Posted: September 18th, 2022

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The Minoans and Mycenaeans: Civilizations of the Bronze

Weekly Lecture Notes – IDES 310 GREECE

Greek innovations in art, architecture, literature, philosophy, and

music have been sources of design inspiration since their inception. The visual images establish a language and grammar for architecture, interiors, furniture, and decorative arts copied by successive generations. Greek (and Roman) elements and forms dominate Western architecture until well into the 20th century. No other culture except Rome has had such a significant impact on the evolution of Western architecture, interiors, furniture, and decorative arts.

HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL

Greece is a peninsula with rocky seacoasts surrounded by numerous islands and mountain ranges to the north. Geographic separation from neighboring countries contributes to Greece’s individual cultural identity. Early inhabitants are the Mycenaeans, who are driven out by the Dorians, a militant tribe from the north that settles in Sparta and southern Greece. Those Mycenaeans who stay maintain their identity on the peninsula of Attica, specifically in the southeastern city of Athens, and become known as Ionians. Numerous mountain ridges divide the country

into small areas, which fosters the development of independent

city-states, each with its own governmental, political, and eco-

nomic identity. These governments encourage individual citizen

participation and form models for later democracies.

Greeks are polytheistic, worshipping gods who are powerful

and immortal, but have human forms and attributes. Their religion fosters respect for order, as reflected in nature and hu-

mankind. Men possess independence, wealth, ownership, and

education. Women, in contrast, are their fathers’ or husbands’

property, being restricted by law, politics, custom, and family relationships. Their main duties are to bear children and tend the

household. Few women artists are known, and nothing by those

acknowledged survives.

As there is little farmland, trade is important. Not only does

trade stimulate the economy, but also it brings historical influences from Egypt and the near East, Europe, and Asia. City-states

establish their own colonies throughout the Mediterranean,

spreading Greek culture and receiving foreign goods and effects in

return. Wars waged with the Persians and Assyrians also bring

new forms and ideas. The mixture of these influences produces a rich and varied culture. Later, the exploits of Alexander the Great

(ruled 336-323 B.C.E.) bring additional ideas into the country as

he conquers vast areas to expand his empire. During this period of

cross-fertilization, Greeks call themselves Hellenes and recognize

their own distinctiveness. Significant Greek contributions include the literary works and dramas penned by Aristotle, Plato,

Socrates, and Homer that promote logic, questioning, and critical

thinking; the first coinage system used in bartering; and the writ-

ten and visual accomplishments of many artists.

Searching for Perfection

Greek architecture and art search for the ideal, perfection in pro-

portion and distribution of forms and parts, and those attributes

or qualities that contribute to and enhance the ideal image. The

Golden Age of the 5th century, or Classical period, has continually provided a model for the classical language of architectural

form, order, and proportion. Form is characteristically expressed

in the Greek temples, while order is delineated through the relationship of the parts to the whole. Proportion, tied to religion and

the attainment of perfection, relates to the human body, often

cited by the Protagorian axiom “man is the measure of all things.”

One derivative of this concept is the golden section (developed by the Greek mathematician Euclid). He diagrammed a

geometric relationship between rectangles and squares based on a

system of proportioning.

Motif. Ornamental motifs, some of which come from Egypt, are often painted to enhance their attractiveness, especially when used on architecture. Those derived from nature include the acanthus leaf, anthemion, palmette, wave, antefix, honeysuckle, rosette, scroll. And rinceau. Those motifs created from geometry are the fret or Greek key, guilloche, dentil, egg and dart and swastika. Mythical beasts, such as the sphinx, griffin, and chimera, are also important.

ARCHITECTURE and CHARACTERISTICS

Greek architecture conveys a formal, refined image that emphasizes human proportions, the golden section, monumental scale,

symmetrical balance, and ordered spatial arrangements. The ordering of the principal structural members distinguishes the building form. Arrangements are logical and rational, reflecting natural harmony. Parts, articulated for clarity and to emphasize the architectonics, relate to each other and the whole. Equally important principles and attributes are repose, horizontality, symmetry, stability, and clarity.

In contrast to Egypt where timelessness and tradition are important, Greece continually seeks


perfection in the proportion and distribution of parts. Consequently, stylistic changes occur as forms evolve.
Architectural influences from the Middle East and Egypt merge with indigenous forms to shape the building image within the Greek landscape. Bright sun alternating with rainy periods contributes to a strong emphasis on building orientation, light

and dark contrast, and covered walkways. Greek designers seek to

express form in the most pleasing way, so they create systems of

proportions and rely on numerical relationships and geometry.

