Architecture of Ancient Greece
Overview
 
The architecture of Ancient Greece is the architecture produced by the Greek-speaking people
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 (Hellenic people) whose culture
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 flourished on the Greek mainland and Peloponnesus, the Aegean Islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

, and in colonies in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 and Italy for a period from about 900 BC until the 1st century AD, with the earliest remaining architectural works dating from around 600 BC.

Ancient Greek architecture is best known from its temples, many of which are found throughout the region, mostly as ruins but many substantially intact.
Encyclopedia
The architecture of Ancient Greece is the architecture produced by the Greek-speaking people
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 (Hellenic people) whose culture
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 flourished on the Greek mainland and Peloponnesus, the Aegean Islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

, and in colonies in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 and Italy for a period from about 900 BC until the 1st century AD, with the earliest remaining architectural works dating from around 600 BC.

Ancient Greek architecture is best known from its temples, many of which are found throughout the region, mostly as ruins but many substantially intact. The second important type of building that survives all over the Hellenic world is the open-air theatre, with the earliest dating from around 350 BC. Other architectural forms that are still in evidence are the processional gateway (propylon), the public square (agora
Agora
The Agora was an open "place of assembly" in ancient Greek city-states. Early in Greek history , free-born male land-owners who were citizens would gather in the Agora for military duty or to hear statements of the ruling king or council. Later, the Agora also served as a marketplace where...

) surrounded by storied colonnade (stoa
Stoa
Stoa in Ancient Greek architecture; covered walkways or porticos, commonly for public usage. Early stoae were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building; they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere.Later examples were built as two...

), the town council building (bouleuterion
Bouleuterion
A bouleuterion was a building which housed the council of citizens in Ancient Greece. There are several extant remains of Bouleuterions around Greece and former Greek territories of ancient times....

), the public monument, the monumental tomb (mausoleum
Mausoleum
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

) and the stadium
Stadium
A modern stadium is a place or venue for outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.)Pausanias noted that for about half a century the only event...

.

Ancient Greek architecture is distinguished by its highly formalised characteristics, both of structure and decoration. This is particularly so in the case of temples where each building appears to have been conceived as a sculptural entity within the landscape, most often raised on high ground so that the elegance of its proportions and the effects of light on its surfaces might be viewed from all angles. Nikolaus Pevsner
Nikolaus Pevsner
Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner, CBE, FBA was a German-born British scholar of history of art and, especially, of history of architecture...

 refers to "the plastic shape of the [Greek] temple.....placed before us with a physical presence more intense, more alive than that of any later building".

The formal vocabulary of Ancient Greek architecture, in particular the division of architectural style into three defined orders: the Doric Order
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

, the Ionic Order
Ionic order
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

 and the Corinthian Order
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

, was to have profound effect on Western architecture
History of architecture
The history of architecture traces the changes in architecture through various traditions, regions, overarching stylistic trends, and dates.-Neolithic architecture:Neolithic architecture is the architecture of the Neolithic period...

 of later periods. The architecture of Ancient Rome grew out of that of Greece and maintained its influence in Italy unbroken until the present day. From the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, revivals of Classicism
Classicism
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

 have kept alive not only the precise forms and ordered details of Greek architecture, but also its concept of architectural beauty based on balance and proportion. The successive styles of Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 and Greek Revival architecture
Greek Revival architecture
The Greek Revival was an architectural movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, predominantly in Northern Europe and the United States. A product of Hellenism, it may be looked upon as the last phase in the development of Neoclassical architecture...

 followed and adapted Ancient Greek styles closely.

Geography

The mainland and islands of Greece are rocky, with deeply indented coastline, and rugged mountain ranges with few substantial forests. The most freely available building material is stone. Limestone was readily available and easily worked. There is an abundance of high quality white marble
Marble
Marble is a metamorphic rock composed of recrystallized carbonate minerals, most commonly calcite or dolomite.Geologists use the term "marble" to refer to metamorphosed limestone; however stonemasons use the term more broadly to encompass unmetamorphosed limestone.Marble is commonly used for...

 both on the mainland and islands, particularly Paros
Paros
Paros is an island of Greece in the central Aegean Sea. One of the Cyclades island group, it lies to the west of Naxos, from which it is separated by a channel about wide. It lies approximately south-east of Piraeus. The Municipality of Paros includes numerous uninhabited offshore islets...

 and Naxos
Naxos (island)
Naxos is a Greek island, the largest island in the Cyclades island group in the Aegean. It was the centre of archaic Cycladic culture....

. This finely grained material was a major contributing factor to precision of detail, both architectural and sculptural, that adorned Ancient Greek architecture. Deposits of high quality potter's clay were found throughout Greece and the Islands, with major deposits near Athens. It was used not only for pottery vessels, but also roof tiles and architectural decoration.

The climate of Greece is maritime, with both the coldness of winter and the heat of summer tempered by sea breezes. This led to a lifestyle where many activities took place outdoors. Hence temples were placed on hilltops, their exteriors designed as a visual focus of gatherings and processions, while theatres were often an enhancement of a naturally occurring sloping site where people could sit, rather than a containing structure. Colonnades encircling buildings, or surrounding courtyards provided shelter from the sun and from sudden winter storms.

The light of Greece may be another important factor in the development of the particular character of Ancient Greek architecture. The light is often extremely bright, with both the sky and the sea vividly blue. The clear light and sharp shadows give a precision to the details of landscape, pale rocky outcrops and seashore. This clarity is alternated with periods of haze that varies in colour to the light on it. In this characteristic environment, the Ancient Greek architects constructed buildings that were marked by precision of detail. The gleaming marble surfaces were smooth, curved, fluted or ornately sculpted to reflect the sun, cast graded shadows and change in colour with the ever-changing light of day.

History

The history of the Ancient Greek civilization is divided into two eras, the Hellenic and the Hellenistic. The Hellenic period commenced circa 900 BC, (with substantial works of architecture appearing from about 600 BC) and ended with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. During the Hellenistic period, 323 BC - AD 30, Hellenic culture was spread widely, firstly throughout lands conquered by Alexander, and then by the Roman Empire which absorbed much of Greek culture.

