John Camp has given another virtual seminar from the Athenian agora. The subject this time was the temple of Hephaistos that stands on the low hill overlooking the agora. He broke the temple down into its architectural elements from its foundations to the roof. His explanation of the proportions of the Doric order showed how a reconstruction can be made from the smallest of architectural fragments. Camp explained how the internal structure of the temple had been reorientated when the building had been converted into a Christian church. There was a reminder that the modern planting was informed by the excavated ‘plant pots’ around the temple.
The subsequent questions include a discussion of the date as well as the use pf polychromy.
These in situ seminars do so much to explain architectural remains.
By 2019, the six staffed archaeological sites in Attica (outside Athens) had attracted over 445,000 visitors. This was a significant growth from the 179,000 in 2004. The coastal deme centre of Rhamnous only attracted 7,000 visitors in 2019, up from 2,000 in 2004.
The sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron attracted 32,000 visitors in 2019 up from 4,000 in 2004.
The most popular site was the coastal temple of Poseidon at Sounion attracting 326,000 visitors in 2019.
The Telesterion at Eleusis attracted 45,000 in 2019 up from 8,000 in 2004.
The other sites are the Amphiareion and the soros at Marathon. The Amphiareion is on the tentative list for World Heritage status as part of the ancient theatre grouping. It attracted over 23,000 visitors in 2019.
We have been noting the heritage of signs at various sites in State Guardianship in England, Wales, and Scotland. The complexity of architectural features at archaeological sites in Greece is resolved by the placing of signs to explain the elements to visitors.
In this view of part of the temenos of Apollo on Aegina (the Kolonna site), the different phases of the sanctuary wall (one from the archaic period, and the other from the Late Roman phase) are indicated in Greek and German (reflecting the language of the excavators of the site).
The city of Priene on the north side of the Maeander Valley preserves its planned (‘Hippodamian’) form. One of the most prominent features is the temple of Athena Polias. One of the best viewpoints is from the cliff path to the akropolis.
How do you manage visitors to such an extensive site? How do you protect unexcavated parts of the site? How do you make sense of such a complex site?
The temple of Athena Polias dominates the lower part of the city of Priene. The Ionic temple was reported to have been designed by the architect Pytheos who was associated with the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos. The naos itself measured 100 Attic feet.
The south anta of the temple carried an inscription recording the benefaction of the temple: King Alexander | dedicated the naos | to Athena Polias. The inscription was recovered by the members of the Society of the Dilettanti during their sponsored excavation of the city in 1869-70. This was then presented to the British Museum in 1870 (see online details). The adjacent blocks were used to record other benefactions from Alexander and other civic records.
The inscription suggests that the benefaction should date to c. 334 BC, following the campaigns of Alexander in western Anatolia.
The temple of Despoina at the site of Lykosoura lies high in the mountains of Arkadia. It appears to have been constructed in the late 3rd century BC. There is a Doric facade at the east end. The base for the cult statues lies at the west end. The sculptor was Damophon of Messenia.
Excavations recovered some of the sculptures that are now in the National Museum in Athens.
A door lies on the south side. This faces a series of steps placed on the steep bank. It is possible that this was an area for those observing the rituals.
The temple of Apollo Epikourios lies high in the mountains of Arcadia in the western Peloponnese, Greece. It was constructed as a thanksgiving by the nearby polis of Phigaleia for protection from the plague that affected many communities in Greece in the early 420s BC.
The temple is constructed in the Doric order with 6 by 15 columns.
The interior contains engaged Ionic columns. There was also a single Corinthian column inside the cella.
The high altitude means that that there is potential damage to the temple. As a result a specially constructed ‘tent’ has been placed over the architectural remains.
The interior frieze showing battles with Amazons (Amazonomachy) and Centaurs (Centauromachy) is now in the British Museum.
The temple was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986.