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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/454

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454
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

RECENT VIEWS AS TO THE ORIGIN OF THE GREEK TEMPLE
By Dr. ALEXANDER F. CHAMBERLAIN

ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ANTHROPOLOGY, CLARK UNIVERSITY, WORCESTER, MASS.

GREEK genius was brought a little nearer that of the commonalty of mankind, some years ago, by the discovery that marble statues were painted red in imitation of the wooden human figures long after marble had come into use as a material for sculpture. It now seems as if the Greek temple was to be recognized as the imitation of something previously existing, and that once again the "gulf" over which the Greek mind is supposed to have suddenly leaped has been reduced to quite ordinary human dimensions. It has long been customary to look upon the Greek temple as absolutely unique; the Doric temple, even if it was suggested by the rock-hewn tombs of Beni-Hassan in Upper Egypt, being, after all, unlike anything else in the world. But the numerous archeological investigations of the last few years have resulted in making it certain that many ideas, formerly conceived of as strictly Hellenic or Egyptian, were rather Mediterranean or even European. And it is fair to argue that the Greek temple had behind it something that was not necessarily characteristic of the ancient Nile or Ægean alone. The more we know about the prehistoric Mediterranean area, the less are we inclined to attribute to one race or to one people the chief contributions to human civilization arising within its bounds.

In 1905, in an article in Globus, the German geographical and ethnological journal. Professor K. Fuchs put forward the theory that "the wooden prototype of the Greek temple was an Almenhaus, the house of a rich cattle-breeder of the central European plateau, whom a long winter compelled to lay in great stores of hay and forced to erect over the stable a large hay-loft which kept it warm." To central Europe belonged in ancient times a house which was, "at the same time the primitive form of the modern Czik wood-houses, the ancient Greek temple, and several modern Alpine types of dwellings." Beginning with the gable, Professor Fuchs derives each prominent part of the Greek temple from corresponding portions of the prehistoric central European cattle-breeder's house, and really advances some very good arguments, as the illustrations to the article indicate, for the opinion held by him. Even the columns find their place in this explanation, but not so satisfactorily as in the later theory of Sarasin. That the Greek temple had a wooden prototype is now beyond doubt, but it is by