Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Houses of the rising sun: Research sheds new light on Ancient Greeks

Date:
November 26, 2009
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
New research has identified scores of Sicilian temples built to face the rising Sun, shedding light on the practices of the Ancient Greeks.

The Temple of Concord in Sicily.
Credit: Courtesy of Alun Salt

New research at the University of Leicester has identified scores of Sicilian temples built to face the rising Sun, shedding light on the practices of the Ancient Greeks.

Related Articles


Dr Alun Salt, an astronomy technician from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science at the University of Leicester, found that out of all the temples he surveyed in Sicily, all but three faced the rising sun.

The findings have been published on line in the journal PLoS ONE.

The results may imply that there is an 'astronomical fingerprint' for Greek settlers in the Mediterranean which can distinguish between sites settled by people following the Greek religion and natives who adopted Greek style through trade, but kept their own culture. In the ancient world temples were not only associated with religion but were also political and economic statements.

This research helps to resolve a longstanding dispute about temple orientation. Dr Salt commented:

"There are quite a few temples in Greece which don't face sunrise. So a few archaeologists have suggested that there is nothing significant about the number that face east. The problem is that no one has ever said what a 'significant number' would be."

The paper applies some simple mathematics from probability that would more usually be used in the context of coin tossing or roulette wheels. Dr Salt explained further:

"The situation with temples in Greece is quite complicated. It would be like spinning a roulette wheel and finding that half the time the ball bounces out of the wheel. But when it does land, 90% of the time it'll be on red. That looks odd to me."

In Sicily the results even were stronger. Only one of 41 temples faced west.

The alignments are not a hard and fast law, but have uncovered some new mysteries. Dr Salt said:

"What's really interesting are the temples which don't fit. The temple of Hekate, a lunar goddess, at Selinous faces west. If every other temple in Sicily faces east, then what is special about that one?"


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Salt AM. The Astronomical Orientation of Ancient Greek Temples. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4 (11): e7903 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007903

Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Houses of the rising sun: Research sheds new light on Ancient Greeks." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091125100852.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2009, November 26). Houses of the rising sun: Research sheds new light on Ancient Greeks. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091125100852.htm
University of Leicester. "Houses of the rising sun: Research sheds new light on Ancient Greeks." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091125100852.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

New Arthropod Fossil Might Be Relative Of Spiders, Scorpions

Newsy (Mar. 29, 2015) A 508-million-year-old arthropod that swam in the Cambrian seas is thought to share a common ancestor with spiders and scorpions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III Saga Ends With Burial And An Eye Roll

Richard III Saga Ends With Burial And An Eye Roll

Newsy (Mar. 26, 2015) Richard III was finally laid to rest in Leicester Cathedral on Thursday, but not without some controversy over who should get credit for finding him. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Giant Triassic Salamander Acted More Like A Crocodile

Giant Triassic Salamander Acted More Like A Crocodile

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) An ancient crocodile-like salamander more than 10 times the average size of its modern-day counterparts has been discovered in Portugal. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Plague-Era Skeletons Bring History Back to Life in London

Plague-Era Skeletons Bring History Back to Life in London

AFP (Mar. 24, 2015) London office workers are coming face-to-face with the hidden history beneath their feet as 3,000 skeletons dating back to the 16th century are dug up to make way for a new railway line. Duration: 01:11 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins