Tholos

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Contents

Introduction

Reconstruction of the Tholos by Kronoskaf - Untextured 3D Model
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Reconstruction of the Tholos by Kronoskaf - Untextured 3D Model

An older Prytanikon (House of the Prytaneis), destroyed by the Persians in 480 BC, was replaced around 465 BC by the Tholos (round building) serving the same functions and, for this reason, officially designated as Prytanikon. Sometimes, the building was also designated as Skias because of its conical roof.

The Tholos stood on the west side of the Agora. It had an outer diameter of 18.32 m. A small kitchen was soon added as an appendage on the north side of the tholos.

The 50 Prytaneis (on duty members of the boule) ate and assembled in the tholos. They relayed themselves on three shifts night and day to assure the permanence of the democratic institutions. The building could accommodate only 25 dining couches but given that the Prytaneis were working on shifts, this was sufficient to host them. This building was also the place where the sacred public hearth fire was continuously kept burning.

The standard weights and measures were stored in the same building. These standards measures were marked with the word demosion to indicate their official status. Some of these standards might have been exposed outside the Tholos.

Floor

The floor of the tholos was made of hard-packed clay.

Walls

The lower courses of the walls of the Tholos were made of poros blocks in isodomic style. The upper part of the walls was made of sun-dried bricks covered with stucco. The walls were 0.71 m thick.

There were probably two windows on each side of the main door.

Roof

The conical roof had a central peak (much like a parasol). It was covered with 16 rows of diamond-shaped terracotta tiles and bordered with 0.306 m high antefixes. It was supported by six inner unfluted poros columns.

Precinct

Previously, the location was occupied by a building which might have been the palace of the Peisistratids.

There was a fountain within the precinct, to the south east of the tholos. An old graveyard, to the south of the tholos, was enclosed with walls and considered as a sacred place.

The precinct was dedicated to Artemis Boulaia who had an altar on the southeast side of the Tholos. Furthermore, Apollo Prostaterios and Athena Archegetis were probably worshipped in this precinct.

Later Features

A propylon was added during the 1st century AD. Around the same period, the floor was paved with white marble chips.

References

American School of Classical Studies at Athens; The Athenian Agora: A Guide to the Excavation and Museum, 1990

Camp, John M.; The Archaeology of Athens, Yale University Press, 2001, pp. 69-70

Connolly, Peter and Hazel Dodge; The Ancient City - Life in Classical Athens & Rome, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

Davis, W. S.; A Day in Old Athens, 1910

Martin, Jacques; Les voyages d'Alix - Athènes, Casterman, 2001

Travlos, John, Pictorial dictionary of Ancient Athens, Books that matter, New York, 1971, p. 553

To Do

  1. Illustrate what were the weights and measures
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