One of the most important customs of antiquity was the erection of Treasuries by city-states in various religious centres across Greece. As the Sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi was the most important religious centre in ancient Greece, devoting a Treasury there showed great honour and gratitude to the gods in return for divine support. At the same time, it was a way for all the important city-states of Greece to showcase their wealth and political power as these treasuries had grave religious and
The Athenian treasury
The treasury of the Athenians was constructed between the 6th and 45th century BC in order to house the Athenian votive offerings and dedications to the sanctuary of Apollo in Delphi. This small construction also used to house the relics and trophies from the military victories of the Athenians over the Persians and that’s why it became a symbol of the domination of democracy over tyranny. The Athenian treasury was made entirely of Parian marble and it resembles a small temple of the Doric architectural style. The exterior was decorated with a frieze that depicted the adventures of Hercules and Theseus, the sculptures of which are now displayed in the museum of Delphi.
The interior walls were adorned with inscriptions of the political honorary decrees of the Athenians. Other inscriptions offer information about some of the most important ancient customs and festivals and hymns to god Apollo. The Treasury of the Athenians is the only monument in Delphi that is still fully preserved today after its reconstruction by the French Archaeological Institute in 1906 and it remains one of the most impressive buildings within the Sanctuary of Apollo.
The Sicyonian Treasury
The Sicyonian Treasury took its name from Sicyon, a town close to Corinth with a great reputation in innovative sculpturing and limestone quarries. The building’s history is quite complicated as it replaced two former buildings built by the Sicyonians, the ‘Tholos’ and the ‘Monopteros’. The older buildings are connected to the history of the Orthagorids of Sicyon and more specifically the victories of the tyrant Cleisthenes of Sicyon during the First Sacred War. Their replacement with a newer building was an indication of the change of the political situation in Sicyon. The newer treasury was built on top of the destroyed older buildings in Doric style and was visible from the entrance of the Sanctuary of Apollo. The Sicyonian Treasury has four metopes that depict myths with particular meaning for the city that built them. The sculptures, all made of fine limestone, show the stories of the Dioscuri twins, the Boar of Kalydon, the Abduction of Europa by Zeus and Jason’s Argo.
The Siphian Treasury
The richly decorated Siphnian Treasury was a 6th century building dedicated to the Sanctuary of Apollo to host the offerings of the city-state of Siphnos. The building that is found along the ‘Sacred Way’ was a representation of the enormous wealth of the Siphnians as it contained numerous luxurious votives. The facade of this Ionic style Treasury was supported and decorated by two maidens (Korai) that foreshadowed the Caryatids found at the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in Athens. The frieze encircling the building is the earliest example of a ‘continuous narrative’ in ancient Greek art and it depicts mythological scenes such as the Battle of the Titans, the battles between Greek and Trojans and other famous scenes and figures from Greek mythology.