Acropolis of athens

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  • 1. The Acropolis of Athens or Citadel of Athens is thebest known acroplolis (Gr. akros, akron, edge, extremity +polis, city, pl. acropoleis) in the world. Although thereare many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance ofthe Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonlyknown as The Acropolis without qualification. TheAcropolis was formally proclaimed as the preeminentmonument on the European Cultural Heritage list ofmonuments on 26 March 2007. The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock that rises 150 m (490 ft) above sea level inthe city of Athens, with a surface area of about 3hectares. It was also known as Cecropia, after thelegendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the first Athenianking.

2. Early settlement While the earliest artifacts date to the Middle Neolithic era, there have beendocumented habitations in Attica from the Early Neolithic (6th millenniumBC). There is little doubt that a Mycenaean megaron stood upon the hillduring the late Bronza Age.Nothing of this megaron survives except,probably, a single limestone column-base and pieces of several sandstonesteps. Soon after the palace was constructed, a Cyclopean massive circuit wallwas built, 760 meters long, up to 10 meters high, and ranging from 3.5 to 6meters thick. This wall would serve as the main defense for the acropolis untilthe 5th century.The wall consisted of two parapets built with large stoneblocks and cemented with an earth mortar called emplekton .The wall followstypical Mycenaean convention in that it followed the natural contour of theterrain and its gate was arranged obliquely, with a parapet and toweroverhanging the incomers right-hand side, thus facilitating defense. Therewere two lesser approaches up the hill on its north side, consisting of steep,narrow flights of steps cut in the rock. Homer is assumed to refer to thisfortification when he mentions the "strong-built House of Erechetheus"(Odyssey7.81). At some point before the 13th century an earthquake caused afissure near the northeastern edge of the acropolis. This fissure extended somethirty five meters to a bed of soft marl in which a well was dug. An elaborateset of stairs were built and the well served as an invaluable, protected sourceof drinking water during times of siege for some portion of the Mycenaeanperiod. 3. The Dark Ages There is no conclusive evidence for the existence of aMycenean palace on top of the Athenian Acropolis.However, if there was such a palace, it seems tohave been supplanted by later building activity onthe Acropolis. Not much is known as to thearchitectural appearance of the Acropolis until thearchaic era. In the 7th and the 6th centuries BC, thesite was taken over by Kylon during the failedKylonian revolt, and twice by Pisistratus: allattempts directed at seizing political power by coupsd etat. Nevertheless, it seems that a nine-gate wall,the Enneapylon, had been built around the biggestwater spring, the clepsydra", at the northwesternfoot. 4. Archaic Acropolis A temple sacred to "Athena Polias" (Protectress of the City) wasquickly erected by mid-6th century BC. This Doric limestonebuilding, from which many relics survive, is referred to as the"Bluebeard" temple, named after the pedimental three-bodiedman-serpent sculpture, whose beards were painted dark blue.Whether this temple replaced an older one, or a mere sacredprecinct or altar, is not known. In the late 6th century BC yetanother temple was built, usually referred to as the Archaios Naos(Old Temple). This temple of Athena Polias was built upon theDoerpfeld foundations. It is unknown where the "Bluebeard"temple was built. There are two popular theories (1) the"Bluebeard" temple was built upon the Doerpfeld foundations, (2)the "Bluebeard" temple was built where the Parthenon nowstands. That being said it is unknown if the "Bluebeard" templeand the Archaios Naos coexisted. 