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Ancient Greek architecture came from the (''Hellenic'' people) whose
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior, institutions, and Social norm, norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the ...
flourished on the Greek mainland, the Peloponnese, the Aegean Islands, and in colonies in Anatolia and Italy for a period from about 900 BC until the 1st century AD, with the earliest remaining architectural works dating from around 600 BC. Ancient Greek architecture is best known from its temples, many of which are found throughout the region, with the regarded, now as in ancient times, as the prime example. Most remains are very incomplete ruins, but a number survive substantially intact, mostly outside modern Greece. The second important type of building that survives all over the Hellenic world is the open-air theatre, with the earliest dating from around 525–480 BC. Other architectural forms that are still in evidence are the processional gateway ('' propylon''), the public square ('''') surrounded by storied colonnade ('' stoa''), the town council building ('' bouleuterion''), the public monument, the monumental tomb ('' mausoleum'') and the ''''. Ancient Greek architecture is distinguished by its highly formalised characteristics, both of structure and decoration. This is particularly so in the case of temples where each building appears to have been conceived as a sculptural entity within the landscape, most often raised on high ground so that the elegance of its proportions and the effects of light on its surfaces might be viewed from all angles.. Nikolaus Pevsner refers to "the plastic shape of the reektemple ..placed before us with a physical presence more intense, more alive than that of any later building". The formal vocabulary of ancient Greek architecture, in particular the division of architectural style into three defined orders: the , the and the Corinthian Order, was to have a profound effect on Western architecture of later periods. The architecture of ancient Rome grew out of that of Greece and maintained its influence in Italy unbroken until the present day. From the , revivals of Classicism have kept alive not only the precise forms and ordered details of Greek architecture, but also its concept of architectural beauty based on balance and proportion. The successive styles of Neoclassical architecture and Greek Revival architecture followed and adapted ancient Greek styles closely.

# Influences

## Geography

The mainland and islands of Greece are very rocky, with deeply indented coastline, and rugged mountain ranges with few substantial forests. The most freely available building material is stone. Limestone was readily available and easily worked.. There is an abundance of high quality white both on the mainland and islands, particularly Paros and Naxos. This finely grained material was a major contributing factor to precision of detail, both architectural and sculptural, that adorned ancient Greek architecture.. Deposits of high-quality potter's clay were found throughout Greece and the Islands, with major deposits near Athens. It was used not only for pottery vessels but also roof tiles and architectural decoration. The climate of Greece is maritime, with both the coldness of winter and the heat of summer tempered by sea breezes. This led to a lifestyle where many activities took place outdoors. Hence temples were placed on hilltops, their exteriors designed as a visual focus of gatherings and processions, while theatres were often an enhancement of a naturally occurring sloping site where people could sit, rather than a containing structure. Colonnades encircling buildings, or surrounding courtyards provided shelter from the sun and from sudden winter storms. The light of Greece may be another important factor in the development of the particular character of ancient Greek architecture. The light is often extremely bright, with both the sky and the sea vividly blue. The clear light and sharp shadows give a precision to the details of the landscape, pale rocky outcrops and seashore. This clarity is alternated with periods of haze that varies in colour to the light on it. In this characteristic environment, the ancient Greek architects constructed buildings that were marked by the precision of detail. The gleaming marble surfaces were smooth, curved, fluted, or ornately sculpted to reflect the sun, cast graded shadows and change in colour with the ever-changing light of day.

## History

Historians divide ancient Greek civilization into two eras, the Hellenic period (from around 900 BC to the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC), and the Hellenistic period (323 BC to 30 AD). During the earlier Hellenic period, substantial works of architecture began to appear around 600 BC. During the later (Hellenistic) period, Greek culture spread as a result of Alexander's conquest of other lands, and later as a result of the rise of the Roman Empire, which adopted much of Greek culture.. Before the Hellenic era, two major cultures had dominated the region: the Minoan (c. 2800–1100 BC), and the Mycenaean (c. 1500–1100 BC). Minoan is the name given by modern historians to the culture of the people of ancient
Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, Modern: , Ancient: ) is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, ...

, known for its elaborate and richly decorated palaces, and for its pottery, the most famous of which painted with floral and motifs of sea life. The Mycenaean culture, which flourished on the Peloponnesus, was quite different in character. Its people built citadels, fortifications and tombs rather than palaces, and decorated their pottery with bands of marching soldiers rather than octopus and seaweed. Both these civilizations came to an end around 1100 BC, that of Crete possibly because of volcanic devastation, and that of Mycenae because of an invasion by the Dorian people who lived on the Greek mainland.. Following these events, there was a period from which only a village level of culture seems to have existed. This period is thus often referred to as the Greek Dark Age.

## Art

The art history of the Hellenic era is generally subdivided into four periods: the Protogeometric (1100–900 BC), the Geometric (900–700 BC), the Archaic (700–500 BC) and the Classical (500–323 BC) with sculpture being further divided into Severe Classical, High Classical and Late Classical.. The first signs of the particular artistic character that defines ancient Greek architecture are to be seen in the pottery of the Dorian Greeks from the 10th century BC. Already at this period it is created with a sense of proportion, symmetry and balance not apparent in similar pottery from Crete and Mycenae. The decoration is precisely geometric, and ordered neatly into zones on defined areas of each vessel. These qualities were to manifest themselves not only through a millennium of Greek pottery making, but also in the architecture that was to emerge in the 6th century.. The major development that occurred was in the growing use of the human figure as the major decorative motif, and the increasing surety with which humanity, its mythology, activities and passions were depicted. The development in the depiction of the human form in pottery was accompanied by a similar development in sculpture. The tiny stylised bronzes of the Geometric period gave way to life-sized highly formalised monolithic representation in the Archaic period. The Classical period was marked by a rapid development towards idealised but increasingly lifelike depictions of gods in human form. This development had a direct effect on the sculptural decoration of temples, as many of the greatest extant works of ancient Greek sculpture once adorned temples, and many of the largest recorded statues of the age, such as the lost chryselephantine statues of Zeus at the Temple of Zeus at Olympia and Athena at the Parthenon, Athens, both over 40 feet high, were once housed in them.

