Mycenae: One of the most ancient Greek cities located in the southern part of Greece. Strategically located as a citadel, it was the center of Mycenaean civilization. The city was approached through the Lion Gate of massive masonry construction, surmounted by affronted lions. Other important ancient remains include the Treasury of Atreus and the beehive tombs.
megaron: The principal hall of a Mycenaean palace, consisting of a squarish room with a hearth in the center and a porch of columns in antis. 2. In many Greek temples, a space divided off and sometimes subterranean, which only the priest was allowed to enter. 3. The great central hall of the Homeric house or palace.
relieving triangle: Approximate triangle above a lintel where masonry courses in a wall are corbelled over each other so avoiding any loading on the lintel (e.g. in Mycenaean work).
dromos: The long, deep entrance to an ancient Egyptian tomb or a Mycenaean beehive tomb.
beehive tomb: A stone-built subterranean tomb of the Mycenaean civilization consisting of a circular chamber covered by a corbeled dome and entered by a walled passage through a hillside. Also called tholos.
tholos: A stone-built subterranean tomb of the Mycenaean civilization consisting of a circular chamber covered by a corbeled dome and entered by a walled passage through a hillside.
Cnossus: See Knossos.
Cretan and Mycenaean: The earliest architectural type of the Ancient Greek world destroyed in the 12th century BC. Mainly known from the excavations at Knossos and Phaestos on Crete.
Athens (1796–86 BC)
Erechtheum: A temple on the Acropolis in Athens; the most important monument of the Ionic style, including a fine example of a porch of caryatides.
Erecthion: A temple on the Acropolis in Athens; the most important monument of the Ionic style, including a fine example of a porch of caryatides.
pandrosium: A building or enclosure on the Acropolis of Athens, sacred to the Nymph Pandrosos…
Pnyx: A public place of assembly in ancient Athens near the Acropolis; an open, paved, semicircular area surrounded by a wall; speakers addressed the people from a platform.
cecropium: A building or sacred spot at Athens, dedicated to or commemorative of Kekrops, the mythical founder of the city…
bouleuterion: From Greek boule, the council of ancient Athens. Also the council chamber of ancient Greek cities.
hecatomped: Measuring 100 Attic feet in length, e.g. the width of the octastyle front and the length of the naos of the Parthenon, Athens. Hecatompedon is a temple in which 100 feet is an essential element of proportion.
academy: Garden of Akademos near Athens where Plato taught. 2. Institution of higher learning for the arts and sciences. 3. Place of training in skill, e.g. riding. 4. Society/institution for the promotion of art, science, etc.
Sixteen Principles of Urbanism: Agreed with Moscow (1948), the Principles were drawn up in Communist East Germany as a radical alternative to the Le Corbusier-CIAM-Athens Charter dogmas so widely accepted in the West after 1945. Among the Principles were the rejection of urban motorways cutting swaths through the urban fabric, the abandonment of zoning that played havoc in Western cities, and the reestablishment of the urban block and traditional street as essentials, all of which were reassessed at the end of the 20th c. as part of New Urbanism.
Athenian: Adjective, characteristic of the center of Greek art, Athens.
Akropolis: Fortified citadel in Greek cities. “The Acropolis” usually refers to the one in Athens.
poecile: A stoa or porch on the agora of ancient Athens having walls adorned with paintings of historical and religious subjects.
Pentellic marble: A white to grayish crystalline marble from Mount Pentelicus, between Athens and Marathon in Greece. It was used in the Parthenon.
caryatides: Female figures supporting an entablature. The most famous example is at the Erectheum, Athens, where Vitruvius improbably supposed the figures to represent Carian captives, hence the generic name.
geison: In Greek and Greco-Roman architecture, the projection from the face of a wall of the coping or eaves; especially the broad shelf in front of the tympanum of a pediment and formed by the top of the cornice of the entablature below. The triangular panel may be flush with the face of the architrave of this lower entablature, or may be set farther in, making the recess for the statuary or the like so much deeper and increasing the width of the geison. In the Parthenon at Athens this projection, or the width of the geison, is nearly three feet. The term is often extended so as to imply the mass of cut stone itself which projects and forms the cornice of the horizontal entablature.
dipylon: In ancient Greece, a gate consisting of two separate gates placed side by side. 2. A gate of this type on the northwestern side of Athens.
propylaeum: An imposing gateway in front of and separate from a temple. Propylaea, the entrance to the Acropolis at Athens.
marigold: Formalized circular floral decoration in Greek architecture, resembling a rosette, but more like a chrysanthemum or marigold, repeated in series, e.g. on the architrave of the north portico of the Erechtheion, Athens.
petal: Imbrication, petal-diaper, or scale-pattern ornament suggesting overlapping scale-like shapes. It represents roofing-tiles, as on the top of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, Athens, and was often found in Roman work, e.g. sarcophagi. Petal-diaper patterns occur in roofing and tile-hanging.
caryatid: Female figures supporting an entablature. The most famous example is at the Erectheum, Athens, where Vitruvius improbably supposed the figures to represent Carian captives, hence the generic name.
Sparta (900s– 146 BC)
Corinth (700 BC–146 BC)
Incantada: The ruins of a late Roman building in Salonica, Turkey in Europe. It is generally in the Corinthian style, and its purpose is not perfectly understood. Only five columns remain with their entablature, above which rises a low attic with engaged figure sculpture. The work appears to be of the 2nd century A.D.
atrium Corinthium: The Corinthian atrium, similar to the atrium tetrastylum but of greater size and magnificence since the columns which supported the roof were more numerous and were placed at a distance back from the impluvium.
oecus Corinthius: An oecus resembling an atrium Corinthium, except that it had a vaulted roof, supported on columns at a certain distance from the side walls, but without any opening in the center or impluvium below.
helix: Any spiral, particularly a small volute or twist under the abacus of the Corinthian capital. 2. The volute of an Ionic capital.
triumphal avenue: One of the great central streets of some of the cities of the Roman Empire, as notably Palmyra, where the double colonnade of Corinthian columns is still partly in place…
superimposed: One element placed above another; when referring to the orders, the order of superimposition is typically composite over Corinthian over Ionic over Doric over Tuscan.
superposed: One element placed above another; when referring to the orders, the order of superimposition is typically composite over Corinthian over Ionic over Doric over Tuscan.
Greek Revival style: The final years of the 18th century brought an increasing interest in classical buildings to both the United States and Europe. This was first based on Roman models (Federal style), but archaeological investigation in the early 19th century emphasized Greece as the Mother of Rome which, in turn, shifted interest to Grecian models. The style is an adaptation of the classic Greek temple front employing details of Doric, Ionic or Corinthian order.
acanthus: A plant of the Mediterranean region characterized by thick, fleshy, scalloped leaves; used as a decorative element on Corinthian and composite capitals as well as on moldings.
basket: The body of a Corinthian capital or a Composite capital, with the foliage removed.
bud: An element in a Corinthian capital.
calathus: The belt or core of the Corinthian capital.
Calicolus: An ornament on the capital of the Corinthian order in the form of a curled fern shoot. (Latin for “little stalk.”)
calyx: Ornament resembling a cup-like flower, as in the Corinthian capital, or on the neck of the Roman Doric capital.
campana: The body of a Corinthian capital.
caul: Caules are principal stalks rising behind the upper row of acanthus-leaves in a Corinthian capital. From these caules spring lesser branches (caulicoles or cauliculae) supporting the volutes or helices.
caulcole: Stalk rising from the leaves of a Corinthian capital.
caulicole: One of the upper acanthus stems just under the angle volutes of a Corinthian capital.
caulicoli: An ornament on the capital of the Corinthian order in the form of a curled fern shoot. (Latin for “little stalk.”)
caulicolus: One of the upper acanthus stems just under the angle volutes of a Corinthian capital.
cauliculus: One of the upper acanthus stems just under the angle volutes of a Corinthian capital.
caulis: One of the lower circlet of acanthus stems forming the middle portion of a Corinthian capital.
urilla: Helix or volute of a Corinthian capital.
bell: In Classical architecture, the bare vase form of the Corinthian capital, around which the acanthus leaves are grouped. 2. An electrical device for producing a ringing sound when the electrical circuit is closed. 3. A form made of metal for sounding a musical tone with the aid of a clapper. 4. The base of a caisson enlarged to increase its bearing area.
bell capital: A bell-shaped capital. 2. The bell-shaped core of a Corinthian capital to which the leaves and volutes appear to be attached.
aris: An external angular intersection between two planar faces (an edge), or two curved faces, as in moldings or between two flutes on a Doric column or between a flute and the fillet on an Ionic or a Corinthian column. 2. The sharp edge of a brick. See arris.
modillion: A small curved and ornamented bracket used to support the upper part of the cornice in the Corinthian order; any such small curved ornamented bracket used in series.
superimposed orders: The mixture of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders in one building.
Agricultural Order: Type of Corinthian capital with volutes replaced by representations of animal-heads, acanthus-leaves replaced by those of mangel-wurzel and turnip, and other allusions to agriculture.
American Order: Capital resembling that of the Corinthian Order with acanthus leaves replaced by corn-cobs, corn-ears, and tobacco-leaves, invented by Latrobe for the US Capitol in Washington, DC.
Classical orders: The arrangement of columns and entablature used in Classical architecture, including the Greek and Roman orders: Doric, Ionian, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite.
