Context: Miletus
Type: Temple
Summary: Peripteral Ionic temple in south-west of city, constructed on a terrace; unusual north-south orientation.
Date: ca. 480 BC - ca. 450 BC

Dimensions of stylobate 17.20 m. x 28.20 m.; probable intercolumniation 2.09 m. Dimensions of cella ca. 15.80 m. x 9.20 m.; depth of pronaos ca. 6.28 m. Remains of the older, archaic temple indicate that the pronaos was ca. 5.90 m. wide.

Region: Ionia
Period: Classical

Architectural Order:

Ionic. A fragment of an Ionic capital showed that the capitals retained the archaic feature of a convex canalis; the capitals also were without abaci.


Only the foundations of the temple are preserved. Its reconstruction is, therefore, hypothetical, and is based on probable proportions and assumed relationship to the foundation walls, rather than on the evidence of preserved architectural elements. The most recent proposal restores the groundplan as follows: above a massive terraced structure stood the temple, with cella, deep pronaos, and peristyle of Ionic columns. The temple was distyle in antis, with a dipteral facade of eight columns, and fourteen columns along the flanks. The earlier reconstruction showing the temple as 6 x 10 with a tall podium and frontal steps (von Gerkan 1925) is probably incorrect.

Date Description:

An inscription on an archaic building block refers to the cult of Athena at the site: von Gerkan 1925, 52-53. The evidence for the date of the Classical temple is fairly tenuous, but is based on the style of the fragment of an Ionic capital (now lost), the style of the ovolo molding from the fragment of an architrave block, and the overall archaeological evidence which suggests that the reorientation of the temple was influenced by the new grid plan of the city. Furthermore, the Hellenistic building activity which encroached on the Athena temenos to the west and north provides a terminus ante quem for the temenos.


Finds in the area such as pottery, votives of bronze and terracotta, and bronze griffin protomes indicate that a sanctuary or cult center to Athena existed here from at least the archaic period, if not even earlier. Buildings of the Mycenaean and archaic period (houses?) are attested in the vicinity, but their relationship to the temple is unclear. In the archaic period (7th c. B.C.) a smaller temple to Athena was erected on the site, oriented east-west; this was destroyed when the newer temple was built. Sometime in the fifth century B.C., the second temple to Athena was built on the site, and its orientation was altered to conform to the new city plan. In the late Hellenistic period, a peristyle house was built adjacent to the temple peribolos at the west; in the Roman period, additions to this house encroached even further on the temple area. In the Hellenistic period the construction of the West Agora of Miletus, to the north of the Temple of Athena, imposed further boundaries on the temple area. In the Imperial period, shops or small workrooms were built to the east of the temple, and directly over the eastern temple two vaulted rooms were constructed. It is unlikely that the temple was still standing in the Roman Imperial period; it has been suggested that the temple was systematically destroyed to provide construction material for the buildings of the Roman period.Mallwitz 1975, 88.

Other Notes:

Although there is very little of the temple preserved beyond the foundations, Mallwitz's reconstruction of the temple as an Ionic pseudodipteral temple with dipteral facade, on a two- or three-stepped stylobate, seems much more convincing than von Gerkan's reconstruction of the temple with 6 x 10 columns and a frontal staircase. A podium temple with frontal steps would be unusual at this early date, whereas Mallwitz's reconstruction not only is supported by the proportions of the foundations, but also fits comfortably into the tradition of dipteral and pseudo-dipteral Ionic temple architecture in Asia Minor.

Other Bibliography:

von Gerkan 1925, 52-73; Weickert 1957, 102-132; Weickert 1959/60, 1-96; Kleiner 1968, 36-40, figs. 19-21; Mallwitz & Schiering 1968, 87-160; Dinsmoor 1975, 136-7; Mallwitz 1975, 67-90.

See Also: Berlin 1631