Virtual Collapse? Considerations of Structure in Reconstructing Greek Architecture

Mark Wilson Jones, Georg Herdt

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


Calculations and checks of the kind that engineers use to verify stability are rarely applied to the reconstruction of ancient structures. This paper concerns the reconstruction of two early Greek structures for which there are also few comparanda. First is the building at the Toumba site near Lefkandi, erected around 950 BC, the plan of which is common enough in terms of shape, but unique in terms of scale for the whole of the Geometric period. Its chance discovery only a few decades ago represented one of the most significant new finds in the field, transforming our expectations of monumentality in the so-called Dark Ages. Second is the Temple of Artemis at Kerkyra on the island of Corfu, one of the most striking Doric temples from around the middle of the first half of the 6th century. Here is the earliest temple front that can be reasonably well reconstructed, including in respect of an almost complete set of pedimental sculptures.

This paper demonstrates that both structures, as they have been reconstructed and published, are sufficiently problematic in terms of statics to call into question the reconstructions. Alternative proposals are presented which could have withstood the effect of gravity and other loading conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBuilding the Classical World: Design, Construction, and Context
EditorsDorian Borbonus , Elisha Dumser
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780190690526
Publication statusAcceptance date - Jun 2020


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