List of ancient Greek and Roman monoliths

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Man amidst the collapsed giant columns of a Greek temple at Selinunte, Sicily

This is a list of ancient monoliths found in all types of Greek and Roman buildings.

It contains monoliths which were

  • quarried, but not moved
  • quarried and moved
  • quarried, moved and lifted clear off the ground into their position (architraves etc.)
  • quarried, moved and erected in an upright position (columns etc.)

Transporting was done by land or water (or a combination of both), in the later case often by special-built ships such as obelisk carriers.[1] For lifting operations, ancient cranes were employed since ca. 515 BC,[2] such as in the construction of Trajan's Column.[3]

It should be stressed that all numbers are estimations, since only in the rarest cases monoliths were actually weighed. Rather, weight is calculated by multiplying volume by density. The main source, J. J. Coulton, assumes 2.75 t/m³ for marble and 2.25 t/m³ for other stone.[4] For an explanation of the large margin of error, which often leads to widely differing numbers, see these introductory remarks.

Greek monoliths[edit]

Below a selection of Greek monoliths sorted by their date.


Date Building / Object Location Monolith Weight
(in t)
Comment
~650 BC Nikandre Dedication[5] Delos, Greek isles Figure ~1110.25
~650 BC Fortification wall [5] Leontinoi, Sicily Wall blocks ~1111.75
~640 BC Temple of Poseidon [5] Isthmus, Greek mainland Wall blocks ~1110.5
~630 BC Temple A [5] Prinias, Crete Frieze slab ~1110.5
~610–590 BC Sounion Kouros [5] Sounion, Greek mainland Figure 111~2
~610–590 BC Naxian colossos [5] Delos, Greek isles Base ~1134
~610–590 BC Naxian colossos [5] Delos, Greek isles Figure 11~23
~590–580 BC Temple of Artemis [5] Kerkyra, Greek isles Pediment slab, central ~1113.25
~590–580 BC Temple of Artemis [5] Kerkyra, Greek isles Architrave block ~1115 or 6.25
~565 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Syracuse, Sicily Stylobate block ~1124
~565 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Syracuse, Sicily Column shaft ~1135
~565 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Syracuse, Sicily Architrave block ~1120.25
~555 BC Olympieion [5] Syracuse, Sicily Stylobate block ~1120.25
~560–550 BC Temple of Artemis [5] Ephesos, Asia Minor Architrave block, central ~1141.25
~550–530 BC Temple C [5] Selinunte, Sicily Stylobate block ~1112.5
~550–530 BC Temple C [5] Selinunte, Sicily Architrave block ~1116
~540 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Corinth, Greek mainland Column shaft ~1126
~540 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Corinth, Greek mainland Architrave block ~1110
~535 BC Temple D [5] Selinunte, Sicily Architrave block ~1113.75
~525 BC Temple FS [5] Selinunte, Sicily Architrave block ~1121
~520 BC Colossos of Apollona [5] Naxos, Greek isles Figure 11~69
~520 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Naxos, Greek isles Lintel block ~1122
~520 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Naxos, Greek isles Threshold ~1122.25
~520 BC Temple at Parikia [5] Paros, Greek isles Lintel block 11~22
~520–409 BC Temple of Apollo ('GT') [5] Selinunte, Sicily Column drum in quarry (Cave di Cusa) ~1173
~520–409 BC Temple of Apollo ('GT') [5] Selinunte, Sicily Architrave block ~1140
~520–409 BC Temple of Apollo ('GT') [5] Selinunte, Sicily Cornice block ~1112.5
~515 BC From about that time on, cranes are assumed to have become common on Greek construction sites, leading to a sharp reduction of block sizes.[2]
~515 BC Olympieion [5] Athens, Greek mainland Column drum ~1119
~500–406 BC Olympieion [5] Akragas, Sicily Abacus block, central ~1111.5
~500–406 BC Olympieion [5] Akragas, Sicily Architrave block ~1119.25
~500–406 BC Olympieion [5] Akragas, Sicily Architrave block ~1111
~500–406 BC Olympieion [5] Akragas, Sicily Architrave block ~1114
~500–406 BC Olympieion [5] Akragas, Sicily Metope block, lower (angle) ~1113.5
~500–406 BC Olympieion [5] Akragas, Sicily Cornice block ~1111.5
~500 BC Temple of Aphaia [5] Aigina, Greek isles Column shaft ~1116
~480–460 BC Temple ER [5] Selinunte, Sicily Architrave block ~1117
~468–457 BC Temple of Zeus [5] Olympia, Greek mainland Stylobate block ~1118.5
~468–457 BC Temple of Zeus [5] Olympia, Greek mainland Architrave block ~1116.5
~460 BC Temple of 'Poseidon' [5] Paestum, Magna Graecia Architrave block ~1111.5
~448–437 BC Parthenon [5] Athens, Greek mainland Architrave block ~1119.5
~448–437 BC Parthenon [5] Athens, Greek mainland Lintel block, largest ~1119
~437–432 BC Propylaia [5] Athens, Greek mainland Architrave block, central ~1112.5
~437–432 BC Propylaia [5] Athens, Greek mainland Lintel block, largest ~1112.25
~437–432 BC Propylaia [5] Athens, Greek mainland Lintel block, relieving [A 1] ~1118.75
~437–432 BC Propylaia [5] Athens, Greek mainland Ceiling beam, west porch ~1110
~421–405 BC Erechtheion [5] Athens, Greek mainland Block over Pandroseion ~1111.5
~421–405 BC Erechtheion [5] Athens, Greek mainland Lintel block, north door ~1117.25
~421–405 BC Erechtheion [5] Athens, Greek mainland Ceiling beam, north porch ~1110
~420 BC Temple of Segesta [5] Segesta, Sicily Architrave block ~1112.5
~366–326 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Delphi, Greek mainland Architrave block ~1119.25
~340 BC Temple of Zeus [5] Nemea, Greek mainland Architrave block ~1116.75
~340 BC Temple of Zeus [5] Nemea, Greek mainland Lintel block ~1118.75
~350 BC First in Ionia, the weight of the lifted blocks begins to match again that of the Archaic period, indicating a mastery of the winch and compound pulley hoist by now.[6]
~310 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Didyma, Asia Minor Threshold ~1146.75
~310 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Didyma, Asia Minor Lintel block [A 2] ~1148
~310 BC Temple of Apollo [5] Didyma, Asia Minor Jamb [A 3] ~1171.5
~170 BC Olympieion [5] Athens, Greek mainland Architrave block, largest ~1123.25


