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Article

Ayodhya  

B. B. Lal

[Ayodhyā]

City in Faizabad District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Located on the right bank of the River Sarayu, it was the capital of the ancient Kosala kingdom, one of whose kings, Rama, is regarded by Hindus as an incarnation of Vishnu.

Excavations in 17 different parts of the ancient mounds have revealed that the first occupation at Ayodhya commenced c. 700 bc, as is indicated by the occurrence of the earliest variety of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) and a few sherds assignable to a late stage in the production of Painted Grey Ware (PGW). The NBPW is very well fired, thin-sectioned, with a shining surface and showing a variety of colours: steel grey, coal black, indigo, silver, even gold. In the earliest levels the houses were of wattle and daub, but later they began to be constructed of kiln-fired bricks. Terracotta ringwells were used for disposing of sullage water. Concomitantly, systems of coinage (punch-marked and uninscribed cast coins) and weights (cylindrical pieces of jasper, chert etc) also came into being, laying the foundation of urbanization in the Ganga Valley around the middle of the 1st millennium ...

Article

Bassai  

Frederick Cooper

Site on the slopes and peak of Mt Kotilon in Arcadia, southern Greece, overlooking the fertile plains of Messenia. It is renowned for the late 5th-century bc Temple of Apollo with its sculptured Ionic frieze, its peculiar plan and the earliest extant Corinthian capital.

Apollo Bassitas was the principal god but his sanctuary also embraced cults to other gods, notably Artemis. Twin temples to Apollo and Artemis were built by c. 625–600 bc, the former (Apollo I) found immediately south of the present structure. The second temple (Apollo II, c. 575 bc) was replaced by Apollo III c. 500 bc, and blocks from Apollo III were reused in the last temple, Apollo IV, the remains of which stand today. The construction of Apollo IV began shortly after 429 bc, according to Pausanias, although some scholars date it to one or more generations earlier. Other evidence, however, including inscriptions and literary references, support Pausanias’ date. The architect was ...

Article

Robert S. Bianchi

[Arab. Bahbayt al-Hagar; anc. Egyp. Pr-ḥbyt; Lat. Iseum]

Site in northern Egypt, c. 100 km north of Cairo, an important cult centre for the worship of the goddess Isis, which flourished during the 4th century bc. The modern name is a combination of the ancient Egyptian name and the Arabic epithet ‘al-hagar’ (‘the stone’), referring to the jumbled mass of granite blocks from the collapsed Temple of Isis that now litters the site. The site is mentioned in inscriptions of the New Kingdom, but it rose to prominence during the 30th Dynasty (380–343 bc) when Nectanebo II (reg 360–343 bc) sponsored the construction of the Temple of Isis. The geographic proximity of Behbeit el-Hagar to Sebennytos, the capital during the 30th Dynasty, less than 10 km away, implies that Isis was the Dynasty’s titular deity. Behbeit el-Hagar (Iseum) eventually became the capital of an independent nome (administrative province) during the Ptolemaic period (after ...

Article

Brauron  

R. A. Tomlinson

revised by Gordon Campbell

Site of an ancient sanctuary of Artemis (worshipped here as Artemis-Iphigenia, protector of pregnant women) on the east coast of Attica, 6 km north-east of Markopoulon, established by the 8th century bc. A special feature of the cult at Brauron was that the priestesses, known as Artemis’ Bears (arktoi), were girls aged between five and ten. They resided within the sanctuary and were instrumental in a great festival, the Brauroneia, celebrated there every five years. A similar cult was subsequently introduced on the Athenian Acropolis, probably owing to the growing importance of aristocratic families with estates near Brauron. The site was excavated in 1946–52 and 1956–63 by J. Papadimitriou.

The Temple of Artemis (6th century bc) is a small, Doric, non-peripteral building of which only the foundations remain. Beyond it was a copious spring, liable to flooding. A small, nondescript building some 10 m south-east of the temple was perhaps the residence of the Bears. The most important architectural remains are those of a Doric stoa (end of ...