Therefore, each part of a building is composed of geometric forms,

each possessing its own importance and logical arrangement. Harmony among parts is achieved through the repetition of forms and

numbers and carefully planned, articulated transitions. Structures

display classical attributes or qualities. Thus, the term classical can

refer to the elements (columns, pediments, and the like) and at-

tributes (svmmetry, balance, repose, etc.) of Greek (and Roman) architecture. The addition of optical refinements to correct optical illusions and enhance the structure indicates Greek psychological understanding of architecture. Greek buildings are of trabeated construction until the 4th century B.C.E, when arches and barrel vaults are adopted but hidden behind traditional façades of some tombs and other structures. Public building types include temples, theaters, and treasuries. Many structures, such as large civic centers for political gatherings and sports centers for athletic events, focus specifically on outdoor activities.

Structural Features

Classical Orders. The appearance of a Greek building comes

from the ordering of the principal structural members according

to particular and accepted modes called orders. The orders differ

in proportion and details, with capitals being the most distinguishing feature. The principal structural members are the column or post and entablature or lintel. Each is subdivided into three elements. Each of these parts may be further subdivided with characteristic elements, moldings, and decorative details. The lower portions, which carry the building’s load, are appropriately larger and less embellished, which gives the effect of lightening the visual weight as the composition ascends. This also creates a pyramidal form, which is perceived as more stable than is a rectangle.

The concept of the orders based upon the work of Vitruvius and

they define the five orders common in the Classical tradition to-

day. The compositional method using the orders also appears in

some Greek interiors and, following the Renaissance, will comprise the arrangement of many interior walls.

Column. The column is composed of a base, shaft, and capital.

The primary Greek orders are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian which differ from each other in proportion, detail, and capital. All have fluted shafts, but Doric ones usually have
entasis, a slight convex curve. This light convex curve, bulge, in the shaft of the column, is introduced to correct the visual illusion of concavity produced by a straight shaft. Caryatids

sometimes substitute as columns. Until the Hellenistic period,

when engaged columns appear, columns are used structurally,

rarely decoratively.

Pilasters and Engaged Columns. Pilasters commonly adorn the

corners of exterior cella walls ( hidden inner part of a Greek or Roman temple that housed the image of a deity) behind the porch, corresponding to columns. Interior pilasters are rare, even in the Hellenistic period.

Engaged columns appear occasionally in the 5th century B.C.E. on

temple exteriors and interiors. By the Hellenistic period, they are

common on temples, stoas, agoras, and other structures.

Entablature and Pediment. Resting on top of columns, the


entablature
features an
architrave,
frieze, and
cornice. The architrave is a flat, wide band; the frieze displays carved and/or painted ornamentation; and the cornice is composed of a series of three-dimensional moldings. Each order treats the frieze and cornice differently. Above the entablature is the pediment, a triangular form composed by the two slopes of the gable roof. The

tympanum
, or center of the pediment, may be filled with relief

sculpture.

Moldings. The Greeks are the first to create and extensively use

a series of moldings to delineate the outlines of buildings. Moldings add interest, emphasis, and contrasts of light and dark.

Doric Order. The Doric capital consists of an
abacus and an
echinus. Near the neck of the capital are three annulets or grooves. The height of the shaft varies and has flutes but no base. The earliest Doric columns are slender, but in the Archaic period they become very thick with a pronounced taper and heavy, bulging echinus. Classical Doric shafts are slimmer and not as tapered; the echinus is not so pronounced. Shafts become even thinner in the Hellenistic period. Above a plain architrave the Doric frieze is composed of triglyphs and metopes. Rules dictate the placement of triglyphs, which are centered over and between each column and must meet at the corners. Metopes may have relief sculptures or painted decoration. Most large temples are Doric until the Hellenistic period, when the lonic order dominates. Doric is often contrasted as masculine in comparison to the more feminine lonic or Corinthian. Although characteristic of some Greek temple interiors, Doric is rarely used in later interiors.

Ionic Order. Developed about the same time as the Doric, the

Ionic order has two pairs of
volutes, one in front and

one in back, joined at the side by a decorated concave cushion.

