December 11, 2007

Siphnian Treasury

The Siphnian Treasury was a dedicated building to the Greek polis, or city-state, of Delphi while the Oracle was still popular and in use. Such a dedication was common among city-states in order to win the favor of Apollo.

The people of Siphnos gained enormous wealth from their silver and gold mines and were able to afford this luxurious dedication in the 6th century B.C. (ca. 525 B.C.E.) The building is similar to the porch of a Greek temple and was used to house the many gifts that were offered to Apollo. The pediment of the treasury shows the story of Herakles stealing Apollo’s tripod which was an important tool used in his powers of foresight. Around the frieze shows various scenes from the war between the gods and the giants. The columns are not a typical Greek style. Instead, caryatids were used to support the building and offer a greater amount of decoration. Caryatids are more popularly recognized in the Erechtheion, a temple atop the Athenian Acropolis.

Athens also had a treasury dedicated on the site and it is considered one of the most beautiful of the ancient buildings there today.

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