Prior to the Hellenic era, two civilizations had existed within the region, the Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 and the Mycenaean
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

. Minoan is the name given by modern historians to the people of ancient Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 (c. 2800–1100 BC), known for their elaborate and richly decorated palaces, and for their pottery painted with floral and marine motifs. The Mycenaean culture occurred on the Peloponnesus (c.1500–1100 BC) and was quite different in character, building citadels, fortifications and tombs rather than palaces, and decorating their pottery with bands of marching soldiers rather than octopus and seaweed. Both these civilizations came to an end around 1100 BC, that of Crete possibly because of volcanic devastation, and that of Mycenae because of invasion from Dorian people of the Greek mainland. This led to a period with few remaining signs of culture, and thus often referred to as a Dark Age.

The towns established by the Dorian people were ruled initially by aristocracy, and later by “tyrants”, leaders who rose from the merchant or warrior classes. Some cities, such as Sparta, maintained a strongly ordered and conservative character, like that of the Mycenae. Athens, on the other hand, was influenced by the influx of Ionian people from Asia Minor. In this cultural diversity, the art of logic developed, and with it the notion of democracy
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

.

Art

The art history of the Hellenic era is generally subdivided into four periods, the Protogeometric (1100-900 BC), the Geometric (900-700 BC), the Archaic (700 - 500 BC) and the Classical (500 - 323 BC) with sculpture being further divided into Severe Classical, High Classical and Late Classical. The first signs of the particular artistic character that defines Ancient Greek architecture are to be seen in the pottery of the Dorian Greeks from the 10th century BC. Already at this period it is created with a sense of proportion, symmetry and balance not apparent in similar pottery from Crete and Mycenae. The decoration is precisely geometric, and ordered neatly into zones on defined areas of each vessel. These qualities were to manifest themselves not only through a millennium of Greek pottery making, but also in the architecture that was to emerge in the 6th century. The major development that occurred was in the growing use of the human figure as the major decorative motif, and the increasing surety with which humanity, its mythology, activities and passions were depicted.

The development in the depiction of the human form in pottery was accompanied by a similar development in sculpture. The tiny stylised bronzes of the Geometric period gave way to life-sized highly formalised monolithic representation in the Archaic period. The Classical period was marked by a rapid development towards idealised but increasingly lifelike depictions of gods in human form. This development had a direct effect on the sculptural decoration of temples, as many of the greatest extant works of Ancient Greek sculpture once adorned temples, and many of the largest recorded statues of the age, such as the lost chryselephantine
Chryselephantine
Chryselephantine is a term that refers to the sculptural medium of gold and ivory...

 statues of Zeus at the Temple of Zeus at Olympia and Athena at the Parthenon, Athens, both over 40 feet high, were once housed in them.

Religion and philosophy

The religion of Ancient Greece was a form of nature worship that grew out of the beliefs of earlier cultures. However, unlike earlier cultures, man was no longer perceived as being threatened by nature, but as its sublime product. The natural elements were personified as gods of completely human form, and very human behaviour.

The home of the gods was thought to be Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. The most important deities were: Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

, the supreme god and ruler of the sky; Hera
Hera
Hera was the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion. Her chief function was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow and the peacock were sacred to her...

, his wife and goddess of marriage; Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

, goddess of wisdom; Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

, god of the sea; Demeter
Demeter
In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains, the fertility of the earth, and the seasons . Her common surnames are Sito as the giver of food or corn/grain and Thesmophoros as a mark of the civilized existence of agricultural society...

, goddess of the earth; Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, god of law, reason, music and poetry; Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

, goddess of the chase; Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

, goddess of love; Ares
Ares
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent aspect of war, in contrast to the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and...

, God of war; Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

, god of commerce and medicine, and Hephaestus
Hephaestus
Hephaestus was a Greek god whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan. He is the son of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen of the Gods - or else, according to some accounts, of Hera alone. He was the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes...

, god of fire and metalwork. Worship, like many other activities, was done in community, in the open. However, by 600 BC, the gods were often represented by large statues and it was necessary to provide a building in which each of these could be housed. This led to the development of temples.

The Ancient Greeks perceived order in the universe, and in turn, applied order and reason to their creations. Their humanist philosophy put mankind at the centre of things, and promoted well-ordered societies and the development of democracy. At the same time, the respect for human intellect demanded reason, and promoted a passion for enquiry, logic, challenge and problem solving. The architecture of the Ancient Greeks, and in particular, temple architecture, responds to these challenges with a passion for beauty, and for order and symmetry which is the product of a continual search for perfection, rather than a simple application of a set of working rules.


Early development

There is a clear division between the architecture of the preceding Mycenaean culture and Minoan cultures and that of the Ancient Greeks, the techniques and an understanding of their style being lost when these civilizations fell.

Mycenaean art is marked by its circular structures and tapered domes with flat-bedded, cantilevered courses. This architectural form did not carry over into the architecture of Ancient Greece, but reappeared about 400 BC in the interior of large monumental tombs such as the Lion Tomb at Cnidos (c. 350 BC). Little is known of Mycenaean wooden or domestic architecture and any continuing traditions that may have flowed into the early buildings of the Dorian people.

The Minoan architecture of Crete, was of trabeated form like that of Ancient Greece. It employed wooden columns with capitals, but the columns were of very different form to Doric columns, being narrow at the base and splaying upward. The earliest forms of columns in Greece seem to have developed independently. As with Minoan architecture, Ancient Greek domestic architecture centred on open spaces or courtyards surrounded by colonnades. This form was adapted to the construction of hypostyle
Hypostyle
In architecture, a hypostyle hall has a roof which is supported by columns, as in the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. The word hypostyle comes from the Ancient Greek hypóstȳlos meaning "under columns"...

 halls within the larger temples.

The domestic architecture of ancient Greece employed walls of sun dried clay bricks or wooden framework filled with fibrous material such as straw or seaweed covered with clay or plaster, on a base of stone which protected the more vulnerable elements from damp. Roofs were probably of thatch with eaves which overhung the permeable walls. It is probable that many early houses had an open porch or "pronaos" above which rose a low pitched gable or pediment. Since the Ancient Greeks did not have royalty, they did not build palaces. The evolution that occurred in architecture was towards public building, first and foremost the temple, rather than towards grand domestic architecture such as had evolved in Crete.