The volutes usually are parallel to the architrave except on corners, when they assume a 45-degree angle for a more pleasing appearance. The

smaller ecchinus is carved with an
egg-and-dart molding and
palmettes. Ionic has a taller and more slender shaft than the Doric and a contoured base. The fluted shaft is more tapered than that of a Doric column. The

architrave, no longer plain, has three fascia. The lonic frieze may be carved with reliefs.
Dentil moldings delineate the cornice. The Ionic is elegant,

graceful, and more flexible than the Doric because there are fewer

rules, such as the placement of
triglyphs. It also adapts well to

curves and interiors.

Corinthian Order. Introduced as a variation of the Ionic order,

the Corinthian order is similar to it except for the capital. Shaped like an inverted bell, the lower portion has two rows of acanthus leaves. Curving stalks rise from the upper row of leaves. The abacus is concave on all four sides and ends in a point, and a rosette accentuates the center. The tall shaft is more slender than that of the lonic order and the
entablature is

usually more embellished. Originally used inside temples because

it adapted well to corners, the Corinthian order is first used on exteriors during the Hellenistic period. Even then, the conservative Greeks rarely use the Corinthian order. Like the lonic, the Corinthian order appears in some Greek and man later interiors.

Optical Refinements. The Greek adoption of a series of

architectural adjustments that enhance the building, create dynamism,

and correct any perceived optical illusions indicates a psychological understanding of the art and perception of building not seen

again until the Renaissance. After the 5th century B.C.E., most

temples incorporate only some of the refinements, as they are

costly and complicated to build. Entasis, the most common optical refinement, gives columns the appearance of responding to the

weight of the entablature and counters any perception of

thinness in the center of the shaft. Additionally, curves are more

pleasing to the eye. Corner columns may be thicker, spaced more

closely together, and lean inward slightly to avoid the appearance

of weakness or outward fall. Triglyphs and metopes become closer

together as they spread outward from the center. The stylobate

may curve up to about 4′ to counter any semblance of sagging.

The architrave, frieze, cornice, and roof gables also curve, and

capitals distort to fit the architrave. Consequently, there are few

straight lines or rectangular blocks in a building that uses all of

these refinements, such as the Parthenon. Inscriptions

closer to the viewer usually are smaller than those farther away, so

that they all appear the same size.

Public and Private Buildings

Sacred Sites. Sanctuaries with temples and other sacred buildings are often placed on high promontory points for recognition, protection, and orientation. Unlike Egyptian processional and axial temple complexes, each building in a Greek sanctuary is an individual element integrated to natural features of the landscape. This arrangement reflects the cultural vision of
each citizen as an individual who unites with others for a common
purpose. Situated on a prominent plateau is the Acropolis in
Athens, the best known of Greek sacred sites. During
Athens’s golden age, the 5th century B.C.E., the Acropolis ac-
quired its present appearance with the construction of the major
buildings: the Propylea, a complex entrance structure designed by
Mnesicles; the Parthenon; the Erectheion
and the Temple of Athena Nike.

Temples. Temples, the dominant building type until the

Hellenistic period, pay homage to a particular god. Temples are conceived as sculpture, and their exteriors are far more important than their interiors. Worship takes place out of doors so interiors focus primarily on housing cult statues and treasures instead of decoration. Standard floor plans for small temples include a small rectangular room (cella or naos) with columns only in front forming a portico or porch or in front and back.
Larger temples have several rooms with columns on all four sides
forming a peristyle. A single row of columns is peripteral, while a double row is dipteral. In the Hellenistic period, round temples appear. THOLOS

Theaters. Often used for dramatic productions, theaters are al-
most circular with a stage at center surrounded by rising tiers of
seats. This shape enhances acoustical quality and has been imitated in contemporary theaters. They are generally outdoors and take advantage of the natural slope of the terrain.

Floor Plans. Most residential plans have a symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangement of spaces around a central courtyard where most activities take place. Rooms are rectangular and include the dayroom, dining rooms with couches, bedroom, and sometimes an indoor bathroom. Cooking takes place outside. Spaces for males and females are separated, with male spaces often having entrances from the street. Some houses have shops at the street front.

