Temples for the imperial cult in the Roman East: The architectural aspect

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Temples for the imperial cult in Italy and the European provinces of the Roman Empire erected in their dozens in the first three centuries of the AD did not differ in their plans, design and architectural decorations, comparing to the temples erected for the Olympian Gods. In Hauran and Trachon, the basalt lands of southern Syria, there are several temples for the imperial cult which differ significantly from those erected in Italy and the European provinces of the Roman Empire. Hauran and Trachon which in the Hellenistic and early Roman Periods were regarded as frontier areas were transformed during the reign of the Antonine and Severan Emperors into important foci of activity in the east of the Roman Empire. Before we shall discuss this peculiar group of temples it should be mentioned that almost all the temples for the imperial cult erected in Italy and the European provinces belong clearly to a category of Vitruvian temples, which means that their plan, design and architectural decoration can be described and examined according to the parameters, terminology and architectural vocabulary as used by Vitruvius in his De Architectura. However, the temples which we shall deal with here should be defined as non-Vitruvian. It means that they cannot be described or examined according to the parameters applied by Vitruvius. Thus, we shall focus here on a group of seven temples characterized by the uniqueness and originality of their architecture. These temples were built of local basalt stone and their chief architectural characteristic is their being open structures. That is, their central space was left open, thereby making the approach to it easy and unhindered. In the traditional Graeco-Roman temple the naos was seen as the home of the god and the pilgrims were not allowed to enter the temple. The Hauran-Trachon temples for the imperial cult on the other hand in their open design face the pilgrims and invite them to approach the emperor's statue.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCities, Monuments and Objects in the Roman and Byzantine Levant
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in Honour of Gabi Mazor
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781803273358
ISBN (Print)9781803273341
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Archaeopress and the individual authors 2022. All rights reserved.


  • Hauran
  • Imperial cult
  • Kalybe
  • Roman empire
  • Roman provinces
  • Roman temple
  • Trachon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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