Columns ‘in Antis’ in Ancient Temples and Tombs

In ancient architecture, an anta or antae (antas) is an architectural term that describes the end of the protruding side walls of the naos (the inner chamber or sanctuary of a temple), forming a pronaos (a porch). By these means, the antas, as a part of the front walls, create posts or pillars on either side of an entrance to the naos and are usually shaped as pilasters, usually with more decorative capitals than the front columns. However, the anta differs from the pilaster, where the latter is purely decorative element and does not function as a structural support of the anta. The term in antis, applied to a pronaos or a temple (aedes in antis, templum in antis), meaning a type of structure (a temple, a tomb) with two (or more) columns or caryatids in the pronaos, placed between the antas.

The Athenian Treasury in Delphi with two antae framing a set of two columns. Photo by Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada (2005). CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo and caption source: “Anta (architecture)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

The antas could also appear from the side of the naos‘s rear wall, as a repetition of the arrangement used from the front side of the temple (the so-called temple in double antis). In the layouts of temples with a full colonnade in the facade (such as, for example, prostylos or amphiprostylos), the antas are much shorter.

Templum in antis. Drawing by CLI (2009). Public domain. Photo and caption source: “Anta (architektura)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia.

Featured image: The most impressive of all the tombs of Telmessus (Fethiye). It represents a category of Lycian temple – tombs, usually with two columns in antis. Copyright©Archaeotravel.


“Anta (architecture)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed on 28th April, 2021].

“Anta (architektura)” (2021). In: Wikipedia. Wolna Encyklopedia. Available at <>. [Accessed on 28th April, 2021].

PWN (2007). Słownik terminologiczny sztuk pięknych, p. 14. Kubalska-Sulkiewicz K., Bielska-Łach M., Manteuffel-Szarota A. eds. Wydanie piąte. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN.

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