Materials. Early public structures are made of wood cut from
plentiful forests. Wooden construction methods and some detailing subsequently are translated to buildings of stone, which be.
comes the primary material for most public architecture. The
most common building stones are marble and limestone because
of availability, ease of cutting, sharp edges, whiteness, and reflectance in strong light. Stone blocks are put together with no mortar and only metal dowels or clamps. This demonstrates the extraordinary skill of Greek stonemasons especially in buildings with multiple optical refinements, which have few, if any, straight lines. Roofs may be supported with a wooden truss system and covered with curving terra cotta or marble tiles. Most houses are of mud brick, but some are of masonry or stucco. Roofs are tiled.

What do we know about the interiors of public and private Greek buildings? Since few public and no private house interiors survive, most information that we have about both, comes from archaeology, literature, face paintings, and reliefs.

Color: color pallets of red, blue, and black. The Greeks used color to emphasize and highlight parts of architecture.

Floors: in public buildings many of the floors were stone or mosaic tiles. Studies show that most residential floors are just packed earth. Important rooms may have stone mosaics, which are a Greek innovation. The earliest mosaics consisted of pebbles of clay, marble, glass and bone. These pebbles/mosaic components are called tesserae. 

Walls: the interior walls of temples often presented orders which differed from the orders shown on the exterior. A Doric temple on the outside may have Ionic/Corinthian column(s) inside. During the Hellenistic period interiors were more decorated. Public spaces were veneered and find materials of marble or alabaster, and stucco and paint were also used on walls. Interior decoration becomes more important in

the Hellenistic period and features complex painting; veneers of

fine materials, such as marble or alabaster; stuccowork; or engaged

columns articulating walls. Residential interior walls may be

embellished with stucco and paint. Tiers of flat color often cover the

surfaces; stylized horizontal or vertical bands of colored patterns

may be added. Red is a favored color. No pictorial depictions have

been excavated, but they may have existed.

Ceilings:

Ceilings are flat and beamed or coffered.

Textiles: Greek textiles, as seen in vase paintings, are especially

fine. Common documented materials include wool, linen, and

some silk. In the home, textiles hang flat or gathered on walls, at

door openings, or around beds, and they are often used as cushion

and bed covers. Colors are rich and saturated, and designs may be

woven, painted, embroidered, or a combination. Common documented dye colors are purple, saffron, crimson, violet, and green.

Lighting: Candlestands and candelabras provide some artificial

lighting in addition to lamps and torches. Lighting fixtures are

made of wood and metal with decoration of classical motifs.

Furnishings and Decorative Arts

Examples of Creek furniture and decorative arts exist in vase

paintings, grave steles, terra-cottas, theaters, and sculpture. Furniture 

design emphasizes function with limited embellishment. Rooms have few furnishings. Greek furniture uses three types of legs: animal (from Egypt and used early), turned, or rectangular knobs and palmettes is a Greek innovation. The rectangular leg featuring a cutout center accented with knobs and palmettes is a Greek innovation. 

Materials: Furniture is constructed of various woods, marble,

bronze, and iron. Carving and inlay are the main forms of decorations but are used sparingly. 

Seating. An important Greek innovation is the klismos 

a simple light chair that reappears in varying forms in later periods. Other forms of seating include thrones, benches, and theater

seats. The most common seating piece is the diphros, a rectangular stool with four turned legs and a seat of woven leather or plant thongs, sometimes topped with a cushion.

Tables. Primarily used for meals, tables have round or rectangular tops with three or four legs. Some have stretchers. Vase paintings show a range of forms and decoration. Tables,

used to serve food to individuals, may slide under couches when not in use. 

Storage. Chests for storage change from rectangular boxes with

paneled sides to ones with arched lids. Small objects for daily use

are stored on shelves or hung on walls.

Beds. The kline or couch, a Greek innovation, is used for sleeping or for reclining during meals and at other

times. Couches have legs similar to those of chairs and often are

raised on bases. The head usually is higher than the foot.

Pottery. The most important examples of Grecian decorative

arts are the beautiful ceramic vessels, used primarily for household

storage but also as grave markers or as art objects. Greek vases

vary in shape and size according to use and may have

extensive surface decoration. Black, red, and cream provide the

palette depending upon the period, which includes Red Figure,

Black Figure, and White Ground. Vases often depict furniture, people, and motifs and are a primary source of historical information.

