The Athenian Acropolis has been occupied since Neolithic times, but archaeologists have found few remains of its early inhabitants. During the late Bronze Age (1450 to 1200 bc), a heavily fortified palace citadel was built on the hill, and a massive stone wall was built around it. Scholars know little about the Acropolis of Athens in the period from the late Bronze Age to the Archaic period (750 to 480 bc) because later building activities obscured the traces. The Acropolis probably remained a fortified citadel while also becoming a religious sanctuary. The first stone temple to Athena, the patron goddess and protector of the city, was built on the Acropolis at the beginning of the 6th century BC. It may have stood roughly where the Parthenon now stands. Simpler temples probably preceded it.
A Greek victory in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) near Athens inspired the Athenians to undertake an ambitious program to build new temples in celebration of their defeat of the Persians. Construction of the first temple was underway when the Persians sacked Athens in 480 BC, plundering and burning the temples and monuments on the Acropolis. The Greeks finally defeated the Persians in 479 BC, but no building took place on the Acropolis for nearly 30 years. An enormous project to rebuild the Acropolis began about 450 BC under Pericles, the leading figure in Athenian politics of the 5th century BC. The masterpieces that resulted reflect Athens at the height of its power in the ancient world.