## Religion and philosophy

The religion of ancient Greece was a form of nature worship that grew out of the beliefs of earlier cultures. However, unlike earlier cultures, the man was no longer perceived as being threatened by nature, but as its sublime product. The natural elements were personified as gods of the complete human form, and very human behaviour. The home of the gods was thought to be , the highest mountain in Greece. The most important deities were: , the supreme god and ruler of the sky; , his wife and goddess of marriage;
Athena Athena or Athene, often given the epithet Pallas, is an ancient Greek religion, ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, warfare, and handicraft who was later syncretism, syncretized with the Roman goddess Minerva. Athena was regarded ...

, goddess of wisdom; , the god of the sea; , goddess of the harvest; , the god of the sun, law, healing, plague, reason, music and poetry;
Artemis In ancient Greek mythology and Ancient Greek religion, religion, Artemis (; grc-gre, Ἄρτεμις) is the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, nature, vegetation, childbirth, Kourotrophos, care of children, and chastity. S ...

, goddess of the moon, the hunt and the wilderness;
Aphrodite Aphrodite ( ; grc-gre, Ἀφροδίτη, Aphrodítē; , , ) is an ancient Greek religion, ancient Greek goddess associated with love, lust, beauty, pleasure, passion (emotion), passion, and procreation. She was syncretized with the Roman god ...

, goddess of love; , God of war; , the god of commerce and travellers, Hephaestus, the god of fire and metalwork, and , the god of wine and fruit-bearing plants. Worship, like many other activities, was done in the community, in the open. However, by 600 BC, the gods were often represented by large statues and it was necessary to provide a building in which each of these could be housed. This led to the development of temples.. The ancient Greeks perceived order in the universe, and in turn, applied order and reason to their creations. Their humanist philosophy put mankind at the centre of things and promoted well-ordered societies and the development of democracy. At the same time, the respect for human intellect demanded a reason, and promoted a passion for enquiry, logic, challenge, and problem-solving. The architecture of the ancient Greeks, and in particular, temple architecture, responds to these challenges with a passion for beauty, and for order and symmetry which is the product of a continual search for perfection, rather than a simple application of a set of working rules.

# Architectural character

## Early development

There is a clear division between the architecture of the preceding Mycenaean and Minoan cultures and that of the ancient Greeks, with much of the techniques and an understanding of their style being lost when these civilisations fell. Mycenaean architecture is marked by massive fortifications, typically surrounding a citadel with a royal palace, much smaller than the rambling Minoan "palaces", and relatively few other buildings. The , a rectangular hall with a hearth in the centre, was the largest room in the palaces, and also larger houses. Sun-dried brick above rubble bases were the usual materials, with wooden columns and roof-beams. Rows of ashlar stone orthostats lined the base of walls in some prominent locations. The Minoan architecture of Crete was of the trabeated form like that of ancient Greece. It employed wooden columns with capitals, but the wooden columns were of a very different form to Doric columns, being narrow at the base and splaying upward. The earliest forms of columns in Greece seem to have developed independently. As with Minoan architecture, ancient Greek domestic architecture centred on open spaces or courtyards surrounded by s. This form was adapted to the construction of hypostyle halls within the larger temples. The evolution that occurred in architecture was towards the public building, first and foremost the temple, rather than towards grand domestic architecture such as had evolved in Crete, if the Cretan "palaces" were indeed domestic, which remains very uncertain. Some Mycenaean tombs are marked by circular structures and tapered domes with flat-bedded, cantilevered courses. This architectural form did not carry over into the architecture of ancient Greece, but reappeared about 400 BC in the interior of large monumental tombs such as the (c. 350 BC).

## Types of buildings

### Domestic buildings

The Greek word for the family or household, '' oikos'', is also the name for the house. Houses followed several different types. It is probable that many of the earliest houses were simple structures of two rooms, with an open porch or pronaos, above which rose a low pitched gable or . This form is thought to have contributed to temple architecture. The construction of many houses employed walls of sun-dried clay bricks or wooden framework filled with fibrous material such as straw or seaweed covered with clay or plaster, on a base of stone which protected the more vulnerable elements from damp. The roofs were probably of thatch with eaves which overhung the permeable walls. Many larger houses, such as those at Delos, were built of stone and plastered. The roofing material for the substantial house was tile. Houses of the wealthy had mosaic floors and demonstrated the Classical style. Many houses centred on a wide passage or "pasta" which ran the length of the house and opened at one side onto a small courtyard which admitted light and air. Larger houses had a fully developed (courtyard) at the centre, with the rooms arranged around it. Some houses had an upper floor which appears to have been reserved for the use of the women of the family.. City houses were built with adjoining walls and were divided into small blocks by narrow streets. Shops were sometimes located in the rooms towards the street. City houses were inward-facing, with major openings looking onto the central courtyard, rather than the street..

### Public buildings

The rectangular is the most common and best-known form of Greek public architecture. This rectilinear structure borrows from the Late Helladic, Mycenaean , which contained a central throne room, vestibule, and porch. The temple did not serve the same function as a modern church, since the altar stood under the open sky in the '' temenos'' or sacred precinct, often directly before the temple. Temples served as the location of a cult image and as a storage place or strong room for the treasury associated with the cult of the god in question, and as a place for devotees of the god to leave their votive offerings, such as statues, helmets and weapons. Some Greek temples appear to have been oriented astronomically. The temple was generally part of a religious precinct known as the ''
acropolis An acropolis was the settlement of an upper part of an ancient Greek city, especially a citadel, and frequently a hill with precipitous sides, mainly chosen for purposes of defense. The term is typically used to refer to the Acropolis of Athens, ...

''. According to
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...