Types of buildings

The rectangular temple
Greek temple
Greek temples were structures built to house deity statues within Greek sanctuaries in Greek paganism. The temples themselves did usually not directly serve a cult purpose, since the sacrifices and rituals dedicated to the respective deity took place outside them...

 is the most common and best-known form of Greek public architecture. The temple did not serve the same function as a modern church, since the altar stood under the open sky in the temenos
Temenos
Temenos is a piece of land cut off and assigned as an official domain, especially to kings and chiefs, or a piece of land marked off from common uses and dedicated to a god, a sanctuary, holy grove or holy precinct: The Pythian race-course is called a temenos, the sacred valley of the Nile is the ...

 or sacred precinct, often directly before the temple. Temples served as the location of a cult image
Cult image
In the practice of religion, a cult image is a human-made object that is venerated for the deity, spirit or daemon that it embodies or represents...

 and as a storage place or strong room for the treasury associated with the cult of the god in question,, and as a place for devotees of the god to leave their votive offering
Votive offering
A votive deposit or votive offering is one or more objects displayed or deposited, without the intention of recovery or use, in a sacred place for broadly religious purposes. Such items are a feature of modern and ancient societies and are generally made in order to gain favor with supernatural...

s, such as statues, helmets and weapons. Some Greek temples appear to have been oriented astronomically. The temple was generally part of a religious precinct known as the acropolis. According to Aristotle, '"the site should be a spot seen far and wide, which gives good elevation to virtue and towers over the neighbourhood". Small circular temples, tholos
Tholos
Τholos is the name given to several Ancient Greek structures and buildings:**The Tholos at Athens was the building which housed the Prytaneion, or seat of government, in ancient Athens...

were also constructed, as well as small temple-like buildings that served as treasuries for specific groups of donors.

During the late 5th and 4th centuries BC, town planning became an important consideration of Greek builders, with towns such as Paestum
Paestum
Paestum is the classical Roman name of a major Graeco-Roman city in the Campania region of Italy. It is located in the north of Cilento, near the coast about 85 km SE of Naples in the province of Salerno, and belongs to the commune of Capaccio, officially also named...

 and Priene
Priene
Priene was an ancient Greek city of Ionia at the base of an escarpment of Mycale, about north of the then course of the Maeander River, from today's Aydin, from today's Söke and from ancient Miletus...

 being laid out with a regular grid of paved streets and an agora or central market place surrounded by a colonnade or stoa. The completely restored Stoa of Attalos
Stoa of Attalos
The Stoa of Attalos is recognised as one of the most impressive stoæ in the Athenian Agora. It was built by and named after King Attalos II of Pergamon who ruled between 159 BC and 138 BC.-Description:...

 can be seen in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

. Towns were also equipped with a public fountain house, where water could be collected for household use. The development of regular town plans is associated with Hippodamus of Miletus
Hippodamus of Miletus
Hippodamus of Miletos was an ancient Greek architect, urban planner, physician, mathematician, meteorologist and philosopher and is considered to be the “father” of urban planning, the namesake of Hippodamian plan of city layouts...

, a pupil of Pythagoras
Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

.

Public buildings became "dignified and gracious structures", and were sited so that they related to each other architecturally. The propylon or porch, formed the entrance to temple sanctuaries and other significant sites with the best-surviving example being the Propylaea
Propylaea
A Propylaea, Propylea or Propylaia is any monumental gateway based on the original Propylaea that serves as the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens...

 on the Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens or Citadel of Athens is the best known acropolis in the world. Although there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis without qualification...

. The bouleuterion
Bouleuterion
A bouleuterion was a building which housed the council of citizens in Ancient Greece. There are several extant remains of Bouleuterions around Greece and former Greek territories of ancient times....

 was a large public building with a hypostyle hall that served as a court house and as a meeting place for the town council (boule
Boule (Ancient Greece)
In cities of ancient Greece, the boule meaning to will ) was a council of citizens appointed to run daily affairs of the city...

). Remnants of bouleuterion survive at Athens, Olympia and Miletus, the latter having held up to 1200 people.

Every Greek town had an open-air theatre
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

. These were used for both public meetings as well as dramatic performances. The theatre was usually set in a hillside outside the town, and had rows of tiered seating set in a semicircle around the central performance area, the orchestra. Behind the orchestra was a low building called the skênê, which served as a store-room, a dressing-room, and also as a backdrop to the action taking place in the orchestra. A number of Greek theatres survive almost intact, the best known being at Epidaurus
Epidaurus
Epidaurus was a small city in ancient Greece, at the Saronic Gulf. Two modern towns bear the name Epidavros : Palaia Epidavros and Nea Epidavros. Since 2010 they belong to the new municipality of Epidavros, part of the peripheral unit of Argolis...

, by the architect Polykleitos the Younger.

Greek towns of substantial size also had a palaestra
Palaestra
The palaestra was the ancient Greek wrestling school. The events that did not require a lot of space, such as boxing and wrestling, were practised there...

 or a gymnasium
Gymnasium (ancient Greece)
The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term gymnós meaning "naked". Athletes competed in the nude, a practice said to...

, the social centre for male citizens which included spectator areas, baths, toilets and club rooms. Other buildings associated with sports include the hippodrome for horse racing, of which only remnants have survived, and the stadium for foot racing, 600 feet in length, of which examples exist at Olympia, Delphi, Epidarus and Ephesus, while the Panathinaiko Stadium
Panathinaiko Stadium
The Panathinaiko or Panathenaic Stadium , also known as the Kallimarmaro , is an athletic stadium in Athens that hosted the first modern Olympic Games in 1896...

 in Athens, which seats 45,000 people, was restored in the 19th century and was used in the 1896, 1906 and 2004 Olympic Games
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

.

Column and lintel

The architecture of Ancient Greece is of a trabeated or "post and lintel" form, i.e. it is composed of upright beams (posts) supporting horizontal beams (lintels). Although the existent buildings of the era are constructed in stone, it is clear that the origin of the style lies in simple wooden structures, with vertical posts supporting beams which carried a ridged roof. The posts and beams divided the walls into regular compartments which could be left as openings, or filled with sun dried bricks, lathes or straw and covered with clay daub or plaster. Alternately, the spaces might be filled with rubble. It is likely that many early houses and temples were constructed with an open porch or "pronaos" above which rose a low pitched gable or pediment.

