Sanctuary of Zeus Polieus

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Description

The location of this precinct is uncertain. The most probable location is some 8 m northeast of the northeast corner of the Parthenon. This sanctuary included the culminating point of the Akropolis. The sanctuary probably consisted of two parts: a roughly rectangular open-air precinct on the west and another polygonal precinct on the northeast. These precincts were connected by a door. The west precinct had an entrance at its southwest corner and measured approximately 17 m on its north-south axis and 26 m on its east-west axis. Rock cuttings in this precinct indicate that it contained a building, probably a barn for the sacred oxen dedicated to Zeus, and a fenced enclosure.

The northeast precinct contained a small temple in antis facing north and a long altar in front of it. The lower part of the temple was made of stone while its upper part was made of wood. A sacrificial pit occupied the center of the cella.

An Archaic style statue of Zeus probably stood in this precinct. It depicted Zeus standing, his left arm outstretched and his right raised to throw a thunderbolt.

The festival of the Diipoleia was held each year on the 14th of the month of Skirophorion (end of June). During this festival oxen where sacrificed on the altar of Zeus Polieus during the ritual called Bouphoria.

Later Features

Another statue, made by Leokares in the 4th century BC, depicted Zeus standing and slightly advancing his left leg.

References

Brouskari, Maria; The Monuments of the Acropolis, Athens: Archaeological Receipts Fund, 2001

Hill, Ida Thallon; The Ancient City of Athens – Its Topography and Monuments, London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1953

Hurwit, Jeffrey M.; The Acropolis in the Age of Pericles, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004

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