EDWARD ROOKER Gate of Athena Archegetis, Athens ca. 1770 - x +
RooE1770arch

CN: RooE1770arch

MT: copper engraving on paper, glazed in original frame (28x25 / FR:30x27x1)

TX: printed at lower right of border in Latin <E. Rooker sculpt.>

DN: Mr. Megakles Rogakos - 2008

CM: The monumental Gate of Athena Archegetis formed the west propylon (entrance) of the Forum Romanum (Roman Agora) in Athens. It was designed in the Doric order and its pediment was originally adorned by statues. An inscription on the architrave stated that the monument was erected by the people of Athens with a donation of Julius Caesar and Augustus, between 10 B.C. and A.D. 2, and that it was dedicated to 'Athena Archegetis' (Athena Governor). Between the columns of the gateway were three openings leading to the forum, the central one being for wagons and horses, and the side ones for pedestrians. During the reign of Hadrian the court was paved with slabs. After the invasion of the Herulae in A.D. 267 the city of Athens was restricted to the area within the Late Roman fortification wall, and the administrative and commercial centre of the city was transferred from the Greek Agora to the Roman Agora and the Library of Hadrian. During the Byzantine period and the Turkish occupation the area was covered with houses, workshops and churches along with the Fethiye Mosque. After the necessary purchase and demolition of the private houses and other buildings covering the area, a series of excavations were carried out by the Greek Archaeological Society (1837-1845, 1890-1891, 1920, 1930-1931), by the Italians (in 1940-1942), by Anastasios K. Orlandos and Paul Lazarides (1963-1964) and by the 1st Ephorate of Antiquities (1955, 1965-1966, 1968, 1984-1985, 1989, 1991). In 1915-1919 restoration work was carried out by Orlandos on the Gate of Athena Archegetis and the Tower of the Winds. In 1942 some of the columns of the east peristyle were restored by the Italians, and in 1963 three columns of the south peristyle with their architraves were also restored by Orlandos. Further restoration work was undertaken in 1975-76 by the 1st Ephorate at the Tower of the Winds and the Gate of Athena Archegetis.

Edward Rooker's engraving of Gate of Athena Archegetis dates from around 1770, during the Turkish occupation of Athens. The picture focuses on the gate, which reveals through its central opening in the distance a mosque's minaret. The gate's side openings are blocked by a private house on the left and perhaps a church on the right. The scene concentrates on a western traveller about to mount his horse, turning back to bid farewell to the armed Turk behind him. Another westerner appears in the middle of conversation between a couple of Turks, all seated at the house's left extremity. Unfortunately, the present print was cropped (perhaps by as much as 12cm) on its left side to fit the frame.

[Megakles Rogakos 08/2008]

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