Greek & Etruscan Architecture Greek and Etruscan architecture began to take shape during the Archaic and Early Classical periods. There were similarities between the early Greek and Etruscan architectural styles, but there were far more differences. One of the most obvious similarities between the Greek and Etruscan styles was the use of a gabled roof. A gabled roof resembles a triangle in that it has a peak in the middle, and then has two straight slopes from the peak to each side wall.
These roofs were often supported by the use of pillars or columns and is evident in both Greek and Etruscan architecture. Like Greek temples, Etruscan temples also featured an “inner chamber” known as a cella. A cella is typically an enclosed prayer room located in the center of a temple. Many of the structures made during this time period were comprised of wood or a mud-brick mixture, which is why there are few structures that remain today.
Beginning with the Classical period, Greek architects began to set themselves apart from Etruscan builders by using more durable materials like limestone and marble to construct their temples and buildings. Greek temples were mostly built in the Doric or Ionic orders, while the Etruscans used the more primitive Tuscan order. The Doric and Ionic orders are very ornate, detailed, and aesthetically pleasing. They feature a column with a fluted design, which gives the pillar a thinner, taller, more elegant look.
The Tuscan order on the other hand, is a very plain design and features columns with a simple base (foundation), capital (crown of the column) and frieze (horizontal section resting on top of the capital, but below the entablature). Etruscan pillars of the Tuscan order were often made of wood and did not have flutes. Some of the other major differences between Etruscan and Greek architecture can easily be seen when comparing the Greek Parthenon to an Etruscan temple.
The Parthenon features a colonnade (row of columns) and steps around the entire perimeter of the complex, while the typical Etruscan temple would have a colonnade and steps in the front of the building only. The Parthenon also featured a one-room cella with two porches. One porch would lead into the cella and the other porch would lead out of the cella. Etruscan temples featured a three room cella with only one porch in the front. The final distinction between the Parthenon and a typical Etruscan temple would be in the artistic level of detail each one was designed with.
The Etruscan temple was built in the very plain and basic Tuscan order, with no ornamentation built into the actual structure itself, but multiple statues of gods placed on the roof of the temple. The Greek Parthenon however, was built in both the Doric and Ionic orders, with hundreds of lavishly decorated statues, figurines and figural reliefs built into the pediments (triangular section above the entablature), metopes (a decorative band that fills the space between the frieze and the entablature), and frieze.