Athenian tribute lists

Athenian tribute lists

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Who were the Athenian tributes in the 434/433 and 430/29 periods?

I believe some of the lists - at least fragmentary ones from epigraphic sources - can be found in Fornara's volume in the "Translated Documents of Greece and Rome" series:


A tribute (/ˈtrɪbjuːt/) [1] (from Latin tributum, contribution) is wealth, often in kind, that a party gives to another as a sign of respect or, as was often the case in historical contexts, of submission or allegiance. Various ancient states exacted tribute from the rulers of land which the state conquered or otherwise threatened to conquer. In case of alliances, lesser parties may pay tribute to more powerful parties as a sign of allegiance and often in order to finance projects that would benefit both parties. To be called "tribute" a recognition by the payer of political submission to the payee is normally required the large sums, essentially protection money, paid by the later Roman and Byzantine Empires to barbarian peoples to prevent them attacking imperial territory, would not usually be termed "tribute" as the Empire accepted no inferior political position. Payments by a superior political entity to an inferior one, made for various purposes, are described by terms including "subsidy".

The ancient Persian Achaemenid Empire is an example of an ancient tribute empire one that made relatively few demands on its non-Persian subjects other than the regular payment of tribute, which might be gold, luxury goods, animals, soldiers or slaves. However, failure to keep up the payments had dire consequences. The reliefs at Persepolis show processions of figures bearing varied types of tribute.

The medieval Mongol rulers of Russia also expected only tribute from the Russian states, which continued to govern themselves. Athens received tribute from the other cities of the Delian League. The empires of Assyria, Babylon, Carthage and Rome exacted tribute from their provinces and subject kingdoms. Ancient China received tribute from various states such as Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Borneo, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Central Asia (listed here). [2] [3] The Aztec Empire is another example. The Roman republic exacted tribute in the form of payments equivalent to proportional property taxes, for the purpose of waging war.

Tribute empires contrast with those like the Roman Empire, which more closely controlled and garrisoned subject territories. A tributary state is one that preserves its political position and such independence as it has only by paying tribute. Although, Roman Republic and Roman Empire sometimes controlled client kingdoms providing it with tribute.


Modern scholars generally turn to Herodotus's own writing for reliable information about his life, [3] supplemented with ancient yet much later sources, such as the Byzantine Suda, an 11th-century encyclopedia which possibly took its information from traditional accounts.

The data are so few – they rest upon such late and slight authority they are so improbable or so contradictory, that to compile them into a biography is like building a house of cards, which the first breath of criticism will blow to the ground. Still, certain points may be approximately fixed .

Childhood Edit

Modern accounts of his life typically [5] [6] go something like this: Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus around 485 BC. There is no reason to disbelieve the Suda's information about his family: that it was influential and that he was the son of Lyxes and Dryo, and the brother of Theodorus, and that he was also related to Panyassis – an epic poet of the time.

The town was within the Persian Empire at that time, making Herodotus a Persian subject, [7] [8] and it may be that the young Herodotus heard local eyewitness accounts of events within the empire and of Persian preparations for the invasion of Greece, including the movements of the local fleet under the command of Artemisia I of Caria.

Inscriptions recently discovered at Halicarnassus indicate that her grandson Lygdamis negotiated with a local assembly to settle disputes over seized property, which is consistent with a tyrant under pressure. His name is not mentioned later in the tribute list of the Athenian Delian League, indicating that there might well have been a successful uprising against him sometime before 454 BC.

The epic poet Panyassis – a relative of Herodotus – is reported to have taken part in a failed uprising. Herodotus expresses affection for the island of Samos (III, 39–60), and this is an indication that he might have lived there in his youth. So it is possible that his family was involved in an uprising against Lygdamis, leading to a period of exile on Samos and followed by some personal hand in the tyrant's eventual fall.

Herodotus wrote his Histories in the Ionian dialect, yet he was born in Halicarnassus, which was a Dorian settlement. According to the Suda, Herodotus learned the Ionian dialect as a boy living on the island of Samos, to which he had fled with his family from the oppressions of Lygdamis, tyrant of Halicarnassus and grandson of Artemisia.

The Suda also informs us that Herodotus later returned home to lead the revolt that eventually overthrew the tyrant. Due to recent discoveries of inscriptions at Halicarnassus dated to about Herodotus's time, we now know that the Ionic dialect was used in Halicarnassus in some official documents, so there is no need to assume (like the Suda) that he must have learned the dialect elsewhere. [9] Further, the Suda is the only source which we have for the role played by Herodotus as the heroic liberator of his birthplace. That itself is a good reason to doubt such a romantic account. [10]

Early travels Edit

As Herodotus himself reveals, Halicarnassus, though a Dorian city, had ended its close relations with its Dorian neighbours after an unseemly quarrel (I, 144), and it had helped pioneer Greek trade with Egypt (II, 178). It was, therefore, an outward-looking, international-minded port within the Persian Empire, and the historian's family could well have had contacts in other countries under Persian rule, facilitating his travels and his researches.

Herodotus's eyewitness accounts indicate that he traveled in Egypt in association with Athenians, probably sometime after 454 BC or possibly earlier, after an Athenian fleet had assisted the uprising against Persian rule in 460–454 BC. He probably traveled to Tyre next and then down the Euphrates to Babylon. For some reason, possibly associated with local politics, he subsequently found himself unpopular in Halicarnassus, and sometime around 447 BC, migrated to Periclean Athens – a city whose people and democratic institutions he openly admires (V, 78). Athens was also the place where he came to know the local topography (VI, 137 VIII, 52–55), as well as leading citizens such as the Alcmaeonids, a clan whose history features frequently in his writing.

According to Eusebius [11] and Plutarch, [12] Herodotus was granted a financial reward by the Athenian assembly in recognition of his work. It is possible that he unsuccessfully applied for Athenian citizenship, a rare honour after 451 BC, requiring two separate votes by a well-attended assembly.

Later life Edit

In 443 BC or shortly afterwards, he migrated to Thurium as part of an Athenian-sponsored colony. Aristotle refers to a version of The Histories written by "Herodotus of Thurium," and some passages in the Histories have been interpreted as proof that he wrote about southern Italy from personal experience there (IV, 15,99 VI, 127). Intimate knowledge of some events in the first years of the Peloponnesian War (VI, 91 VII, 133, 233 IX, 73) indicate that he might have returned to Athens, in which case it is possible that he died there during an outbreak of the plague. Possibly he died in Macedonia instead, after obtaining the patronage of the court there or else he died back in Thurium. There is nothing in the Histories that can be dated to later than 430 BC with any certainty, and it is generally assumed that he died not long afterwards, possibly before his sixtieth year.

