Illustrated Architecture Dictionary
............................ Neoclassical style

Greek temple

Temples were monumental homes for the individual god or goddess who protected and sustained the community. Worshippers were not allowed in the temple, although they would be able to see the huge statue of the deity from outside the temple.

Construction: The early temples were constructed of wood. Later, when stone (marble, if available) was quarried, it had to be transported from the quarry to the building site. This was done on carts with solid wheels, after placing the blocks onto the carts using levers and lifting beams. The carts were drawn by pack animals and slaves.

Small stones were transported on stretchers carried by four or eight men

Laying the blocks: Ropes and lifting devices (cranes and winches and derricks) were used to lift the large blocks. Once in place, the rocks were finished (fluted, for example).

Decoration: Statues, acroterions, color. (In Sicily, where limestone had to be used instead of marble, the entablature, including frieze and metopes, was plastered, then painted.

External colonnade: As a rule, the external colonnade contained twice as many columns along the long side as there were along the short side plus one. See Hexastyle

3 inner rooms: antechamber / cella with statue of god(dess) / rear storage room

Greek temples faced east.

Three orders: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian

Sacrificial altars: Temples to the Greek patriarchal gods and goddesses always included animal sacrificial altars in front of the temples. Animal bones wrapped in fat were burned as a sacrifice (the meat was given to townspeople as part of a ritual meal).

Sacrificial altars were used, however, even before the concept of temples became popular. For example, in Syracuse, Sicily, in the 7th century B.C., the Altar of Hieron II (PHOTO) with its stepped base was dedicated to Zeus. The size of the altar allowed the meat of 400 bulls to be immolated at one time. Temples in the area were not constructed until two centuries later.

For more information, see "The Greek Temple" on the Odyssey website.

American Neoclassical style: Around 1900, Greek temples were used as the prototype for some American Neoclassical style buildings.

Temple-front:  Element of a facade resembling the front of a Classical temple, with columns or pilasters carrying an entablature and pediment, applied to an elevation, as in a Palladian composition with portico.


Photos and their arrangement © 2007 Chuck LaChiusa
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