Megaron

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This article is about Grecian palace complexes. For the Megaron Mousikis, see Athens Concert Hall.
Schematic plan of a megaron complex. 1: anteroom, 2: hall (main room), 3: columns in Porch and hall
The Megaron complex at Mycenae, view from the main hall (circular hearth visible in foreground) through the anteroom and porch.

The megaron (/ˈmɛɡəˌrɒn/; Ancient Greek: μέγαρον), plural megara /ˈmɛɡərə/, is the great hall of the Grecian palace complexes. It was a rectangular hall, fronted by an open, two-columned porch, and a more or less central, open hearth vented though an oculus in the roof above it and surrounded by four columns. It was particularly Aegean, due to the open porch which was usually supported by columns.[1] The entrance is the feature that helps to distinguish the megaron, due to its position at the entrance, which is along the shorter wall so that the depth is larger than the width.[2] There are often many rooms around the central Megaron, such as archive rooms, offices, oil-press rooms, workshops, potteries, shrines, corridors, armories, and storerooms for such goods as wine, oil and wheat.[3]

Structure[edit]

The structure of the Megaron has foreshadowed an image for the eventual layout of Greek temples. This includes a columned entrance, a pronaos, and a central naos or cella.[4] It is the architectural predecessor of the classical Greek temple. The design of the megaron originated in Russia from the earliest dated examples, and these originals are Neolithic.[2] An early Megaron has a pitched roof, and there were other roof types as well such as the flat roof and barrel roof.[2] These are always destroyed in the remnants of the early Megaron, so the definite roof type is not known. See Ancient Roofs for examples. In the theory of architecture, the Megaron is considered to be the earliest architectural act.

The floor was of patterned concrete, covered in carpet.[5] On the walls were inlaid paintings called frescoes, these were often of Phoenician style.[6] The Megaron is considered to be the predecessor of all orders in architectural theory. Originally it was very colourful, made with the Minoan architectural order, the insides made of fired brick and a wooden roof supported on beams. The rooftop was tiled with ceramic and terracotta tiles.[7] There were wood ornamented metal doors often two leaved, and footbaths were also used in the megaron.[8] The proportions of a larger width than length is a similar structure to early doric temples.[9]

Purpose[edit]

The megaron's functions were myriad, including poetry, feasts, meetings, and worship. It was used for royal functions and court meetings as well. Its religious functions included the practice of animal sacrifices, often to Chthonic deities.

Examples[edit]

A famous megaron is in the large reception hall of the king in the palace of Tiryns, the main room of which had a raised Throne placed against the right wall and a central Hearth bordered by four Minoan-style wooden Columns that served as supports for the roof. This was from a Cretan influence,[10] and evolved into the palace type from Minoan Architecture. After that the Myceneans took over this design, making it characteristically Greek. Frescoes from Pylos shows figures eating and drinking, which were important activities in Greek culture.[11] Bulls were also a trend in many Greek Frescoes.[12] Other famous central megaron units are at Tiryns, Thebes, Mycenae, and Pylos. The decoration unifies each Megaron suite decoratively, This also distinguishes famous megarons, making them unique. Different Greek cultures had their own unique megarons; for example, the people of the Mainland tended to separate their central megaron from the other rooms whereas the Cretans didn’t do this.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Megaron". Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Muller, Valentine (Oct–Dec 1944). "Development of the "Megaron" in Prehistoric Greece". Archaeological Institute of America 48 (4): 342–348. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ Pentreath, Guy. "A Greek Architecture Primer". Fodors LLC. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Mycenae Megaron". 
  5. ^ Diehl, Charles (1893). Excursions in Greece: Recently explored sites of Classical interest. London: H. Grevel and Co. pp. 38–436 [53]. 
  6. ^ Rider, Bertha C. (1916). The Greek House: Its History and Development from the Neolithic Period to Hellenistic Age. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 60, 94–266. 
  7. ^ Rider, Bertha C. (1916). The Greek House: Its History and Development from the Neolithic Period to Hellenistic Age. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 94–266 [180]. 
  8. ^ Rider, Bertha C. (1916). The Greek House: Its History and Development from the Neolithic Period to Hellenistic Age. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 94–266 [182]. 
  9. ^ Rider, Bertha C. (1916). The Greek House: Its History and Development from the Neolithic Period to the Hellenistic age.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 94–266 [140]. 
  10. ^ Muller, Valentin (Oct–Dec 1944). "Development of the "Megaron" in Prehistoric Greece". American Journal of Archaeology 48 (4): 342–348 [347]. 
  11. ^ Wright, J.C. (2004). "A survey of evidence for feasting in Mycenaean society.". Hesperia 73 (2): 133–178 [161]. doi:10.2972/hesp.2004.73.2.133. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  12. ^ Wright, J.C. (2004). "A survey of evidence for feasting in Mycenaean society.". Hesperia 73 (2): 133–178 [167]. doi:10.2972/hesp.2004.73.2.133. Retrieved April 2, 2013. 
  13. ^ Rider, Bertha C. (1916). The Greek House: Its History and Development from the Neolithic Period to the Hellenistic age.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 94–266 [127]. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The megaron of Odysseus is well described in the Odyssey.
  • Biers, William R. 1987. The Archaeology of Greece: An Introduction. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press)
  • Klein, Christopher P. (Editor in Chief) Gardner's Art Through the Ages. Tenth edition. Harcourt Brace (1996). ISBN 0-15-501141-3
  • Vermeule, Emily, 1972. Greece in the Bronze Age (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).