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The Altar of Hera Akraia at Perachora

  • H. Plummer and F. Salviat

Extract

The triglyph altar to the east of the sixth-century temple of Hera Akraia was only cursorily published in the first volume of Perachora (pp. 89–91; pls. 6 and 130). No real discussion was offered of the columns, apparently Ionic, placed carefully around it, which R. Martin considers, not unreasonably, evidence for a sort of baldacchino, surely one of the earliest known (see note below). I was lately asked to study altar and columns in more detail, and visited Perachora in March 1965 for the purpose. I concluded that the altar had no ritual connexion with the stoa to the east of it, but was a typical archaic temple-altar, its length (pace Perachora i. 89, which makes it but 5 metres long) originally comparable to the width of the temple. So it could be restored as about 8 metres long, or, including the columnar surround, about 10 metres. The pair of columns on its north side are nearly aligned with the temple's north wall, and it is possible, with four columns spaced at comparable intervals on the west side, to obtain an alignment nearly as close between its south side and the temple's south wall.

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1 Perachora i (1940) 15, 89 à 91; pls. 6, 130 et 138; cf. Yavis, , Greek Altars (St. Louis, 1949) 204–7 et 206, fig. 52.

2 Perachora i. 15: ‘Just North of the altar is a flight of steps which lead to the upper part of the site; these are of a very late date … and undoubtedly replace an earlier flight of steps.’

3 Perachora i. 15: ‘On either side of the altar is an Ionic column-base, and another pair is set in the lowest flight of steps, exactly opposite to the first pair: their relation to the Stoa and altar is at present uncertain.’ Sur le type de la base, voir JHS 1932, 243: ‘The base … shows a strong resemblance to the type used at Bassae’; cf. maintenant Coulton, J. J., BSA 1964 129–30 et n. 80: ‘Compare the bases from Bassae, the Abaton at Epidauros, the Stoa IV at Calauria, etc. (Roux 336–8).’

4 Martin, R., Recherches sur l'agora grecque (1951), 254, n. 2; photographie pl. iii, 2.

5 Perachora i. 90, n. 1.

6 Cet alignement est impossible à vérifier en l'état actuel. Le poros tendre de la table s'est dégradé depuis la fouille; triglyphes et métopes ont disparu complètement, à l'exception de la pièce d'angle, sur tout le côté Est. On ne peut pas se fier pour ce détail aux dessins Perachora i, pl. 130: aussi bien le plan que l'élévation ne sont pas très précis sur ce point: la base III ne vient pas en fait se placer exactement au centre du dé de fondation ainsi qu'elle a été dessinée, mais elle y est légèrement décalée vers la gauche pour qui regarde l'autel.

7 En fait, la mensuration a dû être toujours très difficile, étant donné le mauvais état des blocs et la dislocation des joints; et il est malaisé d'apprécier le recouvrement de la métope par les bords du triglyphe.

8 Sur ce type d'autel, spécifiquement corinthien, voir G. Roux, L'architecture de l'Argolide aux IVe et IIIe siècle av. J.C., 334 à 336.

9 Sur les images d'autels surmontés d'un auvent ou d'un dais dans les représentations céramiques et les documents figurés, voir ci-après p. 215, nn. 13 et 14.

10 Perachora i. 90 (cf. Yavis, Greek Altars 204) et les dessins. Ce bloc est aujourd'hui perdu.

11 Sur ce nombre ‘péloponnésien’ dans l'ionique, voir G. Roux, op. cit. 334 à 336.

12 But cf. T. Wiegand, Archäische Poros-Architektur der Akropolis, fig. 24 and plate xiii. 6.

13 If we are to believe vase-painters, certain altars, probably in private houses, had small canopies projecting from columnar supports (of about two columns at the most). The evidence, which is far from clear, was collected by Graham, J. W. and published by him in a useful passage, Hesperia 1953, 197 and pl. 63. The last of his vases, the amphora in Capua, , AA 1939, 470 and fig. 13, is particularly hard to interpret. Does the building here enclose Cassandra's altar-of-refuge or stand behind it?

14 On a fourth-century Italiote vase (Rumpf, Religion der Griechen, fig. 102) a solitary Ionic column behind a triglyph altar supports a large hydria. It makes an unconvincing ornament; but a real workaday hydria in this position would be hard to reach. I cannot understand this picture.

The Altar of Hera Akraia at Perachora

  • H. Plummer and F. Salviat

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