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Greek Architechture Essay, Research Paper

Behind the complex understanding of Greek architectural design lay the backbone of all Greek lifestyle, Sacred Architecture. The temples built in Ancient Greece were extraordinary in their design, planning, and construction. Some of the more simple temples were built with solid limestone blocks, which were surfaced with stucco made of marble dust (Greece, 1). Other temples were made completely of solid marble or other near-indestructible materials. These temples were constructed to worship the gods. Deity worship was a daily part of Greek life. The Greeks conceived of their gods in human form, as anthropomorphic representations of the forces and elements of the natural world.

Sacred Greek temples were made of many specific parts which all served their own purpose. The temple was designed simply as a shelter for the statue and a storehouse for offerings. The basic model of this shelter is the four-sided cella. The cella was somewhat of a back wall. To the simple cella was attached a pronaos. The pronaos was a porch lined with columns. The cella walls are connected to the porch with antae, which were bronze grills securing the pronaos (Sullivan 15). The larger temples included columns that were added between antae for roof support. Even though there was only one entrance to the cella, a second pronaos was added on the other side to add a balanced and symmetrical look.

All Greek architecture is based on a simple three-order system. These three orders are different in four basic ways. The first way would be the purpose of the design. Each order has it s own purpose whether it be for beauty, structural sturdiness, or for reasons still unbeknownst by us today. The second difference would be focused on the base of the column. The base can differ in many ways including size, shape, and sometimes even color. The third way is the shaft of the column. The shaft can include different lengths, shapes, sizes, indentations, grooves, cuts, and many other styles. The shaft is connected directly to the base and can even be different in connection circumstances and widths. The last difference is the capital. The capital is agreed to be the most changed of the parts of the columns throughout the different orders. Because the capital can lack almost all structural integrity and still maintain it s purpose, it can be smoothed, carved, cut, chiseled, or can have any other amount of work done on it.

The first order of the three is the Doric order. The Doric order dates back to around the year 600 BC:

Normally standing right on the floor, the shaft is made of a series of drums that are rounded, doweled together, or tapered up usually twenty times. On top of the shaft sits a two-part capital carved in a single block. The bottom is the echinus or cushion and the top is a flat square slab called the abacus. There is a natural ring where the capital and shaft meet and this is emphasized by the addition of several carved rings. The column height is four to six and one half times the diameter at the base of the shaft. (Greece, 1).

The straight lines on the columns used vertical and horizontal blending in perfect unity. Strength and simplicity were the most important aspects. The Doric columns had a very uncluttered capital and even no base (Sullivan 14)! The next of the 3 orders had a very different appearance.

The Ionic column, second order, is distinguished by it s volute or scroll capital. More slender than the Doric column, it s height is eight or nine times the diameter if the shaft. Normally, the Ionic column has twenty-four flutes, which are separated by fillets or soft edges; some examples have as many as forty-eight flutes. There is a column base, the most notable type consisting of a torus or convex molding above, a three-part concave molding, and a torus below. All the carving is on a high level. The Ionic order was considered to be very graceful and feminine.

The last order, Corinthian, is so much like the Ionic order they would be one and the same if it wasn t for their one big difference. The shaft and the base of the Corinthian order are very much like those of the Ionic order. In fact, the only difference between the two orders is the capital. The capital in the Corinthian order included distinctive carvings usually including acanthus leaf, foliage, or flower carvings. The capital took the shape of an inverted bell. Rising up the sides from the bottom of the bell was where the carvings were carved.

Throughout all of early human civilization, the Greeks set a certain standard of beauty and excellence. Although the Greek city-states themselves were completely divided, evolving ideas of strong warfare tactics, greater understanding, more knowledge, and philosophical logic predisposed for a new world of greater successfulness. The things achieved by Greek architecture, whether it is from beauty or image, surely had an effect on flourishing excellence of the human civilization.

One aspect that made Greek architecture a new experience is the material that they built with. The use of limestone and marble created a whole new look of beauty for Greek buildings. These near-indestructible materials are much sturdier than wood and stone and have more of a beauty quality to them. This quality of building will effect the architectural design in even the most recent construction projects.

The three major orders that were mentioned earlier have outstanding examples shown to us in the form of Greek temples. The Temple of Apollo, located in Corinth, was built in 540 BC. The temple consists of seven Doric columns that were the oldest to survive intact. The shaft of each column is over 20 feet high, and is cut from a solid limestone block. While the columns seem simple and stumpy, common in the Doric order, the sharp-ridged fluting is evidence of a high degree of mastery. Although today most of these columns appear gray, this is just a result of wind and rain erosion. Generally, these temples were painted brightly in white and gold, sometimes including some reds and blues.

One good example of an Ionic style temple would be the Temple of Artemis. The Temple of Aretmis is located in Sardis, Greece and was built around 330 BC. When the temple was found, the Ionic columns were left unfluted when work on the temple stopped. To this day, no one is sure exactly why. Fluting ordinarily takes place after the column is assembled.

The best example of the order of Corinthian would be from the Temple of Olympian Zeus, king of the gods. This temple is located in Athens, Greece and was built in 170 BC. It includes over ten tall columns built for the worship of Zeus. These columns included the stereotypical carvings on the capital of acanthus leaf, foliage, and flowers.

Undisputedly, the most famous of all the buildings in Greek history would be the Parthenon. Although many may have heard or seen pictures of the Parthenon, they still do not understand it completely. The Parthenon was dedicated to the virgin Athena Parthenos. It was designed by the architects Ictinus and Callicrates and built over the years 447-432 BC. Basically it is a simple rectangular building, 237 feet long by 100-+ feet wide, with Doric columns around its four sides, supporting an architrave, frieze, and cornice. A pediment on each end rises to a slanting roof. With the exception of the roof frame and parts of the ceiling, the entire temple is constructed in marble. The walk space between the exterior columns on the left and the walled-in columns on the right is called the pteroma. This intense head of the horse of the moon-god Selene is in the northern corner of the east pediment. It counterbalances the horse of Helios on the southern corner. The Parthenon had many statues enclosed in it used for worshipping the gods.

The Ancient Greek ideas of columns still show in today s buildings. Different styles and orders have shown up in even the most prominent of buildings. The Greeks have had a long-term, lasting effect indeed! The beauty and excellence of Greek architecture will not easily be forgotten.

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