Composite Order: A classical order with capitals in which the volutes of the Ionic are combined with the acanthus foliage of the Corinthian.
French Order: Corinthian capital featuring the cock and fleur-de-lys. 2. Type of order invented by the l’Orme with bands of sculpted leaves concealing the shaft-drums. 3. Classical Order consisting of three columns set at the points of an equilateral triangular plan, with creepers trailing in spiral forms around the shafts…
German Order: Type of 18th c. Corinthian Order, also called the Britannic Order, the volutes replaced by winged lions and unicorns and the fleuron superseded by the Crown. Its incorporation of Royal emblems led to its association with the House of Hanover, hence its name.
Spanish Order: Corinthian Order with abacus embellished with lions masks rather than fleurons.
Tower of the Winds order: With its single row of acanthus leaves surrounding a single row of palm leaves, the capital is a simplified version of the Greek Corinthian order, and has become known commonly as the Tower of the Winds order.
minute: One-thirtieth of Palladio’s module of the classic orders. Vignola divided the module into 12 parts in the Tuscan and Doric orders, 18 parts in the Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite orders. 2. In measurement of angles, one-sixtieth of a degree.
horn: Something projecting, usually of small size, and tapering more or less toward a point. One of the four angles of a Corinthian abacus is in this sense a horn; and the term may be applied to one of the strong-stemmed projections terminating in leaf form which were characteristic of 13th century Gothic sculpture. (French crochet.) 2. A volute like that of an Ionic capital, for which the more extended term ram’s horn would seem to be more appropriate. 3. One of the corners of the Mensa of an altar. 4. That part of a jamb extending above the head of a door or window frame, or the horizontal extension of a windowsill beyond the jamb.
acanthus leaf: A plant of the Mediterranean region characterized by thick, fleshy, scalloped leaves; used as a decorative element on Corinthian and composite capitals as well as on moldings.
bucranium: A sculptured ornament representing the head or skull of an ox, often garlanded; frequently used on Roman Ionic and Corinthian friezes.
corn-cob: Carving of the woody receptacle to which the grains are attached in an ear of maize, used in a variation of the Corinthian Order invented by Latrobe for the US Capitol Building, Washington, DC, after 1814, and called the American Order. Corn-cobs recur as 19th c. finials, popularized by Latrobe’s designs.
modillions: A small curved and ornamented bracket used to support the upper part of the cornice in the Corinthian order; any such small curved ornamented bracket used in series.
scroll-like modillions: A small curved and ornamented bracket used to support the upper part of the cornice in the Corinthian order; any such small curved ornamented bracket used in series.
mansion house: The residence of the Lord Mayor of London, finished about 1750. It has an interesting hexastyle Corinthian portico.
Thebes (? – 146 BC)
Eretria (? – 146 BC)
Chalcis (? – 146 BC)
Syracuse (734–212 BC)
Massalia (600–49 BC )
Delian League (or Athenian Empire) (478-404 BC)
Kingdom of Cyrene (632–30 BC)
Thessalian League (?–170s BC): confederation of Greek city states
Chrysaorian League (? – 203 BC): confederation of Greek city states
Aetolian League (370–189 BC): confederation of Greek city states
Achaean League (256–146 BC): confederation of Greek city states
Kingdom of Pergamon (282 BC–133 BC)
Seleucid Empire (312–63 BC)
Ptolemaic Kingdom (305–30 BC)
Bosporan Kingdom (438 BC– 370 AD)
Kingdom of Pontus (302–64 BC): Persian origin, Hellenized in culture, and with Greek being the official language.
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250–125 BC)
Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC – 10 AD)
Dayuan Kingdom (329– 160 BC)
Roman Empire (610 AD – 1204 AD; 1261 – 1453): The Greek language had official status
After 395 the Roman Empire splits in two. In the East, Greeks are the predominant national group and their language is the lingua franca of the region. Christianity is the official religion of this new Empire, spread to the region by the Greek language, the language in which the first gospels were written. The language of the aristocracy however remains Latin, until gradually replaced by Greek by the 6th century. The East Roman Empire remained one of the world’s most important states until the 12th century. Amongst its achievements is the spread of Christianity to Eastern Europe and the Slavs, halting the Persian, Slavic and Arab expansions towards Europe and preserving a vast amount of the cultural heritage of Antiquity. In 1204, after a civil struggle, the Fourth Crusade conquered the capital, Constantinople, and led the Empire to partitions and crises from which it never recovered.
Byzantine Greek successor states
Despotate of Epirus (1205–1479)
Empire of Nicaea (1204–1261), which re-established the Byzantine Empire in 1261.
Empire of Trebizond (1204–1461)
Despotate of the Morea (1308/1348–1460)
Also see Architecture index.