Author and orator Edit

Herodotus would have made his researches known to the larger world through oral recitations to a public crowd. John Marincola writes in his introduction to the Penguin edition of The Histories that there are certain identifiable pieces in the early books of Herodotus's work which could be labeled as "performance pieces." These portions of the research seem independent and "almost detachable," so that they might have been set aside by the author for the purposes of an oral performance. The intellectual matrix of the 5th century, Marincola suggests, comprised many oral performances in which philosophers would dramatically recite such detachable pieces of their work. The idea was to criticize previous arguments on a topic and emphatically and enthusiastically insert their own in order to win over the audience. [13]

It was conventional in Herodotus's day for authors to "publish" their works by reciting them at popular festivals. According to Lucian, Herodotus took his finished work straight from Anatolia to the Olympic Games and read the entire Histories to the assembled spectators in one sitting, receiving rapturous applause at the end of it. [14] According to a very different account by an ancient grammarian, [15] Herodotus refused to begin reading his work at the festival of Olympia until some clouds offered him a bit of shade – by which time the assembly had dispersed. (Hence the proverbial expression "Herodotus and his shade" to describe someone who misses an opportunity through delay.) Herodotus's recitation at Olympia was a favourite theme among ancient writers, and there is another interesting variation on the story to be found in the Suda: that of Photius [16] and Tzetzes, [17] in which a young Thucydides happened to be in the assembly with his father, and burst into tears during the recital. Herodotus observed prophetically to the boy's father, "Your son's soul yearns for knowledge."

Eventually, Thucydides and Herodotus became close enough for both to be interred in Thucydides' tomb in Athens. Such at least was the opinion of Marcellinus in his Life of Thucydides. [18] According to the Suda, he was buried in Macedonian Pella and in the agora in Thurium. [19]

Herodotus announced the purpose and scope of his work at the beginning of his Histories: [a]

Here are presented the results of the inquiry carried out by Herodotus of Halicarnassus. The purpose is to prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time, and to preserve the fame of the important and remarkable achievements produced by both Greeks and non-Greeks among the matters covered is, in particular, the cause of the hostilities between Greeks and non-Greeks.

Predecessors Edit

His record of the achievements of others was an achievement in itself, though the extent of it has been debated. Herodotus' place in history and his significance may be understood according to the traditions within which he worked. His work is the earliest Greek prose to have survived intact. However, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a literary critic of Augustan Rome, listed seven predecessors of Herodotus, describing their works as simple, unadorned accounts of their own and other cities and people, Greek or foreign, including popular legends, sometimes melodramatic and naïve, often charming – all traits that can be found in the work of Herodotus himself. [21]

Modern historians regard the chronology as uncertain, but according to the ancient account, these predecessors included Dionysius of Miletus, Charon of Lampsacus, Hellanicus of Lesbos, Xanthus of Lydia and, the best attested of them all, Hecataeus of Miletus. Of these, only fragments of Hecataeus's works survived, and the authenticity of these is debatable, [22] but they provide a glimpse into the kind of tradition within which Herodotus wrote his own Histories.

Contemporary and modern critics Edit

It is on account of the many strange stories and the folk-tales he reported that his critics have branded him "The Father of Lies." [23] [24] Even his own contemporaries found reason to scoff at his achievement. In fact, one modern scholar [25] has wondered if Herodotus left his home in Greek Anatolia, migrating westwards to Athens and beyond, because his own countrymen had ridiculed his work, a circumstance possibly hinted at in an epitaph said to have been dedicated to Herodotus at one of his three supposed resting places, Thuria:

Herodotus the son of Sphynx
lies in Ionic history without peer
a Dorian born, who fled from slander's brand

and made in Thuria his new native land. [26]

Yet it was in Athens where his most formidable contemporary critics could be found. In 425 BC, which is about the time that Herodotus is thought by many scholars to have died, the Athenian comic dramatist Aristophanes created The Acharnians, in which he blames the Peloponnesian War on the abduction of some prostitutes – a mocking reference to Herodotus, who reported the Persians' account of their wars with Greece, beginning with the rapes of the mythical heroines Io, Europa, Medea, and Helen. [27] [28]

Similarly, the Athenian historian Thucydides dismissed Herodotus as a "logos-writer" (story-teller). [29] Thucydides, who had been trained in rhetoric, became the model for subsequent prose-writers as an author who seeks to appear firmly in control of his material, whereas with his frequent digressions Herodotus appeared to minimize (or possibly disguise) his authorial control. [30] Moreover, Thucydides developed a historical topic more in keeping with the Greek world-view: focused on the context of the polis or city-state. The interplay of civilizations was more relevant to Greeks living in Anatolia, such as Herodotus himself, for whom life within a foreign civilization was a recent memory. [29]

Before the Persian crisis, history had been represented among the Greeks only by local or family traditions. The "Wars of Liberation" had given to Herodotus the first genuinely historical inspiration felt by a Greek. These wars showed him that there was a corporate life, higher than that of the city, of which the story might be told and they offered to him as a subject the drama of the collision between East and West. With him, the spirit of history was born into Greece and his work, called after the nine Muses, was indeed the first utterance of Clio.

  • C. Hude (ed.) Herodoti Historiae. Tomvs prior: Libros I–IV continens. (Oxford 1908)
  • C. Hude (ed.) Herodoti Historiae. Tomvs alter: Libri V–IX continens. (Oxford 1908)
  • H. B. Rosén (ed.) Herodoti Historiae. Vol. I: Libros I–IV continens. (Leipzig 1987)
  • H. B. Rosén (ed.) Herodoti Historiae. Vol. II: Libros V–IX continens indicibus criticis adiectis (Stuttgart 1997)
  • N. G. Wilson (ed.) Herodoti Historiae. Tomvs prior: Libros I–IV continens. (Oxford 2015)
  • N. G. Wilson (ed.) Herodoti Historiae. Tomvs alter: Libri V–IX continens. (Oxford 2015)

Several English translations of The Histories of Herodotus are readily available in multiple editions. The most readily available are those translated by:

The ambition of Pausanias

One easily identifiable factor in the formation of Spartan policy is a personal one: the ambitions of Pausanias, a young man flushed from his success at Plataea. Pausanias was one of those Spartans who wanted to see the impetus of the Persian Wars maintained he conquered much of Cyprus (a temporary conquest) and laid siege to Byzantium. But his arrogance and typically Spartan violence angered the other Greeks, “not least,” Thucydides says, “the Ionians and the newly liberated populations.” Those now approached Athens in virtue of kinship, asking it to lead them.

