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Athens: Altar to the 'unknown god'

3D images of ancient Athens in the time of Paul.
Contributed by FreeBibleimages
Story also available on our translated website: Polish
This map shows the position of Athens in ancient Greece. – Slide 1
This 3D reconstruction of Athens (around 400BC) by Dimitris Tsalkanis shows the market place (Agora) in foreground. Mars Hill (the Areopagus) is the long rocky flat surface in the background right. The judges of Areopagus met there. Image used with permission from Ancient Athens 3D. – Slide 2
This illustration shows Mars Hill with the Acropolis rocky outcrop in the background left. – Slide 3
A city map of Athens in the New Testament period. Athens gets its name from Athena the goddess of war. – Slide 4
A 3D reconstruction of the Acropolis in New Testament times by John Goodinson. Behind the entrance (known as the Propylaea), stood a gigantic bronze statue of the goddess Athena. The base was 1.50m (4ft 11in) high, while the total height of the statue was 9m (30ft). The goddess held a lance whose gilt tip could be seen as a reflection by crews on ships rounding Cape Sounion. – Slide 5
The Acropolis is located on a flat-topped rock that rises 150m (490ft) above sea level in the city of Athens with a surface area of about 3 hectares (7.4 acres). Most of the major temples, including the Parthenon (top right), were rebuilt under the leadership of Pericles during the golden age of Athens (460–430 BC). Phidias Phidias, an Athenian sculptor, and Ictinus and Callicrates, two famous architects, were responsible for the reconstruction. – Slide 6
The highest building was the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to goddess Athena. On the south slope was the Theatre of Dionysus, a god of wine and pleasure. The ancient Greeks would pray with their hands up to the sky while they were praising Zeus and the other heavenly gods. To worship Hades the king of the underworld, or other deities of the underworld, they would kneel down, hitting the earth with their hands so as to be heard. – Slide 7
The Greeks worshipped the Olympian gods Zeus Athena, Apollo, Poseidon, Hermes, Hera, Aphrodite, Demeter, Ares, Artemis, Hades, Hephaistos, and Dionysos. One of the ancient writers tells us that at this time there were 30,000 gods in Athens! Peterronius, one of the ancient historians, said that it was easier to find a god in Athens than a man! – Slide 8
The temple of Nike, the goddess of victory, is shown on the right. It was built on top of the Mycenaean bastion overlooking the west slope of the Acropolis. Image by John Goodinson. – Slide 9
A 3D reconstruction of the Parthenon by John Goodinson. The temple was dedicated to the goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their patron – Slide 10
Reconstruction of the figure of Zeus in the Temple of Zeus by John Goodinson. Zeus was thought to be the god of sky and thunder who ruled as king of the gods. The statue was over 10m (30ft) tall and was made of ivory and gold. Zeus wore a robe, crown, and carried his mighty thunderbolt in one hand and a smaller statue of Nike in the other. – Slide 11
Reconstruction of the goddess Athena in the Parthenon by John Goodinson. The image was over 10m (30ft) tall and showed the goddess in an elaborate helmet, a breastplate of snakes’ scales, and a traditional Athenian peplos (robe). Athena was the goddess of war and considered to be the daughter of Zeus. Her shield was decorated with battle scenes. She held a small statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, in her outstretched right hand. – Slide 12
A view of the Acropolis as it is today. – Slide 13
The steps up to Mars hill (the Areopagus) where the Apostle Paul, having seen all the temples and idols in Athens, delivered his message about the altar ‘to the unknown god’ (Acts 17:16-34). – Slide 14
The view of the Acropolis today as viewed from Mars Hill (the Areopagus). – Slide 15
In the Palatine museum in Rome is an altar to ‘Agnostos Theos’, that is the ‘Unknown God’ that Paul spoke about to the Athenian elite at Mars Hill (the Areopagus). – Slide 16
In Athens, there was a temple specifically dedicated to the ‘unknown god’ and very often Athenians would swear ‘in the name of the unknown god’. – Slide 17
The ‘unknown god’ was not so much a specific deity, but a placeholder, for whatever god or gods actually existed but whose name and nature were not revealed to the Athenians. – Slide 18
A picture of the victor’s golden laurel wreath awarded to winners at Greek athletic events. Paul refers to the victor’s crown (Stephanos) in 1 Corinthians 9:25 and 2 Timothy 2:5. – Slide 19
Slide 20