Graeco Rome Astro Architecture

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Graeco-Roman Astro-Architecture: The Temples of Pompeii

Transcript of Graeco Rome Astro Architecture

  • Graeco-Roman Astro-Architecture?:

    The Temples of Pompeii

    Vance Tiede

    Astro-Archaeology Surveys, Inc

    Presented at Historical Astronomy Division, AAS Meeting, Washington, DC

    6 January 2014


    Temple of Apollo

    Winter Solstice Sun Set

    Temple of Fortuna


    Equinox Sun Set

    Temple of Isis

  • Vetruvius on Astronomy

    & the Architect

    [O]ne who professes himself as an architect should beacquainted with

    astronomy and the theory of the heavens. (I:i:3)

    From astronomy we find the east, west, south, and north, as well as the theory of the

    heavens, the equinox, solstice and courses of the stars. If one has no knowledge of these

    matters, he will not be able to have any comprehension of the theory of sundials

    (Horalogium). (I:i:10, cf. IX:I in toto)

    By means of optics, again, the light in buildings can be drawn from fixed quarters

    of the sky. (I:i:4)

    in the case of hypaethral edifices, open to the sky, in honour of Jupiter Lightning,

    the Heaven, the Sun or the Moon: for these are gods whose semblanceswe behold

    before our very eyes in the sky when it is cloudless and bright. (I:ii:5)

    -Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (d. ca. 15 BC), De Architectura Libri Decem



  • Roman Temple


    The quarter toward which temples of the immortal gods ought to face is to be determined on the principle thatthe temple

    should face the western quarter of the sky. This will enable those who approach the altar with offerings or sacrifices to face the direction of the sunrise in facing the statue in the temple.

    -Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (d. ca. 15 BC),

    De Architectura Libri Decem, IV:v:1

  • Roman Temple

    Astro-Architecture Die Natalis (21 April)

    Pantheon, Rome

    Hannah, Robert and Giulio Magli, The Role of the Sun in the Pantheons Design & Meaning,

    Numen 58(4), 486-513, 2011



    emerged in a

    solar spot

    light at



  • Greek Temple Astro-Architecture

    Nell, Erin A. Greece's Debt to Egypt: the transmission of astronomical knowledge

    applied to architectural alignments, PhD. Dissertation, University of Leicester, 2013

    Proposed Preliminary Alignment Group Patterns:

    I) Procyon ( CMi) and Aldebaran ( Tau) (E or

    W), with either Hadar ( Cen) or Mimosa ( Cru)

    (SSE or SSW), or both. (n=6)

    II) Equinox (E or W) with Betelgeuse ( Ori) (E or

    W) and Hadar ( Cen) or Mimosa ( Cru) (SSE or

    SSW), or both. (n=6)

    III) a small group of singular alignments. (n = 6)

  • Research Question:

    Why do so many Graeco-Roman temples

    NOT face west as prescribed by Vitruvius?

  • Hypotheses: Temple Orientation

    H1: Random

    H2: Vetruvius only applies to Roman temples

    H3: Urban Street Grid/Landscape (= Mt. Vesuvius)

    H4: Astro-Ritual (Equinox/Solstice/Star rise/set)

    T. Apollo, Pompeii Pantheon, Rome

  • Reject H1: Orientation was not random.

  • Reject H1:

    Roman agrimensores & gromatici

    Systematically Surveyed Urban Grids

    Groma, Perpendiculum & Signa

    (Transit, Plumbline, Stakes) Tombstone of Surveyor Nicostratus


    Dioptra (Theodolite)

    Chorobates of Vitruvius to level

    hydraulic gradients for aqueducts

  • Reject H2:

    Vetruvius applies to pre-Roman temples as well.

    Date Event Temple Faces

    79 AD TAQ: Vesuvius erupts All Buried

    62 AD Earthquake All Damaged

    c. 50 AD SPQR Fortuna Augusta, Public Lares W

    1 AD SPQR (C. Augustus) Vespasian W

    80 BC SPQR (Sulla) annexes Pompeii

    c.150 BC Jupiter

    Isis & Zeus Meilichios



    c.250 BC Socium of Rome ( 350-200 BC) Dionysus, Ceres W, SW

    428 BC Samnites defeat Greeks

    474 BC Greeks defeat Etruscans Venus (rebuilt c. 70 BC) S

    c. 500 BC Port to Greeks & Phoenicians.

    Etruscans defeat Oscans

    Apollo (rebuilt c.150 BC)




    c. 550 BC TPQ: Oscans found Pompeii

  • Accept H3:

    Drainage Slope trumps Vetruvius: Gravity Pulls Water via Aqueduct

    From Serino to Pompeii

    Castellum Divisorium:

    aqueduct terminus & start of the

    water distribution at Pompeii

    Pace, Pietrantonio, Acquedotti di Romao, 2010 p. 116,

  • Accept H3:

    Pompeiis Fountains & Urban Grid

    Hodge, A.Trevor, Roman Aqueducts & Water Supply, Duckworth, London, 1992, p. 305



  • Accept H4:

    Temples were oriented to the equinox, solstice and courses of the stars.

