Review of The Ancient City of Athens

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The Ancient City of Athens [Dead link: Archived versions from the Internet Archive (may not match the content of this review)]

The Ancient City of Athens is a web site designed to provide students at Indiana University with images illustrating the archaeological and architectural remains of this important ancient polis. An attractive homepage provides access to five topics. The first, Sites and Monuments, is the heart of the web site, for here we find twelve sections devoted to the major remains of the city: Acropolis, North Slope of the Acropolis, East Slope of the Acropolis, South Slope of the Acropolis, Philoppapos Monument, Pnyx, Agora, Roman Agora, Lysicrates Monument, Arch of Hadrian, Olympeion and Southeast Athens, and Kerameikos. Currently the web site is being updated, and only the first section on the Acropolis appears to be complete, although many of the others have lists of images that can be accessed, and under the South Slope links to Perseus and other sites with information on ancient theaters are provided.

The listing of images for the Acropolis are divided into six sub-sections: Views of the Acropolis, Propylaia, Temple of Athena Nike, Parthenon, Erechtheion, and Pre-Classical Acropolis. A useful caption accompanies each image on the list, clearly indicating its nature. It would have been helpful if the same captions also accompanied the images when downloaded. A good selection of pictures are available under each category, providing the viewer with a good sense of the monuments. Some pictures are naturally better than others, but the quality is good, indeed excellent for its intended purpose of providing students with a quick and easy source of illustrations. Other viewers, however, may wish for larger images. Maps, plans and architectural drawings would make a nice addition to this rich corpus.

The second topic listed on the home page, Essays and Other Materials, also contains substantial information. At present it has a good introduction to topography, links to other related sites, and a list of essays to be included in the future. The remaining three topics lead to a request to support institutions fostering archaeological research, a list of awards that the site has been granted, and acknowledgments; at present the last is empty.

The site was first established in 1985 by K. Glowacki and N. Klein as a photographic archive for their students at Indiana University; it is currently being updated, with the format of the old images changed from GIF and JPG at 250 pixels high to JPEG, 32 bit color at 350 pixels high; in addition new images and other material are being added. Both the layout of the individual pages and the navigation arrangement are simple, straightforward and easy to use. The authors have clearly spent a lot of time and energy, both collecting and making these pictures, as well as preparing them for use on the site. One really should not expect more, but my wish list, if asked, would include pictures of some of the sites not within the walls of the ancient city itself, but normally included in courses about Ancient Athens, such as the Piraeus and the Academy. All the images may be downloaded and used for non-commercial purposes, provided a reference to the site and copyright notice are given.

This site clearly achieves its goal of providing a rich corpus of pictures of the remains of ancient Athens, and we have the authors to thank for a useful and ever improving resource for all students and teachers of the ancient world.

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