Report 7: The Temple of Artemis at Sardis (2020)

by Fikret Yegül

Author’s Preface

Author’s Preface

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.

-John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

Archie . . . as usual you are so engrossed in the fact that you are oblivious to its environment.

—Rex Stout, Fer-de-Lance, 1934

The story of my architectural documentation and publication of the Temple of Artemis at Sardis begins one late afternoon in 1986 when I was taking a pleasure walk among the impressive ruins of the building, a common, relaxing thing for the members of the Harvard expedition to do after a hard day’s work in the trenches. An architect and architectural historian, I had been at Sardis already for decades and had just published the imperial bath-gymnasium as Report 3 in the Sardis publication series, but I had only a limited knowledge of the colossal temple, except what I could see and what I could glean at the end of the routine site tours. These did little to elucidate the confusing and conflicting theories expounded by scholars from the expedition or outside—such as Howard Crosby Butler, the director of the first Sardis expedition and the original excavator of the temple (1910–1914); George M. A. Hanfmann, the first director of the Harvard-Cornell Expedition (1958–1976); and Gottfried Gruben and Wolfram Hoepfner, two eminent German architectural historians. Even for someone without the advantages of a clear understanding of its apparent complexities, the temple—with the shadow of its tall columns and white marble walls lengthening in the afternoon light, the ruins rising defiant and robust against the dramatic backdrop of craggy hills and proud mountains—was a good place to be. As I stood there musing, out of the lengthening shadows, notebook in hand, appeared Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr. (Greenie to his friends), then Director of the expedition. We chatted. Noting the precision of the architectural lines, and the clarity of the details and surfaces—an architect’s dream—I remarked incautiously that it would be a great thing to draw this structure. Greenie responded by asking me if I would like to do it. That is the genesis of this project—drawing, later writing and publishing—which took thirty-three years to complete and is now in your hands to peruse.

The balance of 1986 was spent in planning and establishing the parameters of the measured drawing project, a work we knew was going to be a long one, though never as long as it turned out to be. The simple idea was a full architectural documentation of this giant building in plan, section, and elevations at a scale large enough for us to see every detail and to be able to measure directly from the drawing. The best plan from the Butler expedition was drawn at 1:200 scale, but it was not accompanied by a full set of sections or elevations; the early team might have intended to do them, but the unexpected termination of the work in 1914—due to war—thwarted the project. Butler’s team, however, left us a good architectural record of details, especially the profiles of the fifteen column bases of the east end and their comparisons to those from a selected group of temples from Asia Minor. Particularly useful and beautiful among those are the large-scale drawings of ornament (1:4 scale and mostly in restored state) such as the temple’s superb Ionic capitals, a few representing a tour de force of architectural rendering we have no hope or desire to emulate (Sardis II.1 and atlas).

We decided to do a full plan and many long and short section-elevations of the temple “as preserved” (in state) at 1:20 scale; several state as well as partially or fully restored plans and section-elevations at 1:100 scale; and several plans representing the different chronological and design phases of the structure at 1:200 scale. In addition to these, I would undertake to record many selected individual features and details at 1:20, 1:10, and 1:5 scales as well as by perspectives, cutaways, and axonometrics as judged useful or necessary over the duration of the project. Given the 97.60 m length and 44.60 m width of the temple, the plan at 1:20 scale would be 5 × 2.50 m (ca. 16 × 8 ft.). Following the standard studio drafting board size, which accommodates a sheet of ca. 1.30 × 0.65–0.70 m, the plan would require sixteen sheets while the section-elevations, of comparable size, would fill an additional twenty-three (sixteen long sections and seven short). Many of these drawings, naturally, would overlap (to cover the full length of the building) and need to be spliced with precision. Practical considerations have guided us to reduce the drawings to one-half size in print so that they could be manageable; an original 1:20 scale drawing in print would thus become 1:40 scale, still making it easy to measure directly (one centimeter on the printed drawing equals forty centimeters on the real building). The complex and finicky splicing (or “stitching,” as we call it) was done digitally by Philip Stinson, whose expertise is admired by all and to whom I owe gratitude. All major 1:20- and 1:100-scale drawings plus a large-scale restored perspective and one perspective-analytique are included among the boxed plates; the rest of the 1:200 scale plans and dozens of drawings of individual features, details, perspectives, cutaways, and axonometrics are incorporated in the text volume.

