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THE ANCIENT CITY OF ATHENS


The Ancient City of Athens(Greece) is a photographic archive of the archaeological and architectural remains of ancient Athens . It is intended primarily as a resource for students and teachers of classical art and archaeology, civilization, languages, and history as a supplement to their class lectures and reading assignments and as a source of images for use in term papers, projects, and presentations. Also hope that this site will be useful to all who have an interest in archaeological exploration and the recovery, interpretation, and preservation of the past
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Athens was the most beautiful city in Greece. It grew up at the foot of the high rock, known as the Acropolis, which in the earliest times was the citadel that defended the city. According to mythology, when Cecrops was king of Athens, a contest took place, as to whether Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom or Poseidon, Lord of the Sea, should be the special guardians of the city. The victory was awarded to Athena, who thrust her spear into the ground, whereupon an olive tree appeared. Poseidon on the other hand, stricking the rock with his trident, he brought forth clear salt water, which he also gave to the Athenians. For all time, the olive was considered a sacred symbol and the sea became almost like a second home to the Athenians.
When we talk about the history of Athens, we have to go back some 2000 years when Athens was one of the several small independent city-states.
Sometime around 621 BC, a legistrator named Draco appeared on the Athenian scene. His laws were so severe that the legistrator has been immortalized by the word ‘draconian’. The laws were said to be written in blood rather than ink, because he rewarded many types of crimes with the death penalty. These laws held for only a quarter of a century until Solon, who came to be called the founder of Athenian democracy, abolished the death penalty for everything but murder.
A hundred years later democracy was threatened by the Persians. But they had to confront the genius of Themistocles, an Athenian leader who went out and built a huge fleet rather than an army. However, he turned out to be right; the Persians were blasted off the sea at the battle of Salamis.
Athens, now a naval power, was headed for its golden age. Its ruler at this time, around the middle of the fifth century BC, was Pericles, the most dazzling orator in a city of dazzling orators. He practiced democracy at home, imperialism abroad. It was Pericles who built the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the long walls to Pireaus and many of the temples you'll see on your strolls around the capital. This was quite a time for Athens. While Pericles was building his Parthenon, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were writing their plays and Socrates and Plato were teaching.
Athens was then involved in the Peloponnesian War with Sparta and 27 years of fighting lead to Athens' defeat in 404 BC. But victorious Sparta's influence lasted only 30 years after; it was then superseded by Macedonia, a kingdom in the north of Greece. Philip of Macedon's ambition was to unify all of Greece, restore Greek culture to Macedon, and eliminate Persia as a lingering threat. Next in line in the throne was his first wife's son, Alexander the Great, who had studied under Aristotle. Alexander's death marked the end of the great classical period of Greece-in literature, philosophy and art.
For 500 years, right through the early era of Christianity, Athens was subject to the power of Rome. For most practical purposes the history of classical Greece ends at this point. Tourists come to Athens and Greece mainly to see the remains of the classical ruins, and to relive the days of glory of Pericles and the Athenians. That's what Greece is all about.
Obviously, though, its history continues. For many hundreds of years, Byzantinum was the only civilized part of Europe. Art, especially religious art, flourished, and churches, monasteries and palaces were going up everywhere including the Athens area.
Then the Eastern and Western churches separated; Venetians, Franks and soldiers from other countries in Western Europe formed their crusades and Greece was reduced to an insignificant province, and Athens became a small town. The Parthenon was turned into a Turkish mosque.
For the next 400 years, Greece remained under Turkish rule. In the early 1800s, the Greeks started to muster groups of revolutionaries, and in March 1821, they formally began their struggle for independence marked on March 25 as Greek Independence Day. In 1829 Greece was declared an independent nation.
A number of modern-day conflicts (Balkan and world wars) left Greece at times in other hands, but today the country is a republic with a democratically elected parliament. Regimes may come and go, but the glory that was Greece and Athens remains.

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