Introduction to Ancient Greece - The Parthenon


The Parthenon is one of the most famous icons not just of Athens, but of the whole of Greece. This giant marble temple dates from the fifth century B.C., and it appears on guidebooks, stamps, menus, olive oil bottles…anything to do with Greece or with the Greek world. Even if you do not know the temple itself, you will surely be familiar with banks, museums, or even town halls closer to home whose fluted columns and pedimental roofs are meant to ‘quote’ the Parthenon and the tradition of the Greek temple building. Athens and the Parthenon have an important past which stretches far back into history — so important that we still connect with this temple and its ideology today. In this module, we are going to explore the history of the Parthenon. We will see what this single monument can tell us about the history of Athens in the fifth century B.C., and how its meaning is entangled in a world of artistic, religious, and political struggles.

This resource explores a Greek temple called the Parthenon and how we can use temples to understand what life was like in Ancient Greece. The activities will introduce you to the history and archaeology of Athens, 5th Century BC.

• To explore how the Parthenon can be used in different ways to describe the art, religious ideas and politics of Ancient Greece

Resource activities

Activity 1-The Parthenon as a Work of Art

This activity introduces to the
Parthenon, a Greek temple built between 447–438 B.C.


Activity 2-The Parthenon as a Religious Monument

In this activity you will start to think about the religious significance of the Parthenon. 


Activity 3-The Parthenon as a Political Monument

You will look at the political significance of the Parthenon. 


Activity questions

  • What does the word ‘Acropolis’ mean?
  • Where on the Parthenon was the Great Panathenaia festival depicted?
  • What materials was the chryselephantine statue of Athena made out of?
  • What myth is depicted on the Parthenon’s east pediment?

Reflective questions

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Task 1

What are the key arguments, concepts, points contained within it?

Task 2

What are you struggling to understand?

What could you do to improve your understanding of these concepts/terminology etc.?

Task 3

What further questions has this resource raised for you?

What else are you keen to discover about this topic and how could you go about learning more?

Can you make any links between this topic and your prior knowledge or school studies?

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Further reading