That was a crucial moment in 5th-century history the immediate effect was to force the Spartans to recall Pausanias and put him on trial. He was charged with “Medism,” and, though acquitted for the moment, he was replaced by Dorcis. Yet Dorcis and others like him lacked Pausanias’s charisma, and Sparta sent out two more commanders. Pausanias went out again to Byzantium “in a private capacity,” setting himself up as a tyrant to intrigue with Persia, but he was again recalled and starved to death after having taken sanctuary in the temple of Athena of the Brazen House in Sparta. (The end may not have come until late in the 470s.) The charge was again Medism, and there was some truth to it because the rewards given by Persia to Gongylus of Eretria, one of his collaborators, can be shown to have been historical. There was also a suspicion that Pausanias was organizing a rising of the helots, “and it was true,” Thucydides says.

Despite its successes in 479, Sparta, then, was as much a prisoner of the helot problem as ever, and it could not rely on the loyalty of Arcadia or the Peloponnese generally: Mantinea and Elis had sent their contingents to the Battle of Plataea suspiciously late.

8 Mummification

To the ancient Greeks, the Egyptian civilization seemed impossibly old. Herodotus knew that any facts he could reveal about the Egyptians would be eagerly leaped on by his audience. How could he resist that most Egyptian of arts, mummification?

Herodotus gives us the details of the three forms of mummification the Egyptians use. [3] For the richest people, a complex set of tools and techniques is used to preserve the body. An iron hook is used to pull the brain out through the nose, while a sharp stone is used to cut open the abdomen, and all the internal organs are removed. Sweet-smelling herbs, spices, and perfumes are packed into the cavities before the body is dried in salt to stop it from rotting. Those unable to afford this must make do with having embalming fluids injected into the body. For the poorest people, the intestines were cleared out, and the body was left to lie in salt for 70 days.

One curious fact that Herodotus shares with us about mummification is that the bodies of wealthy ladies were not sent directly to the embalmers. The corpses were allowed to rot for several days to discourage the embalmers from taking &ldquoliberties&rdquo with them&mdashan early reference to necrophilia.


The name of Athens, connected to the name of its patron goddess Athena, originates from an earlier Pre-Greek language. [1] The origin myth explaining how Athens acquired this name through the legendary contest between Poseidon and Athena was described by Herodotus, [2] Apollodorus, [3] Ovid, Plutarch, [4] Pausanias and others. It even became the theme of the sculpture on the West pediment of the Parthenon. Both Athena and Poseidon requested to be patrons of the city and to give their name to it, so they competed with offering the city one gift each. Poseidon produced a spring by striking the ground with his trident, [5] symbolizing naval power.

Athena created the olive tree, symbolizing peace and prosperity. The Athenians, under their ruler Cecrops, accepted the olive tree and named the city after Athena. (Later the Southern Italian city of Paestum was founded under the name of Poseidonia at about 600 BC.) A sacred olive tree said to be the one created by the goddess was still kept on the Acropolis at the time of Pausanias (2nd century AD). [6] It was located by the temple of Pandrosus, next to the Parthenon. According to Herodotus, the tree had been burnt down during the Persian Wars, but a shoot sprung from the stump. The Greeks saw this as a symbol that Athena still had her mark there on the city. [2]

Plato, in his dialogue Cratylus, offers his own etymology of Athena's name connecting it to the phrase ἁ θεονόα or hē theoû nóēsis (ἡ θεοῦ νόησις, 'the mind of god'). [7]

There is evidence that the site on which the Acropolis ('high city') stands was first inhabited in the Neolithic period, perhaps as a defensible settlement, around the end of the fourth millennium BC or a little later. [8] The site is a natural defensive position which commands the surrounding plains. It is located about 20 km (12 mi) inland from the Saronic Gulf, in the centre of the Cephisian Plain, a fertile valley surrounded by rivers. To the east lies Mount Hymettus, to the north Mount Pentelicus.

Ancient Athens, in the first millennium BC, occupied a very small area compared to the sprawling metropolis of modern Greece. The ancient walled city encompassed an area measuring about 2 km (1 mi) from east to west and slightly less than that from north to south, although at its peak the ancient city had suburbs extending well beyond these walls. The Acropolis was situated just south of the centre of this walled area.

The Agora, the commercial and social centre of the city, lay about 400 m (1,312 ft) north of the Acropolis, in what is now the Monastiraki district. The hill of the Pnyx, where the Athenian Assembly met, lay at the western end of the city. The Eridanus (Ηριδανός) river flowed through the city.

One of the most important religious sites in ancient Athens was the Temple of Athena, known today as the Parthenon, which stood on top of the Acropolis, where its evocative ruins still stand. Two other major religious sites, the Temple of Hephaestus (which is still largely intact) and the Temple of Olympian Zeus or Olympeion (once the largest temple in mainland Greece but now in ruins) also lay within the city walls.

According to Thucydides, the Athenian citizens at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War (5th century BC) numbered 40,000, making with their families a total of 140,000 people in all. The metics, i.e. those who did not have citizen rights and paid for the right to reside in Athens, numbered a further 70,000, whilst slaves were estimated at between 150,000 and 400,000. [9] Meetings in the Athenian assembly could be attended by all Athenian male citizens, if they were over the age of twenty. Regular meetings were held in the Athenian assembly, about 40 per year. All male citizens that attended a meeting, had the right to speak and vote on the subject matter discussed at the meeting. Magistrates were elected at such meetings. [10] After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, the city's population began to decrease as Greeks migrated to the Hellenistic empires in the east. [ citation needed ]

Origins and early history Edit

Athens has been inhabited from Neolithic times, possibly from the end of the fourth millennium BC, or over 5,000 years. [11] By 1412 BC, the settlement had become an important center of the Mycenaean civilization and the Acropolis was the site of a major Mycenaean fortress whose remains can be recognised from sections of the characteristic Cyclopean walls. [12] On the summit of the Acropolis, below the later Erechtheion, cuttings in the rock have been identified as the location of a Mycenaean palace. [12] Between 1250 and 1200 BC, to feed the needs of the Mycenaean settlement, a staircase was built down a cleft in the rock to reach a water supply that was protected from enemy incursions, [13] comparable to similar works carried out at Mycenae.

