Dedication practices on the Athenian Acropolis, 8th to 4th centuries B.C.
A society that regards nature as divine is constantly reminded of its dependence on the gods. It comes, therefore, as no surprise to find the sanctuary as major focus of the Greek community, in Athens literally occupying the centre of the city, the Acropolis. A central part of ancient religious life was the practice of offering gifts to the gods. The abundance of dedications on the Acropolis - which includes the full range from the simple terracotta figurines to exquisitely decorated pottery and life size marble sculpture - gives ample evidence of this. The Acropolis offers a unique opportunity to study the dedications of Athens' city sanctuary in its most important period of growth and power. The continued use of the sanctuary over centuries is not on all accounts a blessing. The history of the Acropolis and its buildings has yet to find a conclusive interpretation owing to the destruction of earlier evidence by later building phases. In Chapter II I give a brief summary of the different theories and their limits in satisfying all the evidence. The chapter is not intended as a detailed architectural study, but to establish as closely as possible when cults were introduced on the Acropolis and when building activity might have influenced the storage and disposal of dedications. The survival of the dedications themselves has been affected by the length of the sanctuaries' use. Different classes of objects have better chances of survival than others, some classes will have left no record in corpore. In Chapter III I introduce all sources: the objects (pottery, bronzes, sculpture, terracotta, etc.), the epigraphic and the literary evidence, and assess their value and completeness. The chapter is also an archaeological and iconographical study of the dedications. The objects are classified by type, and changes in decoration and shape of chosen dedications are explored. Flow charts show numerical changes in classes and types of objects during the centuries. In some cases it is also possible to make more conclusive statements about the dedicators. Inscribed names give the opportunity to recognize persons we know from history. I enquire into the identities and status of some of the dedicators and their motive for dedication and try to show how these motives might have changed with time. In Chapter IV the evidence concerning the placing of the dedications on the Acropolis is collected. What kind of dedications were stored in temple treasuries and if they were in the open (as statues), where were they placed on the Acropolis? In the conclusion I try to point out how changes in society and religion are reflected in the dedications.