Treasury of the Athenians at Delphi . . . More Background for Esther

September 20, 2017

The restored treasury of the Athenians at Delphi:

The Athenian Treasury was a votive building in the form of a reduced scale temple, designed to hold the multitude of Athenian offerings to the Delphi oracle. The building was constructed entirely of Parian marble and had a Doric frieze decorated with 30 metopes. It is a distyle in antis building with a porch before the entrance to the cella, measuring 10 x 6 meters.

The metopes depicted mythological themes of Theseus, Heracles, and Amazons in high relief. It is believed that two Athenian sculptors carved the metopes, each representing a distinct style or generation: one from the Archaic period, and one from the Severe style of classical art (the transition from Archaic to High Classical art). The walls of the treasury were inscribed with various texts, among which are the hymns to Apollo which included melody notation (see below).

Several dates for its construction have been suggested (with Pausanias mentioning that it was built after the battle of Marathon), but it is widely accepted that its was created sometime between 510 and 480 BCE, a period framed by the founding of the Athenian democracy and the defining battle of Marathon. (http://ancient-greece.org/museum/muse-delphi-athenians.html)

Delphi of course is “home of the famous oracle of Delphi, known as the Pythia, and the Temple of Apollo, where the oracle presided” (Fant, Clyde E.; Reddish, Mitchell G.. A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, Kindle Locations 1180-1181).

Our photo here shows the treasury at left center:

Treasury of the Athenians at Delphi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Regarding the famous battle of Marathon, 490 BC, where the greatly outnumbered Greeks repelled and defeated the Persians, EyeWitnessHistory.com has the following info:

The battle of Marathon is one of history’s most famous military engagements. It is also one of the earliest recorded battles. Their victory over the Persian invaders gave the fledgling Greek city states confidence in their ability to defend themselves and belief in their continued existence. The battle is therefore considered a defining moment in the development of European culture.

In September of 490 BC a Persian armada of 600 ships disgorged an invasion force of approximately 20,000 infantry and cavalry on Greek soil just north of Athens. Their mission was to crush the Greek states in retaliation for their support of their Ionian cousins who had revolted against Persian rule.

Undaunted by the numerical superiority of the invaders, Athens mobilized 10,000 hoplite warriors to defend their territory. The two armies met on the Plain of Marathon twenty-six miles north of Athens. The flat battlefield surrounded by hills and sea was ideal for the Persian cavalry. Surveying the advantage that the terrain and size of their force gave to the Persians, the Greek generals hesitated.

One of the Greek generals – Miltiades – made a passionate plea for boldness and convinced his fellow generals to attack the Persians. Miltiades ordered the Greek hoplites to form a line equal in length to that of the Persians. Then – in an act that his enemy believed to be complete madness – he ordered his Greek warriors to attack the Persian line at a dead run. In the ensuing melee, the middle of the Greek line weakened and gave way, but the flanks were able to engulf and slaughter the trapped Persians. An estimated 6,400 Persians were slaughtered while only 192 Greeks were killed.

The remaining Persians escaped on their ships and made an attempt to attack what they thought was an undefended Athens. However, the Greek warriors made a forced march back to Athens and arrived in time to thwart the Persians. (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/pfmarathon.htm)

In our title I suggested that these events give further background to the biblical book of Esther. In our post here we showed how in 480 BC, ten years after the Battle of Marathon, the Persian King Xerxes was building his forces to again attempt to subjugate Greece. The fact that Persia was still “smarting” after her humiliating defeat by Greece helps us to see the purpose and even urgency behind those opening verses of Esther (1:1-9), where Xerxes is meeting with officials from his 127 provinces, which ranged from India to Ethiopia.

Click image for larger view.

 

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Odeion at Troy

April 1, 2016

Ancient Troy has been made famous by Homer’s Iliad. Troy is located within the province of Çanakkale, located in extreme western Turkey. Troy’s extensive remains are the most significant and substantial evidence of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world. This past Spring, 2015, we were able to visit Troy. Among the fascinating ruins there was the Roman Odeion, a small theater where concerts, lectures and other events took place.

Roman Odeion at Troy, Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Roman Odeion at Troy, Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The skene, stage building included a larger-than-life statue of the Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138). Also, a sculpted head of Augustus was found at the odeion, causing some to surmise that this may have been erected in honor of his visit here in 20 BC. Beyond the odeion at the back you can see a portion of the fortification wall of Troia VI.

