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Ionic column from the Erechtheion

  • Roger Fenton, The South Front of the British Museum, a photograph

    Roger Fenton, The South Front of the British Museum, a photograph


Height: 21.500 ft (approx.)

Elgin Collection

GR 1816.6-10.110 (Sculpture 408)

Room 19: Greece: Athens

    Ionic column from the Erechtheion

    The Acropolis, Athens, Greece, about 420-415 BC

    The Erechtheion was begun around 421 BC to house the cult statue of Athena Polias, the principal goddess of ancient Athens. The temple incorporated a number of shrines of other gods and heroes, including the legendary King Erechtheus. According to the Greek historian Pausanias, writing in the second century AD (Guide to Greece I.xxvi.5–xxvii.3), numerous sacred relics were housed there, including a well of salt water, an olive tree, the marks of a thunderbolt or Poseidon's trident, the tomb of Kekrops (the legendary snake-bodied king of Athens) and the sanctuary of Pandrosos, his daughter.

    The Erechtheion had two main entrances, on the north and east sides. This column comes from the east porch, where it stood at the end of a row of six. It comprises an ornamental pedestal supporting a fluted shaft of white marble, topped by a separately made capital. The floral ornament of the necking and the delicate mouldings of the pedestal and capital have been much copied in neo-classical architecture.

    The column was removed from the building by Lord Elgin and has escaped the severe weathering that has affected the rest of the monument.

    B.F. Cook, The Elgin Marbles, 2nd edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)