    Null-1: No major axis of a temple is oriented to the

    Sun rise/set at the Equinox or Solstices.

    Null-2: No major axis of a temple is oriented to the

    Moon rise/set at the Lunar Standstills.

    Null-3: No major axis of a temple is oriented to a

    Star rise/set associated with myths of

    the temples divinity or shared alignments

    at other temples of the same divinity.

  • Astro-Archaeology Methodology

    1. Collect Preliminary Input Data

    - Construction Date (Archaeology) - Latitude (GIS)

    - Elevation of Structure (GIS)

    - True Azimuth (GIS)

    - Horizon-Skyline Vertical Angle (GIS/Digital Elevation Model)

    2. Ground Truth X-Y-Z Angles -Theodolite/GPS Survey, 5-18 April 2013

    3. Calculate Skyline Declinations Gerald S. Hawkins, Program STONEHENGE, Mindsteps to the Cosmos 1983, 328+

    4. Photograph Predicted Astro-Alignment



    Digital Elevation Model (DEM)

  • Excel Program STONEHENGE

    Inputs: Pompeii

    1. Date: ca. 550 BC-79 AD

    2. Latitude: N 40 45

    3. Elevation Above Sea Level: 36 meters +

    4. Azimuth, True: Varies by structure

    [Magnetic Declination = 2.83 E, 5 April 2013]

    5. Horizon-Skyline Vertical Angle: Varies

    [Adjusted for Curvature of the Earth] Gerald S. Hawkins, Program STONEHENGE, Mindsteps to the Cosmos 1983, pp. 328-330.

  • Findings: Temple Skyline Astro-Targets

  • Doric Temple ca. 550 BC

    Nappo 1998, 79

    Orionis (Rigel) Summer Solstice

    Heliacal Rise

    -14.50 decl, -550 Year

    Mag. 0.34

    Hawkins & Rosenthal 1967, p. 148

  • T. Doric

    Target decl = -14.50 Horizon decl = -14.58

    = - 0.08 Az True = 113.00

    V. Angle = +3.98

    Elev. = 24m

    Date = 550 BC

    Punishment of Ixion

  • Doric Temple:

    Landscape Orientation


    Was Vesuvius summit originally on

    the temples major axis? NO

  • Temple of

    Dionysius ca. 250 BC

    Equinox Sun Set

    Last Gleam on Horizon (Sea)

    0 decl, -250 Year

    Oscan mosaic

  • T. Dionysus

    Target decl = 0.00

    Horizon decl = + 0.34

    = - 0.34

    Az True = 271.0

    V. Angle = -0.05

    Elev. = 18m

    Date = 250 BC

  • Temple of Ceres ca. 250 BC

    Midsummer Moon Set

    Major Stand Still

    Last Gleam on Horizon (Sea)

    -28.87 decl, -250 Year

  • T. Ceres

    Target decl = -28.87

    Horizon decl = -28.18

    = - 0.69

    Az True = 231.53

    V. Angle = -0.38

    Elev. = 20m

    Date = 250 BC

  • Temple of Jupiter (Capitolium) 150 BC

    Scorpionis Summer Rise

    Babylonian Sargas

    (-38.1 decl) 150 BC,

    2.04 mag Hawkins & Rosenthal 1967, 163

  • T. Jupiter Scorpionis Summer Rise

    Target decl = -38.10 Horizon decl = -38.03

    = - 0.69

    Az True = 151.75

    V. Angle = +4.46

    Elev. = 25m

    Date = 150 BC

  • Orion & Scorpio

    Skorpios (Scorpius) was a giant scorpion sent by the earth-goddess Gaia to slay the giant Orion when he threatened to kill all the beasts of the earth. The Scorpion stung Orion on the heel (marked by the star Rigel, Orion) and killed him. These two opponents Orion and the Scorpion were placed amongst the stars as their namesake constellations, but are positioned on opposite sides of the sky, one sets as the other rises. The Scorpion rises as Orion starts to sink into the other side of the sky, and this was seen as Orion running away from the attacker, and still in fear of him.

    "Scorpius, because of its position, is one of the two gateways to the Milky Way, the other being the opposite constellation of Orion. The Scorpion men attacked Osiris in Egyptian legend, and the Scorpions sting killed Orion in Greek myth." [3].

  • Temple of Jupiter:

    Landscape Orientation Interpretation

    Was Vesuvius summit originally on

    the temples major axis? YES

  • Temple of

    Apollo 550 BC (rebuilt c. 150 BC)

    Nappo 1998, p. 108

    Columbae (Phact) Heliacal Rise

    X-Quarter Day, 8 August

    Arabic Al Fakhita (The Dove)

    (-37.10 decl) 150 BC, 2.6 mag

    Hawkins & Rosentha