Chersiphron (working early 6th century BC) was an architect of Crete—"of Gnosos" in the corrupt text of Vitruvius that has survived— who was the builder of the original archaic Ionic Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Asia Minor, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in each of its three manifestations. His name is recalled in Vitruvius, and in a passage of Pliny as "Ctesiphon", perhaps in a confusion with the great Parthian city of the name on the Tigris. The temple had been begun about 600 BC; rather than trust to carts to transport the sections of the columns across the site's swampy ground, Chersiphron had them rolled to the site. The temple was completed by other architects, "Demetrius, a priest of Diana, and Pæonius, the Ephesian", according to Vitruvius (De architectura book VII, preface.16), destroyed ca. 550 BC, rebuilt, burned by Herostratus in 356 and rebuilt again.
Chersiphron and his son Metagenes were co-authors of a treatise on the Ionic order that they had used at Ephesus, one of the architectural and engineering treatises that were consulted by Vitruvius (De architectura book VII, preface.12).
For in four places only are the temples embellished with work in marble, and from that circumstance the places are very celebrated, and their excellence and admirable contrivance is pleasing to the gods themselves. The first is the temple of Diana at Ephesus, of the Ionic order, built by Ctesiphon of Gnosus, and his son Metagenes, afterwards completed by Demetrius, a priest of Diana, and Pæonius, the Ephesian. The second is the temple of Apollo, at Miletus, also of the Ionic order, built by the above-named Pæonius, and Daphnis, the Milesian. The third is the Doric temple of Ceres and Proserpine, at Eleusis, the cell of which was built by Ictinus, of extraordinary dimensions, for the greater convenience of the sacrifices, and without an exterior colonnade.
It will be useful to explain the ingenious contrivance of Chersiphron. When he removed from the quarry the shafts of the columns which he had prepared for the temple of Diana at Ephesus, not thinking it prudent to trust them on carriages, lest their weight should sink the wheels in the soft roads over which they would have to pass, he devised the following scheme. He made a frame of four pieces of timber, two of which were equal in length to the shafts of the columns, and were held together by the two transverse pieces. In each end of the shaft he inserted iron pivots, whose ends were dovetailed thereinto, and run with lead. The pivots worked in gudgeons fastened to the timber frame, whereto were attached oaken shafts. The pivots having a free revolution in the gudgeons, when the oxen were attached and drew the frame, the shafts rolled round, and might have been conveyed to any distance.
The shafts having been thus transported, the entablatures were to be removed, when Metagenes the son of Chersiphron, applied the principle upon which the shafts had been conveyed to the removal of those also. He constructed wheels about twelve feet diameter, and fixed the ends of the blocks of stone whereof the entablature was composed into them; pivots and gudgeons were then prepared to receive them in the manner just described, so that when the oxen drew the machine, the pivots turning in the gudgeons, caused the wheels to revolve, and thus the blocks, being enclosed like axles in the wheels, were brought to the work without delay, as were the shafts of the columns. An example of this species of machine may be seen in the rolling stone used for smoothing the walks in palæstræ. But the method would not have been practicable for any considerable distance. From the quarries to the temple is a length of not more than eight thousand feet, and the interval is a plain without any declivity.
I must digress a little, and relate how the quarries of Ephesus were discovered. A shepherd, of the name of Pixodarus, dwelt in these parts at the period in which the Ephesians had decreed a temple to Diana, to be built of marble from Paros, Proconnesus, or Thasos. Pixodarus on a certain occasion tending his flock at this place, saw two rams fighting. In their attacks, missing each other, one fell, and glancing against the rock with his horns, broke off a splinter, which appeared to him so delicately white, that he left his flock and instantly ran with it into Ephesus, where marble was then in much demand. The Ephesians forthwith decreed him honours, and changed his name to Evangelus. Even to this day the chief magistrate of the city proceeds every month to the spot, and sacrifices to him; the omission of which ceremony would, on the magistrate’s part, be attended with penal consequences to him.
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