Historically, the construction of Parthenon, in circa 438 BC, in many ways reflected the upbeat mood of the Athenians in the late 5th century BC. The ‘newly-founded’ Athenian Empire reached its zenith during this time period, decades after defeating the Persians at Marathon (during the first Persian invasion, in 490 BC) and surviving the burning of Athens itself, including Acropolis, by the Persians (during their second invasion in 480 BC). The lavish project of Parthenon was a structural outcome of such collective levels of self-confidence, economic boom, and tributes exacted from allied city-states. And now after 2456 years, the monumental temple will be refurbished once again, using mostly materials which are now lying near the proximate grounds.
According to Greek Central Archaeological Council (KAS), the project will focus on the rebuilding of the cella, the inner-chamber of the structure that housed the mighty statue of Athena Parthenos, made of chryselephantine – which is a medium composed of gold and ivory. To that end, this might be the very first endeavor aimed at restoring the ancient temple to its former glory. As for the logistical side of affairs, the researchers aim to use (reuse) around 360 marble and stone pieces that are currently lying in the ground around the Parthenon.
Interestingly enough, reverting to history, while the main building of the Parthenon was symbolic of the city-state’s glory, the minds of many leaders of Athens during the time were still governed by the practicality of the grand project. Thucydides, a contemporary historian once wrote that Pericles, regarded as one of the greatest Greek statesmen – who commissioned his ambitious Periclean building program on the Acropolis, considered the imposing Athena statue inside Parthenon as a ‘gold reserve’.
According to many sources, this statue consisted of pure gold – melted and derived from coins and contained a whopping 40 talents (1,040 kg) of the precious metal. So in Pericles’ stoic judgment, the statue could be melted back to make coins, if the city ever needed them! And while such an outlandish scenario never came to fruition, the statue of Athena itself, unfortunately, was lost to the rigors of time after it was shifted to Constantinople post circa 5th century AD.
And lastly, while the Parthenon is often considered as the greatest surviving example surviving Doric-style architecture, the simplicity of the building’s form and the plan is deceptive to say the least, courtesy of architect-extraordinaire Iktinos. For example, the columns of the temple subtly lean inwards to the structure that makes the perspective easier for a human when he views them on an upward angle. In spite of this calculated arrangement, the Parthenon boasts of a very fine parabolic upward curvature that allows the monument to decisively shed rainwater while also reinforcing it against earthquakes.
Altair4 Multimedia has concocted an incredible animation (presented above) that presents the imposing Acropolis of Athens – thus providing us with a glimpse into the Greek architectural fabric that extended throughout the Mediterranean.
Source: Greek Reporter