, "the site should be a spot seen far and wide, which gives good elevation to virtue and towers over the neighbourhood". Small circular temples, '' tholoi'' were also constructed, as well as small temple-like buildings that served as treasuries for specific groups of donors. During the late 5th and 4th centuries BC, town planning became an important consideration of Greek builders, with towns such as and Priene being laid out with a regular grid of paved streets and an or central market place surrounded by a colonnade or stoa. The completely restored can be seen in
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is a coastal city in the Mediterranean and is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest c ...

. Towns were also equipped with a public fountain where water could be collected for household use. The development of regular town plans is associated with Hippodamus of Miletus, a pupil of . Public buildings became "dignified and gracious structures", and were sited so that they related to each other architecturally.. The propylon or porch, formed the entrance to temple sanctuaries and other significant sites with the best-surviving example being the . The bouleuterion was a large public building with a hypostyle hall that served as a court house and as a meeting place for the town council ( boule). Remnants of bouleuterion survive at Athens, Olympia and Miletus, the latter having held up to 1,200 people.. Every Greek town had an open-air
theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The p ...

. These were used for both public meetings as well as dramatic performances. The theatre was usually set in a hillside outside the town, and had rows of tiered seating set in a semicircle around the central performance area, the ''orchestra''. Behind the orchestra was a low building called the '' skênê'', which served as a store-room, a dressing room, and also as a backdrop to the action taking place in the orchestra. A number of Greek theatres survive almost intact, the best known being at by the architect Polykleitos the Younger.. Greek towns of substantial size also had a palaestra or a gymnasium, the social centre for male citizens which included spectator areas, baths, toilets and club rooms. Other buildings associated with sports include the for horse racing, of which only remnants have survived, and the
stadium A stadium (plural, : stadiums or stadia) is a place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a tiered structure designed to allow spectators to ...
for foot racing, 600 feet in length, of which examples exist at Olympia, Delphi, Epidaurus and Ephesus, while the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens, which seats 45,000 people, was restored in the 19th century and was used in the 1896, 1906 and 2004
Olympic Games The modern Olympic Games or Olympics (french: link=no, Jeux olympiques) are the leading international sporting events featuring summer and winter sports competitions in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a var ...
.

## Structure

### Post and lintel

The architecture of ancient Greece is of a trabeated or " post and lintel" form, i.e. it is composed of upright beams (posts) supporting horizontal beams (lintels). Although the existent buildings of the era are constructed in stone, it is clear that the origin of the style lies in simple wooden structures, with vertical posts supporting beams which carried a ridged roof. The posts and beams divided the walls into regular compartments which could be left as openings, or filled with sun dried bricks, lathes or straw and covered with clay daub or plaster. Alternately, the spaces might be filled with rubble. It is likely that many early houses and temples were constructed with an open porch or "pronaos" above which rose a low pitched gable or pediment. The earliest temples, built to enshrine statues of deities, were probably of wooden construction, later replaced by the more durable stone temples many of which are still in evidence today. The signs of the original timber nature of the architecture were maintained in the stone buildings.. A few of these temples are very large, with several, such as the Temple of Zeus Olympus and the Olympians at Athens being well over 300 feet in length, but most were less than half this size. It appears that some of the large temples began as wooden constructions in which the columns were replaced piecemeal as stone became available. This, at least was the interpretation of the historian Pausanias looking at the Temple of Hera at Olympia in the 2nd century AD. The stone columns are made of a series of solid stone cylinders or "drums" that rest on each other without mortar, but were sometimes centred with a bronze pin. The columns are wider at the base than at the top, tapering with an outward curve known as
entasis In architecture, entasis is the application of a convex curve to a surface for aesthetic purposes. Its best-known use is in certain orders of Classical architecture, Classical columns that curve slightly as their diameter is decreased from the bot ...
. Each column has a
capital Capital may refer to: Common uses * Capital city, a municipality of primary status ** List of national capitals, List of national capital cities * Capital letter, an upper-case letter Economics and social sciences * Capital (economics), the dura ...
of two parts, the upper, on which rests the lintels, being square and called the
abacus The abacus (''plural'' abaci or abacuses), also called a counting frame, is a calculating tool which has been used since Ancient history, ancient times. It was used in the ancient Near East, Europe, China, and Russia, centuries before the ado ...
. The part of the capital that rises from the column itself is called the echinus. It differs according to the order, being plain in the Doric order, fluted in the Ionic and foliate in the Corinthian. Doric and usually Ionic capitals are cut with vertical grooves known as fluting. This fluting or grooving of the columns is a retention of an element of the original wooden architecture.

### Entablature and pediment

The columns of a temple support a structure that rises in two main stages, the
entablature An entablature (; nativization of Italian language, Italian , from "in" and "table") is the superstructure of molding (decorative), moldings and bands which lies horizontally above columns, resting on their capital (architecture), capitals. E ...
and the . The entablature is the major horizontal structural element supporting the roof and encircling the entire building. It is composed of three parts. Resting on the columns is the
architrave In classical architecture, an architrave (; from it, architrave "chief beam", also called an epistyle; from Ancient Greek, Greek ἐπίστυλον ''epistylon'' "door frame") is the lintel (architecture), lintel or beam (structure), beam t ...
made of a series of stone "lintels" that spanned the space between the columns, and meet each other at a joint directly above the centre of each column. Above the architrave is a second horizontal stage called the
frieze In architecture, the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic order, Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Patera (architecture), Paterae are also usually used to decorate frie ...
. The frieze is one of the major decorative elements of the building and carries a sculptured relief. In the case of Ionic and Corinthian architecture, the relief decoration runs in a continuous band, but in the Doric order, it is divided into sections called metopes, which fill the spaces between vertical rectangular blocks called triglyphs. The triglyphs are vertically grooved like the Doric columns, and retain the form of the wooden beams that would once have supported the roof. The upper band of the entablature is called the
cornice In architecture, a cornice (from the Italian ''cornice'' meaning "ledge") is generally any horizontal decorative Moulding (decorative), moulding that crowns a building or furniture element—for example, the cornice over a door or window, ar ...
, which is generally ornately decorated on its lower edge. The cornice retains the shape of the beams that would once have supported the wooden roof at each end of the building. At the front and rear of each temple, the entablature supports a triangular structure called the pediment. The tympanum is the triangular space framed by the cornices and the location of the most significant sculptural decoration on the exterior of the building.

