Siphnian Treasury

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Siphnian Treasury
07Delphi Fries01.jpg
North frieze, showing the Gigantomachy
General information
Type Treasury
Architectural style Ionic
Location Delphi, Greece
Construction started 530 BCE
Completed 525 BCE
Owner Delphi Archaeological Museum

The Siphnian Treasury was a building at the Ancient Greek cult centre of Delphi, erected to hold the offerings of the polis, or city-state, of Siphnos. It was one of a number of treasuries lining the processional route through Delphi, erected to win the favor of the gods and increase the prestige of the donor polis. It was one of the earlier surviving buildings of this type, and its date remains a matter for debate, but was probably between 530 and 480 BC. Until recently it was often confused or conflated with the neighbouring Cnidian Treasury, a similar but less elaborate building, as the remains of the two had become mixed together and earlier theoretical reconstructions used parts of both.[1]

The people of Siphnos had gained enormous wealth from their silver and gold mines (Herodotus III.57) and used this wealth to erect the treasury, the first religious structure made entirely out of marble. The building was used to house many lavish gifts given to the priests to be offered to Apollo, among other gods and goddesses. These gifts consisted of gold and silver votive offerings.

The Treasury fell to ruin over the centuries. Currently, the sculpture and a reconstruction of the Treasury are in the Delphi Archaeological Museum.

Design and Decoration[edit]

The treasury building is in two parts; a pronaos, or porch, and a cella, or enclosure. The pronaos is distyle-in-antis, i.e., the side walls extend to the front of the porch, and the pediment is supported by two caryatids instead of plain pilasters. Below the pediment runs a continuous frieze. The building is 8.2756 metres long and 6.096 wide.[2][3][4]

The pediment of the treasury shows the story of Herakles stealing Apollo’s tripod which was strongly associated with his oracular inspiration. The treasury was also one of the first Greek buildings to utilize falling and reclining figures to fill the corners of the pediment. The sculptural friezes that run around the building depict various scenes from Greek Mythology. The Southern side depicts scenes that support the East side, where the gods sit watching the Greeks raid the city of Troy. The West side shows the story of the Judgment of Paris, depicting three chariots groups (each attributed to Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera). The north side displays the Gigantomachy.

The treasury is thought by some to have been built sometime around 530 BC,[5] one source considers the date of construction as more likely some time absolutely limited to after 480 BC (Whitley).[6]

The oracle[edit]

... When the Prytanies' seat shines white in the island of Siphnos,White-browed all the forum – need then of a true seer's wisdom-Danger will threat from a wooden boat, and a herald in scarlet ...

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ J K Darling – Retrieved 2012-06-16
  3. ^ University of North Carolina – Length Converter – Retrieved 2012-06-16
  4. ^ University of Oxford Classical Art Research Centre & The Beazley Archive showing reconstructed drawing – Retrieved 2012-06-16
  5. ^ J K Darling -Architecture of Greece Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004 ISBN 0313321523 Retrieved 2012-06-16
  6. ^ J Whitley – The Archaeology of Ancient Greece Cambridge University Press, 4 Oct 2001 ISBN 0521627338 Retrieved 2012-06-25
  7. ^ Herodotus – The history of Herodotus: A new English version, ed. with copious notes and appendices, illustrating the history and geography of Herodotus, from the most recent sources of information; and embodying the chief results, historical and ethnographical, which have been obtained in the progress of cuneiform and hieroglyphical discovery, Volume 2 from (...and, G Rawlinson (The Histories) Retrieved 2012-06-16

Online Sources[edit]

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