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The Ancient Greek Temples Wise Geometry

Posted by moodhacker on July 23, 2017 at 12:50 AM

George Pantazis and Evangelia Lambrou, associate professors at the National Technical University of Athens, recently used rigorous geodetic methods to determine the astronomical orientation of Ancient Greek temples. The pair zeroed in on the temples of the Parthenon and Hephaisteion, two of the greatest temples of the classical era, both of which were dedicated to the goddess Athena (though Hephaisteion was also dedicated to Hephaestus).

The orientation of temples has to do with the sunrise on the celebration day of the god to whom the sacred site is dedicated

They found an extraordinarily symmetric positioning between the temples, ensuring both had the same view towards the east. “The astronomical orientation of temples has to do with the sunrise on the celebration day of the god to whom the sacred site is dedicated,” Pantazis said. “The sunrise must occur exactly on the central axis of the temple in order to illuminate the central statue of the worshipped god.”

And there are a slew of other studies indicating that classical temples were built to align with the stars, although not at the scale Richer imagined. Still, the emergence of the field of archaeoastronomy, the study of ancient cultures’ astronomical knowledge and implementation, is bound to make the connection between astronomy and religion even more fascinating.

I first met Manolo Fernandez, a Spanish language teacher and amateur astronomy enthusiast Stav Dimitropoulos wrote on his July 2017 article on BBC website, amid the ancient ruins of the Parthenon during the  late June heat wave.

Surrounded by the temple’s stately Doric columns, he unfurled a map of Greece. “Look at the map, there,” he said. “The temple of Poseidon in Sounion forms an isosceles triangle with the Hephaisteion in Athens and the temple of Aphaia Athena in Aegina. Apollo in Delphi, Aphaia in Aegina and the Parthenon, the same: they all form perfect isosceles triangles!”

Fernandez is sure that the triangles made by the sites reflect the movements of different celestial bodies such as the sun, moon or planets and stars in relation to the Earth’s surface. This theory frequently leads him to the National Observatory of Athens to attend stargazing events. Inside a domed marble building, the Doridis telescope provides visitors like Fernandez with marvellous views of the night sky. Having seen the moon, Saturn, Mars and various constellations through the telescope, he is adamant that “the temples of Greeks were built to align the inhabited parts of the Earth with the planets in the sky.”


The photos on this post have been posted to by Luke Hapsis, a professional photographer who captures in this album the celestrial phenomena around and above the Greek monuments. From Olympia to Delos and from Dion to Knossos, an enlightened path of stellar reflections on the archetypal monuments of Greek antiquity.


Luce is a traveler, explorer and observer of celestial phenomena. He was born and raised in Lemnos.

Categories: Greece Cultural Heritage, Greek to You in Greece , So Special Greece

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