The earliest temples, built to enshrine statues of deities, were probably of wooden construction, later replaced by the more durable stone temples many of which are still in evidence today. The signs of the original timber nature of the architecture were maintained in the stone buildings.

A few of these temples are very large, with several, such as the Temple of Zeus Olympus and the Olympieion at Athens being well over 300 feet in length, but most were less than half this size. It appears that some of the large temples began as wooden constructions in which the columns were replaced piecemeal as stone became available. This, at least was the interpretation of the historian Pausanias looking at the Temple of Hera at Olympia in the 2nd century AD.

The stone columns are made of a series of solid stone cylinders or “drums” that rest on each other without mortar, but were sometimes centred with a bronze pin. The columns are wider at the base than at the top, tapering with an outward curve known as “entasis”. Each column has a capital of two parts, the upper, on which rests the lintels, being square and called the “abacus”. The part of the capital that rises from the column itself is called the “echinus”. It differs according to the order, being plain in the Doric Order, fluted in the Ionic and foliate in the Corinthian. Doric and usually Ionic capitals are cut with vertical grooves known as “fluting”. This fluting or grooving of the columns is a retention of an element of the original wooden architecture.

Entablature and pediment

The columns of a temple support a structure that rises in two main stages, the entablature and the pediment.

The entablature is the major horizontal structural element supporting the roof and encircling the entire building. It is composed by three parts. Resting on the columns is the architrave
Architrave
An architrave is the lintel or beam that rests on the capitals of the columns. It is an architectural element in Classical architecture.-Classical architecture:...

 made of a series of stone “lintels” that spanned the space between the columns, and meet each other at a joint directly above the centre of each column.

Above the architrave is a second horizontal stage called the “frieze”. The frieze is one of the major decorative elements of the building and carries a sculptured relief. In the case of Ionic and Corinthian architecture, the relief decoration runs in a continuous band, but in the Doric Order, it is divided into sections called “metopes” which fill the spaces between vertical rectangular blocks called “triglyphs”. The triglyphs are vertically grooved like the Doric columns, and retain the form of the wooden beams that would once have supported the roof.

The upper band of the entablature is called the “cornice
Cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

”, which is generally ornately decorated on its lower edge. The cornice retains the shape of the beams that would once have supported the wooden roof at each end of the building. At the front and back of each temple, the entablature supports a triangular structure called the “pediment
Pediment
A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of the triangular section found above the horizontal structure , typically supported by columns. The gable end of the pediment is surrounded by the cornice moulding...

”. The triangular space framed by the cornices is the location of the most significant sculptural decoration on the exterior of the building.

Masonry

Every temple rested on a masonry base called the crepidoma, generally of three steps, of which the upper one which carried the columns was the stylobate. Masonry walls were employed for temples from about 600 BC onwards. Masonry of all types was used for Ancient Greek buildings, including rubble, but the finest ashlar
Ashlar
Ashlar is prepared stone work of any type of stone. Masonry using such stones laid in parallel courses is known as ashlar masonry, whereas masonry using irregularly shaped stones is known as rubble masonry. Ashlar blocks are rectangular cuboid blocks that are masonry sculpted to have square edges...

 masonry was usually employed for temple walls, in regular courses and large sizes to minimise the joints. The blocks were rough hewn and hauled from quarries to be cut and bedded very precisely, with mortar hardly ever being used. Blocks, particularly those of columns and parts of the building bearing loads were sometimes fixed in place or reinforced with iron clamps, dowels and rods of wood, bronze or iron fixed in lead to minimise corrosion.

Openings

Door and window openings were spanned with a lintel, which in a stone building limited the possible width of the opening. The distance between columns was similarly affected by the nature of the lintel, columns on the exterior of buildings and carrying stone lintels being closer together than those on the interior, which carried wooden lintels. Door and window openings narrowed towards the top. Temples were constructed without windows, the light to the naos entering through the door. It has been suggested that some temples were lit from openings in the roof. A door of the Ionic Order at the Erechtheion, (17 feet high and 7.5 feet wide at the top), retains many of its features intact, including mouldings, and an entablature supported on console brackets. (See Architectural Decoration, below)

Roof

The widest span of a temple roof was across the cella, or internal space. In a large building, this space contains columns to support the roof, the architectural form being known as hypostyle
Hypostyle
In architecture, a hypostyle hall has a roof which is supported by columns, as in the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. The word hypostyle comes from the Ancient Greek hypóstȳlos meaning "under columns"...

. It appears that, although the architecture of Ancient Greece was initially of wooden construction, the early builders did not have the concept of the diagonal truss as a stabilising member. This is evidenced by the nature of temple construction in the 6th century BC, where the rows of columns supporting the roof the cella rise higher than the outer walls, unnecessary if roof trusses are employed as an integral part of the wooden roof. The indication is that initially all the rafters were supported directly by the entablature, walls and hypostyle, rather than on a trussed wooden frame, which came into use in Greek architecture only in the 3rd century BC.

Ancient Greek buildings of timber, clay and plaster construction were probably roofed with thatch. With the rise of stone architecture came the appearance of fired ceramic roof tiles. These early roof tiles showed an S-shape, with the pan and cover tile forming one piece. They were much larger than modern roof tiles, being up to 90 cm (35.43 in) long, 70 cm (27.56 in) wide, 3–4 cm (1.2–1.6 ) thick and weighing around 30 kg apiece. Only stone walls, which were replacing the earlier mudbrick
Mudbrick
A mudbrick is a firefree brick, made of a mixture of clay, mud, sand, and water mixed with a binding material such as rice husks or straw. They use a stiff mixture and let them dry in the sun for 25 days....

 and wood walls, were strong enough to support the weight of a tiled roof.

