Critique of an Alleged Cosmic Architecture

  • Dirk L. Couprie
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 374)


According to Anaximander, the earth has the shape of a cylinder and looks like a column drum, the height of which is one third its width. This datum has induced Robert Hahn to outline in several studies what he sees as the importance of the contemporary temple architecture for Anaximander’s cosmology. In the introduction of his Anaximander and the Architects, he writes: “Anaximander’s conception of the shape and size of the earth as a 3 × 1 column-drum is the point of departure in chapter 2” (2001: 5). That chapter is titled The Ionian Philosophers and Architects. And in his latest book, Archeology and the Origins of Philosophy, the starting point of Hahn’s studies is again Anaximander’s identification of the earth with a column drum, which “was no throwaway at all, as scholars must have assumed by their silence, but rather the so-called tip of the iceberg” (2010: 15). Hahn argues that Anaximander, just like his contemporaries, must have been impressed by the first big temples with stone columns that were built, as he expresses it, “in his backyard.” The architects, such as Theodorus, Rhoikos, Chersiphron, and Metagenes, and the early philosophers, such as Thales and Anaximander, were part of the intellectual elite of their time, and they certainly will have taken cognizance of their mutual works. Moreover, they were all occupied with what Hahn calls “applied geometry”: the architects in designing their temples based on certain measuring units or modules, Thales in measuring the height of a pyramid or the distance of a ship at sea, and Anaximander in sketching a συγγϱαϕή (a description in words and numbers) of the universe.


Celestial Body Stone Column Late Book Architectural Technique Earth Diameter 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk L. Couprie
    • 1
  1. 1.MaastrichtNetherlands

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