CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

E3 – The Hellenistic sanctuary as a perception and action context: Mutual influence between humans, architecture and landscape

Northern part of Corinthia
Sanctuary of Athena at Lindos on Rhodos view from the acropolis passing the stoa (3rd centuary BC) to the harbour.

The project investigates the transformation of the interrelation between built architecture and landscape during the Hellenistic period (ca. 4th to 2nd century BC) in the Eastern Mediterranean. The mutual influence between built space and natural space will be explored and linked to specific forms of agency, social behaviour and social contexts. The project will concentrate on the archaeological and literary sources of selected, well-investigated sanctuaries that enable a diachronic perspective towards the period of research.
 

Amphiaraion of Oropos
1. Amphiaraion of Oropos at the Northern border of Attica, in the background theatre and stoa (2nd and 4th century BC), to the right Amphiaraos temple (5th century BC)

Project description

The project investigates the transformation of the interrelation between built architecture and landscape during the Hellenistic period (ca. 4th to 2nd century BC) in the Eastern Mediterranean. This period can be regarded as a key moment in the history of human design of landscape features since it saw a massive change in the relationship between architecture and landscape as already stressed by Hans Lauter in the 1950s. Therefore, project E3 focuses on architectural interventions and their consequences for the shaping of the landscape and, vice versa, the influence of landscape on the specific forms of architecture.

In contrast to many previous studies related to this subject, built space is not regarded as a static, container-like entity in which action takes place. Instead, the project adopts a more dynamic, relational concept of built space. Seen from this perspective, which is founded upon the research of influential theoreticians as Martina Löw and Henry Lefebvre, built space is a social product, formed by the ever-changing relations of its occupants and constituent elements. Thus, built space is strongly linked to specific forms of agency, social behaviour and social contexts.

In order to approach this research aim, project E3 focuses on a specific functional type of architecture – the Hellenistic sanctuary – which has already been identified as a suitable case study in previous research. Taking this as a starting point, a long-term description of the transformations in the architecture-landscape interaction is intended. The sacred complexes selected for study will be analysed according to the following questions:

On a general level, the basic conditions of architecture-landscape interaction are under observation.

  • How are the sanctuaries sited inside the landscape, as well as urban space?
  • Which kinds of landscape elements and architectural elements can be identified?
  • In what ways did both elements exert influence on each other during the construction phase?

One a more specific level, the architecture-landscape interaction will be analysed with regard to human agency.

  • Which kinds of landscape elements and architectural elements can be identified?
  • How are sanctuaries structured on the whole?
  • How did landscape elements and architectural elements interact with the human actor and what consequences for their behaviour can be identified?

From the conception of space as a social product, it follows that the interrelation of architecture and landscape can be analysed as an indicator for specific cultural, religious, political, ethnical, and social meanings and aesthetic concepts. Thus, project E3’s final part aims to link the transformation phenomenon under observation to the broader social context.

  • Are there Hellenistic pictorial and written sources that hint at the ancient actor’s perspective on architecture-landscape interaction?
  • How does the Hellenistic period differ with respect to architecture-landscape interaction from the Classical and Roman periods?
  • Which models can be drawn on in order to explain these transformational phenomena during the Hellenistic age?
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