Location: opposite the Tholos and E of it, next to Agrippa’s Auditorium. Item no. 29 in the Agora plan of the Guide: Μc Camp II, J., The Athenian Agora, A Short Guide to the Excavations, Excavations of the Athenian Agora, Picture Book no 16, American School of Classical Studies, Princeton 2003, pp. 2 and 24-25.


The SW Temple was excavated in 1933 and in 1934, and more thoroughly in 1951, when Byzantine and later remains were cleared.  The temple is situated in one of the least well-preserved areas of the Agora, the area N of the Middle Stoa and W of the Auditorium of Agrippa.  It is one of the Classical monuments (the so-called Temple of Ares, SE Temple and the Altar of Zeus Agoraios) that during the Roman Period were relocated to the Agora of Athens from other parts of Attica.

Very few of the building’s remains survive in situ, but they suffice to confirm the building’s identification as a temple.  The structure’s foundations consisted of large conglomerate stones, resting on a layer of rocks held together by mortar. These are preserved in place only at the SW corner of the building. 

The temple is oriented to the West, and lies to the East of the Tholos and in close proximity to it. It is thought that it was placed in this way due to its propinquity to the Auditorium, and also to enhance its visibility from the N section of the Agora. 

The temple had a simple plan, with a shallow pronaos and cella. The building’s dimensions, as inferred from chiselling on the rock, were 10.48 E-W Χ 20.50m N-S.  In the pronaos, its width was 11.28m. The pronaos is approximately 4.20m deep.

Suggestions for the reconstruction of the superstructure

The material found incorporated in the Late Roman fortification at a distance of about 3m from the SE Temple comes from a Doric building and consists of columns and capitals; these are made of marble which comes not from Hemyttus nor from Penteli, but, according to Thompson, belongs to a type characteristic of the monuments in the deme of Thoricus.  It is also considered possible that the 5th cent. material comes from a Doric temple of 7 × 14 columns excavated in 1815 by the Society of the Dilettanti, a temple which was left uncompleted.  The idea is that in the 1st cent. AD, when Thoricus had already been abandoned, the unfinished temple was dismantled and its architectural members were moved to a new temple in the Athenian Agora.  This identification is connected with that of another ‘wandering’ temple in the South Square of the Agora, the so-called SW Temple, to which Thompson attributes the Ionic order material from the Temple of Athena at Sunium, which Dinsmoor attributes to the SE Temple.  Correspondingly, Dinsmoor considers the SW a Doric temple.  The papers published after Dinsmoor adopt his identification, more importantly Mc Camp in the 4th edition of the Guide to the Agora and in his book.  A recent study by Masimo Osanna, however, seems to verify Thompson’s view, relying mostly on the fact that one of the Doric capitals was unearthed very close to the SE Temple. 

[The Doric as well as the Ionic colonnades are described in the text on the SE Temple]. 

Thompson believed that part of the temple’s foundations was constructed with material transported from Sunium.  He reconstructed a tetrastyle prostyle temple, supposing that only four Ionic columns were used from Sunium, on the model of contemporaneous buildings from the marketplace of Corinth. An alternative reconstruction featuring six columns is also possible (four in the façade Χ two columns on each flank). The total number of Ionic columns discovered in the area of the Agora and taken from Sunium is 12 or 13. Based on this, Dinsmoor opted to attribute the Ionic architectural members to the SE Temple, and the Doric ones to the SW Temple, although the distance of the Late Roman wall’s tower, where the Doric architectural members were discovered, from their initial location next to the Tholos is approximately 170m.
According to this reconstruction, the epistyle of the SW Temple had a total length of 9.477m, featuring ten triglyphs and nine metopes.  Four Doric columns are required in all, with an intercolumniation of 2.976 in the centre and 2.75m in the corners and a total of two triglyphs per intercolumnal space.  In this way, the distance between the axes of the two corner columns would have been 8.476m, and the total distance 9.477m. These measurements agree with the dimensions of the Pentelic marble Doric post discovered together with the rest of the Doric architectural elements.  These dimensions allow the reconstruction of a building with walls 0.625m thick, as results from the slabs of Thoricus marble, as well as from the indubitable  existence of the three-step crepidoma (with each step extruding by 0.32m from its  superjacent).  A further confirmation for this shape, but also for the placing of Doric order material in the SW Temple, comes from the number-markings on the Doric triglyphs.  The largest number is 16 (Π), which suggests that there were 16 triglyphs, that is precisely the number allowed by the current reconstruction (10 in the façade and 4-1 = 4-1 on the flanks).

The temple’s relocation, as well as that of the rest of the monuments moved to the Agora from other parts of Attica, dates to the Roman Period, and more precisely, based on the building technique (but also on the type of the letters inscribed by the ancient architects on the members taken from Thoricus), to the late 1st cent BC / early 1st cent. AD.   The pottery unearthed in the site supports such a dating. The temple is obviously somewhat later than the nearby Auditorium of Agrippa, which dates to 15 BC.  Thus, we can safely date the temple to the period of the large-scale building program aiming to reshape the Agora, a program credited, directly or indirectly, to Augustus.

The Building’s Identification 

The building’s identification largely depends on the reconstruction of the architectural members comprising its superstructure.  Its propinquity to the administrative buildings of the Agora points to a possible connection between the cult it housed and the city’s administration.  In Thompson's opinion, who, as mentioned above, thought that this building should be supplemented by material from the Temple of Athena at Sunium, this structure is associated with an inscription discovered in 1936.  This inscription (Ι 4012) mentions the worship of Livia, Augustus’ wife and Tiberius mother, as Boulaea, that is, this small temple housed the worship of the Emperor and his family.  In contrast, Dinsmoor links the temple with a fragment from a statue of Athena dating to the 2nd cent. AD, and which intact would have measured 2m in height.  This identification is not, however, supported by any literary testimonies.

DINSMOOR, W.R. Jr., “Anchoring Two Floating Temples”, Hesperia 51 (1982), 410-451, tables 95-96.
Mc CAMP II, J., The Athenian Agora: A Guide to the Excavation and Museum, 4th ed., Athens 1990.
Mc CAMP II, J., The Athenian Agora: Excavations in the Heart of the Classical City², Cambridge University Press 2001), pp. 222-224. 
OSANNA, M., “Thesmophorion ed Eleusinion ad Atene: problemi topografici e culturali”, Ostraka IV.1 (1995), pp. 103-118.
SHEAR, T.L., “The Campaign of 1934”, Hesperia 4 (1935), pp. 352-354. 
Society of Dilettanti, The Unedited Antiquities of Attica, London, 1817, ch. 9, tables 1-3.
THOMPSON, H.A., “Excavations in the Athenian Agora: 1951”, Hesperia 21 (1952), pp. 83-113, tables 19-31 (esp. 90-91).
THOMPSON, H.A., “Activities in the Athenian Agora: 1959”, Hesperia 29 (1960), pp. 327-368, tables 73-80 (esp. pp. 339-343).
THOMPSON, H.A., “Itinerant Temples of Attica”, American Journal of Archaeology 66 (1962), p. 200.
THOMPSON, H.A., WYCHERLEY, R., The Agora of Athens. The American Excavations in the Athenian Agora, vol. XIV, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Princeton 1972, pp. 164-166. 
WYCHERLEY, R., The Agora of Athens. Literary and Epigraphic Testimonia, The American Excavations in the Athenian Agora, vol. III, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Princeton 1957, pp. 136, no. 427 (inscription of Julia Livia Boulaea).


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