Overall view of apsidal shrine from S, Eretria, Temple of Apollo Daphnepho...

Apsidal wall of earliest shrine in sanctuary, Eretria, Temple of Apollo Da...

View of temple of Apollo Daphnephoros, with later remains, Eretria

Foundations of apsidal shrine viewed from S, Eretria, Temple of Apollo Dap...

View of temple of Apollo Daphnephoros, with later remains, Eretria

View of temple of Apollo Daphnephoros, Eretria

Context: Eretria
Type: Temple
Summary: Site of the cult of Apollo Daphnephoros at Eretria, with three principal building phases dating to the eighth, seventh and sixth centuries.
Date: ca. 800 BC - ca. 520 BC

Dimensions of Geometric apsidal hut: length of cella ca. 8.25 m.; total length ca. 9.5 m.; width ca. 6.5 m.; width of walls ca. 0.55 m. The length of the Geometric hekatompedon is ca. 34.50 m.; width ca. 7-8 m.; width of walls ca. 0.45 m. The dimensions of the early archaic hekatompedon are as follows: overall dimensions 40.10 m. x 11.70 m.; length of cella 34.00 m. (= 97.3 Ionic feet, with an Ionic foot calculated at 0.3495 m.); width of cella 7.00 m. or 20 Ionic feet; width of pteron at sides and rear ca. 2.10 m. or 6 Ionic feet; width of pteron at facade ca. 3.50 m. or 10 Ionic feet. Interaxial spacing of flanks ca. 2.20 m. The relationship between the cella's width to its length can be expressed in a proportion of 1:5. The overall dimensions of the foundations of the late archaic temple are 20.55 m. x 47.80 m. Average intercolumniation at the facade 3.60 m. Width of the facade colonnade ca. 6.90 m.; width of rear and side colonnades ca. 3.95 m. Depth of pronaos ca. 4.25 m.; depth of opisthodomos ca. 3.60 m. Exterior width of cella 10.80 m. Lower column diameter 1.65 m.

Region: Euboea
Period: Geometric

Architectural Order:

Doric. Two fragments of Doric capitals are preserved from the late archaic temple.


The earliest structure at the Apollo sanctuary, an eighth century Geometric hut, was apsidal in plan, with curving side walls stabilized with posts; this hut-like structure had a door in its south end, with a porch in front of one central room or cella. A second structure located just to the east of the first Geometric temple is interpreted as a hekatompedon of the Geometric period. It is long and narrow in plan, with an apsidal rear wall and side walls which converge slightly towards the front (south-east) entrance. There appears to have been no porch. A central row of posts may have stood in the cella. The early archaic temple is reconstructed in plan as an Ionic hekatompedon with a peripteros of 6 x 19 columns surrounding a long, narrow cella without interior colonnade. This temple had neither opisthodomos nor pronaos. The influence of Ionian temple design is apparent in its plan: the cella building is related to the peripteros through the alignment of the axes of the cella walls with the second columns of the facade; similarly, the rear walls of the cella building are aligned with the second columns on the flanks. The temple was oriented south-east/north-west, with no apparent explanation for this unusual orientation.

The late archaic temple was a Doric peripteros of 6 x 14 columns, distyle in antis, with pronaos and opisthodomos. Two rows of eight columns each stood in the cella, aligned with the central two columns of the facade. The late archaic temple repeats some of the characteristic features of the plan of the early archaic temple, for example the deep frontal colonnade and the relationship between the cella building and the peripteral columns.

Date Description:

The Geometric buildings are dated on the basis of ceramic evidence, and votive offerings including small bronzes. The early archaic temple was erected on a terrace wall underneath which were found archaeological deposits dating to the late eighth and early seventh century, providing a terminus post quem for the early archaic structure. Similarities in design between the early archaic temple and the second Heraion at Samos also support a date of ca. 670-650 B.C. The late archaic temple is dated to ca. 530-520 based on the evidence of the profile of the Doric column capitals and the style of the pedimental sculptural group.


Four phases of the temple have been recognized: a Geometric hut-like structure with apsidal walls and a second Geometric temple with apsidal walls, a hekatompedon, contemporary with or slightly later than the Geometric Daphnephoreion. These structures are believed to have been levelled at the end of the eighth century B.C. The third important structure was an early archaic hekatompedon dating to ca. 670-650 B.C.; the foundations of this early archaic temple lie beneath the Doric peripteral temple of the late archaic period (ca. 530-520 B.C.) The excavators doubted that the final temple was completely destroyed by the Persian invasion of 490 B.C., as inscriptions indicate that the site remained a cult center in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. The pedimental sculpture depicting Theseus and Antiope fell and may have been intentionally buried in antiquity, perhaps as a memory of the Persian destruction. The temple was heavily quarried in the Roman period.

Other Notes:

The earliest structure at the sanctuary, the Geometric period hut, may have had some sacral function: a foundation deposit was discovered underneath its southwest anta, and when the Geometric hekatompedon was constructed next to it, the walls of the apsidal hut were respected, perhaps implying its sacred nature. The absence of an altar, however, makes the identification of the apsidal hut as a temple uncertain. An altar located just to the south-east of the Geometric hekatompedon makes the identification of the structure as a temple almost certain. A building identified as a bronze foundry dating to the mid-eighth century B.C. was located ca. 5 m. north of the Geometric hekatompedon; votive figures may have been produced here. There is little conclusive evidence for the reconstruction of the early archaic temple as peripteral; the argument for reconstructing columns at this phase appears to be largely based on an analogy with the second temple of Hera at Samos.

Certain characteristics of the early archaic temple which reappear in the late archaic temple - wide facade colonnade, relationship of cella building to peristasis (if it existed in the early archaic temple) - have led scholars to reflect that these Ionicizing features were already apparent in mainland Greek architecture of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. The pediment of the late archaic temple was decorated with a marble sculptural group depicting Theseus abducting Antiope, evidence of close political links between Eretria and Athens at this time.

Other Bibliography:

Auberson 1968, 9-24; Schefold 1968, 272-281; Bérard 1971, 59-73; Auberson & Schefold 1972, 113-121; Knell 1972, 40-47; Auberson and Schefold 1974, 60-68; Schefold 1974, 69-75; Krause 1981b, 70-87; Mallwitz 1981b, 81-96; Krause 1982b, 150-160; Drerup 1986, 3-21; Fagerström 1988, 54-57; Ducrey 1989, 104-116.