History : Mar-Apr 2019
CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION EAST PEDIMENT OF THE SIPHNIAN TREASURY, SHOWING APOLLO AND HERACLES FIGHTING FOR THE TRIPOD. DELPHI ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM ACCORDING TO HERODOTUS, the ancient Greek histo- rian, the tiny island of Siphnos in the Aegean Sea, with a population of only about two to three thousand people, literally struck gold—and silver—in the sixth century b.c . Its newfound bounty was initially distrib- uted among the islanders, but they found that they wanted their neighbors to be aware of their wealth. And there was no better place to materialize their boast than Delphi. By 525 b.c . they created a com- munity fund to build the largest and most magnifi- cent treasury in the sanctuary. They used the finest marble available and commissioned exquisite reliefs and caryatids (female-shaped columns). A number of blocks of the frieze were found before the Big Dig, but in April 1894 Homolle discovered the foundations, the rest of the frieze—showing a battle between the Olympian gods and giants, as well as scenes from the Trojan War—and the east pediment, which de- picts Heracles and Apollo competing for the Delphic tripod of the Pythia. Homolle initially believed it was the Cnidian Treasury but soon realized his mistake.