20 January 2015

Building stones of the Acropolis (Athens, Greece)

Posted by Callan Bentley

As a follow-up to my post about the geology of the Acropolis klippe in Athens, Greece, and in the spirit of my post on the building stones of the Haghia Sophia in ─░stabul, Turkey, let’s turn our attention today to the various rocks that ancient Greeks used to construct the buildings of the Acropolis, such as the Parthenon.

When we went to Greece in September, we didn’t just look at the Acropolis from afar, we wandered up into it.

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Behind my wife and son in the previous image you can see two distinct rock types – a lower limestone and an upper marble. The limestone has little nooks and crannies along the bedding plane, some highlighted with dark soot and dirt. The marble lacks this.

Marble:

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Old marble and new, as the Parthenon is repaired:

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Stylolites in the limestone were preferential sites of dissolution weathering in some examples:

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A close-up series of three looks at the lower limestone building stone reveals it is chock full of bivalve fossils:

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The marble, on the other hand, is slightly impure, resulting in blocks like this one:

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That’s chlorite-rich schist interlayered with the calcite of the marble:

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The “front” side of this block is more or less the plane of foliation.

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There were also exotic rock types beyond the two I’ve mentioned, such as the pillars laid out here:

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The closest one to the photographer’s vantage point is the distinctive green breccia:

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…I reported seeing that at the Haghia Sophia, too.

One final look, at the limestone (foreground) and the marble (background):

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