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Paul 🌹📚 Cooper @PaulMMCooper
, 17 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
I fell down a bit of a ruins research rabbithole today, thought I'd share some of my weird journey.

It started with this incredible 1858 photo of the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens.
What drew me attention was this strange protuberance on top. It looked really strange & didn't fit with the rest of the building
It also didn't fit with reconstructions of how the building originally looked
I thought I found the answer when I found an exact copy of the photo, but with the protuberance missing.

All the people etc are in the same positions, but no weird lump on top
So I thought I'd found my answer: someone had edited the original photo, adding an odd bit of ruin on top to make it seem taller & more epic
That was until I saw this 1833 painting by Johann Michael Wittmer...
THERE IT IS AGAIN
And when I saw this 1862 photo from another angle, it was obvious that the protuberance had been EDITED OUT of the other photo, not added to the first
It turns out that Christian ascetics known as stylites, or "pillar saints" are the explanation.

Stylites believed that living on top of tall pillars brought them closer to God & caused them holy bodily mortification at the same time, atoning for their sins
At some point since the ruination of the temple in the 3rd century & archaeologists examining it in the 19th, stylites had laboriously built a small stone hut on top of the ruined temple's pillars
In his 1922 article "the glory the was Greece", Alexander Wilbourne describes hearing locals tell of a long line of stylites who lived on top of the ruined temple & had food and water brought up to them with ropes & buckets
He even describes meeting an old Athenian who remembered taking offerings of loaves and fruit to send up to the Zeus temple stylites, who would send down a basket to receive them
After Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire, efforts were made in the 19th century to strengthen the national identity by harking back to the greatness of the Hellenic past.

So in the eyes of the Greek authorities, this Christian addition had to go.
So the second photo I showed you is part of that effort to scrub the presence of the stylites from the record.

If you look closely, you can see the blanknesses where their hut has been cut out
So this is the original photo of the temple of Olympian Zeus, stylite hut and all
It's always interesting to see how ruins are used politically, & how they construct & reinforce ideas of identity.

When is a ruin "finished"?
Who does the ruin belong to?
Can a ruin be ruined?
Anyway, that's the story of how I didn't get any proper work done today. I'm going to climb up a pillar now to do my proper penance.

Thanks for listening!
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