The origins of European architecture lie in Greece and Asia Minor, where architecture achieved a remarkable level of sophistication by the sixth century BC. It blossomed and developed for over 500 years, spreading Greek influence to many parts of the Mediterranean world, especially Rome. This illustrated study begins with Mycenean architecture (c 1500-1100 BC), the earliest known Greek style. The author describes the Cretan palaces and those of Mycenae, Tiryns and Pylos on the mainland and also examines the links with Minoan Crete in the latter half of the 2nd millenium BC. The author then considers the main period of design in two separate sections devoted to classical and Hellenistic architecture, considering buildings in their political, social and religious context. Secular buildings such as theatres, stadia, forts and bouleuteria are given close attention in the way they helped the Greek city emerge as the dominant political entity. Martin also discusses religious buildings ranging the archaic temples at Corinth to the fifth century buildings on the Acropolis at Athens and the Hellenistic temples at Segesta and Didyma.
The text is complemented with a number of plans, elevations, reconstructions and photographs. Roland Martyn has taken part in excavations on Thasos and Delos and was head of the Faculty of Archaeology at Dijon and later Director at the Ecole Practique des Hautes-Etudes at the Sorbonne in Paris.