Article

Charles C. Van Siclen III

[Egyp. Per-Bastet; now Tell Basta, nr Zaqāzīq, Egypt]. Site in the eastern Nile Delta 77 km north-east of Cairo. It flourished c. 2575 bcc. ad 300. The ancient city of Basta (Gr. Bubastis) was the home of the feline goddess Bastet (Egyp.: ‘She of Basta’), often associated in the later periods of Egyptian history with the cat. Both the city and the cult of Bastet date back at least to the beginning of the Old Kingdom (c. 2575 bc). Bubastis was a significant political, economic and religious centre, and during the 22nd Dynasty (c. 950–c. 730 bc) it was home to a family of pharaohs named Osorkon and Shoshenq, who ruled the whole of Egypt. The importance of the city declined with shifting trade routes, changing political structures and above all the appearance of Christianity and later Islam, when the site was abandoned. The great temple to Bastet and her joyous festival are both described by Herodotus (...

Article

Robert J. Sharer

Pre-Columbian Maya site in the south-western Maya Highlands of El Salvador, c. 120 km south-east of Kaminaljuyú. Set at an altitude of c. 700 m, Chalchuapa comprises four main architectural groups—El Trapiche, Casa Blanca, Pampe, and Tazumal—in addition to other areas of ancient remains covering a total area of c. 3 sq. km. Initial excavation and restoration of the Tazumal group was conducted by S. H. Boggs in 1950, and the entire site was investigated by Robert Sharer on behalf of the Chalchuapa Project of the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, in 1966–70. The latter project documented sedentary occupation at Chalchuapa from c. 1200 bc to the Spanish Conquest of 1521, with a severe decline following the Ilopango volcanic eruption of c. ad 200. Major architectural and sculptural development began in the Middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000–c. 300 bc) and culminated by the end of the Late Pre-Classic period (...

Article

Henning Bischof

Modern town, partially overlying a Pre-Columbian site in Ancash Department, Peru. Ancient Chavín de Huántar flourished between c. 1000 bc and c. 300 bc, and the ceremonial architecture and more than 200 stone sculptures of this period were used to define the Chavín culture and art style. Subsequent research has shown that they were the culmination of Chavín culture rather than its origins. The site was reoccupied, after a short break, in the Huarás and Callejón periods, from c. 200 bc to c. ad 1000.

The importance of Chavín de Huántar was never entirely forgotten during the Spanish colonial period, and the ruins attracted 19th-century travellers, including Charles Wiener and Ernst W. Middendorf. The first systematic study of the ruins (from 1919) was carried out by the Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello, who by the early 1930s had conceptualized the Chavín culture as the fountainhead of central Andean civilization. ...

Article

Delphi  

Georges Roux and Jean Marcadé

Site in Phokis in central Greece, c. 165 km north-west of Athens, which flourished from the 8th century bc to the 2nd century ad. It was one of the most important sacred sites of ancient Greece, the home of the Delphic Oracle and reputed to be the centre of the world. High in the foothills of Mt Parnassos, Delphi lies between the twin cliffs of the Phaidriades (‘shining rocks’), overlooking the valley of the River Pleistos and the plain of Kirrha (now Itea) on the shores of the Gulf of Corinth.

Delphi is widely regarded as the most strikingly beautiful ancient site in Greece. The Oracle was formally abolished by the emperor Theodosios I c. ad 385, and thereafter Delphi was almost entirely neglected until the site was rediscovered in 1676. Excavations started in the mid-19th century, and in 1892 a systematic survey was begun by the French School at Athens. Work on the site was intensive until ...

Article

Derveni  

Dimitris Plantzos

Site in Northern Greece, approximately 9.5 km NW from Thessaloniki, where seven mostly undisturbed tombs were discovered in 1962, dating from about 320–290 bc.

Five of the Derveni tombs are cist graves, large rectangular chambers dug underground, dressed with large blocks of local limestone; one is a pit grave, and one a monumental tomb of the ‘Macedonian’ type (see Macedonian tomb). The majority of the Derveni cist graves were roofed with stone covering slabs, while wooden planks were also used for some. Two of the tombs were paved with stones, while the remaining three had floors of beaten earth. Many similar 4th century bc examples exist in western and central northern Greece.

The interior walls of the tombs, and the floor of some, were coated with lime plaster, often coloured in wide blue, yellow and red bands or bearing painted decoration, such as the horizontal friezes depicting olive branches in Tomb Beta, and a garland of myrtle leaves and berries in Tomb Alpha. The use of wall paintings in chamber tombs and cist graves was a widely observed practice in northern Greece (Thessaly and Macedonia) in the Classical and Hellenistic periods....

