Ancient City of Athens
Kevin T. Glowacki and Nancy L. Klein, Indiana University, Bloomington
This website provides a digitized collection of 576 photographs of archaeological sites and architectural remains from ancient Athens taken by the authors. The high quality photographs can be used any number of ways, but the interface—using text descriptions to access the images—makes finding specific images somewhat difficult.
The “Sites and Monuments” page categorizes the photographs by region of the city. The Acropolis receives four categories for three of its slopes and the main area. Within each category, there are subcategories for buildings. With a site plan and knowledge of the area, the detailed descriptions of each photograph make good sense. Without background information, a description such as “The Parthenon, northern side. View from the north (near the north wall of the Acropolis, east of the Erechtheion)” may be less helpful. This is fine, if you don’t mind clicking through a dozen pictures to find one that suits your needs.
A page of thumbnails would be welcome, although the storage and work involved would increase (and the page would load more slowly). There are a few thumbnails currently to illustrate the buildings in each section; a link from these to larger versions would be relatively simple to add and would help increase the accessibility of the images.
The color photographs on the site are handsome and taken from many angles, so that one can make a virtual “tour” around a building. Tourists abound in the photos, providing human scale. The scaffolding and cranes used to reconstruct and preserve the buildings are visible, sometimes obtrusively, sometimes not.
Other parts of the site are spottily filled. A section for “Essays & Other Resources” on aspects of Athenian culture and archaeology has only three entries: the “Topography and Monuments of Athens,” “A Very Brief Outline of Greek History (to A.D. 1453),” and “The Tribes and Eponymous Heroes of the Ancient Athenians.”
One useful classroom exercise would be to compare these images of the Parthenon with 19th-century photos at the Getty Museum. The early photographs, depopulated and with the building standing rather shabbily but without help, were created as works of art. The modern photos, with tourists, scaffolding, and the modern city lurking nearby, are teaching and perhaps scholarly materials, albeit in a rather touristic form.
Another use for this site would be as a virtual tour around a particular area, such as the Acropolis. The photographs could be used to establish relationships between buildings, although a site plan would be useful to have in hand.
The Ancient City of Athens generously supplies a series of good quality photographs to use in the classroom, but the construction of the site does not lend itself to self-directed learning.