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Athenian Treasury

Athenian Treasury (Delphi) by Joy of Museums

Athenian Treasury

The Athenian Treasury at Delphi was constructed by the Athenians to house dedications and votive offerings made by their city to the Sanctuary of Apollo, at Delphi. It is located below the Temple of Apollo along the Sacred Way which allowed all visitors to see the Athenian treasury on their procession up to the sanctuary. Several other city-states also built treasuries in the Panhellenic site of Delphi.

The Treasury structure had thirty metopes, nine along the long sides and six along the short depicted the labours of Herakles and Theseus. The Battle of Marathon can also be seen in some of the images of the metopes which compare the Athenian victory to mythology. By using the founder of Athens, Theseus, to show the triumphs of Athens, the Athenian Treasury sought to show Athens’ reputation as one of the most powerful, city-states of Greece.

The building was excavated and reconstructed from 1903–1906. The structure is in its original place, although the metopes are reproductions as the originals are preserved in the museum of Delphi.

Votive Offerings

The treasury was made to contain votive offerings to their gods. However, it was also a statement of their power to the rest of the ancient world, by showing off armour, statuettes, pottery, and war prizes. Votive offerings were often given after a great victory, or as a prayer or a funeral memorial. All Greeks made such offerings to the gods in a sign of worship. By having a separate treasury, Athens demonstrated their prominent victories and achievements to reinforce their identity as a superpower at the time.



  • How do superpowers in the modern era demonstrate their status?
  • What are examples of modern-day votive offerings?
  • Have you ever made a votive offering?
  • Do you have an equivalent of a Treasury in your home to house all your trophies?
  • Why do some bank or stock exchange buildings look like an ancient Greek Temple?

Athenian Treasury


“Love of money and nothing else will ruin Sparta.”
– Oracle of Delphi


Photo Credit: JOM