1902 Encyclopedia > Architecture > Greek Tombs

(Part 60)

Greek Tombs

These, the grandest structures next to the temples in Egypt, present little worthy of notice in Greece proper; but in the colonies there are several of considerable importance. The grandest are in Caria and Lycia, to some of which, constructed much after the ancient outlines of the Lycian, &c., reference has already been made. The most singular of the pure Greek tombs are cut in the face of the solid rock, not in the forms of the ancient rock-cut tombs, but much resembling those of the temple.

The rock-cut tombs, as eg. at Telmissus (Lycia), usually have a portico of columns in antis, with one or more chambers behind. In one example these are about 12 feet by 9 feet, and 6 feet high.

Most of the columns are Ionic, few being Doric. In one case, the whole tomb, which is 18 feet 6 inches deep, has been quite detached, the whole excavation being 26 feet deep from the faced of the rock. Many of these tombs present curious examples of wooden details imitated in stone, e.g. the doors are often exactly like those of wood, the panels, nails, knockers, &c., being copied in stone.

Of a totally different class is a tomb at Cnidus, in Caria, discovered by Mr C.T. Newton. It consists of a square resting on four steps, and carrying four engaged Doric columns, with a cornice over the whole, being about 31 feet square on the basement. Above the cornice are gradini, forming a sort of pyramid of steps, having at the summit a lion, now in the British Museum. "Inside was a beehive-shaped chamber, with vaulting similar to that of the treasury of Tares at Mycene, and with eleven smaller cells radiating from its circumference" (Newton). Its supposed date is about 396 B.C.

More beautiful in detail is the tomb known as the Trophy, discovered by Sir C. Fellows, at Xanthus. It consists of a peristyle of fourteen Ionic columns, standing on a high basement about 33 feet by 22, which has, to all appearance, no access to it . In the centre, behind the columns, is a cella apparently solid also. The date usually given to this is about 540. But the edifice seems to be somewhat too refined in detail for this time, and another date assigned to it, viz., about 385, appears to be more likely. This would be about half-way, in point of time, between the Erechtheum and the temple at Priene.

More curious, though less elegant, is another tomb at Mylasa, in Caria, which has a high, square basement with a chamber in it. Over this, on each facer, are two columns in antis, with entablature, the space between the columns being quite clear. Over the cornice are placed great stone beams, anglicise; on these, others, again, crosswise; so that the bearing is rapidly diminished, and a rough sort of dome formed, resembling those so often found in India. But of all Greek tombs the grandest was that of Mausolus, at Halicarnassus, in Caria, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which has given its name to all succeeding great tombs. Its date is about 352 B.C., Mausolus having died in 353. It was erect until the 19th century. Since then it has been so utterly ruined that there was doubt as to its actual site. This was indicated by Professor Donaldson; and in 1857, Mr Newton discovered the actual remains. "It consisted of a lofty basement, on which stood an oblong Ionic edifice surrounded by thirty-six Ionic columns, and surmounted by a pyramid of twenty-four steps. The whole structure, 140 feet in heights, was crowned by a chariot group in white marble, on which, probably, stood Mausolus himself." (Newton). The size of the basement was 114 feet by 92. A considerable number of the fragments are now in the British Museum. The name of the architect was Pithos, and the sculpture, with which the edifice was richly adorned, was executed by four celebrated sculptors, of whom we may especially particularise Scopas, as he was also the architect of the celebrated temple of Tegea.

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