Unlike other Mycenaean centers, such as Mycenae and Pylos, it is unclear whether Athens suffered destruction in about 1200 BC, an event traditionally attributed to a Dorian invasion (though now commonly attributed to a systems collapse, part of the Late Bronze Age collapse). The Athenians always maintained that they were 'pure' Ionians with no Dorian element. [ citation needed ] However, Athens, like many other Bronze Age settlements, went into economic decline for around 150 years following this.

Iron Age burials, in the Kerameikos and other locations, are often richly provided for and demonstrate that from 900 BC onwards Athens was one of the leading centres of trade and prosperity in the region as were Lefkandi in Euboea and Knossos in Crete. [14] This position may well have resulted from its central location in the Greek world, its secure stronghold on the Acropolis and its access to the sea, which gave it a natural advantage over inland rivals such as Thebes and Sparta.

According to legend, Athens was formerly ruled by kings, a situation which may have continued up until the 9th century BC. From later accounts, it is believed that these kings stood at the head of a land-owning aristocracy known as the Eupatridae (the 'well-born'), whose instrument of government was a Council which met on the Hill of Ares, called the Areopagus and appointed the chief city officials, the archons and the polemarch (commander-in-chief). The most famous king of Athens was Theseus, a prominent figure in Greek Mythology who killed the Minotaur.

During this period, Athens succeeded in bringing the other towns of Attica under its rule. This process of synoikismos – the bringing together into one home – created the largest and wealthiest state on the Greek mainland, but it also created a larger class of people excluded from political life by the nobility. By the 7th century BC, social unrest had become widespread, and the Areopagus appointed Draco to draft a strict new code of law (hence the word 'draconian'). When this failed, they appointed Solon, with a mandate to create a new constitution (in 594 BC).

Reform and democracy Edit

Didrachm of Athens, 545–510 BC
Obv: Four-spoked wheel Rev: Incuse square, divided diagonally
Silver didrachm of Athens of heraldic type from the time of Peisistratus, 545–510 BC
Obol of Athens, 545–525 BC
Obv: A Gorgoneion Rev: Square incuse
An archaic silver obol of Athens of heraldic type from the time of Peisistratus, 545–525 BC

The reforms that Solon initiated dealt with both political and economic issues. The economic power of the Eupatridae was reduced by forbidding the enslavement of Athenian citizens as a punishment for debt (debt bondage), by breaking up large landed estates and freeing up trade and commerce, which allowed the emergence of a prosperous urban trading class. Politically, Solon divided the Athenians into four classes, based on their wealth and their ability to perform military service. The poorest class, the Thetai, (Ancient Greek Θήται) who formed the majority of the population, received political rights for the first time and were able to vote in the Ecclesia (Assembly). But only the upper classes could hold political office. The Areopagus continued to exist but its powers were reduced.

The new system laid the foundations for what eventually became Athenian democracy, but in the short-term it failed to quell class conflict and after twenty years of unrest the popular party, led by Peisistratos, seized power. Peisistratos is usually called a tyrant, but the Greek word tyrannos does not mean a cruel and despotic ruler, merely one who took power by force. Peisistratos was in fact a very popular ruler, who made Athens wealthy, powerful, and a centre of culture. He preserved the Solonian Constitution, but made sure that he and his family held all the offices of state.

Peisistratus built the first aqueduct tunnel at Athens, [15] which most likely had its sources on the slopes of Mount Hymettos and along the Ilissos river. It supplied, among other structures, the fountain house in the southeast corner of the Agora, but it had a number of branches. In the 4th century BC it was replaced by a system of terracotta pipes in a stone-built underground channel, sometimes called the Hymettos aqueduct many sections had round, oval or square access holes on top of about 10 cm × 10 cm (4 in × 4 in). Pipe segments of this system are displayed at the Evangelismos and Syntagma Metro stations.

Peisistratos died in 527 BC and was succeeded by his sons Hippias and Hipparchus. They proved to be much less adept rulers and in 514 BC, Hipparchus was assassinated in a private dispute over a young man (see Harmodius and Aristogeiton). This led Hippias to establish a real dictatorship, which proved very unpopular. He was overthrown in 510 BC. A radical politician with an aristocratic background named Cleisthenes then took charge, and it was he who established democracy in Athens.

The reforms of Cleisthenes replaced the traditional four phyle ('tribes') with ten new ones, named after legendary heroes and having no class basis they were in fact electorates. Each phyle was in turn divided into three trittyes and each trittys had one or more demes, which became the basis of local government. The phyle each elected fifty members to the Boule, a council which governed Athens on a day-to-day basis. The Assembly was open to all citizens and was both a legislature and a supreme court, except in murder cases and religious matters, which became the only remaining functions of the Areopagus.

Most public offices were filled by lot, although the ten strategoi (generals) were elected. This system remained remarkably stable and, with a few brief interruptions, it remained in place for 170 years, until Philip II of Macedon defeated Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC.

Classical Athens Edit

Early Athenian military history and Persian era Edit

Prior to the rise of Athens, Sparta considered itself to be the leader (or hegemon) of the Greeks. In 499 BC, Athens sent troops to aid the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor, who were rebelling against the Persian Empire (the Ionian Revolt). This provoked two Persian invasions of Greece by the Achaemenid Empire. In 490 BC, the Athenians, led by the soldier-statesman Miltiades, defeated the first invasion of the Persians under Darius I at the Battle of Marathon.

In 480 BC, the Persians returned under Darius's son Xerxes. When a small Greek force holding the pass of Thermopylae was defeated, the Persians proceeded to capture an evacuated Athens. The city of Athens was twice captured and sacked by the Persians within one year after Thermopylae. [16] Subsequently, the Athenians (led by Themistocles), with their allies, engaged the much larger Persian navy at sea in the Battle of Salamis and routed the Persians, a great turning point in the war.

In 479 BC, the Athenians and Spartans, with their allies, defeated the Persian army conclusively at the Battle of Plataea. [17] Athens then took the war to Asia Minor. These victories enabled it to bring most of the Aegean and many other parts of Greece together in the Delian League, an Athenian-dominated alliance.

