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Shifting Styles: The Greek Architectural Orders in the Early Classical Period
The Roman architect Vitruvius provides much of the information preserved from
antiquity on the Greek architectural orders. His treatise, known as The Ten Books on
Architecture, was written in the late 1st c. B.C.E. but drew on Greek sources. Since its
“rediscovery” in the 15th c. Vitruvius‟ text has held considerable authority and has, in
fact, become the basis for modern views on ancient architecture. Particularly important
for this paper are his statements concerning the origins of the Doric and Ionic orders,
from which we derive our own understanding of their use, distribution, and significance.
According to Vitruvius, the Greeks developed two systems, or what we refer to as
orders, of architecture. Doric is characterized as having a heavy, fluted column shaft
without a base, a rounded capital, and a frieze consisting of an alternation of triglyphs
and metopes. Ionic columns rest on a base, have a slenderer but also fluted shaft, and
terminate in a capital with a rounded central element (echinus) framed by volutes.
Vitruvius tells us that the orders originated in separate parts of the Greek world and at
a very early time. He attributes the initial use of the Doric order to Doros, the leader of
the Dorian Greek tribe, for a temple in the Sanctuary of Hera at Argos, which is located
in mainland Greece. Later, with the migration of Ionians to the coast of Asia Minor, the
style was transplanted there and was subsequently replaced by Ionic for construction of
the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos.
Vitruvius‟ chronology is vague and even contradictory, but his association of the two
orders with different geographical regions is generally supported by the archaeological
evidence. That is, the Doric order is typically used in mainland Greece, although it is
also adopted in southern Italy and Sicily. The Ionic order is characteristic of Asia Minor
but it may have appeared even earlier in the Aegean Islands.
During the Early Classical period (ca. 480-450 B.C.E.), however, a major change
occurred in the geographical distribution of the architectural orders in the area sometimes
referred to as Old Greece. The Cyclades, one of the originators of the Ionic order, moved
exclusively to Doric. Athens, which had previously employed the Doric order
characteristic of mainland Greece, began to use Ionic forms for its buildings, leading in
the Classical period to the creation of its own distinctive Attic-Ionic style. My paper
examines this shift in styles and the possible reasons for it by focusing on the most
prominent representatives of the new traditions, first in the Cyclades and then in Athens.
During the second quarter of the 5th c. B.C., construction was initiated on the Great
Temple of Apollo on Delos, although it was only finished in the last quarter of the fourth
century. In contrast to earlier traditions in the Cycladic Islands, the temple was built in
Doric style. In his publication of the building, Fernand Courby argued that the temple had
been planned from the beginning as Doric, although with certain anomalies.1 William
Bell Dinsmoor, however, was so convinced that a Doric “temple of such importance”
would not have been constructed in the Aegean Islands at this time that he assumed it to
have been initiated as Ionic.2 Since then, evidence has come to light of the increasing
popularity of the Doric order in the Cyclades from the late 6th c. onward.3 Much of the
evidence consists of isolated members, but enough is preserved of the Temple of Athena
at Karthaia, on the island of Kea, to demonstrate that it was executed fully in the Doric
style already in the late 6th c.4 Although certain characteristics of the Apollo temple
remain unusual for Doric architecture, they may be explained as a reflection of this
emerging Cycladic-Doric tradition.
Scholars have been especially puzzled by the lack of corner contraction, which would be
expected in a Doric building at this time. J.J. Coulton attributed it to influence from
Western Greece,5 but by the early 5th century, Western Greek architects had also adopted
corner contraction. Instead, we might better explain this anomaly as resulting from a
carry-over of Ionic practices into the newly adopted Doric order. Ionic architecture,
which did not use a triglyph-metope frieze, employed the same spacing for columns at
the corners as elsewhere in the building.
An Ionic interpretation of Doric architecture may also explain other unusual features of
this temple. These include the relatively slender columns, with a height calculated
around 5.5 diameters, comparable to those of the Parthenon.6 Such proportions may be
ascribed to influence from Ionic shafts, which are typically slenderer than Doric7 and
seem to have inspired the characteristically narrow columns of Cycladic-Doric already by
the late Archaic period. The anta returns are also severely truncated, projecting 5 cm on
the interior and only 7 mm on the exterior.8 This is in contrast to the marked projections
of Doric architecture but in keeping with the unenlarged Ionic anta.
Finally, the exterior triglyph-metope frieze is crowned with a moulding, which was
executed in the second phase of construction but, on the basis of proportions, was
probably planned from the beginning.9 A moulded crown would be almost unique for a
Doric frieze, although it is noted by both Courby and Coulton for the late 6th c. Temple of
Athena at Paestum, in southern Italy. It has also been recognized in an unknown building
at Sybaris and in a funerary naiskos from Megara Hyblaia, both also in western Greece
and datable to the later 6th c.10 These western buildings show features that suggest Ionic
influence and the crowning moulding, which was typically placed above a continuous
Ionic frieze, may be counted among them. Its use above the Doric frieze of the Temple
of Apollo likely arises from familiarity with local, Ionic tradition.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of the Apollo temple is the frieze associated with its
cella building. Nothing is preserved of it above the pronaos, but Courby calculated the
size and spacing of the members here from faint traces of the regula on the architrave.
This yielded a total of 8 triglyphs and 7 metopes. Not only do these numbers contrast
with the 7 triglyphs and 6 metopes of the opisthodomos frieze, but they prevent the usual
alignment of alternate triglyphs with supporting columns. Such a flexible approach to the
frieze is more in keeping with the continuous Ionic member than its rigidly prescribed
Doric counterpart.
According to Courby, the minimal projection of the exterior anta return and the
treatment of wall blocks demonstrate the continuation of these porch friezes onto the
sides of the cella building. Such an arrangement is almost unique in peripteral
architecture. A precedent may exist, however, in the Cycladic-Doric Temple of Athena
at Karthaia, on Kea, built in the late 6th c.11 Moreover, local traditions may provide an
explanation for this unusual feature.