### Masonry

Every temple rested on a masonry base called the crepidoma, generally of three steps, of which the upper one which carried the columns was the stylobate. Masonry walls were employed for temples from about 600 BC onwards. Masonry of all types was used for ancient Greek buildings, including rubble, but the finest ashlar masonry was usually employed for temple walls, in regular courses and large sizes to minimise the joints. The blocks were rough hewn and hauled from quarries to be cut and bedded very precisely, with mortar hardly ever being used. Blocks, particularly those of columns and parts of the building bearing loads were sometimes fixed in place or reinforced with iron clamps, dowels and rods of wood, bronze or iron fixed in lead to minimise corrosion.

### Openings

Door and window openings were spanned with a lintel, which in a stone building limited the possible width of the opening. The distance between columns was similarly affected by the nature of the lintel, columns on the exterior of buildings and carrying stone lintels being closer together than those on the interior, which carried wooden lintels... Door and window openings narrowed towards the top. Temples were constructed without windows, the light to the naos entering through the door. It has been suggested that some temples were lit from openings in the roof. A door of the Ionic Order at the Erechtheion (17 feet high and 7.5 feet wide at the top) retains many of its features intact, including mouldings, and an entablature supported on console brackets. (See Architectural Decoration, below).

### Roof

The widest span of a temple roof was across the cella, or inner chamber. In a large building, this space contains columns to support the roof, the architectural form being known as hypostyle. It appears that, although the architecture of ancient Greece was initially of wooden construction, the early builders did not have the concept of the diagonal truss as a stabilising member. This is evidenced by the nature of temple construction in the 6th century BC, where the rows of columns supporting the roof the cella rise higher than the outer walls, unnecessary if roof trusses are employed as an integral part of the wooden roof. The indication is that initially all the rafters were supported directly by the entablature, walls and hypostyle, rather than on a trussed wooden frame, which came into use in Greek architecture only in the 3rd century BC. Ancient Greek buildings of timber, clay and plaster construction were probably roofed with thatch. With the rise of stone architecture came the appearance of fired ceramic roof tiles. These early roof tiles showed an S-shape, with the pan and cover tile forming one piece. They were much larger than modern roof tiles, being up to long, wide, thick and weighing around apiece. Only stone walls, which were replacing the earlier
mudbrick A mudbrick or mud-brick is an air-dried brick, made of a mixture of loam, mud, sand and water mixed with a binding material such as rice husks or straw. Mudbricks are known from 9000 BCE, though since 4000 BCE, bricks have also been fi ...
and wood walls, were strong enough to support the weight of a tiled roof.. The earliest finds of roof tiles of the Archaic period in Greece are documented from a very restricted area around Corinth, where fired tiles began to replace thatched roofs at the temples of and
Poseidon Poseidon (; grc-gre, wikt:Ποσειδῶν, Ποσειδῶν) was one of the Twelve Olympians in Religion in ancient Greece, ancient Greek religion and Greek mythology, myth, god of the sea, storms, earthquakes and horses.Burkert 1985pp. 1 ...
between 700 and 650 BC.. Spreading rapidly, roof tiles were within fifty years in evidence for a large number of sites around the Eastern
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
, including Mainland
Greece Greece,, or , romanized: ', officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country in Southeast Europe. It is situated on the southern tip of the Balkans, and is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Greece shares land borders with ...
, Western
Asia Minor Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
, Southern and Central
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic, ) or the Republic of Italy, is a country in Southern Europe. It is located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory largely coincides with the Italy (geographical region) ...
. Being more expensive and labour-intensive to produce than thatch, their introduction has been explained by the fact that their fireproof quality would have given desired protection to the costly temples. As a side-effect, it has been assumed that the new stone and tile construction also ushered in the end of overhanging eaves in Greek architecture, as they made the need for an extended roof as rain protection for the mudbrick walls obsolete. Vaults and
arch An arch is a vertical curved structure that Span (architecture), spans an elevated space and may or may not support the weight above it, or in case of a horizontal arch like an arch dam, the hydrostatic pressure against it. Arches may be sy ...
es were not generally used, but begin to appear in tombs (in a "beehive" or cantilevered form such as used in Mycenaea) and occasionally, as an external feature, exedrae of
voussoir A voussoir () is a wedge-shaped element, typically a stone, which is used in building an arch or vault (architecture), vault. Although each unit in an arch or vault is a voussoir, two units are of distinct functional importance: the Keystone (a ...
ed construction from the 5th century BC. The
dome A dome () is an architectural element similar to the hollow upper half of a sphere. There is significant overlap with the term cupola, which may also refer to a dome or a structure on top of a dome. The precise definition of a dome has been a m ...
and vault never became significant structural features, as they were to become in
ancient Roman architecture Ancient Roman architecture adopted the external language of classical Greek architecture for the purposes of the ancient Romans In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman people, Roman civilisation from the founding of the c ...
.