Peloponnesian War Edit

The resentment felt by other cities at the hegemony of Athens led to the Peloponnesian War, which began in 431 BC and pitted Athens and its increasingly rebellious overseas empire against a coalition of land-based states led by Sparta. The conflict was a drawn out one that saw Sparta control the land while Athens was dominant at sea, however the disastrous Sicilian Expedition severely weakened Athens and the war eventually ended in an Athenian defeat following the Battle of Aegospotami which ended Athenian naval supremacy.

Athenian coup of 411 BC Edit

Due to its poor handling of the war, the democracy in Athens was briefly overthrown by a coup in 411 BC however, it was quickly restored. The Peloponnesian War ended in 404 BC with the complete defeat of Athens. Since the loss of the war was largely blamed on democratic politicians such as Cleon and Cleophon, there was a brief reaction against democracy, aided by the Spartan army (the rule of the Thirty Tyrants). In 403 BC, however, democracy was restored by Thrasybulus and an amnesty was declared.

Corinthian War and the Second Athenian League Edit

Sparta's former allies soon turned against her, due to her imperialist policy, and soon Athens' former enemies Thebes and Corinth had become her allies they fought with Athens and Argos against Sparta in the indecisive Corinthian War (395 – 387 BC). Opposition to Sparta enabled Athens to establish a Second Athenian League.

Finally Thebes defeated Sparta in 371 BC in the Battle of Leuctra. But then the Greek cities (including Athens and Sparta) turned against Thebes, whose dominance was stopped at the Battle of Mantinea (362 BC) with the death of its military-genius leader Epaminondas.

Athens and the rise of Macedon Edit

By the mid-4th century BC, however, the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon was becoming dominant in Athenian affairs. In the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), Philip II's armies defeated an alliance of some of the Greek city-states including Athens and Thebes, forcing them into a confederation and effectively limiting Athenian independence. [18] Philippides of Paiania, one of the wealthiest Athenian aristocratic oligarchs, campaigned for Philip II during the Battle of Chaeronea and proposed in the Assembly decrees honoring Alexander the Great for the Macedonian victory. Philippides was prosecuted in trial by Hypereides, who detested his pro-Macedonian sympathies. [19] Subsequently, the conquests of Alexander the Great widened Greek horizons and made the traditional Greek city state obsolete. Athens remained a wealthy city with a brilliant cultural life, but ceased to be a leading power. The period following the death of Alexander in 323 BC is known as Hellenistic Greece.

Artists and philosophers Edit

The period from the end of the Persian Wars to the Macedonian conquest marked the zenith of Athens as a center of literature, philosophy, and the arts. In Athens at this time, the political satire of the Comic poets at the theatres had a remarkable influence on public opinion. [20]

Some of the most important figures of Western cultural and intellectual history lived in Athens during this period: the dramatists Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, the physician Hippocrates, the philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the historians Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon, the poet Simonides, the orators Antiphon, Isocrates, Aeschines, and Demosthenes, and the sculptor Phidias. The leading statesman of the mid-fifth century BC was Pericles, who used the tribute paid by the members of the Delian League to build the Parthenon and other great monuments of classical Athens. The city became, in Pericles's words, "the school of Hellas [Greece]."

Hellenistic Athens Edit

Shortly after the death of Alexander the Great, Antipater and Craterus became joint generals of Greece and Macedonia. [21] Athens joined Aetolia and Thessaly in facing their power, known as the Lamian War. [22] Craterus fell in a battle against Eumenes in 320 BC, [23] leaving Antipater alone to rule for a year, till his death in 319 BC. [24] Athens had a central role in the struggle for his succession, when Antipater's son, Cassander, secured the Piraeus leaving Athens without a source of supplies, [21] to contest Antipeter's successor, Polyperchon. To consolidate power against Cassander, Polyperchon restored Athens's democracy, as it was before the Lamian War. However, after losing the fleet one year prior, Polyperchon had to flee Macedon when in 316 BC Cassander secured control of Athens. Cassander appointed Demetrius of Phalerum as head of the administration of Athens. Demetrius remained in power until 307 BC when Cassander's enemy, Demetrius Poliorcetes captured Athens, [25] and Macedon, ending the short-lived Antipatrid dynasty and installing his own.

Athens and the rise of the Roman empire Edit

After the Pyrrhic War (280–275 BC) Rome asserted its hegemony over Magna Grecia and became increasingly involved in Greece and the Balkans peninsula. The First Macedonian War (214–205 BC) between the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Macedon ended with the Treaty of Phoenice. During the Second Macedonian War (200–197), the Romans declared "the freedom of Greece" from the Macedonian Kings. After the Roman–Seleucid War (192–188), that ended with the Peace of Apamea, and the Third Macedonian War (171–168), after which Macedonian territory was divided into four client republics, Macedonia was formally annexed to the Roman Republic after the Fourth Macedonian War (150–148). After the Achaean League was itself defeated and dissolved by the Romans in the Achaean War in 146, during which the Battle of Corinth resulted in the looting and destruction of the city by Lucius Mummius Achaicus and Greece divided into the Roman provinces of Macedonia and Achaea. Athens thus came under Roman rule.

Roman Athens Edit

During the First Mithridatic War, Athens was ruled by a tyrant, Aristion, installed by Mithridates the Great. In 88–85 BC, most Athenian buildings, both houses and fortifications, were leveled by the Roman general Sulla (138 BC – 78 BC) after the Siege of Athens and Piraeus, although many civic buildings and monuments were left intact. [26] Under Roman rule, Athens was given the status of a free city because of its widely admired schools. The Roman emperor Hadrian ( r . 117–138 AD ), constructed the Library of Hadrian, a gymnasium, an aqueduct [27] which is still in use, several temples and sanctuaries, a bridge, and finally completed the Temple of Olympian Zeus. [28] The Arch of Hadrian commemorates the foundation of the city by Hadrian, with the "city of Theseus" referred to on its inscription on one side of the arch, and the new quarter erected by Hadrian around the Temple of Zeus called the "city of Hadrian".

The city was sacked by the Heruli in 267 AD, resulting in the burning of all the public buildings, the plundering of the lower city and the damaging of the Agora and Acropolis. After the Sack of Athens, the city to the north of the Acropolis was hastily refortified on a smaller scale, with the Agora left outside the walls. Athens remained a centre of learning and philosophy during its 500 years of Roman rule, patronized by emperors such as Nero and Hadrian.

