Guest Lecture: Philip Sapirstein, University of Toronto

When and Where

Thursday, July 08, 2021 11:00 am to 12:30 pm
Online via Zoom


Philip Sapirstein, University of Toronto


The Department of Art History Guest Lecture Series is pleased to present:

“New Technologies and Architectural Dedication at the First Doric Temple in Sicily”
Prof. Philip Sapirstein, University of Toronto

WHEN: Thursday, July 8, 2021 at 11 am ET

WHERE: Online via Zoom (no registration required)

For meeting link and passcode, please contact the Art History Chair's Office via email.

Abstract: In this talk, Professor Sapirstein presents his findings from a digital and architectural restudy of the temple of Apollo at Syracuse. Built in ca. 590 BCE, it was the first major temple in the Greek world to be built entirely from stone, and thus its contextualization is fundamental to our understanding of sacred architecture in the ancient Mediterranean world. In addition to its architectural significance, the building has one of the earliest monumental Greek inscriptions, IG XIV 1, carved into its eastern steps, which is intimately connected to the creation of the temple and the origins of Doric architecture. Still, its transcription and interpretation remain contested since its discovery in 1864. During fieldwork at the site in 2018, Professor Sapirstein created a 3D model enhanced by means of newly invented computational methods which makes clear that the accepted readings of the inscription are inaccurate in several key areas. Rather than being a dedication by an aristocratic patron of the temple, IG XIV 1 instead names an individual named Kleosimenes (or Kleosthenes) who created special equipment used for the installation of the gigantic columns which rose immediately above the text. His new reading of this enigmatic inscription as a celebration of a technological breakthrough invites a rethinking of the interrelationships between early Greek architecture and sculpture, both of which were developing in tandem during the middle Archaic period against the backdrop of expanding contacts between Greece and the eastern Mediterranean.

Philip Sapirstein received his doctorate in Art History and Archaeology from Cornell University (2008), and from 2013–19 he was an Assistant (promoted in 2019 to Associate) Professor in the School of Art, Art History & Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research interests are the history of art and architecture of the Mediterranean, in particular that of ancient Greece, Rome, and the Near East. As one of the leading practitioners in Mediterranean archaeology in digital techniques, notably photogrammetry and 3D analysis, the digital humanities are another important aspect of his research. Dr. Sapirstein has held numerous prestigious fellowships (e.g., from the NEH, ACLS, Mellon, Fulbright Foundation, and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens) and has published widely on both the history and technology of Greek architecture and digital methods for their analysis.

Contact Information

Art HIstory Chair's Office


Department of Art History