Classical Greek architecture

prepared by J.J. Coulton

Handbooks, etc.

  • H. Berve, G. Gruben, M. Hirmer, Greek Temples Theatres and Shrines (1963). Good illustrations, generally helpful text, but largely limited to well preserved temples.
  • W.B. Dinsmoor, The Architecture of Ancient Greece (1950, repr. 1975). Now dated, but thorough and with still useful classified bibliography.
  • A.W. Lawrence, Greek Architecture (1957, 4th & 5th ed. rev. R.A.Tomlinson 1983, 1996). Most up-to-date handbook, well illustrated and concentrating less heavily on temples.
  • W.H. Plommer, Ancient and Classical Architecture (1956). Ch.5 on The Orders is worth reading
  • R.L. Scranton, Greek Architecture (1962). A short lucid essay.
  • R.E. Wycherley, How the Greeks Built Cities (2nd ed. 1962). On secular buildings.
  • E.J. Owens, The City in the Greek and Roman World (1991). On urbanism.
  • J.J. Coulton, [Ancient] Greek Architects at Work (1977). Discusses principles and procedures rather than buildings.
  • M.C.Hellmann, L'Architecture grecque (1998). An up-to-date pocket book, much more than a history.

Ancient sources

  • J.J.Pollitt, The Art of Greece; Sources and Documents (1965). Gobbets in translation.
  • Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture (The translation by M.H.Morgan is clear, or use the Loeb edition). Although written under Augustus with Hellenistic-Roman outlook, much is illuminating for classical Greek architecture.

Design and technique

  • A. Orlandos, Les Matériaux de construction et la technique architecturale des anciens Grecs (1966-8; also in Greek, Ta Ylika Domis ...). A step by step account of techniques from quarry to roofing, with ref.s to ancient texts.
  • R. Martin, Manuel d'architecture grecque 1: Matériaux et techniques (1965). Similar to Orlandos, but with different emphases. Vols 2ff never appeared.
  • J.J. Coulton, 'Lifting in early Greek architecture'. JHS 94 (1974) 1-19. As title, but also with social implications.
  • J.J. Coulton, 'The second temple of Hera at Paestum and the pronaos problem'. JHS 95 (1975) 13-24. Looks at design procedure through the relation of outer and porch colonnades.
  • W.B. Dinsmoor, 'Structural iron in Greek architecture' AJA 26 (1922) 148-58. On the use of concealed iron beams etc.
  • M. Korres, 'The construction of ancient Greek temples' in R.Economakis (ed.) Acropolis Restoration (1994) 20-27.
  • M. Korres, From Pentelicon to the Parthenon (1995; earlier German and Greek editions). Magnificent drawings of quarrying, transport and the building site, with many pertinent observations.
  • R.L. Scranton, 'Greek building' in C.Roebuck (ed.), The Muses at Work (1969) 2-35. A brief account of organisation and methods.
  • L.T. Shoe, 'Dark stone in Greek architecture' Hesperia Suppl. 8 (1952) 341-52. Analysing the reasons for its use.

Organisation of building projects

  • J. Bundgaard, Mnesicles, a Greek architect at Work (1957). Much of value about the Propylaia, but also a pioneering investigation of ancient planning procedure.
  • A. Burford, 'The builders of the Parthenon', Parthenos and Parthenon, Greece and Rome 10 Suppl. (1963), 36-43. On the Periclean building programme.
  • A. Burford, Greek Temple Builders at Epidauros (1969). A fundamental study of the social and economic implications of building, based on surviving accounts and buildings.

Meaning and purpose of buildings

  • J. Boersma, Athenian Building Policy 562/1 to 405/4 BC (1970). Notes varying emphases from period to period.
  • R.F. Rhodes, Architecture and Meaning on the Acropolis at Athens (1995). Original and valuable investigation, but the processional motif (for example) is not special to the Acropolis.

More on temples and sanctuaries

  • B. Bergquist, The Archaic Greek Temenos (1967). An analysis of sanctuary layout in both functional and aesthetic terms.
  • J. Hurwit, The Athenian Acropolis: History, Mythology and Archaeology from the Neolithic to the Present (1998).
  • F.A. Cooper, The Temple of Apollo Bassitas (1992-6), esp. I and IV. Detailed discussion of an unusual and well-preserved temple.
  • M. Korres, 'The architecture of the Parthenon' in P.Tournikiotis (ed.), The Parthenon and its Impact in Modern Times (1994) 54-97. With new insights from the conservation works.
  • M. Miles, The Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnous (1986). New study.
  • N.J. Norman, 'The temple of Athena at Tegea' AJA 88 (1984) 169-94. Revises the 'standard' publication, esp. of the interior.
  • W.H. Plommer, 'Three Attic temples' BSA 45 (1950) 66-112. On the Hephaisteion, the Poseidon temple at Sounion and the Nemesis temple at Rhamnous (by one architect?) with enlightening drawings. But see now Miles above.
  • G. Roux, L'Architecture de l'Argolide aux iv et iii siècles av. J.-C. (1961) Studies of the temple at Bassai and buildings at Epidauros lead to the identification of a 'Peloponnesian' style.
  • I.M. Shear, 'Kallikrates' Hesperia 34 (1963) 375-424. The Ilissos temple, Nike temple, Athenian temple on Delos and Erchtheion
  • F.E. Winter, 'Tradition and innovation in Doric design I-IV' AJA 80 (1976) 139-45; AJA 82 (1978) 151-61; AJA 84 (1980) 399-416; AJA 86 (1982) 387-400. Innovative periods and areas from the late sixth to the fourth century BC.

Other building types

  • J.J. Coulton, The Architectural Development of the Greek Stoa (1976). Esp. ch.4.
  • S.G. Miller, The Prytaneion; its function and architectural form (1978).
  • E. Gebhart, The Theatre at Isthmia (1973). Esp ch 1 on early theatres.
  • A.W. Lawrence, Greek Aims in Fortification (1979) A historical and functional analysis.
  • F.E. Winter, Greek Fortifications (1971). More descriptive, better illustrated.

Other useful works

  • R. Martin, R. Ginouvès, Dictionnaire méthodique de l'architecture classique 1-3 (1985- ). Architectural terminology in 5 languages explained and discussed; arranged by concepts and forms, so begin from the index in the relevant language.
  • L.T. Shoe, Profiles of Greek Mouldings (1936). Methodical analysis of moulding usage, for reference and muscle toning only.
  • J. Travlos, Pictorial Dictionary of Ancient Athens (1971). Illustrations, brief notes, and bibliographies of all Athenian buildings.
  • J. Travlos, Bildlexikon zur antiken Attika (1988). Does the same for Attica and updates Athens. Useful even for those without German.
  • J.McK. Camp, The Athenian Agora (1986, rev. 1992).
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