In the early 4th century AD, the eastern Roman empire began to be governed from Constantinople, and with the construction and expansion of the imperial city, many of Athens's works of art were taken by the emperors to adorn it. The Empire became Christianized, and the use of Latin declined in favour of exclusive use of Greek in the Roman imperial period, both languages had been used. In the later Roman period, Athens was ruled by the emperors continuing until the 13th century, its citizens identifying themselves as citizens of the Roman Empire ("Rhomaioi"). The conversion of the empire from paganism to Christianity greatly affected Athens, resulting in reduced reverence for the city. [29] Ancient monuments such as the Parthenon, Erechtheion and the Hephaisteion (Theseion) were converted into churches. As the empire became increasingly anti-pagan, Athens became a provincial town and experienced fluctuating fortunes.

The city remained an important center of learning, especially of Neoplatonism—with notable pupils including Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil of Caesarea and emperor Julian ( r . 355–363 )—and consequently a center of paganism. Christian items do not appear in the archaeological record until the early 5th century. [30] The sack of the city by the Herules in 267 and by the Visigoths under their king Alaric I ( r . 395–410 ) in 396, however, dealt a heavy blow to the city's fabric and fortunes, and Athens was henceforth confined to a small fortified area that embraced a fraction of the ancient city. [30] The emperor Justinian I ( r . 527–565 ) banned the teaching of philosophy by pagans in 529, [31] an event whose impact on the city is much debated, [30] but is generally taken to mark the end of the ancient history of Athens. Athens was sacked by the Slavs in 582, but remained in imperial hands thereafter, as highlighted by the visit of the emperor Constans II ( r . 641–668 ) in 662/3 and its inclusion in the Theme of Hellas. [30]

Byzantine Athens Edit

The city was threatened by Saracen raids in the 8th–9th centuries—in 896, Athens was raided and possibly occupied for a short period, an event which left some archaeological remains and elements of Arabic ornamentation in contemporary buildings [32] —but there is also evidence of a mosque existing in the city at the time. [30] In the great dispute over Byzantine Iconoclasm, Athens is commonly held to have supported the iconophile position, chiefly due to the role played by Empress Irene of Athens in the ending of the first period of Iconoclasm at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787. [30] A few years later, another Athenian, Theophano, became empress as the wife of Staurakios (r. 811–812). [30]

Invasion of the empire by the Turks after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, and the ensuing civil wars, largely passed the region by and Athens continued its provincial existence unharmed. When the Byzantine Empire was rescued by the resolute leadership of the three Komnenos emperors Alexios, John and Manuel, Attica and the rest of Greece prospered. Archaeological evidence tells us that the medieval town experienced a period of rapid and sustained growth, starting in the 11th century and continuing until the end of the 12th century.

The agora or marketplace, which had been deserted since late antiquity, began to be built over, and soon the town became an important centre for the production of soaps and dyes. The growth of the town attracted the Venetians, and various other traders who frequented the ports of the Aegean, to Athens. This interest in trade appears to have further increased the economic prosperity of the town.

The 11th and 12th centuries were the Golden Age of Byzantine art in Athens. Almost all of the most important Middle Byzantine churches in and around Athens were built during these two centuries, and this reflects the growth of the town in general. However, this medieval prosperity was not to last. In 1204, the Fourth Crusade conquered Athens and the city was not recovered from the Latins before it was taken by the Ottoman Turks. It did not become Greek in government again until the 19th century.

Latin Athens Edit

From 1204 until 1458, Athens was ruled by Latins in three separate periods, following the Crusades. The "Latins", or "Franks", were western Europeans and followers of the Latin Church brought to the Eastern Mediterranean during the Crusades. Along with rest of Byzantine Greece, Athens was part of the series of feudal fiefs, similar to the Crusader states established in Syria and on Cyprus after the First Crusade. This period is known as the Frankokratia.

Burgundian period Edit

Athens was initially the capital of the eponymous Duchy of Athens, a fief of the Latin Empire which replaced the Byzantine Empire, ruling from Constantinople. After Thebes became a possession of the Latin dukes, which were of the Burgundian family called De la Roche, it replaced Athens as the capital and seat of government, although Athens remained the most influential ecclesiastical centre in the duchy and site of a prime fortress.

Under the Burgundian dukes, a bell tower was added to the Parthenon, known as the Frankish Tower. The Burgundians brought chivalry and tournaments to Athens they also fortified the Acropolis. They were themselves influenced by Byzantine Greek culture.

Aragonese period Edit

In 1311, Athens was conquered by the Catalan Company, a band of mercenaries called Almogavars. It was held by the Catalans until 1388. After 1379, when Thebes was lost, Athens became the capital of the duchy again.

The history of Aragonese Athens, called Cetines (rarely Athenes) by the conquerors, is obscure. Athens was a veguería with its own castellan, captain, and veguer. At some point during the Aragonese period, the Acropolis was further fortified and the Athenian archdiocese received an extra two suffragan sees.

Florentine period Edit

In 1388, the Florentine Nerio I Acciajuoli took the city and made himself duke. The Florentines had to dispute the city with the Republic of Venice, but they ultimately emerged victorious after seven years of Venetian rule (1395–1402). The descendants of Nerio I Acciajuoli ruled the city (as their capital) until the Turkish conquest of 1458.

Ottoman Athens Edit

The first Ottoman attack on Athens, which involved a short-lived occupation of the town, came in 1397, under the Ottoman generals Yaqub Pasha and Timurtash. [32] Finally, in 1458, Athens was captured by the Ottomans under the personal leadership of Sultan Mehmed II. [32] As the Ottoman Sultan rode into the city, he was greatly struck by the beauty of its ancient monuments and issued a firman (imperial edict) forbidding their looting or destruction, on pain of death. The Parthenon was converted into Athens' main mosque. [29]

Under Ottoman rule, the city was denuded of any importance and its population severely declined, leaving Athens as a "small country town" (Franz Babinger). [32] From the early 17th century, Athens came under the jurisdiction of the Kizlar Agha, the chief black eunuch of the Sultans' harem. The city had originally been granted by Sultan Ahmed I ( r . 1603–1617 ) to Basilica, one of his favourite concubines, who hailed from the city, in response of complaints of maladministration by the local governors. After her death, Athens came under the purview of the Kizlar Agha. [35]

