Lecture Series - Ancient Temples: Dynamic & Divine Destinations

May 04, 2021

On almost any visit exploring the ancient Mediterranean world, we encounter Greek and Roman temples. These buildings and their sacred sites were dynamic and divine, set apart and even sometimes secret. They were a vital part of ancient society, focal points for great events and celebration as well as a source of reassurance in more threatening times. A regular tour leader around the sacred temples of the ancient Mediterranean, Gillian Hovell will bring temples to life as we explore the design, art and architecture of these stunning monuments which were purposefully built to contain meaning, heritage and impact. We shall also discover what went on in these buildings that stood centre-stage for hundreds of years. Ancient temples were homes for the gods, sites of offering and sacrifice and so much more. Join us and your view of temples may never be the same again … 

You can download a Handout to support the lectures here.

You can download a Reading List to support the lectures here.

Tuesday 11 May 2021 at 11am

Lecture 1 – Art & Architecture: Structure, Shape & Symbolism
Learn how temples’ ancient architecture was loaded with heritage, meaning and connectivity through the centuries. Why are temples as they are? We follow the origins of temples, through into the archaic sanctuaries and stunning classical Greek designs and the Etruscan temples, both of which impressed the Romans and influenced the distinctive Roman style of temples, and their rituals and gods too. Discover what the details we see today really meant to the ancients, and why and how the ancients continued to use the classical ‘orders’ (especially Doric, Ionic and Corinthian) of the columns to impart deeper meaning to their sacred structures. How did plants play such an important role in the sanctuary spaces? We learn what Vitruvius, the famous Augustan architect, wrote about the reasons for and importance of careful design of the temples. Decades later, Pliny the Elder wrote about the huge sculptures of the deities that graced the interiors of the temples. Then there were the cults and their very different own sacred spaces …


Wednesday 12 May 2021 at 11am
Lecture 2 – Deities, Dedications & Drama: What Really Went On?
Discover what really went on in and around the temples of the ancient Greeks & Romans. Find out about the gods, their worship, the offerings, the drama - these were lively locations hosting vibrant and exciting events. Not all religious activity required a temple, but those that did were often far more than personal expressions of belief. From launching the party-time that was the midwinter Saturnalia festival, to hosting sacrifices for the safety of the state, temples were the location of choice for important events in the ancient calendar. But, you ask, who were the priests, what were the rituals, what was sacrificed – and what do we know about the secret activities of the cults? These are the fascinating questions which Gillian will answer as she brings this short lecture series to a conclusion.


 Gillian Hovell 344x395   Gillian, professionally known as 'The Muddy Archaeologist', is an Author, Ancient Historian, Archaeologist and Latin expert. Having personally excavated on sites ranging from Pompei and Hadrian's Wall from the Roman period to prehistoric sites across the UK, Gillian is now using her expertise to communicate ancient history to a wider audience not only on tours - including CICERONI's travels - but in online courses, lectures and courses in person (nationally and internationally) and in the media.

Please go to www.muddyarchaeologist.co.uk to find more details.


Format for Lecture

Gillian will give two one-hour illustrated lectures for £19. 

You will not need to download any software and the lecture will work in any browser. For the best experience use a desktop or laptop - but it will also work on an iPad or similar tablet. You will be also able to re-watch or watch a recording after the lecture.

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