Athena Parthenos (Parthenon)

Department Archive
Collection Byzantine Research Fund
Reference No. BRF/01/01/01/097
Level Item
Place Parthenon
Athens Acropolis
Dates 1888-1890
Donor/Creator Weir Schultz, Mr Robert
Barnsley, Mr Sidney Howard
Scope and Content Transverse section. This is a preliminary drawing.
Further information The pagan temple of Athena Parthenos (Parthenon) was converted into a three-aisled basilica very possibly during the second half of the 6th c. Very few alterations were made to the ancient building: the main entrance at the east end of the cella was replaced by a sanctuary apse, three doorways were opened in the wall that separated the temple from the opisthodomos which must have functioned as the narthex of the ‘new’ church.

Only traces of the original decoration of the building have survived. These suggest that, unconventionally, scenes of the Passion of Christ and its aftermath were favoured in the church’s narrative scheme. The murals, which were painted directly upon the marble in the late 11th-early 12th c., were copied in watercolours by Westlake in 1885. They were published two years later. A mosaic image of the Virgin with Child, now lost, decorated the east apse. The Christian wall-paintings of the Parthenon have been compared, in terms of style, to the mosaics of the Daphni monastery. The conversion of ancient monuments into places of worship must have been initiated by Justinian’s edict of 529.