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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2020

5. Fountains and Basins in Greek Sanctuaries

On the Relationship Between Ritual Performance and Architecture

Philipp Kobusch

On the Relationship Between Ritual Performance and Architecture



Ancient written sources emphasise the importance of water sources for Greek sanctuaries. However, this significance is only mirrored in exceptional cases in an elaborate architectural staging of fountains or springs. Despite an often very prominent location within the temenos, they usually do not play any role in the structuring and hierarchisation of spaces. The ritual use of water differs significantly from this. Sacred space was explicitly constituted and structured performatively through various lustral rituals in which water played a dominant role. These ritual acts usually took place in front of or behind the actual architectural entrance, often a monumental propylon, as proved by the corresponding basins and fountains. Ritual and architectural boundaries were therefore not identical. Architecture and ritual, or the experiences of crossing the architecturally marked border and the performative rite de passage, are thus to be regarded as clearly differentiated phenomena despite their spatial proximity.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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