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COURSE NAME: "Special Topics in Ancient Art: Greek Temples and Sanctuaries "
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2019

INSTRUCTOR: Christopher Siwicki
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 4:30-5:45 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: One previous course in Art History or Classical Studies or permission of the instructor

Specialized courses offered periodically on specific aspects of the art of the ancient world. Courses are normally research-led topics on an area of current academic concern. May be taken more than once for credit with different topics.

Course Description

Found in urban centres and rural sanctuaries across the ancient Mediterranean, temples are among the most visually striking and technologically impressive monuments of the Greek world. Looking at examples from a range of sites and periods (broadly, archaic Greece to the Roman Empire), this course examines the religious, ideological, and political function of temples. It combines the study of archaeological, visual, and textual evidence in order to explore questions about how and why temples were created. Attention is paid to the design of the structures as well as the artistic representations associated with them, establishing the crucial role that temples held in Greek society and culture.

Summary of Course Content

This course examines the place of temples in ancient Greek society. It explores a range of sites across the Mediterranean, particularly mainland Greece and Italy, and combines the study of archaeological, visual, and textual evidence. The first part of the course introduces some of the key features of temple design and explores a number of fundamental questions: what is a temple? How were they constructed? Why were they built and by who? The course then focuses on the temples of the Athenian Acropolis, including one the most unusual temples of the ancient Greek world – the Erechtheion – and also the most famous – the Parthenon. In particular, it explores how political situations, historical events, and mythological narratives influenced the design of the structures and imagery of the sculptures. The course also examines the buildings and functioning of Greece’s most significant Panhellenic sanctuaries – Olympia and Delphi. The discussion explores the exceptional nature of these places that were nominally open to ‘all Greeks’, and considers how the type of buildings erected there were shaped by their politically charged character of the sites. The final part of the course looks at Greek temples in the Roman world and the still visible presence of Hellenic architectural influences in the city of Rome. This includes examining Republican and Imperial era monuments in the city, exploring the reasons why Greek models were adopted and then adapted to this different context. The approach of this course is to study the structures themselves, the artistic representations connected to temples, and the ancient literature that discusses them. The aim is to provide a detailed understanding of the design, purpose, and importance of temples in Greek society and culture. 



This course aims to provide:

·       An overview of Greek temples across the ancient Mediterranean as well as an in-depth understanding of specific sites.

·       An introduction to the range of material available for the study Greek temples and how to analyse archaeological, visual, and textual evidence as a historical source.

·       An understanding of key political, social, and cultural contexts in which Greek temples were created.

·       A detailed knowledge of the architecture and decoration of Greek temples.

·  A critical approach to interpreting the place of architecture in ancient societies.


Visual analysisShort written analysis of the physical remains of a temple in Rome or its museums. 15
Source CriticismAn in-class test comprising short quiz type questions and the critical analysis of material and/or textual evidence.20
Source CriticismAn in-class test comprising short quiz type questions and the critical analysis of material and/or textual evidence.20
ExamComprising short quiz type questions and an extended essay.20
ExamComprising short quiz type questions and an extended essay.20
ParticipationIn addition to attending classes, you are expect to do the assigned reading and participate in discussions.5

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


 Schedule (order and content may be subject to change)

Week 1

3rd Sept. 1. Introduction: what is a temple for?

5th Sept. 2. The fundamentals of temple design

Week 2

10th Sept. 3. How to build a temple

12th Sept. 4. Who built temples

Week 3

17th Sept. 5. The Doric order

19th Sept. 6. The Ionic order

Week 4

24th 7. Recap and practice test

26th 8. Source criticism test

Week 5

1st Oct. 9. The Athenian Acropolis: topography and mythology

3rd Oct. 10. The Athenian Acropolis: the Pantheon

Week 6

8th Oct. 11. The Athenian Acropolis: myths in sculpture, Centaurs and Amazons

10th Oct. 12. The Athenian Acropolis: myths in sculpture, Trojans and Giants

Week 7 – To be rescheduled

15th Oct. 13. The Athenian Acropolis: the Erechtheion

17th Oct. 14. Recap and practice exam

Week 8

22nd Oct. 15. mid-term exam

24th Oct. 16. Panhellenic sanctuaries: Olympia and the temple of Zeus

Week 9

29th Oct. 17. Panhellenic sanctuaries: treasuries

31st Oct. 18. Panhellenic sanctuaries: Delphi

Week 10

5th Nov. 19. Panhellenic sanctuaries: the working of oracles

7th Nov. 20. Panhellenic sanctuaries: cult statues

Week 11

12th Nov. 21. Recap and practice test

14th Nov. 22. Source criticism test

Week 12

19th Nov. 23. Greek temples and the Romans: the Corinthian Order

21st Nov. 24. Greek temples and the Romans: the emergence of Greek architecture in Rome.

Week 13

26th Nov. 25. Greek temples and the Romans: the round temple in the Forum Boarium

28th Nov. 26. Greek temples and the Romans: Hadrian and Greek architecture

Week 14

3rd Dec. 27. The Reception of Greek temples, from the 18th century to the Washington monument

5th Dec. 28. Recap and revision.

Week 15

29. Final exam



There is no textbook. The following is a selection of books on aspects of Greek temples and architecture in general, specific reading and bibliography will be provided for each class.

Alcock, S. and Osborne, R. Placing the Gods, 1994.

Dinsmoor, W.B.: The Architecture of Ancient Greece, 1950.

Barletta, B. The Origins of the Greek Architectural Orders, 2001.

Hurwit, J.M. The Athenian Acropolis: History, mythology and archaeology from the Neolithic era to the present, 1999.

Lawrence, A.W. Greek Architecture, 1983/1996.

Miles, M. A Companion to Greek Architecture 2016.

Smith, T. and Plantzos, D. A Companion to Greek Art 2012.

Spawforth, A. The Complete Greek Temples, 2006.

Stewart, A. Greek Sculpture, 1990.

Tomlinson, R.A. Greek Sanctuaries, 1976.

Wilson Jones, MOrigins of classical architecture: temples, orders and gifts to the gods in ancient Greece, 2014.