Beehive tomb

Tholos ( feminine, masculine in German often wrong, plur. Tholoi, of gr ἡ θόλος, lat Tholus ) referred to in the Greco- Roman antiquity, first a sacred rotunda with and without surrounding pillars position. The term was later extended to every roundabout and especially the round roof. Therefore round secular buildings were also called Tholos. In Roman times, it transferred the notion also to round tombs.

The term first appears in Homer ( Odyssey, 22, 442 ff.) Therefore, the term in research and Bronze Age round houses, especially domed tombs of the Mediterranean and domed par excellence. The term was also applied to circular structures with corbelled.


As the oldest tholoi or tholosartige buildings Cypriot plants of Chirokitia be addressed, but in turn seem to have the Levantine precursor ( Jerf el Ahmar ). There are beehive- like structures (English Beehive huts ), the dome of which consist of Kraggewölben in dry masonry technique.

Tholosartige structures are used in almost all Mediterranean cultures of the metal time ago, from the Levant to the Iberian Peninsula, and atlantiknah north to the British Isles.

Iberian Peninsula

The Copper Age Iberian grave dome is a circular building with more or less long, dromos -called transition. The dome is a false dome. The domes may arise from the ground as in the Tholos do Barro and the dome grave of Monge or they will go out as at Alcalar 3 of a pedestal of stone slabs, which deepened into the rock bottom wall lining.

The dead of the Iberian Copper Age were buried in natural or artificial caves. An artificial cave was mostly worked out in the form of an igloo with a transition from the upcoming limestone cliffs. By Georg and Vera Leisner this form of investment has been referred to as rock domed tombs. The first rock domed tombs were examined 1868-1878 by C. Ribeiro at Palmela ( Quinta do Anjo, Casal do Pardo ).

Minoan culture

In Crete tholos tombs have been found, dating from the early Bronze Age. Most of these are located in the south of the island, great discoveries were particularly in the Messara plain and made ​​their environment. There were 75 ( all over the island there are 94) discovered tholos tombs. 25 of the tholos tombs found in south Crete ( there about 50 datable tholoi were found) were Frühminoisch I dated in the time step. These are relatively small domed tombs, which are about 5.50 meters in diameter.

Mycenaean culture

Because of the use of the term in Homer, he was also used for Mycenaean round buildings. A larger Mycenaean example in advanced stone and vault technology is the Treasury of Atreus. It is the oldest example of a ceiling expansion using only (medium -sized ) stones. Similarly monumental grave - tholoi were discovered, for example, in Orchomenus and in the 1990s at Tzanata on Kefalonia.


The ancient Tholos usually has a circular cella and peristyle concentrically surrounding the cella. One then speaks of peripteraler Tholos. They may comprise a further ring or half-columns column structure of the inner wall in the interior of. But there are simple solutions without peristyle as the Tholos at the Agora of Athens, the ancient Lexigraphen usually served as a reference for their definition of Tholos.

The design of the peripteralen Tholos BC was particularly popular in the 4th century. A particularly fine example of classical Greek tholos of Marmaria applies Athena sanctuary at Delphi. She is also one of the best known. Also famous is the Tholos of Epidaurus, which has a ring columns within the cella. From this inscription thymele mentioned construction of unknown function numerous inscriptions are preserved with Bauabrechungen. Other well-known tholoi were the Arsinoeion in Samothrace and the round temple of Philip II of Macedon and his family, the so-called Philippeion in Olympia.

One of the best preserved examples is the round stamp on the Tiber, called the Temple of Vesta in Rome, which is also to be regarded as peripterale Tholos. The same applies to Temple B (Temple of Fortuna Huiusce Diei ) in the Area Sacra di Largo Argentina in Rome.

One of peripteralen Tholos superficially resembling building is the monopteros, which, however, the decisive round room that lacks Cella. In the ancient literature, the term monopteros could still be tantamount related to Tholos.


Were in the country and are almost identical built with the distribution area of tholoi to the present field stables, huts or shelters with Kraggewölben. An example from the 19th century in Europe, the Jussowtempel (called Temple of Apollo ) in the mountain park William height in Kassel.

More images

Reconstruction work on the Tholos at Epidauros (2002)

Substructures of the Tholos of Epidaurus (1969 )