The Turks began a practice of storing gunpowder and explosives in the Parthenon and Propylaea. In 1640, a lightning bolt struck the Propylaea, causing its destruction. [36] In 1687, during the Morean War, the Acropolis was besieged by the Venetians under Francesco Morosini, and the temple of Athena Nike was dismantled by the Ottomans to fortify the Parthenon. A shot fired during the bombardment of the Acropolis caused a powder magazine in the Parthenon to explode (26 September), and the building was severely damaged, giving it the appearance we see today. The occupation of the Acropolis continued for six months and both the Venetians and the Ottomans participated in the looting of the Parthenon. One of its western pediments was removed, causing even more damage to the structure. [29] [32] The Venetians occupied the town, converting its two mosques into Catholic and Protestant churches, but on 9 April 1688 they abandoned it again to the Ottomans. [32]

In the 18th century, however, the city recovered much of its prosperity. During Michel Fourmont's visit in the city in the 1720s, he witnessed much construction going on, and by the time the Athenian teacher Ioannis Benizelos wrote an account of the city's affairs in the 1770s, Athens was once again enjoying some prosperity, so that, according to Benizelos, it "could be cited as an example to the other cities of Greece". [37] Its Greek population possessed a considerable degree of self-government, under a council of primates composed of the leading aristocratic families, along with the city's metropolitan bishop. The community was quite influential with the Ottoman authorities, the pasha (governor), the kadi (judge), the mufti, and the garrison commander of the Acropolis—according to Benizelos, if the pasha did not treat them well and heed their opinion, he was liable to be removed before his annual term of office was out—particularly through the influence at Constantinople of the two Athenian-born patriarchs of Jerusalem, Parthenius (1737–1766) and Ephram II (1766–1770). [37] Taxation was also light, with only the kharaj tax payable to the Ottoman government, as well as the salt tax and a water-tax for the olive yards and gardens. [37]

This peaceful situation was interrupted in 1752–1753, when the execution of the previous Kizlar Agha resulted in the dispatch of a new pasha, Sari Muselimi. His abuse of power led to protests by both the Greeks and the Turks Sari Muselimi killed some of the notables who protested, whereupon the populace burned down his residence. Sari Muselimi fled to the Acropolis where he was besieged by the Athenians, until the Ottoman governor of Negroponte intervened and restored order, imprisoning the Metropolitan and imposing a heavy fine on the Greek community. [37] In 1759 the new pasha, a native Muslim, destroyed one of the pillars of the Temple of Olympian Zeus to provide material for a fifth mosque for the city—an illegal act, as the temple was considered the Sultan's property. [37] In the next year, Athens was removed from the purview of the Kizlar Agha and transferred to the privy purse of the Sultan. Henceforth it would be leased as a malikhane, a form of tax farming where the owner bought the proceeds of the city for a fixed sum, and enjoyed them for life. [37]

The first owner (malikhane sahib), Ismail Agha, a local Turk from Livadeia, had been humane and popular, appointing good voevodas, so that he was nicknamed "the Good". [37] English visitors during the 1760s report a population of around 10,000 inhabitants, around four-fifths of which were Christians. The Turkish community numbered several families established in the city since the Ottoman conquest and their relations with their Christian neighbours were friendlier than elsewhere, as they had assimilated themselves to a degree, even to the point of drinking wine. [37] The climate was healthy, but the city relied chiefly on pasture—practiced by the Arvanites of Attica—rather than agriculture. It exported leather, soap, grain, oil, honey, wax, resin, a little silk, cheese, and valonia, chiefly to Constantinople and France. The city hosted a French and an English consul. [37] During the Orlov Revolt the Athenians, with the exception of the younger ones, remained cautious and passive, even when the Greek chieftain Mitromaras seized Salamis. Nevertheless, it was only thanks to the intervention of Ismail Agha that the city was spared a massacre as reprisals, and was forced to pay an indemnity instead. [37]

Ismail Agha's successor, Hadji Ali Haseki was cruel and tyrannical, and the twenty years of his on-and-off rule over the city, represented one of the worst periods in the city's history. Supported by the city's aristocratic families, and his relationship with the Sultan's sister, who was his lover, he extorted large sums from the populace, and seized much property from them. Through protests in Constantinople, the Athenians achieved his recall several times, but Haseki always returned until his final downfall and execution in 1795. [37] His early tenure also saw two large Albanian raids into Attica, as a response to which he ordered the construction of a new city wall, the "Wall of Haseki", which was partly constructed with material taken from ancient monuments. [32] [37] Between 1801 and 1805 Lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, arranged for the removal of many sculptures from the Parthenon (the Elgin marbles). Along with the Panathenaic frieze, one of the six caryatids of the Erechtheion was extracted and replaced with a plaster mold. All in all, fifty pieces of sculpture were carried away, including three fragments purchased by the French. [29]

Athens produced some notable intellectuals during this era, such as Demetrius Chalcondyles (1424–1511), who became a celebrated Renaissance teacher of Greek and of Platonic philosophy in Italy. [38] Chalcondyles published the first printed editions of Homer (in 1488), of Isocrates (in 1493), and of the Suda lexicon (in 1499), and a Greek grammar (Erotemata). [39]

His cousin Laonicus Chalcondyles (c. 1423–1490) was also a native of Athens, a notable scholar and Byzantine historian and one of the most valuable of the later Greek historians. He was the author of the valuable work Historiarum Demonstrationes (Demonstrations of History) and was a great admirer of the ancient writer Herodotus, encouraging the interest of contemporary Italian humanists in that ancient historian. [40] In the 17th century, Athenian-born Leonardos Philaras (c. 1595–1673), [41] was a Greek scholar, politician, diplomat, advisor and the Duke of Parma's ambassador to the French court, [42] spending much of his career trying to persuade western European intellectuals to support Greek independence. [43] [44]

Independence from the Ottomans Edit

In 1822, a Greek insurgency captured the city, but it fell to the Ottomans again in 1826 (though Acropolis held till June 1827). Again the ancient monuments suffered badly. The Ottoman forces remained in possession until March 1833, when they withdrew. At that time, the city (as throughout the Ottoman period) had a small population of an estimated 400 houses, mostly located around the Acropolis in the Plaka.

