Monday, August 25, 2008

SItes of Athens

Athens was the perfect stop on our way to India. It was great hanging out with the Sanners all week. We did quite a bit of exploring this week in Athens. The Sanners were able to help show us some of the top sites to visit:

The Temple of the Olympian Zeus:

Angora(the marketplace):

The Olympic stadium: The big daddy of them all is the Acropolis, which features massive remains of impressive stone/marble structures built more than 2000 years ago. In these pictures, you can see lots of scaffolding and construction equipment – the restoration and renovation of this site is a never-ending process. As a structural engineer, it was interesting to read how knowledge of building materials and processes gained during the course of the 20th century shifted the means and methods of restoring these sites – approaches once thought to be the best the middle of the century turned out to corrode more quickly, requiring much of the work to be done over yet again in recent years. With this in mind, I’m amazed how well they were preserved over the previous 19+ centuries, and how they were even built in the first place. I’ll now interrupt my rambling to let the pictures do their thing:

In front of the Acropolis was a small hill of slippery marble rock. Atop this hill, contemporarily known as Mars Hill, was a flat area known as the Areopagus where the city’s philosophers used to gather for deep discussions and the exchange of ideas. In the first century, Athens’ philosophers invited Paul, the 1st century’s greatest missionary, to come share his “new teaching” with them. We could easily imagine him speaking.

Here is his recorded speech from Acts 17:

“Men of Athens, I perceive than in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him.

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