Monday, January 24, 2011

A corbeled arch and cyclopian stonework

Off on a little tangent tonight!

Euleutherna bridge, Greece, built about three hundred BC. It is a false, or corbeled arch bridge. Corbeled arches were a forerunner of arched bridges and unlike an true arch distributed only part of the weight through their structure. Rather than being a round arch they are pryamidoidal in shape. Corbeled arches had to be surrounded by heavy masonry in order to stand. Below is an example of a far older bridge built in a style called cyclopian.

Arkadiko bridge built about 1300 BC. is also a corbeled arch bridge. Built as part of a highway for chariots by the Mycenaean culture ( bronze age Greece) near Epidauros, Greece. The enormous stone work is called cyclopian, after the mythological cyclops who had the strength to hurl heavy stones.The later "ancient" Greeks attributed some of this work to the cyclops. Cyclopian stonework is made of huge uncut stones laid without mortar. Often the rough undressed stones are chinked with smaller stones. If the stones have been dressed, or squared it is not cyclopian architecture. This type of massive construction is typical of Mycenaean architecture. This bridge is still in use and is one of four in the area.
Below an example of fortifications from Mycenae featuring cyclopian stonework


Lucy said...

Fascinating! It's great to know about this. I can just see those chariots racing through! I wonder if classical academic painters did research on these kinds of structures to give more veracity to their paintings.

Deborah Paris said...

Only in Stape world would a post on ancient construction methods be deemed a "little tangent". Thanks for the chariot ride through history!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks; I wonder if anybody else gets why this is useful, if it is?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I do post on architecture and art history. This fits, I guess. The bridges ARE cool and wicked old!

Jeremy Elder said...

Very fascinating. Now I must find someone to impress with this new found knowledge.

Ray Hassard said...

When I saw that beautiful bridge, I thought at first it was a Mayan portal. They were really big on corbelled arches--especially in the Yucatan area. Probably the most magnificent one is in the site of Labna. It was a gateway between two courtyards and seens strictly for effect.