RTW Timeline: 5th Century BC

After seeing so many interesting sites and learning many facts about places all around the world, we thought it would be interesting to arrange the different places and events on a timeline to provide more of a context for the different highlights.

In our previous installment covering the first half of the first millennium BC, we saw the Greek culture grow and develop, leading up to an explosion of culture and history in the period we will cover today, the 5th century BC. This is considered to be the classical era of Greece, and especially of Athens as that was the center of much of the development.

490 BC – Athenian Treasury built at Delphi to celebrate victory at Battle of Marathon

The sanctuary at Delphi was surrounded by structures built by the city-states of ancient Greece, given as offerings to the oracle in thanks for the good advice. After Athens defeated the Persians in the battle of Marathon (the one that gave the modern race its name), the city dedicated a treasury in Delphi to show its thanks and display the spoils of victory.

Failed jelfie in front of the Athenian Treasury

Failed jelfie in front of the Athenian Treasury

480 BC – King Leonidas of Sparta dies at the battle of Thermopylae

King Leonidas led the militaristic city-state of Sparta on the Peloponnese peninsula. He died in the battle of Thermopylae against the Persians (the same battle dramatized in the movie 300). There is a large contemporary statue of him in the modern city of Sparta which we visited.

A statue for King Leonidas (main character in 300)

A statue for King Leonidas (main character in 300)

478 BC – Serpent Column erected as part of a sacrificial tripod in Delphi

We actually saw this column at its current location in Istanbul. Emperor Constantine moved the column from Delphi to Constantinople for use as a decoration at his new Hippodrome.

The serpent heads on the top of the column were removed at some point

The serpent heads on the top of the column were removed at some point

474 BC – Charioteer of Delphi created

We viewed this well-known striking bronze sculpture at the archaeological museum in Delphi.

The famous Bronze Charioteer

The famous Bronze Charioteer

460 BC – Artemision Bronze Sculpted

Art historians don’t know if this depicts Zeus or Poseidon, since he could either be hurling a lightning bolt or a trident. The date for this sculpture is also just a guess, because it was found as part of a shipwreck about which not much is known.

Zeus/Poseidon

Zeus/Poseidon

456 BC – Temple of Zeus Built in Olympia

This was the largest temple at Olympia. Today, only one of the massive Doric columns has been reconstructed.

Temple of Zeus

Temple of Zeus

440 BC – Temple of Poseidon at Sounion constructed

This temple, located on a promontory overlooking Cape Sounion, was a pilgrimage site where those about to take a sea voyage could make offerings to the god of the sea.

The Temple of Poseidon

The Temple of Poseidon

438 BC – Parthenon Completed

The classic Greek temple dedicated to Athena, the patron of Athens, sits on the acropolis overlooking the city below. The decorative sculptures have been removed and it is under recontruction, but just seeing it in person was a great experience.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

432 BC – Construction of Athenian acropolis Propylaea halted due to outbreak of Peloponnesian War

Athens dominated the Classical age of Greece, but it didn’t last for too long. War eventually broke out between Athens and the Peloponnesian city-states (led by Sparta). Costs for the war drained money from the treasury, and the ceremonial entrance to the Acropolis, the Propylaea, was never completed.

The Propylaea is still the main entrance for tourists

The Propylaea is still the main entrance for tourists

420 BC – Nike of Paeonius created for display at Olympia

The dynamic sculpture is missing a few pieces these days but still does a great job of conveying motion.

Nike - goddess of Victory. She stood on a pedestal where the Olympic victors were crowned near the Temple of Zeus

Nike – goddess of Victory. She stood on a pedestal where the Olympic victors were crowned near the Temple of Zeus

420 BC – Temple of Athena Nike constructed on Athens acropolis

This small temple is found on the southwest corner of the Acropolis. This was the oldest Ionic temple that we saw. Nike means victory in Greek, and Athena was worshiped in her victorious form here. Note the date – the Athenians were praying for victory in the Peloponnesian War which was still going on.

Temple of Athena Nike at the entrance

Temple of Athena Nike at the entrance

415 BC – Construction of Temple of Hephaestus completed

This Doric temple, found in the Ancient Agora of Athens, is one of the better preserved temples that we saw.

Temple of Hephaestus Jelfie

Temple of Hephaestus Jelfie

406 BC – Construction of Erechtheion on Athenian Acropolis complete

The Erechtheion is a temple on the north side of the Acropolis, dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Arguably its most famous feature is the “Porch of the Caryatids,” where the columns holding up the roof were carved into women in flowing dresses.