### Temple plans

Most ancient Greek temples were rectangular, and were approximately twice as long as they were wide, with some notable exceptions such as the enormous Temple of Olympian Zeus, Athens with a length of nearly 2 times its width. A number of surviving temple-like structures are circular, and are referred to as ''tholos''.. The smallest temples are less than 25 metres (approx. 75 feet) in length, or in the case of the circular ''tholos'', in diameter. The great majority of temples are between 30 and 60 metres (approx. 100–200 feet) in length. A small group of Doric temples, including the , are between 60 and 80 metres (approx. 200–260 feet) in length. The largest temples, mainly Ionic and Corinthian, but including the Doric Temple of the Olympian Zeus, Agrigento, were between 90 and 120 metres (approx. 300–390 feet) in length. The temple rises from a stepped base or stylobate, which elevates the structure above the ground on which it stands. Early examples, such as the Temple of Zeus at Olympus, have two steps, but the majority, like the Parthenon, have three, with the exceptional example of the Temple of Apollo at Didyma having six.. The core of the building is a masonry-built "naos" within which is a cella, a windowless room originally housing the statue of the god. The cella generally has a porch or "pronaos" before it, and perhaps a second chamber or "antenaos" serving as a treasury or repository for trophies and gifts. The chambers were lit by a single large doorway, fitted with a wrought iron grill. Some rooms appear to have been illuminated by skylights. On the stylobate, often completely surrounding the naos, stand rows of columns. Each temple is defined as being of a particular type, with two terms: one describing the number of columns across the entrance front, and the other defining their distribution. Examples: *'' Distyle in antis'' describes a small temple with two columns at the front, which are set between the projecting walls of the ''pronaos'' or porch, like the Temple of Nemesis at Rhamnus. (see left, figure 1.) *''Amphiprostyle tetrastyle'' describes a small temple that has columns at both ends which stand clear of the ''naos''. ''Tetrastyle'' indicates that the columns are four in number, like those of the Temple on the Ilissus in Athens. (figure 4.) *''Peripteral hexastyle'' describes a temple with a single row of peripheral columns around the ''naos'', with six columns across the front, like the Theseion in Athens. (figure 7.) *''Peripteral octastyle'' describes a temple with a single row of columns around the ''naos'', (figure 7.) with eight columns across the front, like the Parthenon, Athens. (figs. 6 and 9.) *''Dipteral decastyle'' describes the huge temple of Apollo at Didyma, with the ''naos'' surrounded by a double row of columns, (figure 6.) with ten columns across the entrance front. * The Temple of Zeus Olympius at Agrigentum, is termed ''Pseudo-periteral heptastyle'', because its encircling colonnade has ''pseudo'' columns that are attached to the walls of the ''naos''. (figure 8.) ''Heptastyle'' means that it has seven columns across the entrance front.

### Proportion and optical illusion

The ideal of proportion that was used by ancient Greek architects in designing temples was not a simple mathematical progression using a square module. The math involved a more complex geometrical progression, the so-called golden mean. The ratio is similar to that of the growth patterns of many spiral forms that occur in nature such as rams' horns,
nautilus The nautilus (, ) is a pelagic marine mollusc of the cephalopod family Nautilidae. The nautilus is the sole extant family of the superfamily Nautilaceae and of its smaller but near equal suborder, Nautilina. It comprises six living species in t ...
shells, fern fronds, and vine tendrils and which were a source of decorative motifs employed by ancient Greek architects as particularly in evidence in the volutes of capitals of the Ionic and Corinthian Orders.. :$\frac 1 \varphi = \varphi - 1;\; \varphi = \frac \approx 1.618$ The ancient Greek architects took a philosophic approach to the rules and proportions. The determining factor in the mathematics of any notable work of architecture was its ultimate appearance. The architects calculated for perspective, for the optical illusions that make edges of objects appear concave and for the fact that columns that are viewed against the sky look different from those adjacent that are viewed against a shadowed wall. Because of these factors, the architects adjusted the plans so that the major lines of any significant building are rarely straight. The most obvious adjustment is to the profile of columns, which narrow from base to top. However, the narrowing is not regular, but gently curved so that each columns appears to have a slight swelling, called ''entasis'' below the middle. The ''entasis'' is never sufficiently pronounced as to make the swelling wider than the base; it is controlled by a slight reduction in the rate of decrease of diameter. The , the Temple to the Goddess
Athena Athena or Athene, often given the epithet Pallas, is an ancient Greek religion, ancient Greek goddess associated with wisdom, warfare, and handicraft who was later syncretism, syncretized with the Roman goddess Minerva. Athena was regarded ...

on the
Acropolis An acropolis was the settlement of an upper part of an ancient Greek city, especially a citadel, and frequently a hill with precipitous sides, mainly chosen for purposes of defense. The term is typically used to refer to the Acropolis of Athens, ...
in Athens, is referred to by many as the pinnacle of ancient Greek architecture. Helen Gardner refers to its "unsurpassable excellence", to be surveyed, studied and emulated by architects of later ages. Yet, as Gardner points out, there is hardly a straight line in the building. Banister Fletcher calculated that the ''stylobate'' curves upward so that its centres at either end rise about above the outer corners, and on the longer sides. A slightly greater adjustment has been made to the entablature. The columns at the ends of the building are not vertical but are inclined towards the centre, with those at the corners being out of plumb by about . These outer columns are both slightly wider than their neighbours and are slightly closer than any of the others..

# Style

## Orders

Ancient Greek architecture of the most formal type, for temples and other public buildings, is divided stylistically into three
Classical order An order in architecture is a certain assemblage of parts subject to uniform established proportions, regulated by the office that each part has to perform. Coming down to the present from Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman civilization, the arch ...
s, first described by the Roman architectural writer
Vitruvius Vitruvius (; c. 80–70 BC – after c. 15 BC) was a Roman architect and engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled ''De architectura''. He originated the idea that all buildings should have three attribute ...
. These are: the
Doric order The Doric order was one of the Classical order, three orders of Architecture of Ancient Greece, ancient Greek and later classical architecture, Roman architecture; the other two canonical orders were the Ionic order, Ionic and the Corinthian or ...
, the
Ionic order The Ionic order is one of the three canonic orders of classical architecture, the other two being the Doric and the Corinthian. There are two lesser orders: the Tuscan (a plainer Doric), and the rich variant of Corinthian called the composi ...
, and the
Corinthian order The Corinthian order (Greek language, Greek: Κορινθιακός ρυθμός, latin language, Latin: ''Ordo Corinthius'') is the last developed of the three principal classical orders of Ancient Greek architecture and Roman architecture. The ...
, the names reflecting their regional origins within the Greek world. While the three orders are most easily recognizable by their capitals, they also governed the form, proportions, details and relationships of the columns,
entablature An entablature (; nativization of Italian language, Italian , from "in" and "table") is the superstructure of molding (decorative), moldings and bands which lies horizontally above columns, resting on their capital (architecture), capitals. E ...
, , and the stylobate. The different orders were applied to the whole range of buildings and monuments. The Doric order developed on mainland Greece and spread to
Magna Graecia Magna Graecia (, ; , , grc, Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς, ', it, Magna Grecia) was the name given by the Roman people, Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day Regions of Italy, Italian regions of Calabria, Apulia, Basilicat ...
(Italy). It was firmly established and well-defined in its characteristics by the time of the building of the Temple of Hera at Olympia, c. 600 BC. The Ionic order co-existed with the Doric, being favoured by the Greek cities of
Ionia Ionia () was an ancient region on the western coast of Anatolia, to the south of present-day Izmir. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greeks, Greek settlements. Never a unified state, it was named after the I ...
, in
Asia Minor Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
and the Aegean Islands. It did not reach a clearly defined form until the mid 5th century BC. The early Ionic temples of Asia Minor were particularly ambitious in scale, such as the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The Corinthian order was a highly decorative variant not developed until the
Hellenistic In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in History of the Mediterranean region, Mediterranean history after Classical Greece, between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as sig ...
period and retaining many characteristics of the Ionic. It was popularised by the Romans.