Roman monoliths[edit]

Below a selection of Roman monoliths sorted by their date; the list also includes work on Greek temples which was continued into the Roman era.


Date [A 4] Building / Object Location Monolith Weight
(in t)
Comment
1st c. BC Apollo statue [5] Vitr. 10.2.13 [7] Base ~1151?
10 BC Flaminian Obelisk [8] Rome, Italia Obelisk ~1263 From Roman Egypt by obelisk ship[8]
10 BC Campensis Obelisk [8] Rome, Italia Obelisk ~1230 From Roman Egypt by obelisk ship[8]
37–41 AD Vatican Obelisk [9] Rome, Italia Obelisk ~1361 From Roman Egypt by obelisk ship[8]
1st–2nd c. Stone of the South [10] Baalbek, Roman Syria Block in quarry ~1000.12
? Unnamed monolith [11] Baalbek, Roman Syria Block in quarry ~1242
1st–2nd c. Layer beneath Trilithon [12] Baalbek, Roman Syria Blocks, several ~350 Podium of Jupiter temple
1st–2nd c. Trilithon [12] Baalbek, Roman Syria Blocks, three ~800 Podium of Jupiter temple
1st–2nd c. Temple of Jupiter [5] Baalbek, Roman Syria Column drum, lower ~1148.5
1st–2nd c. Temple of Jupiter [5] Baalbek, Roman Syria Architrave-frieze block, central ~1163 Lifted by cranes to height of 19 m[13]
1st–2nd c. Temple of Jupiter [5] Baalbek, Roman Syria Cornice block, corner ~1108 Lifted by cranes to height of 19 m[13]
1st–3rd c. Granite column [14] Mons Claudianus, Roman Egypt Column shaft in quarry ~1207
113 Trajan's Column [15] Rome, Italia Pedestal 11~77
113 Trajan's Column [16] Rome, Italia Base ~1155
113 Trajan's Column [17] Rome, Italia Column drum, typical 11~32
113 Trajan's Column [16] Rome, Italia Capital ~1153.3 Lifted by cranes to height of 34 m[16]
2nd c.? Temple of Apollo [5] Didyma, Asia Minor Architrave block ~1120.5
297 Pompey's Pillar [18] Alexandria, Roman Egypt Column shaft ~1285
306–313 Basilica Nova [5] Rome, Italia Column shaft ~1103
357 Lateran Obelisk [8] Rome, Italia Obelisk ~1500 From Roman Egypt by obelisk ship[8]
530 Mausoleum of Theodoric [19] Ravenna, Italia Roof slab ~1230 Constructed under Ostrogoths[A 5]

Gallery[edit]

Greek monoliths[edit]

Roman monoliths[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ If in two blocks.
  2. ^ If monolithic.
  3. ^ If monolithic.
  4. ^ In case of Egyptian obelisks, date of ship transport to Rome.
  5. ^ Although the mausoleum reflects Ostrogothic style, the method for moving the monolithic roof slab and positioning it on top of the building relied on the continuity of Roman techniques into the reign of Theoderic.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wirsching 2000
  2. ^ a b Coulton 1974, pp. 7, 16
  3. ^ Lancaster 1999, pp. 419–439
  4. ^ Coulton 1974, p. 14
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj Coulton 1974, pp. 17–19 (appendix); remaining data taken from text
  6. ^ Coulton 1974, p. 16
  7. ^ Vitruvius: De Architectura, Book 10
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Wirsching 2000, p. 271 (table 1)
  9. ^ Lancaster 1999, p. 428
  10. ^ Ruprechtsberger 1999, p. 15
  11. ^ Ruprechtsberger 1999, p. 17
  12. ^ a b Adam 1977, p. 52
  13. ^ a b Coulton 1974, pp. 16, 19
  14. ^ Maxfield 2001, p. 158
  15. ^ Lancaster 1999, p. 430
  16. ^ a b c Lancaster 1999, p. 426
  17. ^ Jones 1993, p. 32
  18. ^ Adam 1977, pp. 50f.
  19. ^ Heidenreich & Johannes 1971, p. 63
  20. ^ Coulton 1974, p. 7

Sources[edit]

  • Adam, Jean-Pierre (1977), "À propos du trilithon de Baalbek: Le transport et la mise en oeuvre des mégalithes", Syria 54 (1/2): 31–63, doi:10.3406/syria.1977.6623 
  • Coulton, J. J. (1974), "Lifting in Early Greek Architecture", The Journal of Hellenic Studies 94: 1–19, doi:10.2307/630416 
  • Heidenreich, Robert; Johannes, Heinz (1971), Das Grabmal Theoderichs zu Ravenna, Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag 
  • Jones, Mark Wilson (1993), "One Hundred Feet and a Spiral Stair: The Problem of Designing Trajan's Column", Journal of Roman Archaeology 6: 23–38 
  • Lancaster, Lynne (1999), "Building Trajan's Column", American Journal of Archaeology 103 (3): 419–439, doi:10.2307/506969 
  • Maxfield, Valerie A. (2001), "Stone Quarrying in the Eastern Desert with Particular Reference to Mons Claudianus and Mons Porphyrites", in Mattingly, David J.; Salmon, John, Economies Beyond Agriculture in the Classical World, Leicester-Nottingham Studies in Ancient Society 9, London: Routledge, pp. 143–170, ISBN 0-415-21253-7 
  • Ruprechtsberger, Erwin M. (1999), "Vom Steinbruch zum Jupitertempel von Heliopolis/Baalbek (Libanon)", Linzer Archäologische Forschungen 30: 7–56 

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Traianus – Technical investigation of Roman public works