The porch with the caryatids on the Erechtheion

The porch with the caryatids on the Erechtheion

404 BC – Sparta triumphs over Athens in the Peloponnesian War

We visited Sparta, but there was much less to see there than there had been in Athens. Its culture was much more focused on the military than it was on building grand temples.

This is Sparta! No, really, this is actually the historical site of Sparta. And the modern town of Sparta beyond.

This is Sparta! No, really, this is actually the historical site of Sparta. And the modern town of Sparta beyond.

 

After Athens lost the war, its time as the dominant force in the region was over, and its boom of monumental architecture was through. Structures like those seen on the Acropolis in Athens were never to be equaled.

However, as you will see in our next entry, covering the fourth century BC, there would still be many sites in Greece producing architectural gems that are world-renowned to this day.

RTW Timeline: Prehistory and the Earliest Civilizations

After seeing so many interesting sites and learning many facts about places all around the world, we thought it would be interesting to arrange the different places and events on a timeline to provide more of a context for the different highlights.

The first installment of our timeline series will cover the oldest things we saw on the entire trip. In case you’re wondering, this only includes human activity; obviously we saw many natural wonders around the world that are much older.

2.5 – 2.1 million years ago – The Age of the “Mrs Ples” hominid fossil found in Sterkfontein Caves, outside Johannesburg, South Africa

The Cradle of Humankind is an area where many remains of our most ancient ancestors have been found (including a recent discovery). We visited the cave where some of the most famous remains were discovered as part of our visit to the park on the very last stop of our self-drive safari.

One of the hominid fossils from the Cradle of Humankind

One of the hominid fossils from the Cradle of Humankind

Around 4000 B.C. – San people inhabit the Twyfelfontein area and make rock carvings

The site of Twyfelfontein (//Uis-//Ais in the native language) in Namibia contains rock engravings from the San people (a.k.a Bushmen) dated from 2000 to over 6000 years old.

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2560 BC – Pyramids of Giza constructed

We were able to view these ancient wonders of the world during our brief layover in Cairo at the very beginning of the trip.

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Around 2500 BC – The Cycladic culture in the Greek islands produces unique figurines

Around the same time that the pyramids were being built, in islands around the Aegean Sea, an emerging culture was making these distinctively-shaped sculptures. We saw examples of these at the National Archeological Museum in Athens.

Cycladic figurines

Cycladic figurines

16th Century BC – Grave Circle A at Mycenae Formed

1000 years later, the dominant culture on the Pelopponesian Peninsula of Greece was what we now refer to as the Mycenaean culture. These are supposedly the people who fought against Troy in the Trojan War. The site of Mycenae is now in ruins, but some evidence remains to give you a feel for their culture. They buried their dead nobility in grave circles which were filled with treasure. The famous archaeologist Henry Schliemann thought this grave circle was the final resting place of Agamemnon, who led the Mycenaeans against Troy.

Grave Circle A

Grave Circle A

1450 BC – What is now called the Obelisk of Theodosius set up by Thutmose III in Karnak, Egypt

We saw this obelisk in Istanbul, in the ruins of the ancient Hippodrome. It was brought to Constantinople by Roman Emperor Theodosius in the 4th Century AD, but was originally erected in Egypt.

The Hippodrome

The Hippodrome

13th Century BC – Lion Gate at Mycenae built

Back in Mycenae (the site of Grave Circle A), probably the most famous feature is the Lion Gate, the main entrance to citadel. It was build about three centuries after Grave Circle A.

The Lion Gate

The Lion Gate

Around 1250 BC – “Treasury of Atreus” tholos tomb built at Mycenae

In the later years of Mycenae, the main style of the grand tombs was the tholos tomb, built in the shape of a beehive with a large, domed interior. The largest is what Henry Schliemann deemed the “Treasury of Atreus.”

The Treasury of Atreus

The Treasury of Atreus

Around 1200 BC – Palaces at Mycenae Destroyed

Not too long after the last monumental structures were built at Mycenae, the civilization collapsed and the citadel and its palaces were destroyed.

The remains of the palace

The remains of the palace

Around 1000 BC – The Basketmaker People Settle the Mesa Verde Region

Meanwhile, in North America, the culture that archaeologists refer to as the “Basketmakers” settled in the Mesa Verde region. They didn’t leave behind any iconic structures, but we know they were in the area based on remnants of baskets and other agricultural and hunting relics.

One of the canyons in Mesa Verde

One of the canyons in Mesa Verde

 

That wraps our first installment of our RTW Timeline series. Our next post will take us back to Greece and observe the emergence of one of history’s most famous civilizations.