Photographs of Ancient Greece...


Next to Mount Parnassos, Delphi is the home of the prophecy-giving oracle (see Oedipus the King), and location of the "home" sanctuary of the god Apollo. Often referred to as the center of the earth, or the omphalos, i.e. "navel," of the earth. Site of one of the Stephanitic (so called because the prize at these games was a crown, or stephanos, of plant matter) or Panhellenic games (the others were hosted at sacred sites at Olympia, Isthmia, Nemea, &c.). The crowns given out at Delphi were made of laurel, a tree closely associated with the mythology of Apollo and his first love interest, Daphne. For "canonical" versions of many of the gods' stories and identities, check out this translation of the Homeric, of course, Archaic era Greek bard, Homer! Apollo's is there among the rest.

Columnar remains of the "tholos," or round temple in the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. And a kitty. Meow.

Semi-aerial view of the Tholos at the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia.

Doric triglyph-metope frieze remains from the tholos. You can also see roof/drainage system details here (the lion head is a spout).

Archaic era kouroi from Delphi. Offerings/dedications to the oracle.

Stadium at Delphi, used for running events at the Delphic games. The stone slabs on the ground are actually the starting line; there were grooves in the stone where runners (running naked, of course) would line up their toes in preparation for the start of the race. A wood-and-string starting mechanism would keep them in place until the race start, collapsing forward so that the runners could zip right over them without hassle. :)

The theatre at Delphi.

The temple and sanctuary of Apollo.

The Athenian Treasury at Delphi. Dedicated by the Athenians after winning the Battle of Marathon (early fifth century BC - approximately 490) against the Persian invadors. Many city states had treasuries at Delphi, intended to hold and show off the dedications and donations by the poleis and their wealthy citizens to the oracle in thanks for its favorable prophecies and advice. Offerings included everything from full-sized sculptural offerings (see the kouroi above) to tiny metal animals to little clay effigies of body parts needing healing and more.


Bronze age tholos tomb - round tomb ceiling.

Tomb entry.

Ruins of the bronze age citadel at Mycenae. And more.

Lion gate.

Lion gate detail . Back end of lion gate.

Olympia (ancient Panhellenic games site)

Phidias' workshop at Olympia. Site of the creation of the beautiful monumental sculpture for the temples of Zeus and Hera at Olympia. Phidias also oversaw the sculpture decorating the Parthenon in Athens.

Starting line at the stadium at Olympia.

Nemea (ancient Panhellenic games site)

Stadium Tunnel. Interior of tunnel, with ancient athletes' graffiti.

Starting line at Nemean stadium.

Temple of Zeus at Nemea.


The Peplos Kore, a 530 BC, Archaic-style sculpture of a girl dressed in a peplos, a Doric-style women's garment. More info about her.

Another "kore" from the late Archaic period.

Doric style Hephaesteion, temple dedicated to Hephaestus, god of the forge and patron divinity of men's crafts, and son of Hera. According to one version of the myth, Hephaestus was spawned by Hera alone in jealous response to Zeus' creation of Athena, who was borned fully grown from his head (spawned "parthenogenically" actuality, though, Zeus had actually consumed Athena's mother, with whom he had had...erm...relations...and impregnated her with Athena).

Karyatid Porch from the Erechtheum, Athenian Acropolis. Another view.

Doric style Parthenon sactuary/temple from the fifth century BC, constructed on the Athenian acropolis from 447-432 BC (during the Hellenic/Classical period) and paid for in large part by the Delian League, whose treasury would be housed within the back area (opisthodomos) of the temple once it was constructed. It's made of Pentelic Marble (From Mount Pentelikos, which isn't too far from the site). While today the remains of the sculpture appear white and unpainted, they were brightly colored (painted dark reds, blues, &c.) when they were new. The previous Parthenon/Temple to Athena Parthenos (Virginal Athena) was destroyed by the Persians while still under construction earlier in the fifth century (480). It was designed by the famous architects, Icthinus and Callicrates, with most of the sculptural detail (including the large ivory, gold, and decorative glass statue of Athena, goddess of thoughtful war, in her armor, aegis, and with shield that was housed inside the sanctuary area within the cella) overseen by the legendary sculptor, Phidias. You can see the remains of Phidias' workshop at Olympia here. While the Olympian workshop has little to do with his work on the Parthenon in Athens, it gives us some idea of how and where this supervising sculptor would have worked in proximity to the construction sites of the temples on which he worked.

Remaining pedimental and metope sculpture in situ on the Parthenon. The outer sculpture of the Parthenon encompasses many themes. Subjects included in the triglyph-metope frieze include the Gigantomachy, or war between the Giants (deities of the Titanic/Cthonic generation of gods) vs. the Olympic generation of gods; the Amazonomachy (war between the Athenians and the Amazons); the Trojan War; and the battle between the Lapith people, assisted by prominent mythological Athenian hero Theseus, and the half-man, half-horse Centaurs (Centauromachy, natch). The pedimental sculpture deals with Athena's birth (cracking out of Zeus' head) and the contest between Athena and Poseidon for the official patronage of the city.

Segment of Ionic frieze from the Parthenon. Now mostly housed at the British Museum, this continuous frieze once graced the outer top wall of the Parthenon's cella/naos. It supposedly depicts the Panatheneic Procession, an annual procession to the Parthenon in honor of Athena, which also often coincided with the Panatheneic games, an athletic festival encouraging the polis' young athlete-warriors to be the best they could be. ;)

Another segment of the frieze, in Athens.