Ancient Greece and marble. The foundation of an entire civilization.
We are used to seeing it more and more places but marble, despite being a commonplace material today, has a very distant past and it is found in ancient Greece. Our Greek ancestry, conscious of the geological and territorial importance for civilization, was the first to realize the multiple possibilities that marble offered when building and decorating their ostentatious buildings, such as the famous Artemis Temple, thus making marble the basis of most of their constructions.
The first news that reaches us today about the use and employment of marble comes from ancient Greece, whose inhabitants turned this rock into a fundamental material for construction and art. Today we know these facts thanks to the architectural part that has remained standing in Greek lands despite the passage of centuries.
In Ancient Greece, it was more common to use white marbles, as it later facilitated the task of painting them. This trend of using white marble even extended to the first decades of the Roman Empire, where marbles of Greek origin were still imported.
It was then that marble became one of the most coveted and valued materials in the world. Its use became a symbol of social distinction, luxury, wealth, and power. This phenomenon will come into play when territorial disputes arise between empires and civilizations, with control of the quarries becoming a goal for the belligerent parties.
Some of the marbles used by the Ancient Greek civilization in construction and art are:
- Thassos Marble. Originating from the Thassos Greek island, it is currently one of the densest types of marble. Significant works from around the world have been made with this type of marble.
- Paros Marble. As its name indicates, it originated from the Paros Greek island. In the time of Ancient Greece, it was a highly valued marble for sculpture, and evidence of this are some pieces that our Hellenic ancestry made, such as the Medici Venus or the Praxiteles Hermes. Also, the tiles of the Parthenon were made from Paros marble
- Pentelic Marble. This type of marble originates from Pentelikon mount, a mountain over a thousand meters high located northeast of Athens, the Hellenic capital. The marble that was extracted from that mountain was used in the construction of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Athens Acropolis. It is highly sought after due to its uniform whiteness, which stands out with a golden glow in its exposure to the sun’s light.
- Immitos Marble. This type of marble, with a light ash-white color, fine grain and very compact and crystalline structure, became the first marble that the Romans began to import back in the 1st century BC. The quarries where it was extracted were located on the Immitos mountain, near Athens.
- Naxos Marble. From the Naxos island, which today is a very powerful tourist attraction for the Greek country, the marble of the same name was extracted. It is still in operation today.
We hope you enjoyed this brief historical note about the marbles history. See you in future blog posts!
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