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FOOD & TRAVEL

A look at the permanent collections of the New Acropolis Museum – part 2

With the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum just two days away, ANA-MPA continues its three-part tour of the Museums Permanent Collections. The Museum contains five Permanent Collections: The Acropolis Slopes, divided into sub-categories on The Settlement, and The Sanctuary; The Acropolis during the Archaic Period, with sub-categories on The Hekatompedon, The Ancient Temple, and The Votives; The Parthenon, with sub-categories on The Monument, The Metopes, The Pediments, and The Frieze; Other Monuments of the Classical Acropolis, with sub-categories on The Propylaia, The Temple of Athena Nike, and The Erechtheion; and Other Collections, with sub-categories on The Sanctuary of Artemis Vravronia, The Votives of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods, and The Votives of the Roman Period. The Museum opened its electronic gates (www.theacropolismuseum.gr) on Monday.

OTHER MONUMENTS OF THE CLASSICAL ACROPOLIS

The main monuments that constitute the Classical Acropolis are the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion. The Propylaia, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, were built in 437-432 BC, following designs by the architect Mnesikles, in order to replace the earlier gateway. In 427-423 BC, the Temple of Athena Nike was built, perhaps by the architect Kallikrates, on the bastion southwest of the Propylaia, to replace an earlier small temple on the same site. The Erechtheion is the last of the Periclean buildings. Construction began during the Peace of Nicias (421-415 BC) and ended after 410 BC.

The Propylaia

In the Propylaia stood works of art made by great sculptors, like the statue of the Hermes Propylaios by Alkamenes.

The building consisted of a central section flanked by two wings. The main building featured five openings. The central opening was the widest to accommodate the passing of the Panathenaic procession and sacrificial animals.

The north wing had an anteroom and a spacious hall known as the Pinakotheke. This was probably a recreation area with paintings on the walls and couches with tables, where visitors could rest. The south wing had to be reduced due to the Temple of Athena Nike.

The Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike is an exquisitely proportioned temple in the Ionic order, with four monolithic columns at the east and west fronts.

As the epithet Nike (victory) implies, here Athena was worshipped as the goddess who stands by the Athenians in time of war. The Temple housed a wooden cult statue of the Goddess, who held a helmet in one hand, symbol of war, and a branch of pomegranate tree in the other, symbol of peace. The temple had sculptures on the pediments and the frieze. Only a few fragments of the pediment sculptures are preserved. The east frieze represents the Olympian Gods and the other three sides of the frieze picture battle scenes.

The Erechtheion

The area around the Erechtheion was considered the most sacred of the Acropolis. The Erechtheion was a complex marble building in the Ionic order, an exceptional artwork. The eastern part of the Temple was dedicated to Athena, whilst the western part was dedicated to local hero Boutes, Hephaistos and other gods and heroes. Thus, the Erechtheion was a temple with multiple functions, housing older and newer cults, and the site of the Sacred Tokens, the marks made by Poseidons trident and the olive tree of Athena.

A building inscription of the Erechtheion refers to the Caryatids simply as Korai (maidens), while the name Caryatids was assigned at a later time. The second Korai from the western section was removed by Lord Elgin in 1801 and is today located in the British Museum.

OTHER COLLECTIONS

The Other Collections of the Acropolis Museum include the Sanctuary of Artemis Vravronia, the votives of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods and the votives of the Roman Period.

The Sanctuary of Artemis Vravronia

Artemis Brauronia (Vravronia) was the goddess protecting expectant mothers and women in confinement. Her main sanctuary was located in Brauron, in Attica. The sanctuary on the Acropolis was founded at the time of the tyrant Peisistratos, who originated from Brauron (modern-day Vravronas). The cella housed the wooden statue (xoanon) of the Goddess, similar to the one in her Brauron temple. According to Pausanias, a second statue of Artemis, carved by Praxiteles, was added in 346 BC. The colossal head of that statue is on display in the Museum.

The Votives of the Classical * Hellenistic Periods

Exquisite sculptures of the Classical Period are mostly made out of copper. Most of the votives on the Acropolis of the Classical Period and of subsequent periods have disappeared. Several sculptures are identified with original works that were found on the Rock of the Acropolis. Amongst them stands the statue of Prokne and Itys, a work attributed to the famous sculptor Alkamenes. Other statues have survived in a fragmentary state, like the statue of Io or Kallisto, another work by Alkamenes, or the fragment of the statue of the so-called Aphrodite-Sosandra by Kalamis. Another exquisite work is the portrait of Alexander, possibly ascribed to the sculptor Leochares.

The Votives of the Roman Period

Throughout the Roman period, the Acropolis retained the appearance it had in its heyday. It also preserved most of its dedications, unlike other Greek cities and sanctuaries, whose artistic treasures were plundered and transferred to Italy, mostly in order to adorn public buildings. At the same time, a series of new dedications were added to the earlier ones. These were portraits of emperors, generals and other officials, portraits of philosophers, orators and priests, as well as images of individuals who benefited the city or distinguished themselves in athletic and other contests.

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