Research Programs: Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Period of Performance

1/1/2004 - 12/31/2004

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Transforming Tradition: Hellenistic Monumental Steps in Greece, Asia Minor, and Italy

FAIN: FB-50266-04

Mary B. Hollinshead
University of Rhode Island (Kingston, RI 02881-1967)

I seek two semesters' leave to complete a book on monumental steps in cities and sanctuaries of Greece, Asia Minor and Italy in the 4th through 1st centuries B.C. In complex political circumstances after the death of Alexander the Great and before Roman domination, new patrons and venues adopt Greek architectural conventions such as steps in new ways for new purposes. While breadth defines monumental steps, their proportions and absolute measurements together with contextual information, provide information about their use in antiquity. Using data I have collected at ca. 50 sites, I will combine a formal analysis of steps as elements of design with a socio-cultural exploration of human activities on and around them. Steps give man-made shape to irregular topography and demonstrate a developing awareness of how the built environment can affect, even direct human behavior. Besides particular activities, I will consider social and historical patterns reflected in the use of steps, with special attention to their use in display, as architecture or as a setting for ceremony. I will set this study in a historical context of different groups, some Greek, some non-Greek, appropriating Greek forms to suit their respective purposes. Instead of emphasizing predictability of forms and the authority of Greek architectural tradition, I will explore the adaptability of this form in diverse settings. Ultimately, it is through such processes of reinterpretation and reinvention that traditions survive.