Aegina or Aigina (Greek: Αίγινα Egina), one of the Saronic Islands of Greece in the Saronic Gulf, 31 miles (50 km) from Athens. Tradition derives the name from Aegina, the mother of Aeacus, who was born in and ruled the island. In shape Aegina is triangular, eight miles (13 km) long from northwest to southeast, and six miles (15 km) broad, with an area of about 41 square miles (106 km²). Two thirds of Aegina constitute an extinct volcano. The northern and western side consist of stony but fertile plains, which are well cultivated and produce luxuriant crops of grain, with some cotton, vines, almonds, olives and figs, but the most characteristic crop of today Aegina is the pistachio. The southern volcanic part of the island is rugged and mountainous, and largely barren. Its highest rise is the conical Mount Oros in the south, and the Panhellenian ridge stretches northward with narrow fertile valleys on either side. From the absence of marshes the climate is the most healthy in Greece.
The island forms part of the modern Uomos of Attica and Boeotia, of which it forms an eparchy. The sponge fisheries are of considerable importance. The capital is the town of Aegina, situated at the northwestern end of the island, the summer residence of many Athenian merchants. Capo d'Istria (1776-1831) had a large building erected intended for a barracks, which was subsequently used as a museum, a library and a school. The museum was the first institution of its kind in Greece, but the collection was transferred to Athens in 1834. A statue in the principal square comemorates him.
The archaeological interest of Aegina is centred in the well-known temple on the ridge near the northern corner of the island. Excavations were made on its site in 1811 by Baron Haller von Hallerstein and the English architect C. R. Cockerell, who discovered a considerable amount of sculpture from the pediments, which was bought in 1812 by the crown prince Louis of Bavaria; the groups were set up in the Glyptothek at Munich after the figures had been restored by Bertel Thorvaldsen. His restoration was somewhat drastic, the ancient parts being cut away to allow of additions in marble, and the new parts treated in imitation of the ancient weathering. Various conjectures were made as to the arrangement of the figures. That according to which they were set up at Munich was in the main suggested by Cockerell; in the middle of each pediment was a figure of Athena, set well back, and a fallen warrior at her feet; on each side were standing spearmen, kneel ing spearmen and bowmen, all facing towards the centre of the composition; the corners were filled with fallen warriors. In 1901 Professor Furtwängler began a more systematic excavation of the site, and the new discoveries he then made, together with a fresh and complete study of the figures and fragments in Munich, have led to a rearrangement of the whole, which, if not certain in all details, may be regarded as approaching finality. According to this the figures of combatants do not all face towards the centre, but are broken up, as in other early compositions, into a series of groups of two or three figures each. A figure of Athena still occupies the centre of each pediment, but is set farther forward than in the old reconstruction. On each side of this, in the western pediment, is a group of two combatants over a fallen warrior; in the eastern pediment, a warrior whose opponent is falling into the arms of a supporting figure; other figures also--the bowmen especially---face towards the angles, and so give more variety to the composition. The western pediment, which is more conservative in type, represents the earlier expedition of Heracles and Telamon against Troy; the eastern, which is bolder and more advanced, probably refers to episodes in the Trojan war. There are also remains of a third pediment, which may have been produced in competition, but never placed on the temple. For the character of the sculptures see Greek Art. The plan of the temple is chiefly remarkable for the unsymmetrically placed door leading from the back of the cella into the opisthodomus. This opisthodomus was completely fenced in with bronze gratings; and the excavators believe it to have been adapted for use as an adytum (shrine). It was disputed in earlier times whether the temple was dedicated to Zeus or Athena. Inscriptions found by the recent excavations seem to prove that it must be identified as the shrine of the local goddess Aphaea, identified by Pausanias with Britomartis and Dictynna.
The excavations have laid bare several other buildings, including an altar, early propylaea, houses for the priests and remains of an earlier temple. The present temple probably dates from the time of the Persian Wars. In the town of Aegina itself are the remains of another temple, dedicated to Aphrodite; one column of this still remains standing, and its foundations are fairly preserved.
The East Pediment figures of the Aegina Aphaia Temple were produced only around 10 years later than the figures of the West Pediment. The comparison showns a significant evolution of Greek Art in this period .
Aegina Port, 30 October 2005 (Source)
After the Greek revolution of 1821, in the year 1828 Aegina becomes for 2 years the first capital of the mew Greek State, under the Governor John Capodistria (Ioannis Kapodistrias).
Aegina , Greece Satellite images
Division of the Aegina municipality , population 13552 (2001):
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