BMCR 1996.09.27

1996.9.27, Harris, Treasures of the Parthenon and Erechtheion

, The treasures of the Parthenon and Erechtheion. Oxford monographs on classical archaeology. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995. xiv, 306 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.. ISBN 9780198149408 $100.00.

Lists (“inventories”) of the contents (“treasures”) of various temples on the Acropolis. The 5th C. inventories are sufficiently simple and well enough preserved to reconstruct with assurance (as Thompson and Lewis have now done in IG I 3), but the two hundred fragments of the 4th C. inventories are a mess, and scholarly efforts have been purely epigraphical (supplementing texts, making joins, dating the stones) with three exceptions. Michaelis in 1871 constructed synoptic lists of the treasures, Lehner in 1890 reconstructed the inventories as they developed over time and Ferguson in 1932 interpreted the inventories historically. Diane Harris’s new book, based on her 1991 Princeton dissertation, provides another synoptic list, but one that is considerably more useful and informative than Michaelis’ though lacking the historical perspective of Lehner and Ferguson. Given that there is only one complete inventory for the whole 4th century, a time when the inventories were changing format, contents or officials every decade, a synoptic list may be all we can hope for.

The first task is to catalogue the fragments and put them in chronological order. In her dissertation Harris updated Michaelis’ and Lehner’s century-old catalogues, incorporating the numerous joins, corrected readings and more exact dating of Ferguson, Woodward, West, Lewis and others. Her synthesis is encapsuled here in an appendix, though one will need to return to the dissertation for bibliography and discussion, for, as her title suggests, she has now moved from inventories to treasures. Thus at the core of the present study are five lists of objects (Chapters 2-6), those in the Opisthodomos (here defined as the “temporary shelter of the Dörpfeld foundations”), the Proneos, the Parthenon (“the west cella” of the Parthenon), the Hekatombaion (“the main [eastern] cella”) and the Erechtheion (called the “Old Temple” on the stones). Each object is described in “the most informative and/or best preserved version” in any of the inventories or a conflation of two versions, first in English then in Greek, followed by a full list of citations, each one dated. They are arranged in categories familiar from Michaelis: containers (and baskets and boxes and chests), jewelry, figurines (and statues), vessels (or vases) are common to all four 4th C. treasures (excluding the purely 5th C. Proneos); arms (and weapons), coins, musical instruments, wreaths and miscellaneous are found all but one; tools, furniture, clothes, nails, ritual equipment in fewer than three. These lists, which comprise most of the book, are preceded by a chapter on the “Historical Context of the Treasures” and followed by one on the “Treasurers and the Worshippers” as well as thirteen appendices, a glossary, bibliography and an index of objects (arranged only by English translation, which will cause considerable difficulty for those working from the actual inventories).

Now, for the first time, we can see for each treasure when an item or group first appears and finally disappears, and those like myself who are interested in inventories more than treasures can see where objects go as the groupings change. And change they do, for though we begin with clearly defined groupings of inventories by locale in the 5th C. (Proneos, Parthenon, Hekatompedon), in the 4th C. we move quite abruptly from a grouping by locale (Hekatompedon, Parthenon, Opisthodomos) to a grouping by treasurers (of Athena, of the Other Gods) and ultimately to a combined list for all. These groupings are obscured in Harris’ conspectus (though her dissertation tried to keep them separate), and their shifting boundaries make her tidy chapters less tidy.

The Opisthodomos is the most obvious problem since we have three treasures, one separate list labelled “from the Opisthodomos” ( IG II 2 1378, 1396) and two labelled “in the Opisthodomos” that are only small parts of much larger listings ( IG II 2 1388, 1424a). They have no items in common, though items from all three turn up later in the combined inventories. Harris tries to impose some order by creating two sub-lists (“From the Opisthodomos” and “Contents of the Opisthodomos”), but she puts some of the inscriptions containing objects belonging to the former ( IG II 2 1399, EM 12932) into the latter, thereby effacing the boundary between the two sub-lists. She compounds the confusion by marking 1378 as Hekatompedon, though it is labelled “from the Opisthodomos”, and 1399 and EM 12932 as Opisthodomos, though they have the same objects as 1378, and then including all three under the rubric “from the Opisthodomos”. Her main list, “Contents of the Opisthodomos”, seems to be a combination of the items listed in the separate inventories for the Other Gods (presumably on the basis of the Kallias decrees, see below), plus the meltdown list of Akr.18/5/89 (presumably on the assumption that items destined for meltdown would have been gathered in the Opisthodomos), plus a section of the late, combined inventories located between two sets of additional accessions, plus some miscellaneous items.

