Philip Sapirstein

Associate Scholar

20092010 Forum on Connections

Philip Sapirstein

SAS Postdoctoral Fellow
Classical Studies

The Emergence of Monumental Ceramic Roof Tiles in Archaic Greek Architecture

My research into Greek architecture is framed around two primary problems. The first is architectural: tracing the early development of Greek sacred architecture from crude thatched huts into elaborate, monumental temples built of stone and terracotta. The second is scientific and historical: illuminating the social and economic contexts of the craftsmen and architects who participated in this architectural revolution. The transition occurred over a few generations in the seventh century B.C., yet little is known about this formative period because of the challenges in restoring any of these temples accurately. In particular, I analyze the manufacturing techniques of early roof tiles, which were developed at this time and are the only remains of many early cult buildings. I have approached these problems with methods drawn from a wide variety of disciplines, including replication experiments; scientific tests of clays; ethnographic analogies between modern pottery works and ancient craft systems; and 3-D computer models of complete roofing systems for rendering accurate, informative, and legible reconstructions of lost early temples.