5. To confuse matters, by the time the "Bluebeard" Temple had beendismantled, a newer and grander marble building, the OlderParthenon" (often called the "Ur-Parthenon", German for "EarlyParthenon"), was started following the victory at Marathon in 490BC. To accommodate it, the south part of the summit was cleared ofolder remnants, made level by adding some 8,000 two-ton blocks ofPiraeus limestone, a foundation 11 m (36 ft) deep at some points,and the rest filled with earth kept in place by the retaining wall. The Older Parthenon was still under construction when thePersians sacked the city in 480 BC. The building was burned andlooted, along with the Archaios Naos and practically everything elseon the rock. After the Persian crisis had subsided, the Atheniansincorporated many of the unfinished temples architecturalmembers (unfluted column drums, triglyphs, metopes, etc.) into thenewly built northern curtain wall of the Acropolis, where theyserve as a prominent "war memorial" and can still be seen today.The devastated site was cleared of debris. Statuary, cult objects,religious offerings and unsalvageable architectural members wereburied ceremoniously in several deeply dug pits on the hill, servingconveniently as a fill for the artificial plateau created around theclassic Parthenon. This Persian debris is the richest archaeologicaldeposit excavated on the Acropolis. 6. Most of the major temples were rebuilt underthe leadership of Pericles during the GoldenAge of Athen (460430 BC). Phidias, a greatAthenian sculptor, and Ictinus and Callicrates ,two famous architects, were responsible for thereconstruction. During the 5th century BC, theAcropolis gained its final shape. After winningat Eurymedon in 468 BC, Cimon andThemistocles ordered the reconstruction ofsouthern and northern walls, and Periclesentrusted the building of the Parthenon toIctinus and Callicrates. 7. During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, many of the existing buildings in the areaof the Acropolis were repaired, due to damage from age, and occasionally, war.Monuments to foreign kings were erected, notably those of the Attalid kings ofPergamon Attalos II (in front of the NW corner of the Parthenon), and Eumenes II, infront of the Propylaia. These were rededicated during the early Roman Empire toAugustus or Claudius (uncertain), and Agrippa, respectively. Eumenes was alsoresponsible for constructing a stoa on the South slope, not unlike that of Attalos in theAgora below. During the Julio-Claudian period, the Temple of Rome and Augustus, a small, roundedifice, about 23 meters from the Parthenon, was to be the last significant ancientconstruction on the summit of the rock. Around the same time, on the North slope, in acave next to the one dedicated to Pan since the classical period, a sanctuary wasfounded where the archons dedicated to Apollo on taking office. In the followingcentury, on the South slope, Herodes Atticus built his grand odeon. The Venetian siege of 1687 During the 3rd century, under threat from a Herulian invasion, repairs were made tothe Acropolis walls, and the "Beule Gate" was constructed to restrict entrance in frontof the Propylaia, thus returning the Acropolis to use as a fortress. 8. In the Byzantine period, the Parthenon was turned into a church,dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Under the Latin Duchy of Athens, theAcropolis functioned as the citys administrative center, with theParthenon as its cathedral, and the Propylaia as part of the DucalPalace. A large tower was added, the "Frankopyrgos" (Tower of theFranks), demolished in the 19th century. After the Ottoman conquest of Greece, the Parthenon was used as thegarrison headquarters of the Turkish army,and the Erechtheum wasturned into the Governors private Harem. The buildings of theAcropolis suffered significant damage during the 1687 siege by theVenetians in the Morean War. The Parthenon, which was being usedas a gunpowder magazine, was hit by artillery fire and severelydamaged. In subsequent years, the Acropolis was a site of bustling humanactivity with many Byzantine, Frankish, and Ottoman structures. Thedominant feature during the Ottoman period was a mosque insidethe Parthenon, complete with a minaret. Following the Greek War ofIndependence, most post-Byzantine features were cleared from thesite as part of a Hellenizing project that swept the new nation-state. 9. Site planParthenonOld Temple of AthenaErechtheumStatue of Athena PromachosPropylaeaTemple of Athena NikeEleusinionSanctuary of Artemis BrauroniaChalkothekePandroseionArrephorionAltar of AthenaSanctuary of Zeus PolieusSanctuary of PandionOdeon of Herodes AtticusStoa of EumenesSanctuary of Asclepius or AsclepieionTheatre of Dionysus EleuthereusOdeon of PericlesTemenos of Dionysus EleuthereusAglaureion 10. Every four years, the Athenians held a festival called the Panathenaeathat rivalled the Olympic Games in popularity. During the festival, aprocession moved through Athens up to the Acropolis and into theParthenon (Suggested to be depicted on the Parthenon frieze). There, avast robe of woven wool was ceremoniously placed on Phidiasmassive ivory and gold statue of Athena.