Weekly Lecture Notes – IDES 310 GREECE

Greek innovations in art, architecture, literature, philosophy, and
music have been sources of design inspiration since their inception. The
visual images establish a language and grammar for architecture, interiors,
furniture, and decorative arts copied by successive generations. Greek
(and Roman) elements and forms dominate Western architecture until well
into the 20th century. No other culture except Rome has had such a
significant impact on the evolution of Western architecture, interiors,
furniture, and decorative arts.

HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL
Greece is a peninsula with rocky seacoasts surrounded by numerous
islands and mountain ranges to the north. Geographic separation from
neighboring countries contributes to Greece’s individual cultural identity.
Early inhabitants are the Mycenaeans, who are driven out by the Dorians, a
militant tribe from the north that settles in Sparta and southern Greece.
Those Mycenaeans who stay maintain their identity on the peninsula of
Attica, specifically in the southeastern city of Athens, and become known
as Ionians. Numerous mountain ridges divide the country
into small areas, which fosters the development of independent
city-states, each with its own governmental, political, and eco-
nomic identity. These governments encourage individual citizen
participation and form models for later democracies.
Greeks are polytheistic, worshipping gods who are powerful
and immortal, but have human forms and attributes. Their religion fosters
respect for order, as reflected in nature and hu-
mankind. Men possess independence, wealth, ownership, and
education. Women, in contrast, are their fathers’ or husbands’
property, being restricted by law, politics, custom, and family relationships.
Their main duties are to bear children and tend the
household. Few women artists are known, and nothing by those
acknowledged survives.
As there is little farmland, trade is important. Not only does
trade stimulate the economy, but also it brings historical influences from
Egypt and the near East, Europe, and Asia. City-states
establish their own colonies throughout the Mediterranean,

spreading Greek culture and receiving foreign goods and effects in
return. Wars waged with the Persians and Assyrians also bring
new forms and ideas. The mixture of these influences produces a rich and
varied culture. Later, the exploits of Alexander the Great
(ruled 336-323 B.C.E.) bring additional ideas into the country as
he conquers vast areas to expand his empire. During this period of
cross-fertilization, Greeks call themselves Hellenes and recognize
their own distinctiveness. Significant Greek contributions include the literary
works and dramas penned by Aristotle, Plato,
Socrates, and Homer that promote logic, questioning, and critical
thinking; the first coinage system used in bartering; and the writ-
ten and visual accomplishments of many artists.

Searching for Perfection
Greek architecture and art search for the ideal, perfection in pro-
portion and distribution of forms and parts, and those attributes
or qualities that contribute to and enhance the ideal image. The
Golden Age of the 5th century, or Classical period, has continually provided
a model for the classical language of architectural
form, order, and proportion. Form is characteristically expressed
in the Greek temples, while order is delineated through the relationship of
the parts to the whole. Proportion, tied to religion and
the attainment of perfection, relates to the human body, often
cited by the Protagorian axiom “man is the measure of all things.”
One derivative of this concept is the golden section (developed by the
Greek mathematician Euclid). He diagrammed a
geometric relationship between rectangles and squares based on a
system of proportioning.

Motif. Ornamental motifs, some of which come from Egypt, are often
painted to enhance their attractiveness, especially when used on
architecture. Those derived from nature include the acanthus leaf,
anthemion, palmette, wave, antefix, honeysuckle, rosette, scroll. And
rinceau. Those motifs created from geometry are the fret or Greek key,
guilloche, dentil, egg and dart and swastika. Mythical beasts, such as the
sphinx, griffin, and chimera, are also important.