The finished drawings, made on mylar in ink, were based on originals made in the field also on mylar in hard graphite mechanical pencil (typically 4H–5H) (Fig. 0.1). Mylar field sheets ca. 70 × 50 cm were mounted on a tripod table (“plane table”) of the same size; thus it took some thirty-five sheets to cover the full 1:20-scale plan. Considering all section-elevations and other plans, a total of ca. 140–150 field sheets in pencil were completed for this project. These field drawings were combined and spliced in the drafting room as necessary, to form the basis of final sheets in ink. Over the course of 13–16 years (1987 to 2000, but some were also done in 2006–2008, 2015, 2016), I completed a total of 94–96 original inked drawings, which were reduced in size into a lesser number of plates. All field drawings were done by me except the foundations of the north and south peristyle colonnades, which were done expertly by Cathy Alexander (a huge help!). An additional 8–10 sheets of drawings in pencil of architraves in the field were done by Brianna Bricker, but all of these pencil originals were redrawn and finished in ink by me (which ensured consistency in drafting style, or “hand”). These pencil originals and most of the inked final drawings are kept in the Sardis Expedition office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

When we started this project, digital technology for site applications and drawing was in its infancy. Therefore, the recording was done entirely by traditional methods, the architectural elements hand-drawn and hand-measured using a steel, well-stretched tape, or by using optical surveying instruments (transit and dumpy level) as needed, although from the 1990s onward digital surveying using total station became possible. The orthogonal, precise lines and edges of the temple (the long side walls are parallel, with no more than 2–3 cm of deviation from one another), and a true east–west (long) building axis traversing exactly the middle of the east door threshold, made direct measurements reliable and easy. The accuracy of the sums of shorter measurements was verified against the long-distance measurements by triangulation, resulting in discrepancies of no more than 10–15 cm over the nearly one-hundred-meter length of the temple (representing a ca. 1–1.5 percent error). These errors, distributed across large distances, match the industry standard of dealing with such.

A major undertaking in 1992 was the raising of metal-tubular scaffolding around the two fully standing columns, 6 and 7, enabling, for the first time since they were erected, a direct measurement of their height—17.87 m, including base and capital—which was verified in 2019 when a less shaky scaffold was put up (although Lansing “Denny” C. Holden, one of Butler’s brave architecture students, had hoisted himself up to the top of column 7 in 1922 using rope and tackle and bosun’s chair and took some basic measurements of capital B). The scaffolding also allowed a close study and subsequent drawings, sketches, and construction details of in situ capitals A and B. In the same year, the scaffold was moved to columns 4 and 5 and in 1994 to columns 1, 2, 3, 8, and 16, allowing accurate measurements of their heights, and permitting detailed studies and elevations of most of the east end columns and their tops as preserved. Although we had archaeological recordings of many individual small excavations at the temple by Hanfmann between 1960 and 1970, and by our team between 2002 and 2012, it was agreed not to incorporate most of them into the 1:20-scale drawings; some are included separately in the text volume.

The continuation and transformation of the temple project from architectural, graphic recording to research and writing occurred slowly and almost naturally. In 1987, when we started the project, we had only a vague idea about transmuting the field recording (and its factual description) into a broader scholarly study aimed at elucidating the architecture and history of the temple and culminating in a “final” Sardis volume. The process was gradual and natural in the sense that long and slow periods of scrutiny spent doing the stone-by-stone, crack-by-crack drawings clarified construction principles, features, processes, and sequences in ways that had not been imagined before. Drawing was itself research. A clearer picture of the architecture, design, and history of the building and its phases began to emerge—though still with many unknowns and still open to some alternative explanations—that partly supported earlier theories, but mainly replaced them with new, more convincing ones. In this the expository role of our numerous trenches was paramount. In 1987, faced with the task of recording a very large building with many unknowns, we had hoped that our long-term fieldwork “might be able to present an orderly record of the physical features of the building to the scholarly world and provide evidence in support of some [existing] theories . . . and point to new solutions in others” (Yegül, “Artemis Temple Report, 1987,” 1). Thirty-three years later, I trust that my attempt at presenting a new and cogent narrative for the Temple of Artemis at Sardis has been largely achieved. Nonetheless, the more modest goal of creating an accurate and orderly physical record of the temple as preserved in our day—making it probably one of the most thoroughly recorded of all classical temples—for future generations remains central to the project.

