Temple Landscape: The Direct and the Latent Impact of Natural Environment upon Artificial Environs

In: Acta Archaeologica
Elena C. Partida Curator of Antiquities, Hellenic Ministry of Culture Patras Greece

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The dynamics of an ancient religious centre lies in the combination of architecture with the geophysical relief and natural setting, namely the manner in which a temple befits its natural surroundings. Paintings and etchings/lithographs help us follow the transformation of hieratic settings in the course of centuries. An intriguing juxtaposition is that of tree cult to the practical role of timber in ancient worksites, as revealed through building accounts and classical authors. Turning to ritual symbolism, we see vegetation lending its forms to works of sculpture. Yet, most impressive is the infiltration of tree prototypes and floral patterns in architecture, affecting not only decorative styles and orders but also the morphology of structural elements. The article’s last section involves landscape restoration/re-creation attempted by the replanting of ancient species. This was based on either ancient literary and epigraphic sources or laboratory analyses, namely botanical and pollen research. The results of these methods, however, do not always converge.

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