In 1832, Otto, Prince of Bavaria, was proclaimed King of Greece. He adopted the Greek spelling of his name, King Othon, as well as Greek national dress, and made it one of his first tasks as king to conduct a detailed archaeological and topographical survey of Athens, his new capital. He assigned Gustav Eduard Schaubert and Stamatios Kleanthis to complete this task. [29] At that time, Athens had a population of only 4,000 to 5,000 people in a scattering of houses at the foot of the Acropolis, located in what today covers the district of Plaka.

Athens was chosen as the Greek capital for historical and sentimental reasons. There are few buildings dating from the period of the Byzantine Empire or the 18th century. Once the capital was established, a modern city plan was laid out and public buildings were erected.

The finest legacy of this period are the buildings of the University of Athens (1837), the National Gardens of Athens (1840), the National Library of Greece (1842), the Old Royal Palace (now the Greek Parliament Building 1843), the Old Parliament Building (1858), the City Hall (1874), the Zappeion Exhibition Hall (1878), the Greek National Academy (1885) and the New Royal Palace (now the Presidential Palace 1897). In 1896 the city hosted the 1896 Summer Olympics.

Athens experienced its second period of explosive growth following the disastrous Greco-Turkish War in 1921, when more than a million Greek refugees from Asia Minor were resettled in Greece. Suburbs such as Nea Ionia and Nea Smyrni began as refugee settlements on the Athens outskirts.

Mutual Protection

Following Hellenic victory at the Battle of Salamis, during the Persian Wars, Ionian cities joined together in the Delian League for mutual protection. The league was meant to be offensive as well as defensive: "to have the same friends and enemies" (typical terms for an alliance formed for this dual purpose [Larsen]), with secession forbidden. The member poleis placed Athens at the head (hegemon) because of her naval supremacy. Many of the Greek cities were annoyed with the tyrannical behavior of the Spartan commander Pausanias, who had been leader of the Greeks during the Persian War.

The Rise of Athens

The defeat of the Persians marked the beginning of Athenian political, economic and cultural dominance. In 507 B.C., the Athenian nobleman Cleisthenes had overthrown the last of the autocratic tyrants and devised a new system of citizen self-governance that he called demokratia. In Cleisthenes’ democratic system, every male citizen older than 18 was eligible to join the ekklesia, or Assembly, the sovereign governing body of Athens. Other legislators were chosen randomly by lot, not by election. And in this early Greek democracy, officials were sworn to act �ording to the laws what is best for the people.”

However, demokratia did not mean that Athens approached her relationships with other Greek city-states with anything approaching egalitarianism. To protect far-flung Greek territories from Persian interference, Athens organized a confederacy of allies that it called the Delian League in 478 B.C. Athens was clearly in charge of this coalition as a result, most Delian League dues wound up in the city-state’s own treasury, where they helped make Athens into a wealthy imperial power.

4 Lion Cubs Clawing Their Way Out Of The Womb

When Herodotus wrote The Histories in the late 400s B.C., many philosophers were interested in discussing reproduction in the animal kingdom, specifically why some animals gave birth to multiple offspring at once. Herodotus claimed that timid creatures frequently give birth to multiple babies so that some will survive even though many are killed by predators. Conversely, harsh creatures (like lions) only conceive once a lifetime because they&rsquore less likely to be killed and therefore not in danger of going extinct. Regarding lions, Herodotus says that lion cub fetuses use their sharp claws to scratch at their mother&rsquos womb, scratching more and more until they&rsquore born. The lioness can supposedly only give birth once because her womb is a mangled, scratched-up piece of useless flesh after giving birth.

Aristotle called Herodotus ridiculous for this claim, and modern natural history has proved Herodotus completely wrong. He may have been guessing that the birth process was painful because the offspring was struggling to get out. He also may have based his claims on ancient medical writings, such as those by the Greek philosopher Democritus, but many accounts don&rsquot survive today. To describe his belief that rabbits can conceive again while already pregnant, Herodotus used the word epikuisketai, an extremely unusual and scientifically technical term, which indicates that he probably did read medical writings about animal reproduction.

How the Ancients Celebrated the Longest Day of the Year

Ancient Greeks
According to certain iterations of the Greek calendar—they varied widely by region and era—the summer solstice was the first day of the year. Several festivals were held around this time, including Kronia, which celebrated the agriculture god Cronus. The strict social code was temporarily turned on its head during Kronia, with slaves participating in the merriment as equals or even being served by their masters. The summer solstice also marked the one-month countdown to the opening of the Olympic games.

Ancient Romans
In the days leading up to the summer solstice, ancient Romans celebrated the Vestalia festival, which paid tribute to Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. Rituals included the sacrifice of an unborn calf remove from its mother’s womb. This was the only time of the year when married women were allowed to enter the sacred temple of the vestal virgins and make offerings to Vesta there.

Ancient Chinese
The ancient Chinese participated in a ceremony on the summer solstice to honor the earth, femininity and the force known as yin. It complemented the winter solstice ritual, which was devoted to the heavens, masculinity and yang. Ancient Northern and Central European Tribes Many Germanic, Slavic and Celtic pagans welcomed summer with bonfires, a tradition that is still enjoyed in Germany, Austria, Estonia and other countries. Some ancient tribes practiced a ritual in which couples would jump through the flames to predict how high that year’s crops would grow.

Midsummer was a crucial time of year for the Nordic seafarers, who would meet to discuss legal matters and resolve disputes around the summer solstice. They would also visit wells thought to have healing powers and build huge bonfires. Today, “Viking” summer solstice celebrations are popular among both residents and tourists in Iceland.

Native Americans
Many Native American tribes took part in centuries-old midsummer rituals, some of which are still practiced today. The Sioux, for instance, performed a ceremonial sun dance around a tree while wearing symbolic colors. Some scholars believe that Wyoming’s Bighorn medicine wheel, an arrangement of stones built several hundred years ago by the Plains Indians, aligns with the solstice sunrise and sunset, and was therefore the site of that culture’s annual sun dance.

Maya and Aztecs
While not much is known of how exactly the mighty pre-Columbian civilizations of Central America celebrated midsummer, the ruins of their once-great cities indicate the great significance of that day. Temples, public buildings and other structures were often precisely aligned with the shadows cast by major astrological phenomena, particularly the summer and winter solstices.

The Celtic high priests known as the Druids likely led ritual celebrations during midsummer, but𠅌ontrary to popular belief—it is unlikely that these took place at Stonehenge, England’s most famous megalithic stone circle. Still, people who identify as modern Druids continue to gather at the monument for the summer solstice, winter solstice, spring equinox and autumn equinox.

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