AP Art History : Analyzing Ancient Greek and Roman architecture

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Art History

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Analyzing Ancient Greek And Roman Architecture

Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of ionic order temple construction?

Possible Answers:

A decorative and often elaborate volute

A narrow and stylized column

Relief sculpture running the length of the frieze 

A tiered base at the bottom of the column

Alternating triglyphs and metopes in the frieze

Correct answer:

Alternating triglyphs and metopes in the frieze

Explanation:

Triglyphs and metopes are a characteristic of the doric order temple, but were abandoned by the time the ionic order became the favored architectural tradition in favor of an uninterrupted frieze that could house relief sculpture. 

Example Question #2 : Ancient Greek And Roman Architecture

Why did the Doric order fall out of style during the height of Classical Greece? 

Possible Answers:

The popularity of the Corinthian order grew such that the Doric order fell out of favor with Greek architects.

The Peloponnesian War destroyed all of the existing Doric-order temples in the major acropolises across Greece.

Fourth-century Athens lacked the proper building materials to continue building in this tradition.

Influence from the Macedonian empire encouraged architects to consider new building techniques.

The Classical tradition favored narrower and more aesthetically pleasing proportions.

Correct answer:

The Classical tradition favored narrower and more aesthetically pleasing proportions.

Explanation:

The Doric order was heavy and squat. It was followed in the fourth century by the Ionic, which boasted more slender columns and longer proportions. It was considered more aesthetically pleasant than the Doric order, so Classical Greeks desired it more than the Doric order at the height of the artistic tradition from this period.

Example Question #2 : Architecture

The image above is an aerial view of the Temple of Athena Nike on the Athenian Acropolis (410-405 B.C.). 

(Image by José-Manuel Benito from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_of_Athena_Nike.)

What about the Temple of Athena Nike makes it unique as compared to the other buildings on the Athenian Acropolis?

Possible Answers:

It housed an altar for animal sacrifice and was said to constantly burn incense.

It is made entirely of marble and is the first fully Ionic temple on the acropolis.

It has a cult statue of Artemis as well as Athena.

It was supposedly built at the site at which Zeus's thunderbolt struck the ground.

Only priestesses were permitted to enter, and it was the site of female worship.

Correct answer:

It is made entirely of marble and is the first fully Ionic temple on the acropolis.

Explanation:

You can see that the building is Ionic by noting the bases on the columns (the larger circles around the outside of the circles that denote columns). Most other buildings on the acropolis were made of limestone, but the small size of this temple allowed architects to use pentelic marble.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing Ancient Greek And Roman Architecture

What is misleading about the architectural and sculptural evidence that remains of the Greek artistic tradition?

Possible Answers:

The sculpture that remains undervalues the importance Greek senators held in the community.

The surviving pieces do not demonstrate properly the opulence of the empire.

None of the other answers is correct.

The architecture that remains does not properly demonstrate the depth of Greek commitment to their polytheistic religion.

The surviving sculpture and architecture is white, but would have actually been brightly colored. 

Correct answer:

The surviving sculpture and architecture is white, but would have actually been brightly colored. 

Explanation:

There is evidence that the white piece found in Greece were actually brightly colored, giving us an image of Greece that is much different than the white marble we think of when we think of Classical Greece.

Example Question #3 : Analyzing Ancient Greek And Roman Architecture

Which of these statements about Greek temples is most accurate?

Possible Answers:

They were designed to be increasingly more beautiful as the worshiper went deeper into the temple area

They were designed by competing architects, each trying to outdo the previous in scale and design

They were built as gathering places for worshipers

They were only made of stone

They were designed to be seen from the outside, where they emphasized balance over mystery

Correct answer:

They were designed to be seen from the outside, where they emphasized balance over mystery

Explanation:

Temples epitomized the Greek way of life. They formed a balanced and aesthetically pleasing background to the daily lives of the Greeks, not necessarily places of active worship for the masses. They were built to be seen from outside, where their harmony spoke of the rationality of life.

Example Question #6 : Ancient Through Medieval Architecture

The Parthenon in Athens is characterized by which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Corinthian columns

Straight lines

A perfectly square floor plan

A lack of human motifs

Slight curves in the steps and columns

Correct answer:

Slight curves in the steps and columns

Explanation:

The Greeks discovered that the human eye will interpret certain straight lines as curved and vice versa. When someone looks at a long row of columns they will appear to be crooked. To compensate for this they made the columns bulge outward and the steps curve slightly.

Example Question #4 : Analyzing Ancient Greek And Roman Architecture

What is a major difference between Greek and Roman temples?

Possible Answers:

Greek temples never veered from the established orders, while Roman temples were more varied

Greek temples were meant to be viewed on all sides, while Roman temples were to be viewed from the front

Roman temples were also used as marketplaces

Greek temples had columns with slight bulges, while roman ones did not

Roman temples were built on the ruins of previous structures

Correct answer:

Greek temples were meant to be viewed on all sides, while Roman temples were to be viewed from the front

Explanation:

The Romans copied many stylistic elements from Greek temples. There was, however, a major difference. Greek temples were built freestanding and without regard for the other buildings around them. Roman temples, on the other hand, were built in conjunction with large municipal building projects and their final design took this into account.

Example Question #8 : Ancient Through Medieval Architecture

Greek Doric temples _________________.

Possible Answers:

doubled as meeting places of governing bodies

were built without a sense of proportion

were still strongly influenced by wooden temple design

were unstable and tended to collapse, leading to a new design: the Ionic temple

emphasized tall and slender architecture

Correct answer:

were still strongly influenced by wooden temple design

Explanation:

Even centuries after temples were built from stone, they were still strongly influenced by their wooden predecessors. Characteristics that the original temples had, for structural reasons were copied in the stone forms. For instance, the round columns imitated tree trunks, and the square triglyphs above the columns were meant to look like horizontal beams sticking out of the face of the building.

Example Question #5 : Analyzing Ancient Greek And Roman Architecture

The central area of a Greek temple, or cella, was _________________.

Possible Answers:

was sometimes omitted

was empty, emphasizing the invisible nature of Greek deities

the place where the public would often gather to offer sacrifices

more ornate than the rest of the temple

more simply decorated than the outside of the temple

Correct answer:

more simply decorated than the outside of the temple

Explanation:

The cella was the room that housed the statue of the patron deity. It was a place reserved almost exclusively to the priests. Many temples did have an antechamber to the cella where people could leave votive offerings.

Example Question #5 : Analyzing Ancient Greek And Roman Architecture

The relative width to length of the standard Greek temple ____________________.

Possible Answers:

was determined by the formula (front columns: side columns = n:n + 1)

was determined by which deity it was dedicated to

was roughly twice as long as it was wide

was determined by this formula (front columns : side columns = n : n2 - 3)

was determined by the formula (front columns : side columns = n:n + 5)

Correct answer:

was roughly twice as long as it was wide

Explanation:

The formula used to determine the relative length and width of most temples was front columns: side columns = n:n2+1. This meant that the temple would be roughly twice as long as it was wide. The Greeks used mathematical equations as the basis for many of the proportions of their buildings, feeling that this added to their beauty.

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