In contrast to their counterparts in Asia Minor, Ionic temples in the Cyclades usually lack
a peristyle. Thus their entablatures, including friezes, run above walls and porches. This
is the case with some of the earliest religious buildings known, as in the early 6th c. Oikos
of the Naxians on Delos and in the fourth Temple of Dionysos at Yria on Naxos, dated
ca. 580-570 B.C.12 The Cycladic-Doric temples of Kea and Delos reflect Doric traditions
in the incorporation of the peristyle, but their architects preserved the earlier, Ionic
treatment of the cella building with its crowning frieze. The combination resulted in a
Doric frieze on the sekos of a peripteral structure.13
Another connection with Cycladic architecture may be found in the different heights of
the friezes on the Apollo temple, with that on the pronaos being slightly smaller than
elsewhere. This characteristic is paralleled in the gradual tapering of the Ionic frieze in
the nearby Oikos of the Naxians, which was executed about a century earlier.14
Finally, interior corner blocks preserving traces of a half-triglyph next to a surface with
anathyrosis provide evidence for an interior frieze in at least the pronaos and probably
also in the opisthodomos of the Apollo temple.
The only parallel for an interior porch frieze known to me is in the pronaos of the
Older Temple of Aphaia on Aegina, constructed around 570 B.C.15 That building was in
the Doric order and therefore also used a triglyph-metope frieze, but in this case it
extended around only three, rather than four, sides of the pronaos. The temple was
dismantled for construction of its successor, which scholars traditionally assume was
begun ca. 500 B.C.16 Recently, it has been suggested that the Older temple may have
stood until 480 B.C. and have been destroyed during the Persian Wars.17 Either way,
there would be a gap between its destruction and the construction of the Apollo temple.
With the second chronology, however, that gap would perhaps have been small enough to
allow for some influence. Without this precedent, one can only ascribe the interior
friezes in the Temple of Apollo to experimentation by its architect.
Indeed, the adoption of the Doric order in the Cyclades seems to have been a process
of experimentation and adaptation. By about 480 B.C., Doric is used exclusively for
Cycladic buildings. Yet as shown by the Temple of Apollo, it is a local version of the
order, and one that was influenced by previous Cycladic-Ionic traditions. This has
important consequences for our understanding of the choice of architectural order.
Several scholars have associated the adoption of Doric architecture in the Cyclades,
and especially in the Temple of Apollo on Delos, with political events, namely the
establishment of the Delian League and the increasing role of Athens as leader of the
Ionians. Athens had traditionally used the Doric order for her monumental architecture,
despite the Ionian heritage of her citizens. When, between 425 and 417 B.C., the
Athenians constructed another temple to Apollo on Delos alongside the early classical
one, it was fully in the Doric order. In fact, the Temple of the Athenians mimicked the
Parthenon in some of its characteristics. It might not be surprising, then, that a temple
built under the hegemony of Athens would reflect the architectural style of that city.
Yet during the Early Classical period, while continuing to use the Doric order, Athens
also began to adopt Ionic. Thus we see a shift in architectural styles in Attica as well.
Some scholars have attributed this development to political motives. Indeed, at least one
scholar cites the same motives as those presumed responsible for the Doric style in the
Islands, that is, Athens‟ role as leader of the Delian League.
The strongest case has been made in regard to the Stoa of the Athenians at Delphi. It
demonstrates one of the earliest uses of Ionic columns on the exterior of an Attic
The Stoa was dated by Pierre Amandry just after 480 B.C. on architectural and
epigraphical grounds and associated with an episode in the Persian War.19 John Walsh
subsequently argued for construction in the 450s and in conjunction with the beginning of
the Peloponnesian War. Nevertheless, both authors attributed the choice of the Ionic
order to an expression of Athenian allegiance with Ionians of East Greece and the Aegean
Islands. In the first instance this would have occurred with the establishment of the
Delian League;20 in the second with the increasing polarization of Greeks into Dorians
and Ionians.21
The architectural forms used in the Athenian Stoa, however, belong to the Attic
tradition. This is exemplified in particular by the column capitals.
Only three examples have been recognized, two fragments by Amandry and a nearly
complete capital, including the reverse face, by Manolis Korres.22 Their traits are
distinctive: carving of the echinus on only one face, the echinus in 2-tiers consisting of an
ovolo over a cyma reversa, a central band on the bolster, and a cyma reversa profile for
the abacus.
SLIDE: STOA CAPITAL, VIEW (Meritt 1993, figs. 7-9)
Several of these traits seem to be borrowed from the Cyclades although they are
adopted by Athens with the introduction of the Ionic capital for votive dedications during
the second half of the 6th c. 23
Thus, a smooth or incised, rather than fully carved, rendering of architectural elements
is characteristic of Cycladic architecture and is attested in capitals as well as other
components. The earliest example is a small votive column from the sanctuary at Sangri
on Naxos, which is dated to the late 7th century.24 The volutes and corner palmettes are
articulated by deep incisions, but the echinus is left smooth. Additional examples of this
type are known from Delos.25 These are dated by Roland Martin to the second quarter of
the 6th c.,26 before the infusion of more plastic influences from Asia Minor in the middle
of the century. By contrast, Aenne Ohnesorg places the earliest examples at the end of
the 7th century, which fits better with the proposed dating of the Sangri capital and
accords with her derivation of incised detail from wooden predecessors.27 Indeed, the
rendering of these Delian capitals would seem to be partly a factor of chronology, since
they do not seem to continue after the mid-6th c. Moreover, in one of the latest capitals of
this group, from the eastern porch of the Oikos of the Naxians, the eggs of the echinus are
rendered in relief.28
Nevertheless, this group is distinctive in its sparing use of carving. A capital from the
interior of the Oikos of the Naxians shows only lightly incised volutes and a smooth
echinus.29 The same treatment appears on at least three other members of this group,30
whereas additional examples make use of incision to articulate the echinus and
sometimes also the corner palmette.31 Even in the capital from the east porch of the Oikos
of the Naxians where the echinus is executed in relief, the volutes and corner palmettes
are incised. It would thus seem that a limited use of carved decoration was characteristic
of Cycladic capitals, at least before the middle of the 6th c.