The long-term work that went into this publication was largely a team effort. Apart from the late Crawford H. Greenewalt, jr., who helped to instigate, inspire, and instruct the early stages of this work, the largest gratitude is owed to Nicholas D. Cahill, the present director, whose interest in the project and love of this temple—and knowledge of its history—match mine. An experienced field archaeologist, he spearheaded many of the new exploratory excavations in the temple that shed significant light on its design and history. It is true, however, as often acknowledged in my text, that Nick and I have not always seen eye-to-eye concerning the reading and interpretation of some of the evidence—though only a minority of the overall data. Thus, in a few cases, we have arrived at different conclusions which might suggest different views of the temple’s design and history. In dealing with the past, archaeology is capable of producing clinching and unequivocal evidence, although, when confronted with countless and often randomly preserved variables, often it does not—unfortunately. Therefore, different readings of what the past has chosen to reveal to us are normal, even salutary. What is important, I believe, is an open-minded approach to differences, willingness to represent these different views, and readiness to consider and discuss alternatives. These, I trust, we have been able to do, and offer a diverse and enriched discourse. Deeper down, these tendencies can be traced to our different disciplines and training: Nick Cahill is an archaeologist, and I am an architect and architectural historian. Inevitably (and proudly) we follow the viewpoints, dictates, and methods of our primary fields. That he entrusted the “final” publication of this very important monument to me, a well-entrenched architectural historian, is a credit to him—for which I am thankful. There were special moments in the discussion and deliberation of some thorny issue or the other, where we would stop, and with amused grins, recognize that the “truth” was probably something that neither of us could know or predict.

Now to some sincere thanks. I thank Brianna Bricker, my own student, who expertly took on many tasks in this volume’s preparation: as field researcher, draftsperson, organizer, and designer of the typography. Thanks to Catherine Alexander, for her excellent and substantial field drawings and other graphic studies. Phil Stinson, as mentioned earlier, was the skill and spirit behind the complicated business of digital instantiation of our large drawings and plates; and we spent many a morning surveying the temple with a total station. Felipe Rojas undertook the recording of the great altar in a remarkably precise plan. Bahadır Yıldırım’s sharp eye caught many a significant (and fun) carved detail on marble none of us had seen before—he is a sculpture expert, after all. The excellent recording of the building by Sardis photographers past and current deserves acknowledgement; Elizabeth Gombosi and Eliza Proctor can be their best representatives. Recently, Nick Cahill took over the business of aerial drone photography, as can be seen in the many excellent frames in these pages, and contributed some of the fine stills (most are by me). Always positive, always on-the-job, Teoman Yalçınkaya, our expert engineer, erected our first and successive daring scaffolds around the nineteen-meter-high columns; he moved our 25-ton marble architraves and the delicate Ionic capitals, of world-class beauty (and rarity) without a tremble—all the while encouraging his workmen, and us, cheerfully, gustily, and always competently; we thank you. Then there were these small teams of humble, local workmen who helped me in the field in many ways small and large; I cannot name you all here, but I remember you each with pleasure and respect.

Many colleagues from Sardis and from outside the team helped me with their advice and provided me with explanations, examples, ideas, and also “don’t go there” caution. I will not name all here; they are separately named and thanked in my text, but I single out a few: Thomas Howe, the expedition architect (1980–1982), whose early understanding of the temple is commendable, and who, by all rights, should have been doing this volume instead of me, but for fortune; Orhan Bingöl, Musa Kadıoğlu, Mustafa Hamdi Sayar, Angelos Chaniotis, Brian Rose, Ulrike Outschar, Aenne Ohnesorg, Lothar Haselberger, and not the least my niece Emel Erten, for their special advice, expert knowledge, and generous support of the project. The anonymous or named readers of the manuscript, whose suggestions and criticism I heeded gratefully, helped to make this study better and explained how I could better take advantage of archaeology.

