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The Acropolis

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The Acropolis

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The establishment of the Acropolis occurred in the late Cretaceous period and its ultimate separation from the other parts of Athenian landscape was regarded as more complex than Plato had envisaged in his works (460 – 403 BC) (Westmoreland, 2006). Although the Acropolis was not the highest hill in Athens, it was easily accessible, usable summit, suitable for natural defenses and availability of water. These are several reasons that favored the construction of Acropolis, ‘high city,' in Athens. Firstly, Acropolis served as a fortress, dwelling place, symbol and sanctuary. Pericles, the great statesman Athens, guided the planning of the Acropolis and the construction started (Leoni & Cappon, 2009). The detailed Acropolis planning with specifications and labor contracting took a period of two years for the Parthenon alone. During the Panathenaic celebration on 28th July 447 BCE, the corner stone was laid (Nardo, 2004).

With the idea of creating a life-long monument that would honor the goddess Athena and proclaim city’s glory to the world, designer Pericles did not spare any expense in the Acropolis construction, the more so Parthenon (Linnihan, Johnson & Datagraph Creations, 2003). Therefore, Pericles hired highly skilled architects such as Iktinos, Callicrates, Phidias, and Mnesikles to work on the project. The historian Pedley claims that the work of constrcting Acropolis was undertaken under Phidias’ supervision. The labor force consisted of hundreds of metal workers, artisans, painters, and craftspeople, as well as thousands of unskilled workers also hammered away on the project. It is worth noting that most of the money for construction was obtained by the Delian league (this was a league of Greek city states and Islands united against Persian invasion), while other city states begrudged Athens utilizing their own funds in the construction of Acropolis; later this contributed to the war between Sparta and Athens. The Parthenon was the first building to be erected in the Athens. The Parthenon dimensions are 69.5 by 30.9 meters with 46 inner and outer columns. The outer columns were measured 10.4 meters tall with a diameter measuring 1.9 meters (Robin, 1995). There was a tall statue (measuring 12 meters high) of Athina inside the Parthenon, which was made out of gold, ivory, and wood. Most significantly, it took 15 years to complete Parthenon under the General Pericles (Robin, 1995).

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Therefore, Acropolis consisted of Parthenon, the Propylaia complex, the Erechtheum, the Temple of Athena, and the Caryatids Porch. It took approximately 50 years to complete the construction of Acropolis. There are three factors that favored the construction of Acropolis: great wealth, large population of slaves (unskilled laborers) and skilled workers, and availability of building materials (marble). Marble was available in large quantities froom quarries of Mt. Pentelicon that was 10 miles away from Athens. The marble blocks from quarries were transported using ox-drawn carts and roads that are seen even today. During the construction, Athens utilized simple machines for lifting massive quantities of marble (Loten & University of Pennsylvania, 2007). These simple machines include levers, pulleys, and inclined planes. Altogether Athens used more than $ 57, 600,000 on sculptures, edifices and war-painting throughout the Periclean era.

There were numerous challenges that were encountered during the construction of Acropolis. For example, during the Persian Wars, construction of Acropolis halted for a number of years since Persians burned some parts of the Acropolis. The challenge was overcome when the Delian league was formed to counter Persian invasions. Another challenge that was faced by the Athens was the transportation of marble ten miles away from the Athens (Loten & University of Pennsylvania, 2007). They used ox-drawn carts to transport massive limestone from quarries. More often than not, those workers working on quarries experienced numerous problems such as collapses, water problems and transporting marble out of those quarries. In addition, Athens experienced poor construction strategies, time constraints and ineffective restoration techniques. On the other hand, as time progressed the role of Acropolis changed, and it was used as Christian churches such as the Virgin St. Mary (Makrides, 2009).

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