With apologies to Beyoncé, this is something that has been bothering me for the past few weeks.
This is the Temple of Concordia (not actually dedicated to Concordia, but that’s what they call it).
This is also the best-preserved Doric temple in the world.
How is it in such great shape?
Well, like many Greek and Roman temples, this one was converted to a Church. As part of the conversion, the pillars were bricked in, doors were mounted to the front pillars, and arches were carved into the interior walls.
Obviously, this doesn’t really sound like a conservation project, but the most important benefit of the temple being utilized as a church was that the roof was maintained.
All Greek temples had roofs – early designs used wooden beams and planks, while later (and more wealthy) societies used ceramic or marble tiles. The Temple of Concordia had a wooden roof, that would have been repaired and maintained by the Greeks (and later by the Christians).
Look, for comparison, at the neighboring Temple of Hera, which was not blessed with caretakers to preserve its roof.
It’s still beautiful, of course, but the soft, unprotected, limestone has long-since succumbed to time.
In 1788 the Bourbon rulers of Sicily decided that many of the converted temples should be restored, including the Temple of Concordia. So the brickwork and doors were removed, along with pews and Christian iconography. Unfortunately, the roof (a version of which had covered the building for 2400 years) was also removed.
As a result, the wind and rain have been slowly attacking the structure. The entire edifice is now less stable and more susceptible to Sicily’s frequent earthquakes. Archaeologists sadly note that in comparison to etchings from the 1800’s, the building is rapidly deteriorating.
So why not put a roof on it?
We know what the roof looked like, how it was built, and the materials that were used. Even a temporary structure, like the Maltese are using at Hagar-Qim, would help to preserve this classic treasure. It boggles the mind.