Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parthenon: Temple of Athena Parthenos

Construction of the Parthenon began in 447 BC and is dedicated to Athena, the protector of Athens. In the 5th century CE, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman Turk conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s, and it had a minaret built in it. On 26 September 1687, an Ottoman Turk ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures. In 1806, Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the surviving sculptures, with the Ottoman Turks' permission. These sculptures, now known as the Elgin Marbles or the Parthenon Marbles, were sold in 1816 to the British Museum in London.

Originally, the temple contained a massive statue of Athena Parthenos (which means 'virgin'), 36 meters high, covered in gold sheeting. It stood in the temple until the 5th century AD, when it was probably lost in one of a number of fires that destroyed parts of the Temple over the years, although there is a report of the statue in Constantinople in the 10th century. This is a replica of the statue in a reproduction of the Parthenon in, of all places, Nashville, Tennessee:

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