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The Archetypal Doric Temple

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 September 2013


Doric architecture seems to have arisen suddenly in Greece. Till the beginning of the seventh century, to judge by excavated remains and models, masonry was rough, roofs were either of thatch and high-pitched or of mud and flat, plans were imprecise, and style was nondescript or non-existent without any hint of the characteristic components of the Doric order. Yet by 630 in the artistically peripheral region of Aetolia the new temple of Apollo at Thermon shows carefully squared stonework (or so it may be inferred), a tiled and therefore low-pitched roof and exact planning; and there are remains of metopes, cornice, simas, and perhaps acroteria—the metopes at least being properly Doric. It is a fair conclusion that improved technique and materials and the consequent transformation of the aspect and proportions of the temple came in about the middle of the seventh century and that the Doric order was invented for this incipient architecture. Certainly there was little time for evolution.

Research Article
Copyright © The Council, British School at Athens 1970

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I am very grateful to Dr. W. H. Plommer for his comments and suggestions.

1 The most relevant models are those from Perachora (Payne, H., Perachora i. 3451, pls. 8–9 and 117–20Google Scholar: parts of several models); the Argive Heraeum (Müller, K., AM xlviii (1923) 5268, pls. 6–7Google Scholar: parts of two or more models); Ithaca (Robertson, M., BSA xliii (1948) 101–2, pl. 45. 600Google Scholar: from the pitch of the roof the chequers should be decoration rather than representations of tiles); and Gela (Orlandini, P., NSc 1956, 273–4, fig. 1Google Scholar). Mr. J. N. Coldstream has kindly given me his opinion that the models from Perachora (or some of them) should, because of their context, be dated about 750–720; that the model from Ithaca, on decoration, looks to be about 700 or a little after; and that those from the Argive Heraeum, again on decoration, are probably as late as the second quarter of the seventh century. The model from Gela seems to be of local clay and anyhow should be later than the foundation of that city about 690, a date which (whether correct or not) is basic for the other archaeological dates of the end of the eighth and the beginning of the seventh centuries.

2 The most reasonable statement of this theory is by von Gerkan, A., JdI lxiii–iv (19481949) 113.Google Scholar

3 Washburn, O. M., AJA xxiii (1919) 3349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

4 Demangel, R., BCH lv (1931) 117–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

5 Zancani-Montuoro, P., Palladio iv. 2 (1940) 4964.Google Scholar

6 One may note that in early Ionic architecture, where there was no frieze, the columns were relatively taller than in Doric.

7 e.g. Bowen, M. L., BSA xlv (1950) 113–25.Google Scholar

8 For the metopes from Thermon, see ADelt ii (1916) pls. 5052A and textGoogle Scholar; Payne, H. G. G., BSA xxvii (19251926) 124–32Google Scholar and Necrocorinthia 96 and 254. For those from Calydon see Dyggve, E., Das Laphrion 149–63 and 236–9.Google Scholar There are also fragments of three lamps from Corinth, which have on them triglyphs in relief and metopes decorated with painted animals: their style suggests a date roughly about 600 (Stillwell, A. N., Corinth xv. 2, 258–9, pl. 56. 41–2Google Scholar). It might be worth examining Archaic stone metopes found in Greece to see if any have traces of painted decoration. Painting might well explain the use of marble metopes, where the rest of the entablature was of inferior stone.

9 Broneer, O. in Χαριστήριον εἰς Α. Κ. Ορλάνδον Γ′ 64–5Google Scholar and AJA lxxiii (1969) 232. The paintings were in panels on, it seems, the wall of the cella, which was surrounded by a pteron. The temple, which at least in technique was architectural, is said to be of the first half of the seventh or even of the late eighth century, but the paintings could of course be later than the building. I am indebted to Professor Broneer for sending me information not yet published.

10 Nor perhaps an immediate addition. There were no guttae or mutules either on the cornices of the early temples at Thermon and Calydon (see A. T. Hodge, The Woodwork of Greek Roofs fig. 18), and the temple of Artemis Knakeatis near Tegea had regulae and mutules but no guttae (Rhomaios, K. A., AE 1952, 1011 and 16–18Google Scholar).

11 As Gerkan argues (loc. cit. 7–8).

12 On the temple of Artemis at Corcyra the junction of raking and horizontal cornice must have been irregular, but its exact form is unknown (Schleif, H. in Rodenwaldt, G.Korkyra i. 52–3Google Scholar).

13 This is implied by Gerkan (loc. cit. 12), though he proposes a different sequence leading to the tiled roof.

14 These tiles were found at Corinth, Isthmia, and Perachora, but only those from Corinth are published (Roebuck, M. C., Hesperia xxiv (1955) 153–7Google Scholar). At Corinth one end at least of the roof was hipped and the associated finds suggest a date about or soon after 650.

15 O. xiii. 21–2