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The Parthenon Frieze

The frieze of the Parthenon forms a continuous band with scenes in relief that encircles the upper part of the cella, the main part of the temple, within the outer colonnade. The theme represented was the procession toward the Acropolis that took place during the Great Panathenaia, the festival in honour of the goddess Athena. The frieze had a total length of 160 m. and was 1.02 m. high. Shown in the procession are some 360 human figures and deities and at least 250 animals, chiefly horses. Groups of horses and chariots occupy most of the space on the frieze. The sacrificial procession is next, with animals and groups of men and women bringing ceremonial vessels and offerings. In the middle of the east end, above the entrance to the temple, is depicted the high point of the Panathenaia, this festival of many days duration. The procession ends with the giving of the peplos, the gift of the Athenian people to the cult statue of the goddess, a xoanon (ancient wooden statue) called "diipetes" because it was thought to have been sent down from heaven. Left and right of the peplos scene sit the twelve gods of Olympos.