Votive Columns in Greek Sanctuaries of the Archaic Period

  • Georg Herdt

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Ancient Greek architecture and the question of influences leading to its formation, along with its relation to the sacred institution of the temple, have been much discussed for centuries. This dissertation contributes to the discussion regarding architectural, and therefore spatial, ornamental and structural aspects of the early development of Greek sacred space. Votive offerings, as an integral part of religious sanctuaries and as a potential influence on the buildings they contained, merit attention, more attention than has been given to them in the past. The focus of this study is the votive column, a member of the group of votives that has certain similarities with its counterparts in buildings. For several reasons that will be elaborated further on, the free-standing column has been placed by scholars into later periods of the development of sanctuaries; furthermore, the existence of votive columns crafted in wood has been denied in recent studies. It can be shown that in ancient times, specifically during the transition of the Dark Ages to the Archaic era, wood would have been the material of choice, even though the preferred material of the later Greco-Roman constructions was marble. In fact, more gravitas is attributed to this traditional member of a sanctuary than previously assumed. So as to understand this better, built structures and votive monuments are compared here by means of 3D reconstructions, an exercise which confirms the visual presence of the latter. Indeed a spatial grasp of early Archaic sanctuaries throws into relief the prestige of votive columns, which often dwarfed the temples adjacent to them. This is potentially significant for thinking about the origin of the orders, calling into question the consensus which favours the building as the primary focus for development.
Date of Award1 Oct 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorMark Wilson Jones (Supervisor)

Cite this