### Doric order

The Doric order is recognised by its capital, of which the ''echinus'' is like a circular cushion rising from the top of the column to the square ''abacus'' on which rest the lintels. The echinus appears flat and splayed in early examples, deeper and with greater curve in later, more refined examples, and smaller and straight-sided in Hellenistic examples. A refinement of the Doric column is the
entasis In architecture, entasis is the application of a convex curve to a surface for aesthetic purposes. Its best-known use is in certain orders of Classical architecture, Classical columns that curve slightly as their diameter is decreased from the bot ...
, a gentle convex swelling to the profile of the column, which prevents an optical illusion of concavity. This is more pronounced in earlier examples. Doric columns are almost always cut with grooves, known as "fluting", which run the length of the column and are usually 20 in number, although sometimes fewer. The flutes meet at sharp edges called ''
arris In architecture, an arris is the sharp edge formed by the intersection of two surfaces, such as the corner of a Concrete Masonry Unit, masonry unit; the edge of a timber in timber framing; the junction between two planes of plaster or any inter ...
es''. At the top of the columns, slightly below the narrowest point, and crossing the terminating arrises, are three horizontal grooves known as the '' hypotrachelion''. Doric columns have no bases, until a few examples in the Hellenistic period. The columns of an early Doric temple such as the Temple of Apollo at Syracuse, Sicily, may have a height to base diameter ratio of only 4:1 and a column height to entablature ratio of 2:1, with relatively crude details. A column height to diameter of 6:1 became more usual, while the column height to entablature ratio at the Parthenon is about 3:1. During the Hellenistic period, Doric conventions of solidity and masculinity dropped away, with the slender and unfluted columns reaching a height to diameter ratio of 7.5:1.. The Doric
entablature An entablature (; nativization of Italian language, Italian , from "in" and "table") is the superstructure of molding (decorative), moldings and bands which lies horizontally above columns, resting on their capital (architecture), capitals. E ...
is in three parts, the
architrave In classical architecture, an architrave (; from it, architrave "chief beam", also called an epistyle; from Ancient Greek, Greek ἐπίστυλον ''epistylon'' "door frame") is the lintel (architecture), lintel or beam (structure), beam t ...
, the
frieze In architecture, the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic order, Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Patera (architecture), Paterae are also usually used to decorate frie ...
and the
cornice In architecture, a cornice (from the Italian ''cornice'' meaning "ledge") is generally any horizontal decorative Moulding (decorative), moulding that crowns a building or furniture element—for example, the cornice over a door or window, ar ...
. The architrave is composed of the stone lintels which span the space between the columns, with a joint occurring above the centre of each abacus. On this rests the frieze, one of the major areas of sculptural decoration. The frieze is divided into ''triglyphs'' and ''metopes'', the triglyphs, as stated elsewhere in this article, are a reminder of the timber history of the architectural style. Each triglyph has three vertical grooves, similar to the columnar fluting, and below them, seemingly connected, are guttae, small strips that appear to connect the triglyphs to the architrave below. A triglyph is located above the centre of each capital, and above the centre of each lintel. However, at the corners of the building, the triglyphs do not fall over the centre the column. The ancient architects took a pragmatic approach to the apparent "rules", simply extending the width of the last two metopes at each end of the building. The cornice is a narrow jutting band of complex molding, which overhangs and protects the ornamented frieze, like the edge of an overhanging wooden-framed roof. It is decorated on the underside with projecting blocks, ''mutules'', further suggesting the wooden nature of the prototype. At either end of the building the pediment rises from the cornice, framed by moulding of similar form. The pediment is decorated with figures that are in
relief Relief is a sculptural method in which the sculpted pieces are bonded to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impres ...
in the earlier examples, though almost free-standing by the time of the sculpture on the Parthenon. Early architectural sculptors found difficulty in creating satisfactory sculptural compositions in the tapering triangular space. By the Early Classical period, with the decoration of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (486–460 BC), the sculptors had solved the problem by having a standing central figure framed by rearing
centaur A centaur ( ; grc, κένταυρος, kéntauros; ), or occasionally hippocentaur, is a creature from Greek mythology with the upper body of a human and the lower body and legs of a horse. Centaurs are thought of in many Greek myths as being ...
s and fighting men who are falling, kneeling and lying in attitudes that fit the size and angle of each part of the space.. The famous sculptor Phidias fills the space at the Parthenon (448–432 BC) with a complex array of draped and undraped figures of deities, who appear in attitudes of sublime relaxation and elegance.