The Roman odeion is in Troy’s Level IX. Over the centuries there were nine levels of occupation.

Cross-section of Troy, showing 9 occupation levels. Istanbul Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Cross-section of Troy, showing 9 occupation levels. Istanbul Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin. 

Wikipedia has this helpful chart:

Troy I 3000–2600 BC (Western Anatolian EB 1)
Troy II 2600–2250 BC (Western Anatolian EB 2)
Troy III 2250–2100 BC (Western Anatolian EB 3 [early])
Troy IV 2100–1950 BC (Western Anatolian EB 3 [middle])
Troy V: 20th–18th centuries BC (Western Anatolian EB 3 [late])
Troy VI: 17th–15th centuries BC
Troy VIh: late Bronze Age, 14th century BC
Troy VIIa: c. 1300–1190 BC, most likely setting for Homer’s story
Troy VIIb1: 12th century BC
Troy VIIb2: 11th century BC
Troy VIIb3: until c. 950 BC
Troy VIII: c. 700–85 BC
Troy IX: 85 BC–c. AD 500

Biblical significance: It was here at Troy (Ilium) at the temple of Athena that Xerxes (Ahasuerus) of the book of Esther sacrificed 1,000 head of cattle en route on his march through the Hellespontine region towards Greece. This was 480 BC.

We have previously posted on Troy here.


Assos, In the Steps of Paul

November 18, 2015

On Paul’s return trip on his 3rd Missionary Journey, after departing from Troas, he walked on to Assos and rejoined his traveling companions there. Today at noon (ETS meeting, ATL) Dr. Mark Wilson did a very informative presentation on that segment of Paul’s travel.

11 Now when he [Paul] had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. 12 And they brought the young man [Eutychus] in alive, and they were not a little comforted. 13 Then we went ahead to the ship and sailed to Assos, there intending to take Paul on board; for so he had given orders, intending himself to go on foot. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and came to Mitylene (Acts 20:11-14).

At the acropolis of Assos there are some well-preserved ruins of the temple of Athena.

Assos, temple of Athena. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Assos, temple of Athena. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a view of the Acropolis:

Acropolis of Assos. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Acropolis of Assos. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

While the distance from Troas to Assos as the crow flies is about 20 miles, Dr. Wilson pointed out that the Roman road on which Paul would have traveled would have been about 31 miles, and would have taken two days.

Map by BibleAtlas.org.

Map by BibleAtlas.org.

Mark said that Assos was one of his top 10 favorite places in Turkey to visit. I have to agree!

I have a previous post on Assos here.


Catching Up a Bit from Istanbul

April 2, 2015

Between ınternet ıssues and an agıng laptop ıt turned out I could not post for the last couple of nıghts. Our group has now completed our Greece-Turkey trıp. We have traveled ın the steps of Paul and also vısıted the cıtıes of the Seven Churches (mınus Thyatıra) and fınıshed our trıp by tourıng Istanbul today. It has truly been a good trıp. Here ıs a group shot from Pergamum.

Group photo at Pergamum. Photo by Orhan.

Group photo at Pergamum. Photo by Orhan.

That photo was taken Monday afternoon. Earlıer that mornıng we had vısıted Assos whıch ıs mentıoned ın Acts 21 ın connectıon wıth Paul’s return trıp on the 3rd journey upon hıs departure from Troas.

The staff at the Assos Dove Hotel were especıally frıendly and accommodatıng. Thıs was my second tıme to stay here.

Staff at Assos Dove Hotel. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

Staff at Assos Dove Hotel. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

As you ascend the acropolıs of Assos you wıll see the promınent ruıns of an ancıent temple devoted to Athena. There ıs a model on dısplay at the sıte.

Model showıng how the Athena Temple ın Assos would have looked. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

Model showıng how the Athena Temple ın Assos would have looked. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

Thıs temple would have been ın actıve use durıng New Testament tımes and would have been seen for some mıles ın the Aegean as shıps saıled through thıs area. The context of the mentıon of Assos ın Acts 21 ıs when Paul sent hıs companıons on ahead at Troas ın the shıp whıle he went by land. He boarded the shıp at the harbor at Assos.

Ruıns of the temple of Athena at Assos Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

Ruıns of the temple of Athena at Assos Turkey. Photo by Leon Mauldın.

We are to fly back to the US from Istanbul early ın the mornıng (2:00 AM wake-up call). We look forward to sharıng more photos of bıblıcal sıtes wıth you.

Clıck on ımages for larger vıew.