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Crepidoma

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Crepidoma

Crepidoma of the Philippeion at Olympia; the column rests on the stylobate with two levels of the stereobate below, all in marble resting on the limestone euthynteria.

Crepidoma is an architectural term related to ancient Greek buildings. The crepidoma is the platform on which the superstructure of the building is erected. The crepidoma usually has three levels. The levels typically decrease in size incrementally, forming a series of steps along all or some sides of the building. The crepidoma rests on the euthynteria (foundation), which is normally constructed of locally available stone for the sake of economy.

The topmost level of the crepidoma is termed the stylobate, because it is the platform for the columns (στῦλοι). The lower levels of the crepidoma are termed the “stereobate”. The step-like arrangement of the crepidoma may extend around all four sides of a structure like a temple: e.g. the Parthenon. On some temples, the steps extend only across the front façade, or they may wrap around the sides for a short distance, a detail that is termed a “return”: e.g. the temple of Despoina at Lycosoura.

It is common for the hidden portions of each level of the stereobate to be of a lower grade of material than the exposed elements of the steps and the stylobate; each higher level of the crepidoma typically covers the clamps used to hold the stones of the lower level together. The lower margins of each level of the crepidoma blocks are often cut back in a series of two or three steps to create shadow lines; this decorative technique is termed a “reveal”.

References

  • Robertson, D. S. Handbook of Greek and Roman Architecture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1929.
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