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The History of Greek Architecture

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The History of Greek Architecture

The architecture of ancient Greece is represented by buildings in the

sanctuaries and cities of mainland Greece, the Aegean islands, southern

Italy and Sicily, and the Ionian coast of Turkey. Monumental Greek

architecture began in the archaic period, flourished through the classical

and Hellenistic periods, and saw the first of many revivals during the

Roman Empire. The roots of Greek architecture lie in the tradition of local

Bronze Age house and palaces. The following paper will cover the basic

forms of Greek architecture.

One of the many types of Greek building structures was Sacred

Architecture. The Greeks conceived of their gods in human form, as

anthropomorphic representations of the forces and elements of the natural

world. These gods and goddesses were worshiped with sacrifices made at an

outdoor altar. At many sanctuaries, the altar was much older than the

temple, and some sanctuaries had only an altar. The temple designed simply

as a shelter or home for the cult statue and as a storehouse for offerings.

This shelter consisted of a cella (back wall), a pronaos (columned porch),

an opisthodomus (enclosure), an antae (bronze grills securing the porches),

and a colonnade that provided shelter for visitors.

The earliest monumental buildings in Greek architecture were the

temples. Since these were solidly built and carefully maintained, they had

to be replaced only if destroyed. The architectural orders, Doric on the

mainland and Ionic in the eastern Aegean, were developed in the archaic

temples, and their lasting example tended to make Greek architecture

conservative toward changes in design or in building technology.

The Archaic period evolv...

... middle of paper ...

...mples had

exterior Corinthinan columns, such as the colossal temple of Zeus Olympius

in Athens, begun in 174 BCE. In the Ionic order, Hermogenes of Priene

evolved new canons of proportion concerning the temple plan and the height

and spacing of columns. His writings were also passed down to Roman

architects who emulated his designs. Long after the Roman army captured

Athens, the principles of Greek architecture continued to govern building

designs in mainland Greece and in Anatolia and strongly influenced Roman

architecture throughout the empire.

Greek architecture changed and evolved over a number of years. The

creative architecture of the Greeks led to the construction of some of the

best known buildings in history. Therefore, the Greek's advancements in the

field of architecture were not only beneficial to their civilizations, but

ours as well.
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