Although it has long been known that most of these shrines face east, some academics have questioned whether this alignment reflected a deliberate plan. Critics of astronomical theories have pointed out that some temples face north, south or west, and argue that their orientation was not important to the Greeks.
Dr Salt’s research, however, indicates that the predominant east-west alignment is almost impossible to explain by chance, and probably followed a religious convention founded on astronomy. Temples laid out in accordance with astronomical phenomena could have highlighted the role of gods and goddesses as arbiters of nature, or helped priests to interpret celestial omens. They could also have helped in observations needed to calibrate the religious calendar.