Acropolis Paper

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Acropolis Structures Report,
AREN 2310, Architectural History,
Chelsea Dorris,

Tennessee State University,
Dwight D. Martin,
March 20, 2013

The Acropolis located at Athens, Greece “is the supreme expression of the adaptation of architecture to a natural site,” which can be seen in figure 2 (Acropolis, Athens). This grand composition of perfectly balanced massive structures creates a monumental landscape of unique beauty consisting of a complete series of masterpieces of the 5th century BC” (Acropolis, Athens). The Acropolis is located on a “rocky promontory 156m above the valley of Ilissos” (Acropolis, Athens). During the 2nd millennium BC the Acropolis “was a fortress” that protected places of worship and royal palaces. The only access to the plateau was protected by a wall, the Pelasgicon, “which existed prior to the invasions of the Dorians who threatened Athens beginning in 1200” (Acropolis, Athens). Figure 1 is a representation of the site plan of the Acropolis at Athens, which shows the major archaeological remains.

Figure 3 shows the Parthenon which is one of the most famous buildings of Ancient Greece. It was built on an ancient hilltop of the gods, “facing Mt. Hymettos to the east and the Bay of Salamis to the west” (Ching pg, 130). “The east and west facades were lined with eight towering Doric columns, making it the only octastyle, peripteral temple built in ancient Greece” (Ching pg, 130). The Parthenon was built to give thanks to Athena for the salvation of Athens and Greece in the Persian Wars. It houses a 40-foot-high statue of “Athena Parthenos sculpted by Pheidias” (Parthenon, Athens). “Replacing an older temple destroyed by the Persians, the Parthenon was constructed at the initiative of Pericles, the leading Athenian politician of the 5th century BC” (Parthenon, Athens). “The stylobate is the platform on which the columns stand. It curves upwards slightly for optical reasons. Entasis refers to the slight swelling of the columns as they rise, to counter the optical effect of looking up the temple. The effect of these subtle curves is to make the temple look even more symmetrical than it actually is” (Parthenon, Athens). “On the eastern pediment was a depiction of the birth of Athena. The western pediment showed Athena's battle with Poseidon for possession of the land of Attica. Friezes ran along all four sides of the temple, above the lines of columns. These showed, on the southern side the battle of the Lapiths and the Centaurs, on the east the battle of the gods and the giants, and on the west the battle of the Greeks and the Amazons. It is not known what was depicted on the northern side: it may have been scenes from the Trojan War. Internally, the cella was lined on three sides with a frieze showing the great procession of the Panathenaia, the main annual festival honoring Athena. On the fourth, eastern side was a frieze showing all the gods of the Greek pantheon” (Parthenon, Athens).

Figure 1 number 2 shows the location of the Old Temple of Athena, which was the “earliest temple” built for Athena on the Acropolis (Old Temple). Figure 4 shows how the Old Temple of Athena sat next to the Erechtheun. “The Old temple was damaged by the Persians in 480 BC, but was repaired soon after; parts of its entablature were incorporated in the Acropolis fortification wall. The temple was damaged again in 406 BC after the completion of the Erechtheun and was never rebuilt. Traces of the temple's altar to Athena are visible on the bedrock, east of the building” (Old Temple). “The Old temple was a Doric, peripteral structure with six columns on the short sides and twelve on the long sides. The east part of the temple consisted of a distyle pronaos with antae and a naos divided into three naves by two rows of columns. Inside the naos was the wooden cult statue (xoanon) of the goddess Athena. The east part of the temple consisted of three rooms, each dedicated to the worship of...
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