history illustration

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Temple  of Athena Nike

Athens’ Acropolis, Greece

420 BCE

Stylobate: 8.27 m x 5.64 m; height: ca. 4 m.

The Temple of Athena Nike was named after the Greek goddess, Athena Nike. The temple is the earliest fully Ionic temple on the Acropolis. It was a prominent position on a steep bastion at the south west corner of the Acropolis to the right of the entrance, the Propylaea. In contrast to the Acropolis proper, a walled sanctuary entered through the Propylaea, the Victory Sanctuary was open, entered from the Propylaea’s southwest wing and from a narrow stair on the north. The sheer walls of its bastion were protected on the north, west, and south by the Nike Parapet, named for its frieze of Nikai celebrating victory and sacrificing to their patroness, Athena Nike.

Nike means victory in Greek, and Athena was worshipped in this form, as goddess of victory in war and wisdom. The citizens worshipped the goddess in hope of a successful outcome in the long Peloponnesian War fought on land and sea against the Spartans and their allies.

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Temple of Zeus

Aizanoi, Turkey

2nd century CE

35 m × 53 m

The construction of the temple, which was the main religious sanctuary of the city, started in the last half of the 2nd century AD. The preserved inscriptions indicate that emperor Hadrian was responsible for its commission.

The temple stands on a many-stepped podium and was built of marble. It is surrounded by a peristasis in a pseudodipteral arrangement, originally with 15 Ionic columns on its long side and 8 on the short side. The podiom itself measures 33 X 37 meters. Nowadays, only the columns on the western and northern side are still standing.

The temple was dedicated to two deities. Zeus - the ruler of the Olympians - was worshipped in its aboveground section, and the underground part of the building was the place of Cybele cult. Stylistically, the part dedicated to Zeus was built in accordance with the Greek patterns and the underground section - with the Roman ones as the barrel vaults are clearly visible.

The battle scenes depicted on the walls of the building come from much later period. They were made by the Tatars and illustrate their lives and battles fought in the 13th century AD. Nearby the entrance to the temple grounds there is an enclosed area where some interesting fragments of temple decorations are collected. Opposite the temple there are the remains of a small bouleuterion, but its history remains unknown.