New light on development of temple building in ancient Greece

Published 07 August 2012

A free public lecture at the University of New England on Thursday 9 August will draw on new discoveries to explore the development of temple building in ancient Greece.

Professor Catherine Morgan, the Director of the British School at Athens and Professor of Archaeology at King’s College London, will address the question: “Why did the early Greeks build temples?”

Professor Morgan, the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens Visiting Professor for 2012, was honoured with an OBE award in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Her lecture, beginning at 5.30 pm, will be part of UNE’s Aspects of Antiquity lecture series held in The Gallery at Earle Page College. Everyone is welcome.

Professor Morgan says that, while temples are nowadays taken for granted as essential features of Greek sanctuaries, many early sanctuaries were entirely open-air. “A marked increase in the number of buildings from the eighth century BC onwards has led to discussion of how and why the idea of a temple arose and was widely adopted,” she said. “The development of consensus views in antiquity about building form and decoration raises questions about patterns of communication, use of materials, and mobility of craftsmen.”

Her lecture will draw on discoveries and studies over the past decade to explore how and why the notion of a temple emerged as widely as it did.

The Aspects of Antiquity lecture series is sponsored by UNE’s School of Humanities, the Armidale Chapter of the UNE Alumni Association, and Earle Page College.

At 9.30 am on the following day – Friday 10 August – Professor Morgan will present a public seminar on “Pindar and Corinth” in the weekly research seminar series conducted by the School of Humanities.

She says that, despite its legendary wealth and highly advantageous location uniting long-distance land and sea routes, the city of Corinth provides relatively limited evidence for lavish displays of material wealth. “Corinthian patronage of the great poets of the later Archaic and Classical periods is rarely attested,” she said. “Despite widespread participation in Panhellenic (‘all-Greek’) festivals and a lively festival culture at home (including patronage of the Panhellenic Isthmian Games), only one Corinthian family is known to have commissioned epinikian (‘victory’) poetry.”

Pindar of Thebes was the most renowned of Greek lyric poets. Professor Morgan will examine his sole ode for a Corinthian victor (Olympian13) in detail for the rich information it contains about the city, the role of elite families within it, and attitudes to public displays of status and wealth.

The seminar will be in Lecture Theatre A3 in UNE’s Arts Building.