ladies (kores), beautiful however truncated, each of which was garbed differently, with a unique hairstyle, and above all with a special expression on every one’s face. Clothed in colours which withstood being buried for 2300 years, these portraits of noble Athenian women brought to life a period of the best art, which ended abruptly after the attack by the Persians. These similar archaic statues witnessed the burning of the temples and the desperation of the people who sought refuge of their sanctuaries. They noticed the Attic plain in flames and felt the power of the barbarians casting them down from their pedestals and smashing them.
After the battle of Salamis, the Athenians returned to their devastated city and began rebuilding their ruined temples on the sacred rock. They gathered up all of the broken votive offerings and broken statues and used them to enlarge the surface needed to construct other shrines, larger and extra lovely, to make up for the catastrophe. This was how all these marvellous examples of Archaic artwork survived which might be seen right this moment within the Acropolis Museum radiating their message of vitality and sweetness down by means of the ages. It was additionally in the fifth century, when the marble beauties have been covered over and fell into oblivion, that the wall which remains to be seen was built, incorporating huge column drums into it. This northern wall, as it seems down over the little houses in the Plaka, bears its personal testomony to historical past.
In the middle of the north facet of the Acropolis, the place there is a natural eastward outcropping of the rock, is a cluster of buildings called the Erechtheion. Its strategic place overlooking eastern and northern Attica was maybe the explanation why there have been important buildings on this site from probably the most historical times. One in all them was town’s Mycenean palace. The Athenians believed that the enchantress Medea fled down the steps in the rock to escape the wrath of King Aegeus after she tried to poison the newly-arrived Theseus.
The Erechtheion has at all times been the location of many different myths. Here Kekrops built the primary temple to Athena, when he chosen her to be the protector of his city and worshipped her as Polias, dedicating to her an idol made of wood which had fallen from the sky. The Athenians believed that Kekrops, the local serpent-man who conducted the first census in the historical past of the world, was buried on this site. It was stated that he made every inhabitant throw a stone on a pile after which counted the pieces. From the word las (stone) comes the word laos (individuals) in Greek.
Kekrops had three daughters whose names indicate the agrarian form of the society at the moment: Agravlos (agros=discipline, avlos=flute) Ersi (dew) and Pandrosos (all dew). Athena gave these three girls a closed cask containing Erichthonios, whose decrease limbs had been also serpentine in form, like a genuine child of the Earth. The goddess had commanded that the cask not be opened, however two of the sisters succumbed to their curiosity. After they saw the unusual shape of the infant emerging from the cask, they lost their minds and threw themselves off the cliff. At the purpose where Agravlos fell, a sanctuary was established the place Athenian youths took the oath of manhood on the age of 18. Pandrosos, who had obeyed the divine command, grew to become the primary priestess of Athena. In instances of drought, Pandrosos was invoked as Assist-giver together with the seasons, Thallo (spring) and Karpo (summer season), since her name recognized her as the most welcome life-giving dew. She was honoured together with her own precinct (temenos) in the neighborhood of the sacred olive tree, which had been a reward from Athena to the inhabitants of the town. Erichthonios sought refuge in the temple and remained there, eternal testimony to the Athenians’ descent from a divine race. It was from this fable that the custom grew of offering little golden snakes as charms to newborn babes.
Evidently there was at all times a serpent kept within the Erechtheion: it was thought of to be the perpetuation of Erichthonios as well as a spirit defending the city. Herodotus wrote in his Historical past that when the Persians arrived, the sacred snake went to Salamis, sweeping the Athenians along with it and remodeling their misfortune into a brilliant victory. All this was after all the results of the political genius of Themistocles, who believed strongly in the maxim “The tip justifies the means”. Aristophanes talked about the Erechetheion snake in his Lysistrata. This devotion to the household reptile nonetheless exists in a lot of our villages where giant harmless snakes are allowed to curl up within the rafters or the basements of houses.
The ruins of an Archaic temple from the sixth century BC occupy the realm between the Parthenon and the Erechtheion. It had six Doric columns on its east and west facades, 12 alongside its sides, and was also dedicated to the goddess Athena. The massive pediments seen within the Acropolis Museum come from this temple, i.e. the armed goddess vanquishing the hostile Giants, the teams of lions devouring animals and the fantastic three-bodied semi-human snake with the sensuous expression on its face. All these have been carved from tender poros stone and painted vibrant colours. After the Persian assault, the
ancient temple was abandoned and fragments of its damaged sculpted decoration were used to build up the retaining walls. In this fashion, a plateau was created which, when the Parthenon was completed, was used to construct the Erechtheion within the form wherein we are able to see it right now. The uneven floor in front of the northern wall built by Kimon, as properly the sacredness of the old shrine containing the grave of Kekrops and the sanctuary of Pandrosos with the goddess’ olive tree dictated the advanced design of the Erechtheion. These elements offered an opportunity for Philocles of Acharnes to astonish the individuals of the fifth century along with his inventive architectural options. For this isn’t just a temple, but a site filled with revered recollections, with three totally different sanctuaries that co-exist harmoniously amongst themselves and with the remainder of the positioning.