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

An islet to the west of Paros and Antiparos in the centre of the Cyclades. It has been identified as ancient Prepesinthos, mentioned by Strabo (Geography X.v.3) and Pliny (Natural History vi.66). The archaeological remains of Despotikon were first explored in the late 19th century by pioneer Greek archaeologist Christos Tsountas, who excavated Early Cycladic (c. 3200–2000 bc) cemeteries at Livadi and Zoumbaria, and identified remains of a prehistoric settlement at the site of Chiromilos. Sixty more graves of the Early Cycladic period, as well as one of the Roman period, were discovered in the mid-20th century by the Greek Archaeological Service. Rescue excavations were initiated again in 1997, focused on the site at Mandra, where an extensive sanctuary dedicated to Apollo has been located. The excavation has yielded a great number of finds, many of which are of prime importance as to the interpretation of the site, its role in the Aegean and its relations with the Near East, from the Archaic to the Roman period....

Article

Didyma  

Peter Schneider

revised by Gordon Campbell

[Branchidai; now Didim.]

Ancient Greek oracular sanctuary on the west coast of Asia Minor (now Turkey), which flourished from the 7th century bc to the 2nd century ad (see fig.). The site is on an exposed peninsula 75 m above sea level, c. 20 km south of Miletos.

Didyma was originally a spring sanctuary of the indigenous Carians (Herodotus: I.clvii.3), antedating the Ionian colonization of the coast in the 11th–10th century bc (Pausanius: VII.ii.6). The mythological founder of the oracle was the shepherd Branchos, who received the gift of prophecy from Apollo (Konon: xxxiii; Strabo: IX.iii.9). Dedications were made by the Egyptian pharaoh Necho II in 608 bc (Herodotus: II.clix.3) and by the Lydian king Croesus in the earlier 6th century bc (Herodotus: I.xcii.2); during the 6th century bc, under the ‘Branchidai’ dynasty of priests, Didyma became the most important oracular sanctuary in East Greece, and was linked to Miletos by a Sacred Way 6 m wide and ...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

Greek city situated at the foothills of Mt Olympus in northern Greece (district of Pieria), 14 km south of modern city of Katerini. It was an important Macedonian political and cultural centre from the Classical to the Roman periods (6th century bc–4th century ad). By the 6th century bc it seems that the Macedonians were gathering at Dion in order to honour the Olympian gods, chiefly Zeus; according to myth, Deukalion, the only man to survive the flood at the beginning of time, built an altar to Zeus as a sign of his salvation. His sons, Macedon and Magnes, lived in Pieria, near Olympus, and became the mythical ancestors of the Macedonians. The altar allegedly erected by Deukalion remained the centre of the cult life at Dion throughout its history.

King Archelaos of Macedon (c. 413–399 bc) organized athletic and dramatic contests in the framework of the religious celebrations, following the practice of the Greeks in the south, such as at the great sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi. Philip II (...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

R. A. Tomlinson and Ann Thomas Wilkins

Site on the south side of the Saronic Gulf in Greece that flourished especially in the 4th and 3rd centuries bc. Though traces of the ancient city exist, its fame derives from the Sanctuary of Asklepios c. 10 km inland from Epidauros town, which was the principal cult-centre of the healing god in mainland Greece (see fig.). Here there are remains of a Bronze Age settlement, later abandoned, and an early sanctuary of Apollo. Until the end of the 5th century bc the place was of little importance and architecturally undistinguished. The cult of Asklepios began to develop significantly only at this time, perhaps because of the plague that devastated Athens and adjacent regions in the early 420s bc and the general malaise that resulted from the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (431–404 bc). With the exception of the theatre, the sanctuary buildings are badly ruined. The site was excavated principally by the Greek archaeologist ...

Article

Faiyum  

R. J. Leprohon and T. G. Wilfong

Egyptian semi-oasis region c. 80 km south-west of Cairo on the Bahr Yusuf, an ancient channel of the Nile (see fig.). In the north-west is Lake Qarun, a remnant of the ancient Lake Moeris, an important part of ancient Egyptian cosmogony since it was reputed by some to be the site of Nun, the primeval ocean. Throughout the Dynastic and Greco-Roman periods (c. 2925 bcad 395) the major god worshipped in the Faiyum was the crocodile-headed Sebek (Gr. Suchos), but the region had a large Jewish community from the 3rd century bc, and Christianity probably arrived in the 1st century ad. Major sites in the Faiyum include the Middle Kingdom monuments at Hawara, el-Lahun and Qasr el-Sagha, and Greco-Roman towns at Qasr Qarun and Kom Ushim. The principal Coptic monuments are the monasteries of Deir el-Azab and Deir el-Malak, and there is a 15th-century mosque in the regional capital of ...