The “Old Temple” is another problematic treasure since in three of the four places where the label occurs ( IG II 2 1424a, 1425, 1487 a span well over half a century) we find overlapping items, but the third ( IG II 2 1445) not only lists totally different items but occurs in an inventory of Other Gods, whose contents most scholars confine to the Opisthodomos. This anomaly may be behind Harris’s enigmatic statement that “it is conceivable that some or all of the items listed in inscriptions 18-31 of the Opisthodomos inventory list moved to the Erechtheion” (p.206).

The lists are by no means complete: Harris explicitly excludes the Chalkotheke and implicitly excludes inventories of the Other Gods (though most items are included in the Opisthodomos list). Moreover, her Parthenon list includes only the items from the 5th C. inventories, omitting several dozen later additions (including thirty-three kymbia, two chrysides, leaves from Nike’s crown, groups of gold, gilt gold, silvered glass, knives, helmets, spearshafts, boxes of arrows, chests, couches, and chairs). Her Erechtheion list misses two headbands (listed in Opisthodomos, II.55), the Nike of Kallistratos (1424 v.32), and several items at the end of IG II 2 1447. Her “From the Opisthodomos” list omits silver in chest, two bracelets and a last feminine silver object. Conversely, inventories are not necessarily well-represented. In 1414, for example, more than two-thirds of the objects are not listed (including something “carried off” weighing 2 drachmas 1 obol, nine spears, something Phocean, a head weighing 20+ drachmas, two sets of shields, twenty boxes of arrows, a three obol piece, a gilded wood basket, Achaean shields, beds, four lampstands, tongs, a large key, a soup ladle, a krater, two Argolic objects, a silver hydria, another key, something from Telemachos).

Despite these omissions, some errors (listed below) and the unmarked inclusion of hypothetical, wholly supplemented entries, these lists will undoubtedly become standard reference points for future discussion and will be tremendously helpful in analyzing the inventories and the treasures. Harris has already made a start in her comments following each list, though her conclusions are limited by her presentation, which makes each list look like the treasure rather than a composite of items never all found together.

The opening chapter, “The Historical Context of the Treasures”, gives an overview of the development of the inventories, beginning with the 7th C. proto-treasurers called naukraroi, and the “unified, organized body of treasurers, known as tamiai” attested on a mid-6th C. dedication. She offers what I take to be an original reconstruction of the earliest inventories: “The inventories took place during the annual Panathenaic festival, perhaps just after the procession, when the gold and silver trays and hydriai (water-jars), the furniture and cult items were distributed to worshippers for the Panathenaic procession. The ‘things that we use only for festivals’ were received back and checked against the ‘written list of all the items’, and when the treasures were back in ‘their places’ the treasurers presented their results to the boule and handed over their responsibility to the next board” (p.10). The source of the quotations and the reconstruction is Xenophon’s 4th C. description of ideal household management, whose tenuous connection to our inventories Harris shores up by pointing to the Hekatompedon inscription ( IG I 3 4, 485 BC) where in the opening lines we read regarding “the [bronze] vessels on the Acropolis” that “if the vessels remain with each one (of the users?) upon the Acropolis, the treasurers are to make a record of them”. There are several problems here: (1) apparently only bronze vessels are involved (Harris argues that the term chalkia“can refer to any metal” but cites no parallels); (2) this is not an inventory but a list of loans; (3) it is not done annually; (4) our Acropolis inventories do not fit. A much better fit is offered by the Kallias decrees dated in third quarter of the 5th C., which explicitly mention annual inventories recorded on stelai set up on the Acropolis. Harris like most scholars connects these inventories to the building of the Parthenon, rejecting without discussion Kallet-Marx’s arguments for a later dating and ignoring Linders’ cogent challenge to the relevance of the decrees for the 4th C. inventories. When she comes to the 4th C. inventories, Harris is on much firmer ground and recapitulates the important discussion of her dissertation, interlaced with remarks about contemporary events.

The final chapter, “The Treasures and the Worshippers”, collects the seventy-two dedicants named in the lists, comments on those of historical significance and draws some general conclusions: (a) “From 434 to 406 no votive offerings were associated with specific dedicants. From 406 to 390 only offerings in the Parthenon were associated with named individuals. After 389/8 the Erechtheion received more new votive offerings associated with named individuals than did the Parthenon”; (b) “compared with the Asklepieion very few dedicants were formally recognized… The honour was rarely given”; (c) “phialai may be seen as primarily female dedications and wreaths typically male”; (d) “virtually no items were particularly suited to Athena’s iconography”; (e) “the dedications were principally made by Athenian citizens”; (f) contrary to Ehrenberg the worship of Athena was not simply an expression of city patriotism: “patriotism cannot explain the numerous private dedications”. Beyond the light contradiction between b and f, one may wonder whether naming was less an honorific than it was a function of inventory format or included for purposes of identification; if so, each of the conclusions is moot.

Harris’s lists differ significantly and essentially from earlier synopses in giving each occurrence of an item and in giving the occurrences in historical order and thus can provide the basis for further studies. Just as with the names, one can trace patterns of occurrence with classes of object, groupings of objects, types of material, dedicatees. If Harris and others persevere with this difficult material, we may eventually be able to move beyond lists and write some sort of history of the inventories and their treasures.

p.41f to list add 1377, 1393, 1395, 1401, 1414, 1428
II.2 = II.1 (now unweighed)
II.9 read 1407 vv. 13-14
II.13 add 1421 v.81, 1428 v.61
II.18 omit 1414, 1428 , 1453 (?)
II.21 separate off 1457 v.3 and 1459 vv.3-4 (“having”)
II.22 add 1445 v.25
II.26, II.58 for 1338 (378/7) read 1388 (398/7)
II.37 1388 v.92 adds two objects: something with refined gold in the middle and amphideiai (bracelets); something odd has happened in 1447 and 1451 (Kleito now associated with II.71); 1455, 1459, 1457 perhaps should be listed elsewhere
II.61 read 1455 for 1445
II.68 =II.69? (κατάχρυσος misread as ἄχρυσος??); 1388 specifies “in a chest”
II.71 Thaumarete belongs with II.36
II.74 add 1408.12, 1409 v.5, 1469B v.107, 1471B v.55 (as described p.43)
II.82 omit 1447, 1451
III.7-8 = 9-10 = 11-12 = 13-14 = 15
IV.7, V.28 delete cross reference
IV.12a omit 1425
IV.31, 33 need cross-references
IV.33 διαλίθῶ“set with stones”, as in 35, 37
IV.35 “necklaces” rather than “collars”, as in 39
IV.53 read ἔχον neuter
V.3 cf 1414.19
V.11=12? (it is totally supplemented)
V.22 omit 1460; add 1414 v.28? (ἀσπίδες λεῖαι)
V.25 1380 probably belongs in IV.9c (so IG)
V.27 add 1414 v.14
V.39 omit 1460
V.58 cross-reference is to II.26
V.63 add 1409 v.16
V.96=94 (now unweighed)
V.120 1413 probably belongs with V.123
V.127 omit 1449
V.143=145 (=144?)
V.160 omit 1457
V.163 add 1424a v.309
V.171a,b,c ἐπίχρυσον“gilt” not “gold”, as in 171d
V.180a=181?; omit 1414
V.203 cross-reference is to II.60
V.235=234?; add 1407 v.26
V.260 omit 1414
V.291=289 (=293?)
V.316 1407 and 1414 are joined (cf V.359) so should not be listed separately
V.329 the date is 344
V.349=348? (weight loss)
V.375 342 is doubtful
V.427 omit 1407
p.206 list should not include 1445; the date of 1489 is doubtful (Lewis 1988.300 does not join it to 1484)
VI.10 omit 1424a (=V.13)
VI.65, 66 add “in the archonship of Sokratides [374/3]”