A new edition and commentary of the ancient inventory lists from the Acropolis (434/433 – ca. 300 BC). The texts from the 4th century will be presented in a new reading with commentary (in the series »Inscriptiones Graecae«). An analytical presentation is dedicated to all of the texts (from the 5th and 4th centuries), namely concerning administration and economic history, as well as topographic questions regarding the Acropolis and its buildings.

In 434 BC, after the Parthenon had been completed, the Athenian council, on the basis of a proposal by Kallias decided to carry out an annual listing of the valuable objects belonging to Athena, the patron goddess of the city, stored in the repositories of the Acropolis. A committee with the name of »tamíai« (»Master of the Treasury«) was responsible for the objects for the period of a year, and after the completion of its period of office had to give a public account of the inventory. During this accounting, the objects of precious metal had to be weighed in order to guarantee that no elements had been lost. Every four years, in the year of the Great Panathenaia, the accounts had to be recorded, and the stone tablets had to be set up and made publicly accessible on the Acropolis.

As prescribed in the so-called Decree of Kallias (IG I³ 52 A), until about the end of the 5th century, every four years a stele with the inventory of the previous four years was published, and in fact for three rooms in the Parthenon (Pronaos, Hecatompedos, Parthenon) an individual stele was set up. The method of publication altered towards the end of the Peloponnesian War: in the final quinquennium of the 5th century and during the first 15 years of the 4th century, stock was taken of the inventory no longer every four years, but instead every year, meaning that for every room of the Parthenon, an inscription was produced annually. After 385 BC, ultimately a change was made, and a stele was created with inventory lists for all rooms and buildings, every year.

Initially, the »Traditiones Parthenonis« deal with lists of objects that were under the ownership of Athena and the other gods. Mentioned are, amongst others:

  • the chryselephantine Athena Parthenos, identified by Thucydides (2, 13, 3–5) as a state treasure: IG II² 1407 (385/384 B.C.), Z. 5 f.; IG II² 1410 (377/376 B.C.), Z. 7f.: »the statue in the Hecatompedos is completely in conformity with the bronze tablet in the Parthenon«
  • cult equipment: golden, gilded and silver phialai, candle holders, baskets
  • dedications: golden and silver wreaths, weapons, elements of armour, statues of Nike dismantled into individual pieces
  • valuable objects: coins, seals, jewellery (gorgoneia, griffin heads, horse protomes)
  • individual ›found pieces‹: broken-off individual elements, an acroterion, relief figures from the statue base of the Athena Parthenos

The objects were stored in the rooms of the Parthenon on shelves, while smaller pieces such as jewellery, coins and seals were also deposited in boxes and pouches.

By means of the inventory, an insight into the interior of the Parthenon in the 5th and 4th centuries is therefore possible, that is, a building of which today only the peristyle still stands. The question concerning the interior of the Parthenon is a modern, not an ancient one, since the building and its rooms were visible to all of its contemporaries – its denomination did not need to be explained. It was therefore not the purpose of the contemporary texts to describe the building or its interior organisation, but only to list in orderly fashion the objects handed on to the next committee of masters of the treasury, thereby exonerating the masters of the treasury who were leaving office. The specification of rooms in the Parthenon or of other buildings on the Acropolis only served the arrangement of the lists. The inventory lists, therefore, can be used with appropriate caution as a source for the building history of the Parthenon and the Acropolis.

Occasionally, historical processes and individuals play a role. Thus, in the end phase of the Peloponnesian War, apparently in 407/406 B.C., all of the precious metal objects, with the exception of a single golden wreath, were removed from the Pronaos of the building and melted down (IG I³ 315 und 316), in order to finance the costs of the war with Sparta. A reorganization  and reordering of the inventories between 334/333 and 324/323 B.C. can be associated with the activities of the politician Lycurgus (inter alia, IG II² 1496). The end of the inventory inscriptions, which had their genesis in the democratic tradition, in around 300 B.C. might be explained due to Macedonian influence; questions to be asked, for example, might include what significance did the ›divestment‹ of the Athena Parthenos by the mercenary leader Lachares have (Paus. 1, 25, 7).

Fragments of 15 stelai from the period between 434 and 406 B.C. as well as 190 fragments (of which many belong to one and the same stele) of the inventory lists from the period after 404 B.C. are preserved. The final inventories were published at the end of the 4th century.

The texts from the 5th century are available in an edition of 1980 (IG I³ 292-362). Those from the 4th century, in contrast, were initially published in their entirety in 1883 (IG II 642-750) and brought up to date in a second edition by J. Kirchner (IG II² 1370–1513); since that time, however, no complete recording has occurred, although a number of emendations to the textual inventory have been proposed. Thus, after 1927, a total of 39 new fragments of the inventories have been published; in addition, a few correlations of already known, but until now separately published fragments have been successful. Methods such as S. Tracy’s study of the ›Attic letter cutter‹ shed new light on the entire group of texts.

The project has as its goal a new edition of the Parthenon inventory lists of the 4th century, based on the principle of personal inspection. The edition should appear in the series »Inscriptiones Graecae« (Band IG II³ 2, 1: Tabulae magistratuum).

Principal Investigator