The tripod of Plataea

The copy of the base of the Tripod in the archaeological site of Delphi 
© Ephorate of Antiquities of Phocis, Ministry of Culture and Sports
In 479 B.C., after the battle at Plataea, the 31 Greek cities which participated at the wars against the Persians dedicated to the sanctuary of Apollo an enormous golden tripod from the tithe of the booty of the war. This important monument was famous for its base, a bronze column which consisted of the twisting bodies of three snakes, the famous "trikarenos ofis" (serpent with three heads). The Phoceans had the tripod melted down during the Third Sacred War, yet the column remained in place until 330 A.D., when Constantine the Great had it transferred to Constantinople, where it stands to this day. A bronze copy of the column was placed in its initial spot in 2015. . 

Very close to the temple of Apollo, to the southeast, one can still see the spot where the famous tripod of Plataea stood, set up by the allied Greek cities in 479 B.C. and made from the tenth of the booty from the battle of Plataea. Initially the tripod bore an inscription naming as dedicator Pausanias, the Spartan leader of the Greek coalition. However, the inscription enraged the allies, who demanded that the dedication be deleted and replaced by another naming the Greek cities as dedicators of the ex-voto.
This important monument was famous for its base, consisting of a bronze column formed by the twisting bodies of three snakes, known also as the “serpent with three heads”. The heads of the snakes supported a golden tripod bearing a cauldron. Although the tripod was melted down by the Phoceans in the course of the Third Sacred War in the mid-4th century B.C., the column stood in situ until 330 A.D., when Constantine the Great transferred it to the hippodrome of Constantinople. There it stands until now, on Atmeydani square (although deprived of the snakes' heads) as a testimony to the exceptional importance it had for the new capital of the Roman Empire. It is known from Ottoman miniatures that the column with the three snake heads was intact until the 18th century. Only one of the heads is still partly preserved and kept in the archaeological museum of Istanbul. A plaster cast of the snake-shaped column was made and transported to the Museum of Delphi.
In December 2015 a bronze copy was erected in the original position of the column in the archaeological site of Delphi.

Text:  Dr. Kleopatra Ferla, Historian
Translation: Dr. Aphrodite Kamara, Historian