ARCHITECTURE and CHARACTERISTICS
Greek architecture conveys a formal, refined image that emphasizes
human proportions, the golden section, monumental scale,
symmetrical balance, and ordered spatial arrangements. The ordering of
the principal structural members distinguishes the building form.
Arrangements are logical and rational, reflecting natural harmony. Parts,
articulated for clarity and to emphasize the architectonics, relate to each
other and the whole. Equally important principles and attributes are repose,
horizontality, symmetry, stability, and clarity. In contrast to Egypt where
timelessness and tradition are important, Greece continually seeks
perfection in the proportion and distribution of parts. Consequently,
stylistic changes occur as forms evolve. Architectural influences from
the Middle East and Egypt merge with indigenous forms to shape the
building image within the Greek landscape. Bright sun alternating with rainy
periods contributes to a strong emphasis on building orientation, light
and dark contrast, and covered walkways. Greek designers seek to
express form in the most pleasing way, so they create systems of
proportions and rely on numerical relationships and geometry.
Therefore, each part of a building is composed of geometric forms,
each possessing its own importance and logical arrangement. Harmony
among parts is achieved through the repetition of forms and
numbers and carefully planned, articulated transitions. Structures
display classical attributes or qualities. Thus, the term classical can
refer to the elements (columns, pediments, and the like) and at-
tributes (svmmetry, balance, repose, etc.) of Greek (and Roman)
architecture. The addition of optical refinements to correct optical illusions
and enhance the structure indicates Greek psychological understanding of
architecture. Greek buildings are of trabeated construction until the 4th
century B.C.E, when arches and barrel vaults are adopted but hidden
behind traditional façades of some tombs and other structures. Public
building types include temples, theaters, and treasuries. Many structures,
such as large civic centers for political gatherings and sports centers for
athletic events, focus specifically on outdoor activities.

Structural Features

Classical Orders. The appearance of a Greek building comes
from the ordering of the principal structural members according
to particular and accepted modes called orders. The orders differ
in proportion and details, with capitals being the most distinguishing
feature. The principal structural members are the column or post and
entablature or lintel. Each is subdivided into three elements. Each of these
parts may be further subdivided with characteristic elements, moldings, and
decorative details. The lower portions, which carry the building’s load, are
appropriately larger and less embellished, which gives the effect of
lightening the visual weight as the composition ascends. This also creates
a pyramidal form, which is perceived as more stable than is a rectangle.

The concept of the orders based upon the work of Vitruvius and
they define the five orders common in the Classical tradition to-
day. The compositional method using the orders also appears in
some Greek interiors and, following the Renaissance, will comprise the
arrangement of many interior walls.

Column. The column is composed of a base, shaft, and capital.
The primary Greek orders are Doric, Ionic and Corinthian which differ from
each other in proportion, detail, and capital. All have fluted shafts, but Doric
ones usually have entasis, a slight convex curve. This light convex curve,
bulge, in the shaft of the column, is introduced to correct the visual illusion
of concavity produced by a straight shaft. Caryatids
sometimes substitute as columns. Until the Hellenistic period,
when engaged columns appear, columns are used structurally,
rarely decoratively.

Pilasters and Engaged Columns. Pilasters commonly adorn the
corners of exterior cella walls ( hidden inner part of a Greek or Roman
temple that housed the image of a deity) behind the porch, corresponding
to columns. Interior pilasters are rare, even in the Hellenistic period.
Engaged columns appear occasionally in the 5th century B.C.E. on

temple exteriors and interiors. By the Hellenistic period, they are
common on temples, stoas, agoras, and other structures.

Entablature and Pediment. Resting on top of columns, the
entablature features an architrave, frieze, and cornice. The architrave is
a flat, wide band; the frieze displays carved and/or painted ornamentation;
and the cornice is composed of a series of three-dimensional moldings.
Each order treats the frieze and cornice differently. Above the entablature
is the pediment, a triangular form composed by the two slopes of the gable
roof. The tympanum, or center of the pediment, may be filled with relief
sculpture.

Moldings. The Greeks are the first to create and extensively use
a series of moldings to delineate the outlines of buildings. Moldings add
interest, emphasis, and contrasts of light and dark.

Doric Order. The Doric capital consists of an abacus and an echinus.
Near the neck of the capital are three annulets or grooves. The height of
the shaft varies and has flutes but no base. The earliest Doric columns are
slender, but in the Archaic period they become very thick with a
pronounced taper and heavy, bulging echinus. Classical Doric shafts are
slimmer and not as tapered; the echinus is not so pronounced. Shafts
become even thinner in the Hellenistic period. Above a plain architrave the
Doric frieze is composed of triglyphs and metopes. Rules dictate the
placement of triglyphs, which are centered over and between each column
and must meet at the corners. Metopes may have relief sculptures or
painted decoration. Most large temples are Doric until the Hellenistic
period, when the lonic order dominates. Doric is often contrasted as
masculine in comparison to the more feminine lonic or Corinthian. Although
characteristic of some Greek temple interiors, Doric is rarely used in later
interiors.

Ionic Order. Developed about the same time as the Doric, the
Ionic order has two pairs of volutes, one in front and
one in back, joined at the side by a decorated concave cushion.