The earliest finds of roof tiles of the Archaic period in Greece
Archaic period in Greece
The Archaic period in Greece was a period of ancient Greek history that followed the Greek Dark Ages. This period saw the rise of the polis and the founding of colonies, as well as the first inklings of classical philosophy, theatre in the form of tragedies performed during Dionysia, and written...

 are documented from a very restricted area around Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

, where fired tiles began to replace thatched
Thatching
Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge , rushes, or heather, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. It is a very old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates...

 roofs at the temples of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 and Poseidon
Temple of Isthmia
The Temple of Isthmia is an ancient Greek temple on the Isthmus of Corinth dedicated to the god Poseidon and built in the Archaic Period. It is about east of ancient Corinth. It appears to have been constructed in the seventh century BC though was later destroyed in 470 BC and rebuilt as the...

 between 700 and 650 BC. Spreading rapidly, roof tiles were within fifty years in evidence for a large number of sites around the Eastern Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, including Mainland Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, Western Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

, Southern and Central Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Being more expensive and labour-intensive to produce than thatch, their introduction has been explained by the fact that their fireproof quality would have given desired protection to the costly temples. As a side-effect, it has been assumed that the new stone and tile construction also ushered in the end of overhanging eaves in Greek architecture, as they made the need for an extended roof as rain protection for the mudbrick walls obsolete.

Vaults and arches were not generally used, but begin to appear in tombs (in a "beehive" or cantilevered form such as used in Mycenaea) and occasionally, as an external feature, exedrae of voussoir
Voussoir
A voussoir is a wedge-shaped element, typically a stone, used in building an arch or vault.Although each unit in an arch or vault is a voussoir, two units are of distinct functional importance: the keystone and the springer. The keystone is the center stone or masonry unit at the apex of an arch. A...

ed construction from the 5th century BC. The dome and vault never became significant structural features, as they were to become in Ancient Roman architecture.

Temple plans

Most Ancient Greek temples were rectangular, and were approximately twice as long as they were wide, with some notable exceptions such as the enormous Temple of Zeus Olympus in Athens with a length of nearly 2 1/2 times its width. The majority of Temples were small, being 30–100 feet long, while a few were large, being over 300 feet long and 150 feet wide. The iconic Parthenon on the Athenian Acropolis occupies a midpoint at 235 feet long by 109 feet wide. A number of surviving temple-like structures are circular, and are referred to as tholos.

The temple rises from a stepped base or "stylobate
Stylobate
In classical Greek architecture, a stylobate is the top step of the crepidoma, the stepped platform on which colonnades of temple columns are placed...

", which elevated the structure above the ground on which it stood. Early examples, such as the Temple of Zeus at Olympus, have two steps, but the majority, like the Parthenon, have three, with the exceptional example of the Temple of Apollo at Didyma having six. The core of the building is a masonry-built "naos" within which was a cella, a windowless room which housed the statue of the god. The cella generally had a porch or "pronaos" before it, and perhaps a second chamber or "antenaos" serving as a treasury or repository for trophies and gifts. The chambers were lit by a single large doorway, fitted with a wrought iron grill. Some rooms appear to have been illuminated by skylights.

On the stylobate, often completely surrounding the naos, stood rows of columns. Each temple was defined as being of a particular type, with two terms: one describing the number of columns across the entrance front, and the other defining their distribution.

Examples:
  • Distyle in antis describes a small temple with two columns at the front, which are set between the projecting walls of the pronaos or porch, like the Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnus. (see left, figure 1.)
  • Amphiprostyle tetrastyle describes a small temple that has columns at both ends which stand clear of the naos. Tetrastyle indicates that the columns are four in number, like those of the Temple on the Ilissus in Athens. (figure 4.)
  • Peripteral hexastyle describes a temple with a single row of peripheral columns around the naos, with six columns across the front, like the Theseion in Athens. (figure 7.)
  • Peripteral octastyle describes a temple with a single row of columns around the naos, (figure 7.) with eight columns across the front, like the Parthenon, Athens. (figs. 6 and 9.)
  • Dipteral decastyle describes the huge temple of Apollo at Didyma, with the naos surrounded by a double row of columns, (figure 6.) with ten columns across the entrance front.
  • The Temple of Zeus Olympius at Agrigentum, is termed Pseudo-periteral heptastyle, because its encircling colonnade has pseudo columns that are attached to the walls of the naos. (figure 8.) Heptastyle means that it has seven columns across the entrance front.

Proportion and optical illusion

The ideal of proportion that was used by Ancient Greek architects in designing temples was not a simple mathematical progression using a square module. The math involved a more complex geometrical progression, the so-called Golden mean
Golden ratio
In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one. The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.61803398874989...

. The ratio is similar to that of the growth patterns of many spiral forms that occur in nature such as rams' horns, nautilus
Nautilus
Nautilus is the common name of marine creatures of cephalopod family Nautilidae, the sole extant family of the superfamily Nautilaceae and of its smaller but near equal suborder, Nautilina. It comprises six living species in two genera, the type of which is the genus Nautilus...

 shells, fern fronds, and vine tendrils and which were a source of decorative motifs employed by Ancient Greek architects as particularly in evidence in the volutes of capitals of the Ionic and Corinthian Orders.


The Ancient Greek architects took a philosophic approach to the rules and proportions. The determining factor in the mathematics of any notable work of architecture was its ultimate appearance. The architects calculated for perspective, for the optical illusions that make edges of objects appear concave and for the fact that columns that are viewed against the sky look different to those adjacent that are viewed against a shadowed wall. Because of these factors, the architects adjusted the plans so that the major lines of any significant building are rarely straight.
The most obvious adjustment is to the profile of columns, which narrow from base to top. However, the narrowing is not regular, but gently curved so that each columns appears to have a slight swelling, called entasis below the middle. The entasis is never sufficiently pronounced as to make the swelling wider than the base; it is controlled by a slight reduction in the rate of decrease of diameter.

The Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

, the Temple to the Goddess Athena
Athena
In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

 on the Acropolis
Acropolis
Acropolis means "high city" in Greek, literally city on the extremity and is usually translated into English as Citadel . For purposes of defense, early people naturally chose elevated ground to build a new settlement, frequently a hill with precipitous sides...

 in Athens, is the epitome of what Nikolaus Pevsner
Nikolaus Pevsner
Sir Nikolaus Bernhard Leon Pevsner, CBE, FBA was a German-born British scholar of history of art and, especially, of history of architecture...

 called "the most perfect example ever achieved of architecture finding its fulfilment in bodily beauty". Helen Gardner
Helen Gardner
Professor Dame Helen Louise Gardner DBE was an English literary critic and academic. She was best known for her work on the poets John Donne and T. S. Eliot.-Early life and education:...

 refers to its "unsurpassable excellence", to be surveyed, studied and emulated by architects of later ages. Yet, as Gardner points out, there is hardly a straight line in the building. Banister Fletcher
Banister Fletcher
Sir Banister Flight Fletcher was an English architect and architectural historian, as was his father, also named Banister Fletcher....

 calculated that the stylobate curves upward so that its centres at either end rise about 2.6 inches above the outer corners, and 4.3 inches on the longer sides. A slightly greater adjustment has been made to the entablature. The columns at the ends of the building are not vertical but are inclined towards the centre, with those at the corners being out of plumb by about 2.6 inches. These outer columns are both slightly wider than their neighbours and are slightly closer than any of the others.

Orders

Stylistically, Ancient Greek architecture is divided into three “orders”: the Doric Order
Doric order
The Doric order was one of the three orders or organizational systems of ancient Greek or classical architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic and the Corinthian.-History:...

, the Ionic Order
Ionic order
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

 and the Corinthian Order
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

, the names reflecting their origins. While the three orders are most easily recognizable by their capitals, the orders also governed the form, proportions, details and relationships of the columns, entablature, pediment and the stylobate. The different orders were applied to the whole range of buildings and monuments.

The Doric Order developed on mainland Greece and spread to Italy. It was firmly established and well-defined in its characteristics by the time of the building of the Temple of Hera at Olympia, c. 600 BC. The Ionic order co-existed with the Doric, being favoured by the Greek cites of Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

, in Asia Minor and the Aegean Islands. It did not reach a clearly defined form until the mid 5th century BC. The early Ionic temples of Asia Minor were particularly ambitious in scale, such as the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The Corinthian Order
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

 was a highly decorative variant not developed until the Hellenistic period and retaining many characteristics of the Ionic. It was popularised by the Romans.

Doric Order

The Doric order is recognised by its capital, of which the echinus is like a circular cushion rising from the top of the column to the square abacus on which ress the lintels. The echinus appears flat and splayed in early examples, deeper and with greater curve in later, more refined examples, and smaller and straight-sided in Hellenistc examples. A refinement of the Doric Column is the entasis, a gentle convex swelling to the profile of the column, which prevents an optical illusion of concavity.

Doric columns are almost always cut with grooves, known as "fluting", which run the length of the column and are usually 20 in number, although sometimes fewer. The flutes meet at sharp edges called arrises. At the top of the columns, slightly below the narrowest point, and crossing the terminating arrises, are three horizontal grooves known as the hypotrachelion. Doric columns have no bases, until a few examples in the Hellenistic period.

The columns of an early Doric temple such as the Temple of Apollo at Syracuse, Sicily, may have a height to base diameter ratio of only 4:1 and a column height to entablature ratio of 2:1, with relatively crude details. A column height to diameter of 6:1 became more usual, while the column height to entablature ratio at the Parthenon is about 3:1. During the Hellenistic period, Doric conventions of solidity and masculinity dropped away, with the slender and unfluted columns reaching a height to diameter ratio of 7.5:1.
The Doric entablature is in three parts, the architrave, the frieze and the cornice. The architrave is composed of the stone lintels which span the space between the columns, with a joint occurring above the centre of each abacus. On this rests the frieze, one of the major areas of sculptural decoration. The frieze is divided into triglyphs and metopes, the triglyphs, as stated elsewhere in this article, are a reminder of the timber history of the architectural style. Each triglyph has three vertical grooves, similar to the columnar fluting, and below them, seemingly connected, are small strips that appear to connect the triglyphs to the architrave below. A triglyph is located above the centre of each capital, and above the centre of each lintel. However, at the corners of the building, the triglyphs do not fall over the centre the column. The ancient architects took a pragmatic approach to the apparent "rules", simply extending the width of the last two metopes at each end of the building.

The cornice is a narrow jutting band of complex moulding which overhangs and protects the ornamented frieze, like the edge of an overhanging wooden-framed roof. It is decorated on the underside with projecting blocks, mutules, further suggesting the wooden nature of the prototype. At either end of the building the pediment rises from the cornice, framed by moulding of similar form.

The pediment is decorated with figures that are in relief in the earlier examples, but almost freestanding by the time of the Parthenon. Early architectural sculptors found difficulty in creating satisfactory sculptural compositions in the tapering triangular space. By the Early Classical period, with the decoration of the temple of Zeus at Olympia, (486-460 BC) the sculptors had solved the problem by having a standing central figure framed by rearing centaurs and fighting men who are falling, kneeling and lying in attitudes that fit the size and angle of each part of the space. The renowned sculptor Phidias
Phidias
Phidias or the great Pheidias , was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect, who lived in the 5th century BC, and is commonly regarded as one of the greatest of all sculptors of Classical Greece: Phidias' Statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World...

 fills the space at the Parthenon (448-432 BC) with a complex array of draped and undraped figures of deities who appear in attitudes of sublime relaxation and elegance.

Ionic Order

The Ionic Order
Ionic order
The Ionic order forms one of the three orders or organizational systems of classical architecture, the other two canonic orders being the Doric and the Corinthian...

 is recognised by its voluted capital, in which a curved echinus of similar shape to that of the Doric Order, but decorated with stylised ornament, is surmounted by a horizontal band that scrolls under to either side, forming spirals or volutes similar to those of the nautilus
Nautilus
Nautilus is the common name of marine creatures of cephalopod family Nautilidae, the sole extant family of the superfamily Nautilaceae and of its smaller but near equal suborder, Nautilina. It comprises six living species in two genera, the type of which is the genus Nautilus...

 shell or ram's horn. In plan, the capital is rectangular. It's designed to be viewed frontally but the capitals at the corners of buildings are modified with an additional scroll so as to appear regular on two adjoining faces. In the Hellenistic period, four-fronted Ionic capitals became common.
Like the Doric Order, the Ionic Order retains signs of having ts origins in wooden architecture. The horizontal spread of a flat timber plate across the top of a column is a common device in wooden construction, giving a thin upright a wider area on which to bear the lintel, while at the same time reinforcing the load-bearing strength of the lintel itself. Likewise, the columns always have bases, a necessity in wooden architecture to spread the load and protect the base of a comparatively thin upright. The columns are fluted with narrow, shallow flutes that do not meet at a sharp edge but have a flat band or fillet between them. The usual number of flutes is twenty-four but there ma be as many as forty-four. The base has two convex mouldings called torus, and from the late Hellenic period stood on a square plinth similar to the abacus.

