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Administration and Topography in IG I3 4A-B, the Hekatompedon Decrees

Jessica Paga

William & Mary

In this paper, I examine the well-known Hekatompedon Decrees (IG I3 4A-B) in order to disentangle their possible date and numerous topographical references.  In the process, I also consider the role of the tamiai and prytanis in their capacity as inspectors on the late Archaic Akropolis.  The overarching results of this investigation are a likely reconstruction of monuments on the Akropolis in the first quarter of the 5th century B.C.E. and a deeper understanding of accountability in the early democratic polis.

The Hekatompedon Decrees were discovered on the Akropolis during the course of excavations in the late 19th century.  Like the famous korai uncovered in the 1880s and 1890s, most of the 41 fragments were found in the post-Persian “poros” layer to the south and east of the Parthenon, with some fragments recovered from around the Propylaia, the area of the old Museum, and the “Ergane-Terrasse” (Lolling).  The larger of the two decrees, IG I3 4 B, is displayed in the Epigraphic Museum in Athens (EM 6794), while the other – which exists primarily in fragments – is in storage.  These decrees have been known and debated for over a century, with little consensus as to the date and the references to various monuments and buildings.

Both of the inscriptions were inscribed on re-used Hymettian marble metope blocks from the Bluebeard Temple, built in 570-560 B.C.E.  At some point after the demolition of the building, these metopes were turned upside down, their crowning fascias chipped off, and part of the incised and painted tongue pattern was erased.  The inscriptions were then carefully carved onto the prepared blocks and erected somewhere on the Akropolis.  These specific circumstances underlie any attempt to date the decrees, as the metopes would not have been available for reuse until after the Bluebeard Temple was dismantled, an event which is itself surrounded in controversy but can generally be placed in the late 6th or early 5th century.  The availability of the metopes for reuse is a crucial component in the reconstruction of the topography of the late Archaic Akropolis, and needs to be carefully considered alongside the references to a neos (B, 9-10), bomos (B, 9), oikemata (B, 2, 14, 17), the Kekropion (B, 10), and a space or structure known as the hekatompedon (B, 9-10, 18).

In addition to the demands and restrictions of the topography listed on the decrees and out of which the decrees themselves were made, the enactment clause and partial archon name preserved at lines 26-27 of Metope B and lines 14-15 of Metope A indicates a post-Kleisthenic date.  Based on the partial preservation of phi and apex of an alpha, gamma, delta, or nu, many scholars have suggested that Philokrates should be restored as the archon, thereby dating the decrees precisely of 485/4 (Dinsmoor, Dinsmoor Jr., Jameson, Jordan, Robertson, Stroud; cf. Butz, Lipka, Luria, Németh).  But there are also at least eight years during this period for which no archon is known.
A reappraisal of the decrees in light of the specific topography of the Archaic Akropolis and usages of the term ‘hekatompedon’ in the Archaic and Classical periods reveals that they still have more to say.  A search of literary and epigraphic attestations of the term hekatomped- sheds light on the nature of this entity in the decrees, while an evaluation of the role and responsibilities of the tamiai and prytanis adds nuance to our understanding of the functionality of the early democracy.  Both of these elements further have the potential to impact the date of the decrees.  Overall, the Hekatompedon Decrees display an increasing awareness of accountability, distributed to various officials and with graded levels of personal responsibility.  As one of the earliest known documents of the democracy, IG I3 4A-B shows how the new political regime attempted to monitor appropriate behavior on the Akropolis, assess and enforce penalties and restrictions, and structure religious and civic accountability.

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Epigraphy and Religion Revisited

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