I also thank the Department of Archaeology of Ankara University, and all my Turkish colleagues there, who many times provided me a platform to present my developing research on the temple and honored me with their generous input. I am grateful to my own institution, the University of California at Santa Barbara, which provided me research time and multiple research grants that allowed me to travel far and wide—every single comparative example in this volume is the result of my being on the site. And to my departmental colleagues, who judged me worthy of the rare university rank of “distinguished professor”—you believed in my research and it is a privilege to repay your trust with this publication.

The end success of a publication is invested in its linguistic and literary quality, in which the role of its editors is invaluable. I was lucky to have Theresa Huntsman in the beginning and Kerri Sullivan later and for the longer part. Thank you both for curbing my mistakes and improving the integrity of the text in all beneficial ways.

This book is dedicated to the memory of George M. A. Hanfmann, my teacher, a professor of classics and archaeology at Harvard University, and Diane Favro, my companion, a professor of architectural history at UCLA. There is quite a bit that I disagree with in my teacher’s interpretation of the temple and its architecture. The passage of time and new research may justify our separate directions, but looking beyond the limits of the valley in which our temple sits, into the horizon, he is the one who trained me in doing research, showing me how to search for what is unique in each challenging example of art and architecture; how to evaluate the significance of the context and environment of evidence; and the rigor imbedded in espousing diverse, tolerant views. Sardians of earlier years (generations, really) would remember the exquisite learning he brought to the tea table at Sardis at our informal afternoon seminars in building an argument and then, just as we were ready to break into applause, with a glint in his eye, he would take up the opposite view with the same evidence and expertly show how the alternative view could also be cogently defended—memorable performances they were. Never an official member of the expedition, Diane was there as guest many seasons. She accomplished the digital reconstruction and rendering of almost all of the comparative architectural material I used for this volume and, an expert in digital technology for architecture, like Phil, “enhanced” almost every photograph (some from my Kodachrome slide files from the 1970s) with her darkroom magic. But more than that, she was with me through the entire duration of this work, supporting my instincts or curbing them into constructive channels. Thank you.

Ultimately, I am grateful that I have had the great good luck of being so closely associated with this temple through being entrusted to draw, study, and publish it—arguably the premier monument of Sardis, and one of the top examples of classical architecture in all of Anatolia (Fig. 0.2). The long, intimate process of drawing and coming to know this beautiful building, knowing every stone, every molding, every unfinished detail the master left for his apprentice to follow and finish—a building rosy during the ascent of the morning sun from behind the acropolis and purple during its descent in the afternoon behind the necropolis—has been a rare privilege. The work was in bad days a catharsis, and in good days a celebration. A complex, multifaceted monument such as the Temple of Artemis of Sardis will educe and elicit multiple interpretations and evaluations—and leave many questions unanswered even after thirty-odd years of familiarity backed by the advantages offered by a very resourceful archaeological expedition. Along the way, the remarkable richness of the temple inspired me to take side journeys of exploration into a wide range of kindred subjects: to mention one, the case of the talking column (column 4), for the last two thousand years accosting the passerby in the first-person singular with its proud, boastful victory message. Regardless of how successful in reaching its multiple and optimistic goals this effort has been, I am happy to leave behind for the future areas of interest to be further explored, further questions to be answered, errors to be corrected, and issues to be pondered and wondered over. The team that worked on this large project can, with luck, offer a mansion with many open doors, and I hope that we can nudge you to enter through some of these.

When I planned this quest decades ago with Greenie’s encouragement, I had just finished my other long-term Sardis project, the Bath-Gymnasium Complex, as I mentioned above. So, one Sardis project replaced another without a hitch, and allowed me to be busy at Sardis for many more decades. I have worked at the site for a record total of fifty-seven years, never missing a season between 1963—when I was met at the Sart Mahmut train station by George Hanfmann in the old “Pinkie” Land Rover (still in service)—and now. Perhaps time for me to retire and start writing another book . . . Roman Anatolia?

Thank you, Sardis.

  • Fig. 0.1

    The author in his library, 1:20 mylar sheets of the temple plan rolled out across the floor (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)

  • Fig. 0.2

    The author on scaffolding around column 7 (©Archaeological Exploration of Sardis/President and Fellows of Harvard College)