### Ionic order

The
Ionic order The Ionic order is one of the three canonic orders of classical architecture, the other two being the Doric and the Corinthian. There are two lesser orders: the Tuscan (a plainer Doric), and the rich variant of Corinthian called the composi ...
is recognized by its voluted capital, in which a curved ''echinus'' of similar shape to that of the Doric order, but decorated with stylised ornament, is surmounted by a horizontal band that scrolls under to either side, forming spirals or ''volutes'' similar to those of the
nautilus The nautilus (, ) is a pelagic marine mollusc of the cephalopod family Nautilidae. The nautilus is the sole extant family of the superfamily Nautilaceae and of its smaller but near equal suborder, Nautilina. It comprises six living species in t ...
shell or ram's horn. In plan, the capital is rectangular. It is designed to be viewed frontally but the capitals at the corners of buildings are modified with an additional scroll so as to appear regular on two adjoining faces. In the Hellenistic period, four-fronted Ionic capitals became common.. Like the Doric order, the Ionic order retains signs of having its origins in wooden architecture. The horizontal spread of a flat timber plate across the top of a column is a common device in wooden construction, giving a thin upright a wider area on which to bear the lintel, while at the same time reinforcing the load-bearing strength of the lintel itself. Likewise, the columns always have bases, a necessity in wooden architecture to spread the load and protect the base of a comparatively thin upright. The columns are fluted with narrow, shallow flutes that do not meet at a sharp edge but have a flat band or ''fillet'' between them. The usual number of flutes is twenty-four but there may be as many as forty-four. The base has two convex mouldings called ''torus'', and from the late Hellenic period stood on a square plinth similar to the ''abacus''. The architrave of the Ionic order is sometimes undecorated, but more often rises in three outwardly-stepped bands like overlapping timber planks. The frieze, which runs in a continuous band, is separated from the other members by rows of small projecting blocks. They are referred to as dentils, meaning "teeth", but their origin is clearly in narrow wooden slats which supported the roof of a timber structure. The Ionic order is altogether lighter in appearance than the Doric, with the columns, including base and capital, having a 9:1 ratio with the diameter, while the whole entablature was also much narrower and less heavy than the Doric entablature. There was some variation in the distribution of decoration. Formalised bands of motifs such as alternating forms known as egg-and-dart were a feature of the Ionic entablatures, along with the bands of dentils. The external frieze often contained a continuous band of figurative sculpture or ornament, but this was not always the case. Sometimes a decorative frieze occurred around the upper part of the ''naos'' rather than on the exterior of the building. These Ionic-style friezes around the ''naos'' are sometimes found on Doric buildings, notably the Parthenon. Some temples, like the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, had friezes of figures around the lower drum of each column, separated from the fluted section by a bold moulding. Caryatids, draped female figures used as supporting members to carry the entablature, were a feature of the Ionic order, occurring at several buildings including the Siphnian Treasury at Delphi in 525 BC and at the Erechtheion, about 410 BC.

### Corinthian order

The Corinthian order does not have its origin in wooden architecture. It grew directly out of the Ionic in the mid 5th century BC, and was initially of much the same style and proportion, but distinguished by its more ornate capitals.. The capital was very much deeper than either the Doric or the Ionic capital, being shaped like a large ''krater'', a bell-shaped mixing bowl, and being ornamented with a double row of acanthus leaves above which rose voluted tendrils, supporting the corners of the abacus, which, no longer perfectly square, splayed above them. According to
Vitruvius Vitruvius (; c. 80–70 BC – after c. 15 BC) was a Roman architect and engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled ''De architectura''. He originated the idea that all buildings should have three attribute ...
, the capital was invented by a bronze founder,
Callimachus Callimachus (; ) was an ancient Greek poet, scholar and librarian who was active in Alexandria during the 3rd century BC. A representative of Ancient Greek literature of the Hellenistic period, he wrote over 800 literary works in a wide variety ...
of Corinth, who took his inspiration from a basket of offerings that had been placed on a grave, with a flat tile on top to protect the goods. The basket had been placed on the root of an acanthus plant which had grown up around it. The ratio of the column height to diameter is generally 10:1, with the capital taking up more than 1/10 of the height. The ratio of capital height to diameter is generally about 1.16:1. The Corinthian order was initially used internally, as at the Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae (c. 450–425 BC). In 334 BC, it appeared as an external feature on the
Choragic Monument of Lysicrates The Choragic Monument of Lysicrates near the Acropolis of Athens was erected by the ''Choregos (ancient Greece), choregos'' Lysicrates, a wealthy patron of musical performances in the Theater of Dionysus, to commemorate the prize in the dithyram ...
in Athens, and then on a huge scale at the Temple of Zeus Olympia in Athens (174 BC–132 AD). It was popularised by the Romans, who added a number of refinements and decorative details. During the Hellenistic period, Corinthian columns were sometimes built without fluting.

## Decoration

### Architectural ornament

Early wooden structures, particularly temples, were ornamented and in part protected by fired and painted
terracotta Terracotta, terra cotta, or terra-cotta (; ; ), in its material sense as an earthenware substrate, is a clay-based unglazed or glazed ceramic A ceramic is any of the various hard, brittle, heat-resistant and corrosion-resistant materials m ...
revetments in the form of rectangular panels, and ornamental discs. Many fragments of these have outlived the buildings that they decorated and demonstrate a wealth of formal border designs of geometric scrolls, overlapping patterns and foliate motifs. With the introduction of stone-built temples, the revetments no longer served a protective purpose and sculptured decoration became more common. The clay ornaments were limited to the roof of buildings, decorating the cornice, the corners and surmounting the pediment. At the corners of pediments they were called acroteria and along the sides of the building, antefixes. Early decorative elements were generally semi-circular, but later of roughly triangular shape with moulded ornament, often palmate... Ionic cornices were often set with a row of lion's masks, with open mouths that ejected rainwater. From the Late Classical period, acroteria were sometimes sculptured figures (see Architectural sculpture). In the three orders of ancient Greek architecture, the sculptural decoration, be it a simple half round astragal, a frieze of stylised foliage or the ornate sculpture of the pediment, is all essential to the architecture of which it is a part. In the Doric order, there is no variation in its placement. Reliefs never decorate walls in an arbitrary way. The sculpture is always located in several predetermined areas, the metopes and the pediment. In later Ionic architecture, there is greater diversity in the types and numbers of mouldings and decorations, particularly around doorways, where voluted
brackets A bracket is either of two tall fore- or back-facing punctuation marks commonly used to isolate a segment of text or data from its surroundings. Typically deployed in symmetric pairs, an individual bracket may be identified as a 'left' or 'r ...
sometimes occur supporting an ornamental cornice over a door, such as that at the Erechtheion. A much applied narrow moulding is called "bead and reel" and is symmetrical, stemming from turned wooden prototypes. Wider mouldings include one with tongue-like or pointed leaf shapes, which are grooved and sometimes turned upward at the tip, and "egg and dart" moulding which alternates ovoid shapes with narrow pointy ones.