The volutes usually are parallel to the architrave except on corners, when
they assume a 45-degree angle for a more pleasing appearance. The
smaller ecchinus is carved with an egg-and-dart molding and palmettes.
Ionic has a taller and more slender shaft than the Doric and a contoured
base. The fluted shaft is more tapered than that of a Doric column. The
architrave, no longer plain, has three fascia. The lonic frieze may be carved
with reliefs. Dentil moldings delineate the cornice. The Ionic is elegant,
graceful, and more flexible than the Doric because there are fewer
rules, such as the placement of triglyphs. It also adapts well to
curves and interiors.

Corinthian Order. Introduced as a variation of the Ionic order,
the Corinthian order is similar to it except for the capital. Shaped like an
inverted bell, the lower portion has two rows of acanthus leaves. Curving
stalks rise from the upper row of leaves. The abacus is concave on all four
sides and ends in a point, and a rosette accentuates the center. The tall
shaft is more slender than that of the lonic order and the entablature is
usually more embellished. Originally used inside temples because
it adapted well to corners, the Corinthian order is first used on exteriors
during the Hellenistic period. Even then, the conservative Greeks rarely use
the Corinthian order. Like the lonic, the Corinthian order appears in some
Greek and man later interiors.

Optical Refinements. The Greek adoption of a series of
architectural adjustments that enhance the building, create dynamism,
and correct any perceived optical illusions indicates a psychological
understanding of the art and perception of building not seen
again until the Renaissance. After the 5th century B.C.E., most
temples incorporate only some of the refinements, as they are
costly and complicated to build. Entasis, the most common optical
refinement, gives columns the appearance of responding to the
weight of the entablature and counters any perception of
thinness in the center of the shaft. Additionally, curves are more
pleasing to the eye. Corner columns may be thicker, spaced more
closely together, and lean inward slightly to avoid the appearance
of weakness or outward fall. Triglyphs and metopes become closer
together as they spread outward from the center. The stylobate

may curve up to about 4′ to counter any semblance of sagging.
The architrave, frieze, cornice, and roof gables also curve, and
capitals distort to fit the architrave. Consequently, there are few
straight lines or rectangular blocks in a building that uses all of
these refinements, such as the Parthenon. Inscriptions
closer to the viewer usually are smaller than those farther away, so
that they all appear the same size.

Public and Private Buildings
Sacred Sites. Sanctuaries with temples and other sacred buildings are
often placed on high promontory points for recognition, protection, and
orientation. Unlike Egyptian processional and axial temple complexes, each
building in a Greek sanctuary is an individual element integrated to natural
features of the landscape. This arrangement reflects the cultural vision of
each citizen as an individual who unites with others for a common
purpose. Situated on a prominent plateau is the Acropolis in
Athens, the best known of Greek sacred sites. During
Athens’s golden age, the 5th century B.C.E., the Acropolis ac-
quired its present appearance with the construction of the major
buildings: the Propylea, a complex entrance structure designed by
Mnesicles; the Parthenon; the Erectheion
and the Temple of Athena Nike.

Temples. Temples, the dominant building type until the
Hellenistic period, pay homage to a particular god. Temples are conceived
as sculpture, and their exteriors are far more important than their interiors.
Worship takes place out of doors so interiors focus primarily on housing
cult statues and treasures instead of decoration. Standard floor plans for
small temples include a small rectangular room (cella or naos) with
columns only in front forming a portico or porch or in front and back.
Larger temples have several rooms with columns on all four sides
forming a peristyle. A single row of columns is peripteral, while a double
row is dipteral. In the Hellenistic period, round temples appear. THOLOS

Theaters. Often used for dramatic productions, theaters are al-
most circular with a stage at center surrounded by rising tiers of

seats. This shape enhances acoustical quality and has been imitated in
contemporary theaters. They are generally outdoors and take advantage of
the natural slope of the terrain.

Floor Plans. Most residential plans have a symmetrical or
asymmetrical arrangement of spaces around a central courtyard where
most activities take place. Rooms are rectangular and include the dayroom,
dining rooms with couches, bedroom, and sometimes an indoor bathroom.
Cooking takes place outside. Spaces for males and females are separated,
with male spaces often having entrances from the street. Some houses
have shops at the street front.