The earliest Athenian capitals likewise show a preference for smooth surfaces.32 The
volute coils were often executed simply in paint or through incision. When carving was
used, it was limited to the volute element, which could have raised borders or a slightly
concave rendering of the canalis and coils. Additionally, R. Borrmann notes that the
contours of the ornament might be lightly incised in the marble to serve as a guide for the
application of color.33 Yet the echinus was generally left smooth.34
This treatment of the capital continues into the first quarter of the 5th c. with three
additional votive crowns from the Acropolis.35 The canalis and volutes are concave and
bordered by raised fillets, but the carved elements are expanded to include raised fanshaped panels at the corners, in one case also with relief palmettes, and floral decoration
or astragals at the center of the bolster. Despite this greater interest in relief, the echinus
remains smooth.36 This combination of concave canalis and smooth echinus will
characterize an entire series of Athenian Ionic capitals from the 5th c. and later. The city
also produces variations of that form, including somewhat different treatments of the two
sides, as found in the Stoa capitals.37
Such is the case with a series of capitals attributed by Korres to a temple in
Ambelokipi.38 The echinus of these capitals is smooth on one face and carved with the
usual egg-and-dart motif on the other. They bear a similarity to the Stoa capitals in the
two-tier echinus, although here it consists of a flat band above an ovolo in contrast to the
ovolo over a cyma reversa of the Stoa. Other elements have also been associated with
this temple by Korres. On the basis of the capitals, he dates the building 440-430 B.C.
Another variation appears in a capital from Gerakas and its companion piece from
Stavros. Again, the eggs on the echinos are treated differently: blocked out on one side
and carved on the other.39 Yet the diversity in these pieces also extends to the renderings
of the canalis, convex on the more detailed face and concave on the other. The date of
this pair from Attica is uncertain. The capitals have been considered late Archaic, but
various features, including the asymmetry of the corner palmette petals, suggest a date in
the second half of the 5th c.
A second pair of Attic capitals, one from the Acropolis and the other found in the
Agora, likewise shows a difference in carving between the two sides.40 Here, too, the
eggs of the echinus are blocked out on one face and fully executed on the other. The
canalis and corner palmettes are more rudimentary on the former face and the volute eyes
are carved as smooth disks as opposed to relief rosettes. These pieces have also received
various dates. Lucy Shoe Meritt, who initially recognized them as a pair, suggested a
date in the late 6th c., but Möbius, noting similarities with the capitals of the Temple of
Athena Nike, suggested a date between 440 and 420 B.C. More recently, Elizabeth
McGowan has raised additional arguments in favor of a date in the second half of the 5th
c., and that indeed seems justified.41
SLIDE: ACROPOLIS CAPITAL 124 (McGowan pl. 59a)
The echinoi of the Stoa capitals also reflect Athenian traditions in the division into two
tiers and the cyma reversa profile. Both features have antecedents in the late 6th or early
5th century. A votive capital from the Acropolis, dated by McGowan ca. 510 B.C.,
provides the earliest known example of a cyma reversa echinus in Athens.42 The profile
appears only in the lower portion, where the echinus curves inward to meet the column
shaft. The projecting surface above is broken away. This makes it impossible to
determine whether the echinus was executed in two tiers.
Only slightly later, in the first decades of the 5th c., the cyma reversa is repeated on two
Acropolis votive capitals, now clearly rendered with a two-tier echinus.43
Both of these features appear on Acropolis votive capitals even later in the 5th c.44
With the introduction of Ionic forms into Athenian buildings in the Early Classical
period, this type of capital will also be employed for architectural use.45 That is the case
with two pieces now in the Agora, which are dated by Meritt ca. 480-470 B.C.E., thus
contemporary with or slightly earlier than the Athenian Stoa. One of these is a corner
capital, a form that would only be required on a building, perhaps, as Korres suggests,
one that was amphiprostyle.46 Here the echinus is divided into an upper, sloping member
and a lower cyma reversa.
The capitals of the Athenian Stoa differ from these examples, however, in the upper tier,
which is not flat but instead curved, with a taper toward the bottom. This profile is called
an ovolo and it is the traditional profile for the echinus of Ionic capitals. As we have
already noted, on one face it is carved with the egg-and-dart motif, which is also typical
of the Ionic echinus. Yet the placement of this motif at the top, rather than the bottom, of
the echinus is virtually unique.
The only parallel known to me for an egg-and-dart ornament in this location appears in
a votive capital from the Athenian Acropolis, shown here in a 19th c. painted
reconstruction. Only traces of the paint are preserved, but they support the accuracy of
this representation. It is thus tempting to see the unusual location of the decoration as an
Athenian experiment with the newly adopted Ionic style.
This two-tiered shape continues in an entire series of Athenian capitals produced
during the 5th and even into the 4th century. Indeed, according to McGowan, the twotiered echinus becomes “the distinguishing characteristic” of fifth-century Athenian Ionic
capitals.47 Likewise, the cyma reversa profile becomes “one of the regular fifth-century
forms” of Athens.48
The strong affinity for the two-tiered cyma reversa echinus as well as its early
appearance in Athens, already in the late 6th or early 5th c., has led to the assumption that
it was an Athenian invention, which McGowan associates specifically with votive
capitals.49 Yet other evidence points to Cycladic origins and an initially architectural use.
It is attested on Delos in the later 6th c. by a fragmentary member assigned variously to
the Naxian Stoa or to the Hexagonal Building50 and a set attributed by Gruben to the
second Propylon.
Gruben includes in the latter set a corner capital previously assigned to the Porinos Naos.
Here the echinus is carved with the egg-and-dart motif, but its profile shows a slight S-
curve, which Gruben considers to be a characteristic rendering of the ovolo on Naxos and
In normal capitals from this group, the echinus is decorated on one side with the usual
egg-and-dart motif and on the other with the Lesbian leaf. This is significant, since the
Lesbian leaf ornament is typically associated with the cyma reversa profile.51 In her
study of mouldings, Shoe argued for the development of the cyma reversa from the ovolo
over the course of the 6th century. This relationship between the two profiles may have
led masons in both Athens and Delos to take the unusual step of substituting the cyma
reversa for the ovolo on their echinoi. Because the remaining examples from each area
are so close in date, it is impossible to determine whether one influenced the other and, if
so, which. Yet if, as McGowan suggests, Cycladic artists inspired and in some cases
executed the earliest Athenian Ionic capitals,52 they may also have been responsible for
this unusual variation.
