Beyond the Sun: A New Approach to the East-West Orientation of Archaic Greek Temples
AdvisorVoyatzis, Mary E.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe east-west alignment of Archaic Greek temples is a feature of their architecture that has not been discussed within its archaeological or historical contexts. Scholars have attempted to discern reasons behind the fact that most Archaic Greek temples face east. But, these explanations are limited in that they do not take into account that an east-west alignment persisted as an architectural feature from the Late Bronze Age through to the Archaic Period. The rise of the Greek polis or city-state also plays a vital role in the development of Greek sacred architecture; by the end of the eighth century when aristocratic control results in the unification of villages to form the polis as we know it, temple architecture develops into the canonical Doric or Ionic forms. Orientation is no exception to this standardization.I have conducted a statistical analysis of 84 cult buildings from the Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age, eighth century BCE, and Archaic period. Not only is there a consistent trend for Greek cult buildings to be aligned along an east-west axis, but this trend is not random. The deliberate choice to align temples and cult buildings on this axis certainly has religious significance and may well incorporate many factors, such as topographical and climatic concerns, and the position of various astronomical bodies. However, this thesis provides not only a new interpretation of Greek temple orientation, but also a survey of Greek architectural trends that span a millennium.
Degree ProgramGraduate College