Tripods, Triglyphs, and the Origin of the Doric Frieze

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Abstract

The origins of the orders is an issue of unparalleled importance for the understanding of ancient architecture and the development of the classical tradition, this being so dominated by Doric, Ionic and Corinthian forms. The formation of the earliest order, Doric, has been intensely debate down the centuries, with every major architectural theorist producing their own explanation, especially of the frieze and its triglyphs. This article advances a completely new idea, which - should it come to be confirmed by subsequent scholarship - would completely revolutionise our understanding of architectural origins. As opposed to existing interpretations, which often see the triglyph as the legacy of timber beams, or of Mycenaean motifs, this article proposes that triglyphs was inspired by tripods, the most prestigious and value-laden Greek ritual objects at the time when Greek temples became monumentalized in the 7th century. There have been numerous speculative ideas proposed for the origins of the orders, so it is important to avoid this thesis being 'just another one'. For this reason the argument is supported by a comprehensive appendix which synthesises the visual evidence on which the case rests, in this way bringing a new level of rigour into the discussion of architectural iconography.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-390
Number of pages38
JournalAmerican Journal of Archaeology
Volume106
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002

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