Another characteristically Athenian feature of the Stoa capitals appears in the bolster,
which is smooth except for a central raised band. This arrangement became so familiar in
Athens that Meritt labeled it “typically Athenian.”53 Yet the ultimate origin of the motif
seems to be the Cycladic Islands. Already around the middle of the 6th c., masons in this
area executed capitals with a smooth bolster bearing either two or three central astragals.
Significantly, however, the capitals were of the Aeolic, rather than the Ionic, order. 54
These examples must have inspired artists in Athens, and occasionally elsewhere, to
apply a central motif to a smooth echinus on Ionic capitals.55
The Athenians, however, varied the type of centralized motif. Three late 6th c. votive
capitals from the Acropolis preserve traces of painted vertical stripes,56 which may be a
forerunner to the carved decoration seen subsequently. A mid-6th c. capital is reported to
have a slightly raised band in the center of its bolster.57 In two votive capitals of the first
quarter of the 5th c., the bolster is sculpted in the center with a floral motif directly on the
surface (Akr. 3776) or on an intervening raised band (Akr. 7797).58 Other Athenian
capitals make use of a flat band, including a late 6th or early 5th c. piece from the
Asklepieion as well as the capital of the Marathon column, a corner capital (A 1893) and
its mate (A 1130) from the Athenian Agora, and two unnumbered capitals from the
Acropolis, all of which probably belong to the second quarter of the 5th c.59 Another
variation, comprising a pair of astragals, appears on the bolster of the large poros capital
from the Acropolis (Akr. 13302), dated to the beginning of the 5th c. B.C., as well as
others of later date.60 These approaches are combined in the capitals from the Stoa of the
Athenians at Delphi, which display a flat band that separates into a pair of astragals just
below the abacus.61 Thus, even if the use of centralized decoration on the bolster
originated in the Cyclades, its adoption in the Stoa capitals represents an Athenian
The bases of the Stoa columns have fewer antecedents. They consist of the usual
torus, but over a lower member, or spira, that takes a cyma recta profile.
Amandry has noted the existence of similar campaniform bases for votive dedications at
Delphi itself. Most are undated, but that dedicated by Gelon of Syracuse may
commemorate his victory at Himera in 480 B.C.E. and the companion base, given by his
brother Hieron, would date only slightly later.63 Both have been reconstructed with a
bronze column supporting an offering.
Another relatively early example from Delphi seems to have Athenian associations
since it bears the name Alkibiades.
SLIDE: BASE OF ALKIBIADES (BCH 46, 1922, facing p. 440)
On the basis of letter forms and the identification of the dedicator as the son of one of the
opponents of the Peisistratids, it has been dated about 475 B.C.E.,64 approximately
contemporary with or slightly earlier than the Athenian Stoa.
Although some scholars have been reluctant to accept a relationship between bases
used in buildings and in votive supports, we have already noted that the capital type of
the Athenian Stoa was initially developed in votive monuments. Moreover, the function
of the building was votive, serving as a dedication to Apollo and a receptacle for war
Other potential models exist in monumental architecture, but the connections are less
Thus, Burkhardt Wesenberg traces the development of the Athenian Stoa base from the
leaf torus traditionally associated with Aeolic capitals and found in some Ionic buildings.
Perhaps the most famous examples come from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesos and are
identified by Wesenberg not in the usual manner as crowns for the sculpted column
drums, but as spiras for the column bases.
A better parallel comes from the Ionic temple at Metapontion, dated ca. 480-475
B.C.E. As in the Athenian Stoa, the spira of the base is lower in height than the torus,
which is unusual in Ionic architecture.65 The profiles of the spiras of these two buildings
are also comparable, in that both possess a concave section terminated by a small base
astragal, although with an initial convex curve in the Athenian Stoa.
The lack of obvious predecessors may suggest that the Stoa base is an experimental
combination of models current in both votive offerings and buildings.
Whatever its origins, it is generally acknowledged as the first representative of the
distinctive Attic-Ionic form, best known from the Temple of Athena Nike.66
Thus, the bases of the Stoa also reflect Athenian tradition.
Although dedications in sanctuaries were by nature political, the adoption of the Ionic
order for the Stoa of the Athenians does not necessarily demonstrate the Ionian heritage
or political affiliations of the Athenians. Rather, their use of a distinctively Athenian
form of Ionic capital may make an even stronger local statement. Moreover, the
innovations found in the capital and base forms suggest an openness to new ideas from
different regions of the Greek world and even other types of dedicatory monuments.
Similar conclusions may be drawn from the other major Ionic construction of Early
Classical Attica, the Temple of Athena at Sounion. This temple, built around 460-450
B.C., was approximately contemporary with the Stoa and it, too, used the Ionic order
exclusively. Indeed, it is the first Attic temple to do so. Political motives have been seen
in this choice, which John Onians claims as a “gesture of friendship with the Eastern
Greeks.”67 Yet the location of the building may offer a better explanation. Sounion is the
southernmost point of Attica and the first landfall when coming from the Aegean.
Indeed, several characteristics of the temple suggest Aegean connections.
The plan of the building is unique in having colonnades on only two, but adjacent sides.
Despite this peculiarity, the limited use of colonnades and the simple plan of the cella
building find their closest parallels in the Aegean.
The column shafts in the temple at Sounion also differ from the norm in that they are not
fluted, that is, they lack the typical vertical grooves. Instead, the shaft consists of a
continuous cylinder with a slightly roughened surface. We have already noted the
Cycladic preference for smooth, rather than carved, forms. This preference was not
limited to column capitals but extended to their shafts and bases as well.
A fairly well preserved example of that treatment appears in the Temple of Demeter and
Kore at Sangri, dated ca. 530 B.C.
This building also demonstrates the Cycladic interest in textural contrasts, as in the
smooth anta capital above the rough wall end.
Similar contrasts are exploited for decorative effect in the Sounion capitals. The volute
member shows a roughened concave face and its coil terminates in a smooth domed eye.
While certain characteristics of the Sounion temple thus derive from Island traditions,
others, especially in the capitals, clearly reflect Athenian developments. The echinus, or
element between the volutes, shows the distinctive Athenian reverse curve at the bottom.
