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 December 20, 2014 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 December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

Researchers Bring Player Pianos Back to Life

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) Stanford University wants to unlock the secrets of the player piano. Researchers are restoring and studying self-playing pianos and the music rolls that recorded major composers performing their own work. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Domestication Might've Been Bad For Horses

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A group of scientists looked at the genetics behind the domestication of the horse and showed how human manipulation changed horses' DNA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet Manuscripts to Go on Sale

AFP (Dec. 16, 2014) A collection of rare manuscripts by composers Mozart, Beethoven, Shubert and Bizet are due to go on sale at auction on December 17. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Old Ship Records to Shed Light on Arctic Ice Loss

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 15, 2014) Researchers are looking to the past to gain a clearer picture of what the future holds for ice in the Arctic. A project to analyse and digitize ship logs dating back to the 1850's aims to lengthen the timeline of recorded ice data. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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