The architrave of the Ionic Order is sometimes undecorated, but more often rises in three outwardly-stepped bands like overlapping timber planks. The frieze, which runs in a continuous band, is separated from the other members by rows of small projecting blocks. They are referred to as dentils, meaning "teeth", but their origin is clearly in narrow wooden slats which supported the roof of a timber structure.
The Ionic Order is altogether lighter in appearance than the Doric, with the columns, including base and capital, having a 9:1 ratio with the diameter, while the whole entablature was also much narrower and less heavy than the Doric entablature. There was some variation in the distribution of decoration. Formalised bands of motifs such as alternating forms known as "egg and dart" were a feature of the Ionic entablatures, along with the bands of dentils. The external frieze often contained a continuous band of figurative sculpture or ornament, but this was not always the case. Sometimes a decorative frieze occurred around the upper part of the naos rather than on the exterior of the building. These Ionic-style friezes around the naos are sometimes found on Doric buildings, notably the Parthenon. Some temples, like the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, had friezes of figures around the lower drum of each column, separated from the fluted section by a bold moulding.

Caryatid
Caryatid
A caryatid is a sculpted female figure serving as an architectural support taking the place of a column or a pillar supporting an entablature on her head. The Greek term karyatides literally means "maidens of Karyai", an ancient town of Peloponnese...

s, draped female figures used as supporting members to carry the entablature, were a feature of the Ionic order, occurring at several buildings including the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi in 525 BC and at the Erechtheion, about 410 BC.

Corinthian Order

The Corinthian Order does not have its origin in wooden architecture. It grew directly out of the Ionic in the mid 5th century BC, and was initially of much the same style and proportion, but distinguished by its more ornate capitals. The capital was very much deeper than either the Doric or the Ionic capital, being shaped like a large krater, a bell-shaped mixing bowl, and being ornamented with a double row of acanthus
Acanthus
Acanthus , in its feminine form acantha , is the Latinised form of the ancient Greek word acanthos or akanthos, referring to the Acanthus plant. It can also be used as the prefix acantho-, meaning "thorny"...

 leaves above which rose voluted tendrils, supporting the corners of the abacus, which, no longer perfectly square, splayed above them. According to Vitruvius
Vitruvius
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ....

, the capital was invented by a bronze founder, Callimarchus of Corinth, who took his inspiration from a basket of offerings that had been placed on a grave, with a flat tile on top to protect the goods. The basket had been placed on the root of an acanthus plant which had grown up around it. The ratio of the column height to diameter is generally 10:1, with the capital taking up more than 1/10 of the height. The ratio of capital height to diameter is generally about 1.16:1.

The Corinthian Order was initially used internally, as at the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Basae (c.450-425 BC). In 334 BC it appeared as an external feature on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates
Choragic Monument of Lysicrates
The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates near the Acropolis of Athens was erected by the choregos Lysicrates, a wealthy patron of musical performances in the Theater of Dionysus to commemorate the award of first prize in 335/334 BCE, to one of the performances he had sponsored...

 in Athens, and then on a huge scale at the Temple of Zeus Olympia in Athens, (174 BC - AD 132). It was popularised by the Romans, who added a number of refinements and decorative details. During the Hellenistic period, Corinthian columns were sometimes built without fluting.


Architectural ornament

Early wooden structures, particularly temples, were ornamented and in part protected by fired and painted clay revetments in the form of rectangular panels, and ornamental discs. Many fragments of these have outlived the buildings that they decorated and demonstrate a wealth of formal border designs of geometric scrolls, overlapping patterns and foliate motifs. With the introduction of stone-built temples, the revetments no longer served a protective purpose and sculptured decoration became more common.

The clay ornaments were limited to the roof of buildings, decorating the cornice, the corners and surmounting the pediment. At the corners of pediments they were called acroteria and along the sides of the building, antefixes. Early decorative elements were generally semi-circular, but later of roughly triangular shape with moulded ornament, often palmate. Ionic cornices were often set with a row of lion's masks, with open mouths that ejected rainwater. From the Late Classical period, acroteria were sometimes sculptured figures.See "Architectural sculpture"

In the three orders of Ancient Greek architecture, the sculptural decoration, be it a simple half round astragal
Astragal
An astragal is a moulding profile composed of a half-round surface surrounded by two flat planes . An astragal is sometimes referred to as a miniature torus...

, a frieze of stylised foliage or the ornate sculpture of the pediment, is all essential to the architecture of which it is a part. In the Doric order, there is no variation in its placement. Reliefs never decorate walls in an arbitrary way. The sculpture is always located in several predetermined areas, the metopes and the pediment. In later Ionic architecture, there is greater diversity in the types and numbers of mouldings and decorations, particularly around doorways, where voluted brackets sometimes occur supporting an ornamental cornice over a door, such as that at the Erechtheum. A much applied narrow moulding is called "bead and reel" and is symmetrical, stemming from turned wooden prototypes. Wider mouldings include one with tongue-like or pointed leaf shapes, which are grooved and sometimes turned upward at the tip, and "egg and dart" moulding which alternates ovoid shapes with narrow pointy ones.

Architectural sculpture

Architectural sculpture showed a development from early Archaic examples through Severe Classical, High Classical, Late Classical and Hellenistic. Remnants of the Archaic architectural sculpture (700 - 500 BC) exist from the early 6th century BC with the earliest surviving pedimental sculpture being remnants of a Gorgon flanked by heraldic panthers from the centre of the pediment of the Artemis Temple of Corfu
Temple of Artemis (Corfu)
The Temple of Artemis is an ancient edifice in Corfu, Greece, built in archaic-style around 580 BC in the ancient city of Korkyra, in what is known today as the suburb of Garitsa. The temple was dedicated to Artemis and functioned as a sanctuary. It is known as the first Doric temple exclusively...

