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Holy Sites Encircled: The Early Byzantine Concentric Churches of Jerusalem

Holy Sites Encircled: The Early Byzantine Concentric Churches of Jerusalem

by Vered Shalev-Hurvitz


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The round and octagonal churches of Jerusalem were the earliest of their kind. Powerful, monumental structures, recalling imperial mausolea and temples, they enshrined the holiest sites of Christianity. Constantine himself ordered the building of the first ones immediately after the council of Nicaea (325), his main objective being the authentication of Jesus's existence in Jerusalem in accordance with the council's resolutions, but the sites he chose in Palestine also obliterated reminiscences of Jewish or Pagan domination.

Holy Sites Encircled demonstrates that all four concentric churches of Jerusalem encircled new holy sites exclusively relating to the corporeal existence of Jesus or Mary, and that they were self-contained, and apse-less because the liturgy, including the Mass, was performed from the venerated centre. Offering intimate concentric spaces, as well as perpetual processions around these sites, they promoted the development of new feasts, shaping the city's liturgy and that of the whole Christian world. They were found especially suitable to compete with former religious landmarks and therefore many of their descendants outside Jerusalem were cathedrals.

This volume begins with the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which replaced a pagan temple in Jerusalem city centre, and concludes with the Dome of the Rock, a unique Muslim structure, which was built by the Ummayads on the very site of the ruined Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah, using the concentric architecture of Jerusalem to establish their new authority. Illustrating how architectural form links together culture, politics, and society it explores the perceptions and architectural models that shaped these unusual churches and their impact, in both ideas and design, on future architecture.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199653775
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/26/2015
Series: Oxford Studies in Byzantium
Pages: 520
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Vered Shalev-Hurvitz, Researcher, University of Oxford

Vered Shalev-Hurvitz has taught History of Medieval and Byzantine Art and Architecture in Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. Her current research (Wolfson College and Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity) focuses on early Byzantine architecture.

Table of Contents

List of Plates
List of Figures
List of Maps
List of Abbreviations
Part I: The Concentric Churches of Jerusalem
1. The Development of the Ritual in the Churches of Jerusalem
2. The Churches of Jesus: The Fourth Century
3. The Churches of Mary: The Fifth Century
4. Holy Sites Encircled: New Forms of Architecture in Jerusalem Churches
Part II: The Scope of the Concentric Churches of Jerusalem
5. The Primacy of Jerusalem's Concentric Churches
6. The Palestinian Concentric Churches outside Jerusalem
7. The Impact: Palestine and Beyond
8. The Transformation of Function: The Dome of the Rock

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