Acropolis of Athens

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Coordinates: 37°58′17″N 23°43′34″E / 37.971421°N 23.726166°E / 37.971421; 23.726166

The Acropolis of Athens or Citadel of Athens is the best known acropolis (Gr. akros, akron,[1] edge, extremity + polis, city, pl. acropoleis) in the world. Although there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis without qualification. The Acropolis was formally proclaimed as the pre-eminent monument on the European Cultural Heritage list of monuments on 26 March 2007.[2] The Acropolis is a flat-topped rock that rises 150 m (490 ft) above sea level in the city of Athens, with a surface area of about 3 hectares. It was also known as Cecropia, after the legendary serpent-man, Cecrops, the first Athenian king.

Contents

History

Early settlement

While the earliest artifacts date to the Middle Neolithic era, there have been documented habitations in Attica from the Early Neolithic (6th millennium BC). There is little doubt that a Mycenaean megaron stood upon the hill during the late Bronze Age.[citation needed] Nothing of this megaron survives except, probably, a single limestone column-base and pieces of several sandstone steps. Soon after the palace was built a Cyclopean massive circuit wall was built, 760 meters long, up to 10 meters high, and ranging from 3.5 to 6 meters thick. This wall would serve as the main defense for the acropolis until the 5th century.[3] The wall consisted of two parapets built with large stone blocks and cemented with an earth mortar called emplekton (Greek: ἔμπλεκτον).[4] The wall follows typical Mycenaean convention in that it followed the natural contour of the terrain and its gate was arranged obliquely, with a parapet and tower overhanging the incomers' right-hand side, thus facilitating defense. There were two lesser approaches up the hill on its north side, consisting of steep, narrow flights of steps cut in the rock. Homer is assumed to refer to this fortification when he mentions the "strong-built House of Erechtheus" (Odyssey 7.81). At some point before the 13th century an earthquake caused a fissure near the northeastern edge of the acropolis. This fissure extended some thirty five meters to a bed of soft marl in which a well was dug.[5] An elaborate set of stairs was built and the well was used as a protected source of drinking water during some portion of the Mycenaean period, as it was invaluable in times of siege.

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