Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Liakos, Dimitri

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Erechtheum (Athens; Greece); Athena (Greek deity); Temples--Greece; Cults--Greece


Identified in fifth century BC inscriptions as "the temple on the Akropolis in which is the ancient image," the so-called Erechtheion is perhaps the most uncanonical and enigmatic temple ever built by the Greeks. In spite of extensive and intensive archaeological examination, there is still little agreement among scholars concerning the placement, in the extant remains of the building, of the various altars and shrines seen there by Pausanias, who has provided us with the most complete account of the building from ancient times. In addition, Pausanias' puzzling narration has made it excessively difficult to determine with certainty exactly which cults stood where within the building since he began with the Erechtheion but switched abruptly to the temple of Athena Polias in which, it is assumed, he saw the ancient image of Athena which he deemed "the most holy symbol" of all Attica. Since archaeological evidence alone has proven inconclusive, it is the intention of this thesis to attempt to understand the placement of the cults, and the rather unorthodox, yet highly inventive, architectural solutions introduced in the temple, by examining the nature of the cults themselves and, in particular, that of Athena Polias. In order to gain an understanding, this thesis will look first at the cult of Athena Polias examining the roots of the goddess, her mythological persona, her attributes as Polias and the rites and rituals concerning the cult. In addition, this thesis will trace, in a synoptic fashion, the development of the cult of Athena from its possible beginnings in the Neolithic period up to the rebuilding of the Akropolis in the fifth century BC. Furthermore, this thesis will examine the cults of the Erechtheion mentioned by Pausanias and their possible interrelationship with the cult of Athena Polias. Then finally, it will direct the reader’s attention to the so-called Erechtheion itself in the hope of finding another possible solution to the problem of the placement and interaction of the cults within the extant remains of the building while attempting to correlate the obscure account provided by Pausanias.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [79]-86)


vi, 110 pages




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