Courtesy of the Andrew Dickson White Architectural Photograph Collection, ca. 1865-1950. The Division of Rare And Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

The Porch of the Caryatids projects boldly from the Acropolis like the prow of a ship. Columns carved in the shape of maidens, the Caryatids support the southern porch of the fifth-century B.C. Erechtheum, a temple that once housed cults honoring Athena (goddess of wisdom), Erechtheus (Athena’s foster son and a legendary king of Athens), Poseidon (god of the sea) and Hephaestus (god of fire). According to legend, the word “caryatid” comes from Caryae, a region in the southeastern Peloponnesus where women danced with baskets on their heads.