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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2019

Alessandro Pierattini*
University of Notre Dame


The first stone ashlar blocks of Greek architecture, those of the mid-seventh-century temples at Isthmia and Corinth, pose a problem for understanding the beginnings of Greek stone construction.1 Their peculiar feature is the presence of grooves plausibly explained as a way to move the blocks with ropes. Yet scholars disagree about how these ropes would have been used, and during what stage of construction. The first excavators of the two temples suggested that the ropes would have served to lift each block into place, and were subsequently extracted from the grooves once the block had been set against its neighbour. Later scholars dismissed this theory as both inconsistent with the evidence and technically impracticable, questioning whether lifting machines were used in Greek construction as early as the mid-seventh century. Currently, the widely accepted view holds that the crane appeared in the Greek world only in the late sixth century. An alternative hypothesis is that the grooves were cut early in the construction process so that ropes could be used to manoeuvre the blocks within the quarry. However, the ‘lifting’ theory continues to have its adherents. Clarifying the significance of these parallel grooves is thus a matter of some importance to the history of Greek construction. This article reassesses the alternative theses on the basis of a new examination of the evidence, and demonstrates that the idea that the grooves served for lifting is the most plausible. Furthermore, it argues that forerunners of the crane appeared in Greece well before the late sixth century. Finally, by examining how the blocks would have been manoeuvred into place after lifting, it contends that the grooves also served the purpose of placement, with a method anticipating the Classical period's sophisticated lever technique.

Ερμηνεύοντας τις αύλακες περίδεσης. Η ανύψωση, η τοποθέτηση και η γένεση της Ελληνικής Μνημειακής αρχιτεκτονικής.

Οι πρώτες λιθόπλινθοι της Ελληνικής Αρχιτεκτονικής, των ναών των μέσων του 7ου αιώνα π.Χ. στην Ισθμία και την Κόρινθο, θέτουν ένα πρόβλημα για την κατανόηση των αρχών της λίθινης οικοδομικής. Αυτό το ιδιαίτερο χαρακτηριστικό τους είναι η παρουσία αυλάκων ερμηνευμένων λογικά ως ένα μέσα για μετακίνηση των πλίνθων με σχοινιά. Ωστόσο οι ερευνητές διαφωνούν ως προς τον τρόπο με τον οποίο αυτά τα σχοινιά θα χρησιμοποιούνταν και σε ποιο κατασκευαστικό στάδιο. Οι πρώτοι ανασκαφείς των δύο ναών πρότειναν ότι τα σχοινιά θα εξυπηρετούσαν την ανύψωση κάθε λιθόπλινθου στη θέση της, και ύστερα απομακρύνονταν από τις αυλακώσεις όταν η λιθόπλινθος είχε τοποθετηθεί σε επαφή με τη διπλανή της. Αργότερα ερευνητές απέρριψαν αυτή τη θεωρία τόσο ως αντιφατική με τα τεκμήρια όσο και τεχνικά ανέφικτη, αμφισβητώντας αν ανυψωτικές μηχανές χρησιμοποιούνταν στην αρχαιοελληνική οικοδομική ήδη από τα μέσα του 7ου αι. π.Χ. Επί του παρόντος, η ευρέως αποδεκτή θεωρία υποστηρίζει ότι ο γερανός εμφανίστηκε στον Ελληνικό κόσμο μόνο στον ύστερο 6ο αι. π.Χ. Μια εναλλακτική υπόθεση είναι ότι οι αύλακες ανοίγονταν νωρίς στην κατασκευαστική διαδικασία ώστε να μπορούν να χρησιμοποιηθούν σχοινιά για τη μετακίνηση των λιθόπλινθων μέσα στο λατομείο. Ωστόσο, η «ανυψωτική» θεωρία συνεχίζει να βρίσκει υποστηρικτές. Η διευκρίνηση της σημασίας αυτών των παράλληλων αυλακώσεων είναι έτσι ένα θέμα ιδιαίτερης σπουδαιότητας για την ιστορία της αρχαίας ελληνικής οικοδομικής. Αυτό το άρθρο, επανεκτιμά την εναλλακτική θεωρία με βάση την επανεξέταση των τεκμηρίων, και αποδεικνύει πως η ιδέα ότι οι αύλακες χρησίμευαν για την ανύψωση είναι η πιο εύλογη. Επιπλέον, το άρθρο υποστηρίζει ότι οι πρόδρομοι του γερανού εμφανίστηκαν στην Ελλάδα πολύ πριν τα τέλη του 6ου αι. Τέλος, μέσω της εξέτασης του τρόπου με τον οποίο οι λιθίπλινθοι θα μετακινούνταν στη θέση τους μετά την ανύψωση, διατείνεται ότι οι αύλακες χρησίμευαν επίσης στην τοποθέτηση, με μια μέθοδο που προβλέπει την εκλεπτισμένη τεχνική των μοχλών της Κλασικής περιόδου.

Μετάφραση: Στέλιος Ιερεμίας.

Copyright © The Council, British School at Athens 2019 

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