If a friend who was about to go off on a European adventure told you they were going to visit the Pantheon, would you immediately picture an ancient temple with white marble columns? What if that same friend told you they would also be stopping by the Parthenon. Would you picture a similar scene in your head?
The point is, the Parthenon and the Pantheon often are confused as being the same thing. And that's no surprise because the names are super similar. But the two are very different; they're not even located in the same country. The Parthenon, for instance, is in Athens, Greece, and the Pantheon is in Rome, Italy. And aside from both being made of marble and sharing a similar etymology — both names are derived from the Greek word parthenos, which is an epithet of the Greek goddess Athena, meaning "virgin" — these two famous buildings of the ancient world actually have very little in common.
We spoke with Christopher Ratté, a classical archaeologist and professor at the University of Michigan and Dr. C. Brian Rose, the curator-in-charge of the Mediterranean Section at the Penn Museum and archaeologist who's been digging in the field for more than 40 years, to find out exactly what makes these two ancient sites so different.