The Temple of Zeus in the western part of the Temple Terrace is oriented to the east. It had 6 Ionic columns on the front and back, and 8 columns on the flanks and measured 13.87 x 18.71 m between the corners of the stylobate. That there were only 8 columns on the long sides is unusual; a normal temple would have had between 11 and 13 columns on the flanks.


    Due to similarities between the Zeus temple at Labraunda and the Athena temple at Priene it has been suggested that both temples were built by the same architect, the famous Pytheos, who was also the architect of the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The temple at Priene was laid out on a grid plan, which resulted in uniform spacing of all columns; it has a three-stepped platform (krepis) with a slight curvature, it has a shallow enclosed space at the back (a so-called opisthodomos) and it has anta capitals of a type believed to have been invented by Pytheos. Since the same details also occur at the Labraunda Temple of Zeus, and since the Priene temple is slightly later, it seems reasonable to assume that Pytheos built the temple at Labraunda before he started building at Priene.

The reason for this seems to be that the temple had an earlier phase, probably dating to the end of the 6th century BC. At that time it had only two columns at the entrance on the eastern front and a square cella, measuring 6.6 m by 6.6 m on the inside. On the outside, this early temple, which is identical with the cella and pronaos in the later, peripteral temple, measured 8.04 by 11.28 meters. An Ionic capital, large dentils and some ovolo blocks have been identified as probably belonging to the early temple. In the second phase, at the mid-fourth century, when the temple was rebuilt with columns on all sides, the flanks of the temple received only 8 columns.

View of the Temple from the south-west.

A restoration of the facade of the Temple.

(T. Thieme)

   It is possible that the small square structure (H), which is abutting on the eastern front of the temple’s foundation, was an altar dating from the time of the old temple. If so, it may have been regarded as sacred and inviolable, which made it impossible to extend the new temple further east. The height of the columns has been calculated to ca. 6.4 meters, including the capital. An Ionic corner capital is placed at the northwestern corner. At the back of the temple some marble blocks on top of the rear wall of the cella show the arrangement of the superstructure: above an architrave block follow a dentil block and a geison.


Restored plan of the 4th century Temple of Zeus.

(T. Thieme)

    According to Strabo, the statue was a so-called xoanon (a wooden, or primitive-looking statue); on reliefs and coins he is shown with a spear in the left hand and a double axe in the right. According to Plutarch (2nd century AD), this double axe had once been won by Herakles from the Amazon queen and given to the Lydian kings; subsequently, in the mid-seventh century BC king Arselis of Mylasa had given the axe to the statue of Zeus at Labraunda, after having received it as a gift from king Gyges of Sardes as a reward for his help in the fight for power of Lydia.

Entablature of the Temple.

From below: architrave, dentil block (projecting dentils broken) and geison (cornice).