Article

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium bc and is the focus of élite burials from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 bc) through to the Pictish era. Cinead mac Alpín (Kenneth mac Alpine), the king traditionally identified with the foundation of the Gaelic kingdom of the Scots, died at the palacium (palace) of Forteviot in ad 858. It was eclipsed as a royal centre by Scone in ad 906, but remained a significant royal estate until the 13th century.

The only surviving fabric of the palace is a unique monolithic arch, presumably a chancel arch, carved with three moustached Picts in classical dress flanking a crucifix (now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Fragments of at least four additional sandstone crosses indicate the presence of a major church, perhaps a monastery. The celebrated Dupplin Cross (now in Dunning Church) originally overlooked Forteviot from the north. This monolithic, free-standing cross (2.5 m tall) bears a Latin inscription naming Constantine son of Fergus, King of the Picts (...

Article

Garni  

J. M. Rogers

[anc. Gornea]

Armenian village, 30 km east of Erevan in the Abovian district, famous for its pagan and Christian architectural remains. The earliest indications of settlement are the Early Bronze Age (c. 2500 bc) foundation courses of Cyclopean masonry (see Masonry, §II) at the site of Garni’s fortress, which is strategically situated on a triangular promontory high above the River Azat. An Urartian inscription records its conquest by King Argishti I (reg 785–760 bc). The present fortress was probably built in the 3rd century bc, using massive dressed basalt blocks reinforced with iron clamps set in lead. Garni is recorded by Tacitus (Annals XII.xlv) as the Roman garrison of Gornea in ad 51, shortly after which the fortress was partially dismantled and the garrison expelled (62). If the Greek restoration inscription dated to the eleventh year of the reign of King Trdat is attributed to the first ruler of that name (...

Article

Mary S. Lawton

Wall stretching across northern China from Hebei Province in the north-east through Shanxi, Shaanxi and Ningxia provinces to Gansu Province in the west (see fig.). Running through inhospitable mountains and deserts, with numerous offshoots and parallel structures, it is one of the most spectacular feats of engineering in the history of the world. Although it was built primarily as a defence against the Central Asian nomads, it also provided a relatively efficient thoroughfare for the movement of troops, horses and supplies across difficult terrain. According to the traditional Chinese view, the wall also created a spiritual and physical barrier between the ‘superior’ and sedentary culture of China and the ‘inferior’ culture of its nomadic neighbours.

Defensive walls, such as that measuring 7 km at Zhengzhou, Henan, were a feature of Chinese cities from at least the Shang period (c. 1600–c. 1050 bc). Such building skills were extended to much grander projects; construction of the ...

Article

Nabil Swelim

[anc. Egyp. Iunu; Bibl. On; now Tell Hisn]. Site near Cairo, Egypt. It was the capital of the 13th Lower Egyptian nome (administrative province) and a cult centre of the sun-god in its various guises (Re, Atum, Khephri). The symbol of Heliopolis was the benben, the precursor of the pyramid and obelisk, which represented the primeval hill on which the sun first rose. The oldest monolithic benben found at Heliopolis dates to the 6th Dynasty (c. 2325–c. 2150 bc). An obelisk of Sesostris I (reg c. 1918–c. 1875 bc) still stands on the site; two other obelisks of Heliopolitan origin—‘Cleopatra’s needles’—are now in London and New York. Remains of a temenos wall and chapel reliefs testify to the city’s importance as a religious centre as early as the Early Dynastic period (c. 2925–c. 2575 bc). Imhotep, who bore the title ‘Greatest of seers’ and served in Heliopolis under the 3rd Dynasty (...

Article

J. A. Sakellarakis

Site on Mt Ida (now Psiloritis) in central Crete. It lies at an altitude of 1498 m and measures some 59×46 m. It was the most important cave in Greek antiquity, identified by many ancient writers as the place where Zeus was born and raised. It was discovered accidentally in 1884 and was excavated first in 1885 by Federico Halbherr, then from 1982 by John Sakellarakis, with funds from the Archaeological Society of Athens. Human presence within the cave is evident from the end of the Late Neolithic period (c. 3800 bc) and continued without interruption until the 5th century ad. It was a place of worship from the end of the Middle Minoan period (c. 1600 bc). The first object of worship may have been a Minoan male deity who dies and is reborn each year. For this reason, when the Mycenaean Greeks occupied Crete ...