The Emergence of Ceramic Roof Tiles in Archaic Greek Architecture

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This dissertation considers the origins of roof tiles in Greek architecture. The primary focus is the Protocorinthian tile system, including the first archaeologically dated roof from the Old Temple at Corinth as well as similar roofs from Isthmia and Delphi. The manufacturing techniques of the tiles are inferred by analysis of surface markings on the original fragments, which are illustrated in photographs and three-dimensional computer models. Each type of tile must have been formed right-side-up on a clay base mold, its upper surfaces profiled to templates. Replication experiments at Corinth tested this hypothesis by working through the full process of mining clay, shaping bricks and tiles, and firing them in a kiln. The scale and organization of an ancient tile-making team is restored by comparison to the contemporary pottery industry and by analogy to modern ethnographic studies of tile makers and potters. Combining ethnographic and experimental data, the labor for fabricating a complete temple roof is estimated. In conclusion, the Protocorinthian tiles, though ostensibly complex, were produced with simple techniques that indicate no special expertise designing interlocking roof tiles. However, the fact that these tiles are molded in combination indicates that the designers were imitating an earlier ceramic tile system with separate covers and pans. The thesis demonstrates that an early roof from Olympia represents the prototype system for the roof of the Old Temple at Corinth. At present, is uncertain whether ceramic tiles were first invented in Etruria, the northern Peloponnese, or central Anatolia.

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Andrew Ramage, Peter Kuniholm, Kathryn Gleason


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Greek Archaeology; Architectural History


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dissertation or thesis

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