The jap part, which covers nearly half the surface of the whole, is believed to have been the brand new temple of Athena Polias. An interior wall separated it from the opposite chamber which was devoted to Erechtheas-Poseidon; its entrance is thru a magnificent porch on the north aspect. The west aspect of the building presented a wierd side with 4 halfcolumns, the bases of which were three and a half metres decrease than the jap side. On a slant, at the westernmost point was the historical Pandroseio precinct with its sacred olive tree. In harmonic steadiness with the columns of the north side is the porch of the Caryatids on the south, which additionally breaks up the lengthy marble wall. In this manner, the lengthy surfaces have been never monotonous. Each part was built on a different stage, with a different roof, creating an aesthetically very good grouping with a symmetry born of essentially the most asymmetric components.
The Erechtheion, temple of Athena Polias, was thus the primary sanctuary built to house essentially the most sacred idol of the goddess, changing the historic temple which had been destroyed by the Persians. Its entrance was by a porch of six Ionic columns which, after the visit of Lord Elgin to Ottoman-held Athens in 1801, had been however 5. The sixth, along with one of many Caryatids, was transported to the British Museum in London to draw the admiring gazes of holiday makers from all over the world. The sides are walls constructed of white marble blocks of equal size, with out columns, but adorned by a delicately carved cornice with sculpted anthemia over which, instead of a frieze, was a band of dark marble.
At the southwest edge of the building is the porch of the Caryatids, built on the ruined colonnade of the historical temple within the fifth century BC, maybe to encompass Kekrops’ grave. The heavy ceiling of the porch was held up by six marble maidens with part of their hair braided around their heads, and the rest of it left to grasp loose to the shoulders thus strengthening the assist of the ceiling. Perhaps they portrayed the basket-bearing priestesses who throughout the solemn rituals would bring the sacred casks to the goddess.
Let us not overlook that the myth of Erichthonios, with the closed casket and the secrecy demanded by Athena, could have been a part of the ritual of the Arrephoroi, the importance of which lay in the silence and the covered symbols. Nonetheless others believe that these maidens had been from Caryes, a area between Sparta and Arcadia where women were famed for the dance they executed at local feasts. In any event, the phrase “caryatids” has handed into structure as a term used to indicate the supporting of a roof with statues of feminine figures instead of columns. The Greek individuals see the Caryatids as marble maidens who, on nights with a full moon, lament the loss of their exiled sister. The back of the temple served the needs of the gods to whom altars had been devoted; it was divided into two sections. Here Erechtheas-Erichthonios, age-previous protector of the Attic earth, was worshipped. Later got here Poseidon, after the myth of his contest with Athena. Somewhere there was additionally an altar to Hephaistos, recalling the peculiar ancestry of the earthlings. The Athenians, ever superstitious as St Paul would later name them, worshipped all of the gods and embellished their temples with helpful votive offerings. In the section dedicated to Athena Polias there was the marvellous golden lamp of Kallimachos with its eternal flame, due to the unburning asbestos wick from Karpasia in Cyprus, as reported by Pausanias. He additionally wrote that in one other part of the temple, there was a well with sea water, undoubtedly testimony to the presence of the earth-rending Poseidon: the well showed traces of the god’s trident, and regularly echoed the slapping of waves. This was called “the sea of Erechtheas”, in a charming example of Attic hyperbole.
The entrance to this part of the temple was from the north. Even right now one can still see the monumental porch in almost good condition, with its Ionic columns about eight metres high, and the magnificent, elaborately decorated entranceway which seems even more majestic owing to its proximity to the heavy northern wall. The Ionic grace of this porch was admired by the Roman architect Vitruvius upon his go to during the rule of Augustus. The sculpted ornamentation of the bases, the capitals and the architrave justified the fame of this order as being symbolic of wisdom and beauty.
The western wall of the temple is the most unusual within the eyes of trendy scholars. Perhaps its present kind, with its half-columns and the windows between them, was not the preliminary one and it might have been constructed on this strategy to accommodate sure cult wants. It may also be associated to the adjacent and most ancient precinct of the Pandroseio. Right here one can still see an olive tree struggling to outlive in the polluted environment of trendy Athens. Its distant ancestor was a miraculous tree, because it was planted by the divine hand of the protectress: and it provided nourishment and mild within the darkness of mortal night time, ever-green and eternal. But the sacred tree was destroyed within the fury of the Persian conflict. Despite this, the embittered Athenians saw the presence of their goddess within the Pandroseio when the sacred olive tree sprouted once more in a single day.
Through the Byzantine years, in holding with the overall fanaticism towards purging whatever was considered being tainted by idolatry, the Erechtheion was transformed into a Christian church, at which level it misplaced its preliminary interior structure. With the arrival of the Franks, it was used as a residence for the dukes of Athens and during the interval of Turkish rule it provided housing to the garrison commander’s household, very probably to his harem.