The surface of the echinus was also smooth, but it was painted with patterns. Most of
that paint is now worn away. We can see what the patterns were, though, because the
surface of the stone was slightly roughened to make the paint adhere. These capitals
must have been very ornate, but in a manner that relied more on color than on carving in
There is no doubt that the Temple of Athena was constructed under strong Cycladic
artistic influence. But, as with the Athenian Stoa, it reflects an Athenian interpretation of
Cycladic forms. In explaining the use of the Ionic order for the Athenian Stoa, Walsh
argued that the Greeks must have been familiar with the architectural styles of their
neighbors.68 That familiarity certainly accounts for the adoption of the “reverse” order in
both Athens and the Cyclades by the turn of the 5th century. Yet as we have
demonstrated, this was not a new development.
Already in the late 6th c., long before the formation of the Delian League, the Cycladic
Islanders begin to use the Doric order of their mainland Greek neighbors. Around the
same time, Athens also embraces Ionic forms for personal monuments. By the Early
Classical period, then, the opposite order was already familiar in each area. The choice
of Doric for the Temple of Apollo on the Cycladic Island of Delos and of Ionic for
Athenian buildings must thus be understood as part of a process that had been evolving
for at least a generation in each area. This is demonstrated also by the use of local
interpretations for the individual components of buildings. If a viewer did associate their
architectural style with a particular location, it was more likely Athens or the Cyclades
than the historical home of the order.
Moreover, we do not know whether and, if so, how thoroughly the Greeks equated the
orders with particular ethnic groups. Herodotus, writing his Histories around the middle
of the 5th c., was at pains to define the Ionians (I, 142-46), who spoke different dialects,
originated in a variety of locations, and intermarried with Carians. This situation changes
with the later 5th c. writings of the historian Thucydides. His world clearly divided into
Dorians and Ionians, whom he distinguished not only on the basis of geography but also
of ethnic heritage. Yet he mentions nothing about architectural style. In fact, there is no
evidence that the terms Doric and Ionic were attached to architecture before the late 5th c.
and they remain rare in the ancient Greek language.69 While the adoption of Doric forms
in the Cycladic Islands and Ionic ones in Attica have been seen as a reflection of political
and ethnic associations, no such explanation is possible with the 4th c. adoption of Ionic
interiors of Peloponnesian temples. Indeed, the association of the orders with separate
ethnic groups may not have occurred much before the time of Vitruvius. We should thus
see the choice of Doric and Ionic in the buildings under consideration not as a statement
of political affiliations, but rather of the expanding contacts and shifting tastes within the
Greek world by the Early Classical period.
Akurgal, E. 1961. Die Kunst Anatoliens von Homer bis Alexander. Berlin: W. de
Alzinger, W. 1972. “Von der Archaik zur Klassik. Zur Entwicklung des ionischen
Kapitells in Kleinasien während des fünften Jahrhunderts v. Chr.,” ÖJh 50, 169-211.
Amandry, P. 1953. Fouilles de Delphes. Vol. 2, La Colonne des Naxiens et le Portique
des Athéniens. Paris: De Boccard.
Amandry, P. 1987. “Trépieds de Delphes et du Péloponnèse,” BCH 111, 79-131
Bankel, H. 1993. Der spätarchaische Tempel der Aphaia auf Aegina. Berlin and New
York: Walter de Gruyter.
Barletta, B.A. 2009. “In Defense of the Ionic Frieze of the Parthenon,” AJA 113, 547-68.
Barletta, B.A. 1990. “An „Ionian Sea‟ Style in Archaic Doric Architecture,” AJA 94, 4572.
Bizard, L. 1920. “Fouilles du Ptoïon,” BCH 44, 227-262
Bommelaer, J.-F. and D. Laroche. 1991. Guide de Delphes. Le Site. Paris: De Boccard.
Borrmann, R. 1887. “Altionische Kapitelle aus Athen,” AntDenk I, ii, 8. Berlin: G.
Borrmann, R. 1888a. “Altattische Kapitelle, AntDenk I, iii, 15-16. Berlin: G. Reimer.
Borrmann, R. 1888b. “Stele für Weihgeschenke auf der Akropolis zu Athen,” JdI 3, 26985.
Brouskari, M.S. 1974. The Acropolis Museum. Athens: Commercial Bank of Greece.
Bruneau, P. and J. Ducat. 2005. Guide de Délos, 4th ed. Paris: De Boccard.
Coulton, J.J. “The Parthenon and Periklean Doric,” in Parthenon-Kongress Basel, ed. E.
Berger, 40-44, 368-69. Mainz: von Zabern, 1984.
Courbin, P. 1980. Exploration archéologique de Délos, 33: L’Oikos des Naxiens. Paris:
De Boccard.
Courbin, P. 1982. “Un chapiteau ionique inédit à Délos,” 127-36. In Rayonnement grec,
Hommages à Charles Delvoye (Bruxelles:
Courby, F. 1931. Exploration Archéologique de Délos XII: Les temples d’Apollon. Paris:
De Boccard, 1-106.
Daux, G. 1922. “Inscriptions de Delphes,” BCH 46, 439-466.
Daux, G. 1960. “Chronique des Fouilles,” BCH 84, 617-869. 756
Dinsmoor, W. B. The Architecture of Ancient Greece (New York, 1975)
Gruben, G. 1972. “Naxos und Paros,” AA, 319-79
Gruben, G. 1989. “Das älteste marmorne Volutenkapitell,” IstMitt 39, 161-72.
Gruben, G. 1993. “Die inselionische Ordnung,” 97-109. In Les grands ateliers
d’architecture dans le monde égéen du VIe siècle av. J.-C., eds. J. des Courtils and J.-C.
Moretti. Paris: de Boccard.
Gruben, G. 1997. “Naxos und Delos. Studien zur archaischen Architektur der
Kykladen,” JdI 112, 261-416.
Hellmann, M.-C. and P. Fraisse. 1979. “Le portique des Naxiens,” Exploration
Archéologique de Délos XXXII: Le Monument aux Hexagones et le Portique des
Naxiens. Paris: De Boccard, 85-124.
