What is a frieze? what buildings have friezes? when did people begin carving friezes?
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What is a Frieze?

A frieze (pronounced FREEZE) is a long narrow band of sculpture that runs along the architrave of a Greek temple or another building. One of the most famous friezes is the one on the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. You can find out more about that frieze on Kidipede's page about the Parthenon frieze.

frieze diagram
Maison Carre in Nimes (16 BC)

In this photograph of a Roman temple, you can see that the frieze runs around the temple on top of the column capitals and below the pediment.

Usually Greek and Roman temples had either a frieze or alternating triglyphs and metopes in this location, but occasionally (as in the Parthenon) a temple might have both.

Temples in other parts of the world might also have friezes. In India, for example, we see friezes on the Konarak Sun Temple (1200s AD). These friezes aren't necessarily above the columns, but may be in different places on the temple.

Bibliography and further reading:

Ancient Greek Art, by Susie Hodge (1998)- for kids ages 9-12.

Temples
Ancient Greece
Ancient West Asia


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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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