Wednesday, October 08, 2008

In ancient Greece, soil was sacred,

says this article from Discovery News.
"Oct. 7, 2008 -- Greek temples honored specific gods and goddesses, and now new research suggests that even the dirt under such buildings held spiritual significance.
The discovery could help explain why writers like Homer and Plato wrote of "divine soil" and soil that can affect a person's soul. It may also explain how the ancients selected locations for their sacred buildings.

"Temple sites were chosen to honor the personality and aspirations of gods and goddesses, which, in turn, were shaped by the economic basis for their cults," author Gregory Retallack told Discovery News."

This analysis is based on extensive sampling of the soil beneath ancient temples, revealing geological links to the myths and attributes of the Gods the particular temples were dedicated to.

This story got me to wondering... I know a good number of UUs in the blogosphere have been involved in the building of new churches; what criteria did you use in site selection? Just whatever you could get cheap, or was it a special place meaningful to the community? How did you decide where on the plot to place the building? Was the building designed for theological symbolism, or aesthetics, or just good acoustics? I have seen so many different designs, and only rarely ever been able to talk to anyone involved in them.

And what about landscaping, memorial gardens and such? I know that traditionally, western graveyards are generally arranged so the graves face the east. Usually, Christians will tell you that's so they will see the rising sun on resurrection day, but I know the tradition is older than that. From "The Answerbag": "There are more graves that "face" East than any other specific direction, possibly more than face other directions combined. The definition of "face" is open to interpretation, as kanjalid mentions it could depend on which end the head is on. But in many 'stone age' and especially Neanderthal graves the body is laid on its left side, sometimes in a near foetal position, with the head to the north so it is facing east. Bodies have been found from later periods laid on the back, head to the north, with the head turned left or east. A very few have been found with the head south and turned right to the east. It is unknown if this reversal of head direction is significant, but there is little doubt that the face was deliberately turned to the east. ( Talk about the way we have always done it, that is a looong always,)" Was this a consideration in your design?

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