Materials. Early public structures are made of wood cut from
plentiful forests. Wooden construction methods and some detailing
subsequently are translated to buildings of stone, which be.
comes the primary material for most public architecture. The
most common building stones are marble and limestone because
of availability, ease of cutting, sharp edges, whiteness, and reflectance in
strong light. Stone blocks are put together with no mortar and only metal
dowels or clamps. This demonstrates the extraordinary skill of Greek
stonemasons especially in buildings with multiple optical refinements,
which have few, if any, straight lines. Roofs may be supported with a
wooden truss system and covered with curving terra cotta or marble tiles.
Most houses are of mud brick, but some are of masonry or stucco. Roofs
are tiled.

What do we know about the interiors of public
and private Greek buildings? Since few public and no
private house interiors survive, most information that we have about both,
comes from archaeology, literature, face paintings, and reliefs.

Color: color pallets of red, blue, and black. The Greeks used color to
emphasize and highlight parts of architecture.

Floors: in public buildings many of the floors were stone or mosaic tiles.
Studies show that most residential floors are just packed earth. Important
rooms may have stone mosaics, which are a Greek innovation. The earliest
mosaics consisted of pebbles of clay, marble, glass and bone. These
pebbles/mosaic components are called tesserae.

Walls: the interior walls of temples often presented orders which differed
from the orders shown on the exterior. A Doric temple on the outside may
have Ionic/Corinthian column(s) inside. During the Hellenistic period
interiors were more decorated. Public spaces were veneered and find
materials of marble or alabaster, and stucco and paint were also used on
walls. Interior decoration becomes more important in
the Hellenistic period and features complex painting; veneers of
fine materials, such as marble or alabaster; stuccowork; or engaged
columns articulating walls. Residential interior walls may be
embellished with stucco and paint. Tiers of flat color often cover the
surfaces; stylized horizontal or vertical bands of colored patterns
may be added. Red is a favored color. No pictorial depictions have
been excavated, but they may have existed.

Ceilings:
Ceilings are flat and beamed or coffered.

Textiles: Greek textiles, as seen in vase paintings, are especially
fine. Common documented materials include wool, linen, and
some silk. In the home, textiles hang flat or gathered on walls, at
door openings, or around beds, and they are often used as cushion
and bed covers. Colors are rich and saturated, and designs may be
woven, painted, embroidered, or a combination. Common documented dye
colors are purple, saffron, crimson, violet, and green.

Lighting: Candlestands and candelabras provide some artificial
lighting in addition to lamps and torches. Lighting fixtures are
made of wood and metal with decoration of classical motifs.

Furnishings and Decorative Arts

Examples of Creek furniture and decorative arts exist in vase
paintings, grave steles, terra-cottas, theaters, and sculpture. Furniture
design emphasizes function with limited embellishment. Rooms have few
furnishings. Greek furniture uses three types of legs: animal (from Egypt
and used early), turned, or rectangular knobs and palmettes is a Greek
innovation. The rectangular leg featuring a cutout center accented with
knobs and palmettes is a Greek innovation.

Materials: Furniture is constructed of various woods, marble,
bronze, and iron. Carving and inlay are the main forms of decorations but
are used sparingly.

Seating. An important Greek innovation is the klismos
a simple light chair that reappears in varying forms in later periods. Other
forms of seating include thrones, benches, and theater
seats. The most common seating piece is the diphros, a rectangular stool
with four turned legs and a seat of woven leather or plant thongs,
sometimes topped with a cushion.

Tables. Primarily used for meals, tables have round or rectangular tops
with three or four legs. Some have stretchers. Vase paintings show a range
of forms and decoration. Tables,
used to serve food to individuals, may slide under couches when not in
use.

Storage. Chests for storage change from rectangular boxes with
paneled sides to ones with arched lids. Small objects for daily use
are stored on shelves or hung on walls.
Beds. The kline or couch, a Greek innovation, is used for sleeping or for
reclining during meals and at other
times. Couches have legs similar to those of chairs and often are
raised on bases. The head usually is higher than the foot.

Pottery. The most important examples of Grecian decorative

arts are the beautiful ceramic vessels, used primarily for household
storage but also as grave markers or as art objects. Greek vases
vary in shape and size according to use and may have
extensive surface decoration. Black, red, and cream provide the
palette depending upon the period, which includes Red Figure,
Black Figure, and White Ground. Vases often depict furniture, people, and
motifs and are a primary source of historical information.

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