. A metope from a temple known as "Temple C" at Selinus, Sicily, shows, in a better preserved state, Perseus
Perseus
Perseus ,Perseos and Perseas are not used in English. the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty of Danaans there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians...

 slaying the Gorgon Medusa
Medusa
In Greek mythology Medusa , " guardian, protectress") was a Gorgon, a chthonic monster, and a daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. The author Hyginus, interposes a generation and gives Medusa another chthonic pair as parents. Gazing directly upon her would turn onlookers to stone...

. Both images parallel the stylised depiction of the Gorgons on the black figure name vase decorated by the Nessos painter (c. 600 BC), with the face and shoulders turned frontally, and the legs in a running or kneeling position. At this date images of terrifying monsters have predominance over the emphasis on the human figure that developed with Humanist philosophy.

The Severe Classical style (500 - 450 BC) is represented by the pedimental sculptures of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, (470 - 456 BC). The eastern pediment shows a moment of stillness and "impending drama" before the beginning of a chariot race, the figures of Zeus and the competitors being severe and idealised representations of the human form . The western pediment has Apollo as the central figure, "majestic" and "remote", presiding over a battle of Lapith
Lapith
The Lapiths are a legendary people of Greek mythology, whose home was in Thessaly, in the valley of the Peneus and on the mountain Pelion.They were an Aeolian tribe. Like the Myrmidons and other Thessalian tribes, the Lapiths were pre-Hellenic in their origins...

s and Centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

s, in strong contrast to that of the eastern pediment for its depiction of violent action, and described by D. E. Strong as the "most powerful piece of illustration" for a hundred years.

The shallow reliefs and three-dimensional sculpture which adorned the frieze and pediments, respectively, of the Parthenon, are the lifelike products of the High Classical style (450 -400 BC) and were created under the direction of the sculptor Phidias
Phidias
Phidias or the great Pheidias , was a Greek sculptor, painter and architect, who lived in the 5th century BC, and is commonly regarded as one of the greatest of all sculptors of Classical Greece: Phidias' Statue of Zeus at Olympia was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World...

. The pedimental sculpture represents the Gods of Olympus, while the frieze shows the Panathenaic procession and ceremonial events that took place every four years to honour the titular Goddess of Athens. The frieze and remaining figures of the eastern pediment show a profound understanding of the human body, and how it varies depending upon its position and the stresses that action and emotion place upon it. Benjamin Robert Haydon described the reclining figure of Dionysus
Dionysus
Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

 as "....the most heroic style of art, combined with all the essential detail of actual life".

The names of many famous sculptors are known from the Late Classical period (400 - 323 BC), including Timotheos
Timotheos
Timotheus was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC, one of the rivals and contemporaries of Scopas of Paros, among the sculptors who worked for their own fame on the construction of the grave of Mausolus at Halicarnassus between 353 and 350 BC. He was apparently the leading sculptor at the...

, Praxiteles
Praxiteles
Praxiteles of Athens, the son of Cephisodotus the Elder, was the most renowned of the Attic sculptors of the 4th century BC. He was the first to sculpt the nude female form in a life-size statue...

, Leochares
Leochares
Leochares was a Greek sculptor from Athens, who lived in the 4th century BC.-Works:Leochares worked at the construction of the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, one of the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World". The Diana of Versailles is a Roman copy of his original...

 and Skopas, but their works are known mainly from Roman copies. Little architectural sculpture of the period remains intact. The Temple of Asclepius at Epidauros had sculpture by Timotheos working with the architect Theodotos. Fragments of the eastern pediment survive, showing the Sack of Troy. The scene appears to have filled the space with figures carefully arranged to fit the slope and shape available, as with earlier east pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympus. But the figures are more violent in action, the central space taken up, not with a commanding God, but with the dynamic figure of Neoptolemos as he seizes the aged king Priam
Priam
Priam was the king of Troy during the Trojan War and youngest son of Laomedon. Modern scholars derive his name from the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means "exceptionally courageous".- Marriage and issue :...

 and stabs him. The remaining fragments give the impression of a whole range of human emotions, fear, horror, cruelty and lust for conquest. The acroteria were sculptured by Timotheus, except for that at the centre of the east pediment which is the work of the architect. The palmate acroteria have been replaced here with small figures, the eastern pediment being surmounted by a winged Nike
Nike (mythology)
In Greek mythology, Nike was a goddess who personified victory, also known as the Winged Goddess of Victory. The Roman equivalent was Victoria. Depending upon the time of various myths, she was described as the daughter of Pallas and Styx and the sister of Kratos , Bia , and Zelus...

, poised against the wind.

Hellenistic architectural sculpture (323 - 31 BC) was to become more flamboyant, both in the rendering of expression and motion, which is often emphasised by flowing draperies, the Nike Samothrace
Winged Victory of Samothrace
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace, is a 2nd century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike . Since 1884, it has been prominently displayed at the Louvre and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world.-Description:The Nike of Samothrace,...

 which decorated a monument in the shape of a ship being a well known example. The Pergamon Altar
Pergamon Altar
The Pergamon Altar is a monumental construction built during the reign of King Eumenes II in the first half of the 2nd century BC on one of the terraces of the acropolis of the ancient city of Pergamon in Asia Minor....

 (c. 180-160 BC) has a frieze (120 metres long by 2.3 metres high) of figures in very high relief. The frieze represents the battle for supremacy of Gods and Titans, and employs many dramatic devices: frenzy, pathos and triumph, to convey the sense of conflict.

See also

  • List of Ancient Greek temples
  • List of ancient architectural records
  • Ancient Greek temple
  • Art in Ancient Greece
    Art in Ancient Greece
    The arts of ancient Greece have exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries all over the world, particularly in the areas of sculpture and architecture. In the West, the art of the Roman Empire was largely derived from Greek models...

  • Greek technology
  • Greek culture
  • Byzantine Architecture
    Byzantine architecture
    Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. The empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to...

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