Archaic Greek Architecture - The first Greek temples answers questions

Archaic Greek Architecture

Sicilian Greek temple

There were no more kings in Greece after the Dark Ages, and so there were no more palaces or fancy tombs. Instead, people began to build big temples for the gods. The Egyptians had already been doing this for a thousand years, so it was not a new idea, but it was new in Greece. A lot of Greeks were working in Egypt at this time, and they probably got the idea from that (as they did for stone sculpture as well at this time).

Greek temples are the most famous part of Greek architecture. They combine the Greek tradition of the megaron house with the Egyptian temple to make a new, simple, and elegant form.

Early Greek temple

The first Greek temples, built around 800 BC, were made of wood, which was easier to build in than stone. They were long rectangular buildings with a porch all the way around them supported by columns made of tree trunks, like this, and thatched or tiled roofs. (Compare these to Chinese palaces of the Shang Dynasty, just a little earlier.)

(Notice the stone altar in front of the temple for sacrifices).

Learn by doing: build a Lego Greek temple, or do it in Minecraft
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Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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