The word "akropolis" is composed of two ancient Greek words, "akros" meaning "high" (or "akron" - "high place") and "polis" - "city". Many of the ancient Greek cities had their own "acropolis", but now the Athenian Acropolis is THE acropolis par excellence
It rises to 156m above sea level.
The ancient Greek acropoleis (or acropolises) functioned as both fortress and place of cult, and in fact the Athenian acropolis had these two functions. Its use as fortress continued until the 19th century when Greece regained her independence.
|Athenian Acropolis is a UNESCO World Heritage
The acropolis area is the oldest occupied site in Athens. It was surely inhabited in the Neolithic period, although the traces are few. The settlement was facilitated by the defensibility as well as the presence of water at the south foot.
The acropolis was first fortified with walls around 1250BC. The cult of Athena Polias there was started probably by the rulers of Mycenaen period, but the significance of acropolis then was as the rulers' residence and not as religious centre. These first walls were made of large blocks of stone and was 8 metres high. As they seemed to be constructed by giants, they are called "Cyclopean". Inside the walls there might have been a palace of the ruler(s) of Athens and Attika, but it is almost impossible to recover the most ancient traces of construction, partly because they were obliterated by later constuctions, and partly because it is virtually impossible to excavate under the Parthenon.
Even after the Antiquity, the construction activities continued by the Byzantines, Crusaders, and Ottomans. There was even a mosque within the Parthenon. In the 19th century, however, the archaeologists of the newly independent Greece decided to recreate the classical Acropolis, and that is why this place appears now so purely ancient.
- Maria S. Brouscari, L'Acropole d'Athènes, Athènes/ Adam editions (sans date).
- G. Papathanassopoulos, The Acropolis : A New Guide of the Monuments and Museum, Athens : Krene, c1991 (2002 reprint).
- Christopher Mee & Antony Spawforth, Greece: An Oxford Archaeological Guide, Oxford/ OUP, 2001.
- Hans Rupprecht Goette, Athens, Attica, and the Megarid: an Archaeological Guide, London/ Routledge 2001.
- Acropolis Museum : Short Guide. Text by Dimitrios Pandermalis et als. Athens : Acropolis Museum. 2009.
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