Hellmann, M.-C. 1992. Recherches sur le vocabulaire de l’architecture grecque, d’après
les inscriptions de Délos. Paris: De Boccard.
Kallipolites, B.G. and B.Ch. Petrakos. 1963. “Euboia,” ArchDelt 18, 115-27.
Korres, M. 1996. “Ein Beitrag zur Kenntnis der attisch-ionischen Architektur,” 90-113.
In Säule und Gebälk, ed. E.-L. Schwandner. Mainz am Rhein: P. von Zabern.
Korres, M. 1997. “An Early Attic Ionic Capital and the Kekropion on the Acropolis,” 95107. In Greek Offerings: Essays on Greek Art in honour of John Boardman, ed. O.
Palagia. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Lambrinoudakis, V. and G. Gruben. 1987. “Das neuentdeckte Heiligtum von Iria auf
Naxos,” AA, 569-621.
Mallwitz, 1980. “Kykladen und Olympia,” 361-79. In Stele, Festschrift Kondoleon.
Athens: Somateio Hoi Philoi tou Nikolaou Kontoleontos.
Martin, R. 1944-45. “Chapiteaux ioniques de l‟Asclépieion d‟Athènes,” BCH 68-69, 34074.
Martin, R. 1959. “Chapiteau ionique d‟Halicarnasse,” REA 61, 65-76.
Martin, R. 1973. “Compléments a l‟étude des chapiteaux ioniques de Délos,” Etudes
deliennes, BCH Suppl. I, 371-98.
McGowan, E.P. 1993. “Votive Columns of the Aegean Islands and the Athenian
Acropolis in the Archaic Period.” Ph.D. diss., New York University.
McGowan, E.P. 1997. “The Origins of the Athenian Ionic Capital.” Hesperia 66, 209–
Meritt, L.S. 1982. “Some Ionic Architectural Fragments from the Athenian Agora,”
Hesperia Suppl. 20, 82-92.
Meritt, L.S. 1993. “The Athenian Ionic Capital,” 315-25. In Eius Virtutis Studiosi:
Classical and Postclassical Studies in Memory of Frank Edward Brown (1908-1988),
eds. Scott, R.T. and A.R. Scott. Washington: National Gallery of Art.
Meritt, L.S. 1996. “Athenian Ionic Capitals from the Athenian Agora.” Hesperia 65,
Mertens, D. 1979. “Der ionische Tempel von Metapont: Ein Zwischenbericht,” RM 86,
Möbius, H. 1927. “Attische Architekturstudien,” AM 52, 162-96
Ohnesorg, A. 1993. “Parische Kapitelle,” 111-18. In Les Grands ateliers d’architecture
dans le monde egeen du Vie siecle av. J.-C., eds. J. des Courtils and J.-C. Moretti. Paris:
De Boccard.
Ohnesorg, A. 1996. “Votiv- oder Architektursäulen?” 39-47. In Säule und Gebälk, ed. E.L. Schwandner. Mainz am Rhein: P. von Zabern.
Onians, J. 1988. Bearers of Meaning. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Østby, E. 1980. “The Athenaion of Karthaia,” Opuscula Atheniensia 13, 189-223.
Puchstein, O. 1887. Das Ionische Capitell, Berlin: 47. Berlin Winckelmannsprogram,
Verlag G. Reimer.
Schuller, M. 1985. Die dorische Architektur der Kykladen in spätarchaischer Zeit,” JdI
100, 319-398.
Schwandner, E.-L. 1985. Der ältere Porostempel der Aphaia auf Aegina. Berlin: Walter
de Gruyter.
Stewart, A. 2008. “The Persian and Carthaginian Invasions of 480 B.C.E. and the
Beginning of the Classical Style: Part 2, The Finds from Other Sites in Athens, Attica,
Elsewhere in Greece, and on Sicily; Part 3, The Severe Style: Motivations and Meaning.”
AJA 112, 581–615.
Vallois 1966. L’architecture hellénique et hellénistique à Délos, II. Paris: De Boccard.
Walsh, J. 1986. “The Date of the Athenian Stoa at Delphi,” AJA 90, 319-36
Wesenberg, B. 1971. Kapitelle und Basen. Düsseldorf: Rheinland Verlag.
Courby 1931.
Dinsmoor 1975, 184 and n. 5. Dinsmoor believed that only the first two steps were
constructed in this initial phase and even these were left unfinished. His designation of
the plan as Ionic was based not just on historical factors but also on the absence of corner
contraction, which he assumed must have existed in a Doric building of this date “so
close to the centre of development.”
Schuller 1985.
Østby 1980.
Coulton 1984. Coulton cites other characteristics of the Temple of Apollo as evidence
for Western Greek influence, which he attributes to a Cycladic refugee who returned
from the West.
The height of the columns is not known, but Courby 1931, 15-16 estimates a range of
5.05-5.25 m. from the diminution of the shaft. With an average diameter of ca. 0.95, this
would yield a ratio for diameter to height of ca. 1:5.3-5.5. Coulton 1984, 44 accepts
about 5 ½ diameters for their height. By comparison, Gruben 2001, 180 cites 5.32 lower
diameters for the Temple of Aphaia at Aegina and 5.48 lower diameters for the
See the table of dimensions of 5th c. Ionic columns in Mertens 1979, where the ratio of
diameter to height ranges from 1:8 to 1:9.8.
Courby 1931, 72 for the exterior return and Courby 1931, 101 for that on the interior.
Courby 1931, 94, 105. Coulton 1984, 44 also accepts that the crown was part of the
original design. Both authors note an earlier parallel for the frieze crown in the Temple
of Athena at Paestum.
Barletta 1990, 68 and nn. 152-153, 72.
Østby1980, 205.
For the Oikos of the Naxians, see Gruben 1993, 105-106; 1997, 344-45. For the Yria
temple, Lambrinoudakis and Gruben 1987, esp. 607; Gruben 1993, 102-105.
The Parthenon demonstrates a variation of this arrangement. Its architects included a
frieze, although of continuous Ionic type, around the exterior of its sekos, despite the fact
that it was difficult to see within the (Doric) peristyle. For a discussion of this frieze, see
Barletta, 2009.
Gruben 1993, 105-106, fig. 4; Gruben 1997, 344-45, figs. 3, 41.
