Key to the color codes used in this exhibition
The object descriptions in this online exhibition all have a color-coded abbreviation. These refer to the various Periclean buildings on the Athenian Acropolis:
(PA) The Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Parthenos
(PR) The Propylaia, the great gatehouse that gives access to the Acropolis
(AN) The Temple of Athena Nike, the goddess of victory
(ER) The Erechtheion that houses the shrine to Athena Polias
(NA stands for “Not Acropolis,” used for ancient buildings beyond the Acropolis)
The terminology and nomenclature used to describe and organize Greek architecture is rather specialized. Some of these terms are explained below:
Prostyle: a building that has a colonnade only on one of its short sides
(e.g. the Erechtheion, more or less)
Amphiprostyle: a building that has colonnades at either of its short sides
(e.g. the Temple of Athena Nike)
Peristyle: a building wrapped in a colonnade on all four sides
(e.g. the Parthenon)
Tetrastyle, hexastyle, and octostyle: buildings having colonnades of four, six, and eight columns, respectively, on their facades
(e.g. the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion, and the Parthenon)
The Greek architectural orders
The Greeks employed three architectural orders, all three of which were in use by the end of the High Classical Period. Two feature prominently in this exhibition: Doric and Ionic.
The Doric order has simple capitals that consist of a square abacus atop a round conical echinus. The column shafts are stout and conical, and are widely fluted. They have no base but stand directly on their supporting surface.
The entablature above the columns has a plain architrave and a frieze course consisting of triglyphs alternating with metopes, forms perhaps derived from timber construction.
The exterior of both the Parthenon and the Propylaia are in the Doric order.
The Ionic order has ornate capitals characterized by volutes. The column shafts are more slender and more densely fluted. They usually stand on a base that intervenes between them and their supporting surface.
The entablature consists of an architrave with a stepped face and, more often than not, a continuous frieze course, sometimes consisting of a continuous sculptural relief or decorated with attached sculptures.
The Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion are in the Ionic order.