Against Gravity

Katja Piesker

Full Paper
Constructing, Deconstructing and Reconstructing the 'Temple of Dionysus' in Side, Pamphylia

The small temple next to the theater in Side is one of the rare examples of a pseudoperipteros in the Eastern Mediterranean. As such, it has been discussed as an indicator for Roman influence in Southern Asia Minor. The 1960s-reconstruction of the presumed early Augustan temple with a long cella has been considered exceptional but hardly questioned.

Recent trenches inside and outside the preserved podium along with a careful study of the architectural remains back up a considerably different layout of the temple with a shorter podium and a reversed orientation. Initially, it was accessed by a narrow staircase from the south. This ʻunorthodoxʼ design raises the question if it is exclusively based on Roman models, and it supports a late Hellenistic, possibly pre-Augustan date.

This Hellenistic temple had to be thoroughly modified in the 2nd century AD due to the construction of the Roman theater which cut the pronaos. The subsequent well-crafted extension of the podium to the North – with architectural members from the original structure – suggests that the edifice was turned and reconstructed in a revised form.

The construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of the ʻTemple of Dionysusʼ in Side challenged pre-modern masons, and they challenge modern research. Last but not least, they highlight the potential of a reevaluation of apparently well-known monuments.