### Architectural sculpture

Architectural sculpture showed a development from early Archaic examples through Severe Classical, High Classical, Late Classical and Hellenistic. Remnants of Archaic architectural sculpture (700–500 BC) exist from the early 6th century BC with the earliest surviving pedimental sculptures being fragments of a Gorgon flanked by heraldic panthers from the centre of the pediment of the Artemis Temple of Corfu.. A metope from a temple known as "Temple C" at Selinus, Sicily, shows, in a better preserved state, Perseus slaying the Gorgon
Medusa In Greek mythology, Medusa (; Ancient Greek: Μέδουσα "guardian, protectress"), also called Gorgo, was one of the three monstrous Gorgons, generally described as winged human females with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Those ...
.. Both images parallel the stylised depiction of the Gorgons on the black figure name vase decorated by the Nessos painter (c. 600 BC), with the face and shoulders turned frontally, and the legs in a running or kneeling position. At this date, images of terrifying monsters have predominance over the emphasis on the human figure that developed with Humanist philosophy. Early pedimental sculptures, and those on smaller temples, were usually in
relief Relief is a sculptural method in which the sculpted pieces are bonded to a solid background of the same material. The term ''wikt:relief, relief'' is from the Latin verb ''relevo'', to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is to give the impres ...
, and the late free-standing ones were often in terracotta, which has survived only in fragments. The sculptures were covered with a layer of stucco and painted or, if terracotta, painted with the more restrained fired colours of Greek pottery. The ''Severe Classical Style'' (500–450 BC) is represented by the pedimental sculptures of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia (470–456 BC). The eastern pediment shows a moment of stillness and "impending drama" before the beginning of a chariot race, the figures of Zeus and the competitors being severe and idealised representations of the human form. The western pediment has Apollo as the central figure, "majestic" and "remote", presiding over a battle of Lapiths and
Centaur A centaur ( ; grc, κένταυρος, kéntauros; ), or occasionally hippocentaur, is a creature from Greek mythology with the upper body of a human and the lower body and legs of a horse. Centaurs are thought of in many Greek myths as being ...
s, in strong contrast to that of the eastern pediment for its depiction of violent action, and described by Donald E. Strong as the "most powerful piece of illustration" for a hundred years.. The reliefs and three-dimensional sculpture which adorned the frieze and pediments, respectively, of the Parthenon, are the lifelike products of the High Classical style (450–400 BC) and were created under the direction of the sculptor Phidias.. The pedimental sculpture represents the Gods of Olympus, while the frieze shows the Panathenaic procession and ceremonial events that took place every four years to honour the titular Goddess of Athens. The frieze and remaining figures of the eastern pediment show a profound understanding of the human body, and how it varies depending upon its position and the stresses that action and emotion place upon it. Benjamin Robert Haydon described the reclining figure of as "the most heroic style of art, combined with all the essential detail of actual life". The names of many famous sculptors are known from the Late Classical period (400–323 BC), including Timotheos, Praxiteles, Leochares and Skopas, but their works are known mainly from Roman copies. Little architectural sculpture of the period remains intact. The Temple of Asclepius at Epidauros had sculpture by Timotheos working with the architect Theodotos. Fragments of the eastern pediment survive, showing the Sack of Troy. The scene appears to have filled the space with figures carefully arranged to fit the slope and shape available, as with earlier east pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympus. But the figures are more violent in action, the central space taken up, not with a commanding God, but with the dynamic figure of Neoptolemos as he seizes the aged king Priam and stabs him. The remaining fragments give the impression of a whole range of human emotions, fear, horror, cruelty and lust for conquest.. The ''acroteria'' were sculptured by Timotheus, except for that at the centre of the east pediment which is the work of the architect. The palmate acroteria have been replaced here with small figures, the eastern pediment being surmounted by a winged Nike, poised against the wind. Hellenistic architectural sculpture (323–31 BC) was to become more flamboyant, both in the rendering of expression and motion, which is often emphasised by flowing draperies, the Nike Samothrace which decorated a monument in the shape of a ship being a well-known example. The Pergamon Altar (c. 180–160 BC) has a frieze (120 metres long by 2.3 metres high) of figures in very high relief. The frieze represents the battle for supremacy of Gods and Titans, and employs many dramatic devices: frenzy, pathos and triumph, to convey the sense of conflict..

*
Ancient Greek art Ancient Greek art stands out among that of other ancient cultures for its development of naturalistic but idealized depictions of the human body, in which largely nude male figures were generally the focus of innovation. The rate of stylistic d ...
*
Ancient Roman architecture Ancient Roman architecture adopted the external language of classical Greek architecture for the purposes of the ancient Romans In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman people, Roman civilisation from the founding of the c ...
*
Byzantine architecture Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity ...
* Classical architecture *
Greek culture The culture of Greece has evolved over thousands of years, beginning in Minoan civilization, Minoan and later in Mycenaean Greece, continuing most notably into Classical Greece, while influencing the Roman Empire and its successor the Byzantine ...
* Greek technology * List of ancient architectural records * List of ancient Greek temples * Modern Greek architecture * Outline of classical architecture

# References

## Sources

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