Reflections on Interpretation: the origins of the Doric frieze

Mark Wilson Jones

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


The explication of the Doric frieze and its run of triglyphs is a much-studied problem that remains unresolved.
In 2002 I published a study of the formal affinities between tripods and triglyphs, seeing in the former an inspiration for the latter. Further research into the origins
of Greek architectural design has revealed a more nuanced and multifaceted nature. This article advances debate by showing the tripod aspect to be only one of several aspects, each of which have partial validity.
The possibility that architects acquired ideas from prestigious art-offerings is confirmed by examples from the sphere of capital design. These show how clues taken
from other realms of production did not constitute the point of departure for architectural schemes, but were rather grafted onto formal structures that were already partly established. Similarly, the Doric frieze adheres to a genre of linear friezes alternating rectangular fields with
vertical dividers. The popularity of such schemes in the Geometric period, however, does not exclude the revival of the Minoan-Mycenaean split-rosette frieze, with its
tri-partite dividers. I contend that the Doric frieze was born of a melding that saw the dividers further inflected by the traits of tripods. It is a case of origins, not a single
origin. What is more, in the development of the canonic solution there is also a place for construction that finds sympathy with Vitruvius’s testimony on the subject. To
make sense of the orders we must embrace hybridity, eclecticism, artistic inspiration and practicalities, along with ambiguities and contradictions that flow from such
a multi-faceted creation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArchitektōn
Subtitle of host publication timētikos tomos gia ton kathēgētē Manolē Korre = Honorary volume for professor Manolis Korres
EditorsKostas Zampas
Place of PublicationAthens
PublisherMelissa Publishing House
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9789602043530
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2016


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