Schwandner 1985.
Bankel 1993, 169-70.
Stewart 2008, 593-97, who argues that its successor, the Late Archaic Temple of
Aphaia, was begun in the 470s.
Walsh 1986, 331 claimed that this building was the first to use the Ionic order for an
exterior columniation. He argued that the stoa was built ca. 460-450 B.C. and placed the
Temple of Athena at Sounion, another example of an Ionic exterior, around the time of
the Parthenon (ca. 447 B.C.). The latter is now, however, generally assigned to the same
P. Amandry 1953, 108.
Amandry 1953, 115 n. 1.
Walsh 1986, 333-34.
Korres 1996, 110-12 and fig. 32. This capital is also discussed by Daux 1960, 756;
Meritt 1993, 319, figs. 7-9
For a discussion of Cycladic capitals as models for early Athenian ones, see McGowan
1997, 222-26.
Gruben 1989. McGowan 1997, 223-24 offers a lower date, in the first quarter or third
of the 6th c. In general, however, McGowan‟s chronology is lower than generally
These capitals were first discussed by Vallois 1966, 168-70, 175-78. Subsequently,
Martin 1973, 382-91 republished them with illustrations. Martin labeled the group
votive, with the exception of those attributed to the porch and interior of the Oikos of the
Naxians. Courbin 1980, 53 and nn. 5, 7, suggests that Martin‟s capital 5 (R.V. 3) may
also have been architectural. See Courbin 1980, 51-55 for the (single) capital assigned to
the interior and 103-105 for that of the porch. The porch column was discussed by
Vallois 1966, 176-7, no. 11 and by Martin 1973, 389-90, no. 9, but he erroneously cites
fig. 18 as the illustration, as noted by Courbin 1980, 103 n. 7.
Martin 1973, 391.
Ohnesorg 1996, 40 n. 9 for the assignment of two examples to the end of the 7th c.
Courbin 1980, 95, 105 dates the eastern porch slightly before the middle of the 6th c.
and places its extant capital at the end of the series. McGowan 1997, 225 suggests a date
late in the third quarter of the 6th c.
Vallois 1966, 177, no. 12 and Courbin 1980, 52-53 and 53 n. 1 state that the volutes are
slightly engraved, whereas Martin 1973, 390, no. 10-11 says that all of the surfaces are
smooth. Martin also mentions two fragments, whereas Courbin cites only one. This
capital is considered to be among the earliest of the series and has been dated around 575
B.C.E.: Courbin 1980, 43 n. 1, 55 nn. 3, 4, 93). Gruben 1997, 308, dates the construction
of the building 590/80. McGowan 1997, 225 n. 82 considers either date too high and
cites parallels with capitals of around 550-540 B.C.E.
Vallois 1966, 169-170 nos. 4-5, 7 and Martin 1973, 385-86, no. 6, figs. 12-13 (no inv.
no.). McGowan 1997, 223 n. 69, pl. 59:d, gives the inventory no. Delos A 1548 for
Vallois‟ nos. 4 and 5. Although not preserving the echinus, a fourth capital also shows an
incised volute: Vallois 1966, 170, no. 6; Martin 1973, 374-75, no. 2 (Delos A 4213),
erroneously classified as Aeolic, as noted by Ohnesorg 1996, 40 n. 9.
See Vallois 1966, 169-70, nos. 3; Martin 1973, 382-84, no. 5, figs. 9-11 (= same
capital, no inv. no.). McGowan 1997, 225, n. 78, pl. 60:d states that the bolster is
smooth, in contrast to the representation published by Martin.
See, for example, Borrmann 1888a, 15, pl. 29, 2 (Akr. 135), where the canalis is
rendered in slight relief and double fillets border the volute coils on the faces and an eggand-dart motif is carved above the bolsters on the sides. Meritt 1993, 316; 1996, 125-29,
143-47, nos. 1-4. McGowan 1993, 95-96, distinguishes Akr. 135 and N.M. 85 from the
others on the basis of their incised decoration and concave canales. McGowan 1997,
Borrmann 1887, 8, no. 1, pl. 18, 1 (Akr. 3853); Borrmann 1888b, 280.
The single exception seems to be N.M. 85, where pendant leaves are incised on the
echinus: McGowan 1997, 215.
McGowan 1997, 210-14, pls. 55, 56, 57a (Akr. 3776, 7797, 13302), who dates them
between 490 and 480 B.C.E.
In at least two examples, however, the echinus is given a cyma reversa profile: Akr.
3776, 7797.
In fact, the juxtaposition of two different types of surface treatment characterizes an
entire series of 5th century Attic capitals, as discussed by Meritt 1996, 136-37, Type IV.
Another example of different treatments is found in a piece known as the capital near the
Tower of the Winds: Alzinger 1972) 201-202, 209-10, fig. 37 a, b; Korres 1996, 110, n.
50, fig. 31. The difference seems to be limited to the canalis, which is flat on one side
and concave on the other.
Korres 1996, 103-109.
Möbius1927, 167-70, fig. 3, pl. 27.
Möbius 1927, 171-73; L. S. Meritt 1982, 82-88; Meritt 1996, 163-66.
McGowan 1997, 229 n. 93.
Akr. 124, with a cyma reversa echinus, is considered by McGowan to represent an
initial stage in the development of the two-tiered echinus with cyma reversa base profile
and dated to the last decade of the 6th c.: McGowan 1997, 217-20.
McGowan 1997, 210-13, 217-18, 228, who dates the Archaic capitals, Akr. 3776,
7797, to the first quarter of the 5th c.
McGowan 1993, 100 n. 66, cites two other small-scale capitals with multiple-tiered
echinoi from the Acropolis, neither of which has an inventory number. Both are
published by Puchstein 1887, 8, fig. 5; 10, fig. 7 and Brouskari 1974, 38, fig. 51; 45, fig.
78, respectively. Brouskari labels both Archaic, although McGowan places the latter at
the end of the Archaic period and the former “mid-fifth century or later.” See also Meritt
1993, 322, who considers the capitals “probably from the fifth century.” Meritt 1996,
135, dates the unnumbered Acropolis capitals “not earlier than the second quarter of the
5th century.”
