Parthenon Diagram

parthenon dimensions
golden rectangle
stylobate surface area
parthenon volume

In 1888, architect and historian Francis Penrose published exacting measurements of the Parthenon with an error margin of 0.03% (roughly 1/3300) that researchers have relied upon ever since.

Penrose found that the stylobate, the platform upon which the temple stands, measured 69.54 x 30.89m. As for height, the temple stands 13.72m from the corner of the stylobate up to the cornice.  This is the primary height because it is the final horizontal of the temple, from which the sloping pediment reaches its way to the peak.

One of the Parthenon's more aesthetic aspects is that its face fits neatly inside a Golden Rectangle. But there are other aesthetic features. Many ancient writers attest that the stylobate measured 225 x 100 Greek feet. But measurements in feet can be restated in cubits: the Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Babylonians all used both forms of measurement.

Generally, one cubit is equal to one-and-a-half feet. While the exact length of the foot and cubit may differ from culture to culture, in principle the relationship holds true across cultures. So the stylobate side lengths can be restated as 150 x 66.66 Greek cubits. Interestingly, the surface area of the stylobate is a "clean" figure when calculated as cubits: 150 x 66.66 = 10,000 square Greek cubits, or in other words one hundred Greek cubits square (100 x 100 = 10,000).

But the most elegant equation embodied in the Parthenon is the volume of the temple proper, i.e. excluding the steps and the pediment. If we solve for the volume of this parallelipid (L x W x H) then 225 x 100 x 44.44 = 100,000 Greek feet, or in other words, 100 cubic Greek feet (the .44 decimal just keeps repeating because we are converting the "Parthenon foot" into regular Greek feet.)

This means that just as the foundation of Zoser's step-pyramid was a conceptual cube of 60 x 60 x 60 Egyptian Royal Cubits, here the Parthenon embodies a conceptual cube of 100 x 100 x 100 Greek feet.

This is a Greek instance of a "divine plan" or "celestial blueprint". While there was no mythological story stating that its plans originated with the Greek deities, still its temple measurements can be represented by a repeating mathematical equation that symbolizes unity (drop the zeroes: 1 x 1 x 1). This alone is proof that its design has a "celestial" counterpart, or in other words that the symbolic cube is the heavenly and idealized form of the Parthenon.

 

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© 2005-2010 Chris Graves

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