Paestum and the Discovery of Archaic Greece

Zuchtriegel Gabriel

The paper revises the impact of the Paestum temples on 18th century archaeology and cultural theory. In particular, the author analyses the way in which Winckelmann dealt with what he believed to be the “oldest surviving architecture in the world outside Egypt”. Winckelmann recognized certain parallels between Archaic Greek and Egyptian art and architecture. However, he would not accept the idea of Greek culture depending on older Egyptian models. In order to solve this problem, he made use of primitivist theories that explain parallels between Egyptian and Greek art as the result of natural processes leading from primitive to more elaborate forms of art and architecture. This paradigm has shaped the field of archaeology ever since, as for example in the case of studies in early Greek colonisation that tend to apply primitivist models while minimizing intercultural contacts with the Phoenicians.

Keywords: Paestum, J. J. Winkelmann, Vitruvius, archaic Greek architecture, Egypte, orientalism, Greek colonisation

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