Architectural examples include two capitals from the Athenian Agora (A 1130 and
A1893), one of which is a corner piece, those of the Temple of Athena at Sounion, and
some from an unknown building at Akarnai, as well as those of the Athenian Stoa. The
Agora has also yielded fragments of others, as discussed by Meritt 1996, 131-36, Type
III. The date of each of these structures is not precisely determined. The Agora capitals
have been dated by Meritt ca. 480-470 B.C. The Temple of Athena at Sounion has been
placed variously in the decade before or after 450 B.C.
Korres 1996. Although he does not provide a specific date for the building or the
members attributed to it, Korres implies that it would have been from the Classical
period, thus the second half of the 5th c.
McGowan 1997, 210; see also 229-30 for an explanation of this development.
Meritt 1993, 323.
McGowan 1997, 228-31.
This capital was first associated with the Naxian Stoa by Courbin 1982, but has been
reassigned hypothetically by Gruben 1997, 363-72, to the Hexagonal Monument. For the
Naxian Stoa: Hellmann and Fraisse 1979, 85-124; Martin 1973, 392-98, nos. 12-17, for
capitals; Bruneau and Ducat. 2005, 199-200.
One of the capitals was recovered at Pheia, the harbor of Olympia, and published by
Mallwitz 1980, 372-79.
McGowan 1997, 226-27, 229.
Meritt 1993, 317.
McGowan 1993, 28-34, 226-232, 236-39. Cat. Nos.15-17, 19. McGowan 1997, 226, n.
83 cites four Cycladic Aeolic capitals from Naxos (Delos) and Paros bearing two to three
central astragals on the bolster. For Paros Museum No. 1006 + 1007, see Ohnesorg 1993,
116-17, with a date at the turn from the third to fourth quarter of the 6th c. Paros Museum
737 is briefly discussed by Gruben 1972, 379, fig. 37. This seems to be the same piece
that Ohnesorg 1993, 117, pl. XXII, 3-4 labels a perirrhanterion of the mid-6th c.
McGowan 1993, 33 suggests a date in the first half of the 5th c. and McGowan1997, 226
notes that it might possibly be as late as the mid-5th c. The unnumbered capital from
Delos is discussed by Martin 1973, 375, no. 3, figs. 4-5 and Delos 202 by Vallois 1966,
165-68, no. 2; Martin 1973, 374; Ohnesorg 1996, 44, n. 31, fig. 4 a-b, who dates it around
the middle of the 6th c. In Delos 202, the central element of the astragal band is wider
than the others and is described by McGowan 1993, 236, no. 15 as an arris.
The treatment appears on a presumably votive capital from Eretria datable about 500
B.C. as well as two votive examples from the early 5th c., one from Halicarnassos and the
other now in the Ankara Museum. For the Eretria capital, see Kallipolites and Petrakos
1963, 126-27, pl. 62; for that from Halicarnassos, Martin 1959, esp. 66; for the Ankara
capital, Akurgal, 1961, 279-80, fig. 249, dated 470-460 B.C.E.; Alzinger 1972-75, 18082, fig. 11.
Akr. 3850, 124, N.M. 85: McGowan 1997, 215.
Athenian Agora A 3054. Meritt 1993, 316, fig. 3; 1996, 128, 143-46, no. 2, fig. 7, pl.
33, who dates it to the middle of the 6th c.
McGowan 1997, 211.
Asklepieion: Martin 1944-45, 343, fig. 2. Marathon: Meritt 1996, 128, dated 480-470
B.C. Agora: Meritt 1996, 134,158, nos. 16A and 16B, figs. 23-24, dated 470-460 B.C.E.
Acropolis: Brouskari 1974, 38, fig. 51; 45, fig. 78.
See Korres 1997, 98, fig. 7 II; McGowan 1997, 213-14, pl. 56:d for Acropolis 13302,
which is tentatively dated 490-480 B.C. Central astragals are also found, for example, on
the bolsters of two very similar painted capitals from the Athenian Agora, on a matched
pair from the Agora (A616) and Acropolis, and on an example of “canonical form” from
the Acropolis: Meritt 1996, 154, nos. 14A-B, figs. 20-21; 163 no. 18; 167-69 no. 21,
respectively, all dated later than the Athenian Stoa capital.
Meritt 1996, 134.
The addition of an abacus to the capitals of the Stoa and other Athenian monuments
also distinguishes them from Cycladic examples, which generally do not include abaci:
McGowan 1997, 223, 227. McGowan attributes the change in Athens to influence from
Doric capitals or from the crowning of the cavetto capital used for stelai. She associates
the use of a cyma reversa profile for this member with the development of other
characteristics of the Athenian Ionic capital in the late Archaic period.
Amandry 1987, 80-92. Bommelaer and Laroche. 1991, 188-89, no. 518, fig. 79.
Daux 1922. Still another example of the type, from the Ptoion sanctuary, was
dedicated by Hipparchos, son of Peisistratos, according to a reconstruction of its
inscription: Bizard 1920, 237-41 and fig. 4. It is dated by letter forms and historical
circumstances between ca. 520 and 514 B.C. From the photograph, the profile of this
piece may be slightly more complex, but it compares at least to some campaniform bases
in being reconstructed as a support for a votive column, perhaps in turn bearing a statue
of Athena.
See the table of proportions published by Wesenberg 1971, 125 for sixth-century
buildings. In the Athenian Stoa, the torus measures 11.8 cm. in height and the spira 10.4
cm, for a proportion of 1:0.881. For the Metapontion temple the dimensions are 36.1 and
24.7 cm, respectively, for a ratio of 1:0.684. The difference between the two in the latter
building is clearly much greater.
See Wesenberg 1971, 130, who notes that other scholars hold this view, although he
argues against it. To be sure, the Attic-Ionic base does differ somewhat from that of the
Athenian Stoa, in that the convex curve of the spira is eliminated in favor of a full scotia,
while the base astragal becomes more prominent. Nevertheless, if one accepts the
position of the Stoa bases at the beginning of the series and their possible influence from
nearby votive bases at Delphi, experimentation is to be expected.
Onians 1988, 15.
Walsh 1986, 333 and n. 62.
Hellmann 1992, 116-17.