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EARLY CHRISTIAN]
391
ARCHITECTURE
the whole being enclosed in a square; in the apse at the east end the seats of the tribune are still preserved.
Domestic Work.—The domestic work in central Syria is, in a way, even more remarkable than the ecclesiastical. Broadly speaking, there are two types of plan—those found in the towns and grouped together, and those which, with increased area, constituted a villa. At El Barah the average house occupied a site of about 80 ft. by 60 ft., of which about 30 ft. in width was occupied by an open court; facing this court, which was enclosed with high walls, is an open colonnade on two floors, which always faces south, occupies the whole front (80 ft.) of the house, and is the only means of approach to the rooms in the rear, three on each floor, side by side. In the centre of these rooms, 14 ft. wide each, an arch is thrown across on each floor, which carries slabs of stone covering the first floor and the roof; the upper storey was reached probably by a timber staircase, now gone, but in poorer dwellings an external flight of steps in stone led to an upper floor. All the houses face the same way. The colonnade of the house consisted of about fifteen columns on each storey. Each column, including its capital and base, was cut out of a single stone; on the upper storey, between the columns, are stone vertical slabs forming a balustrade; the houses are all built in fine ashlar masonry with architraves and cornices to doors and windows, a luxury which in England could rarely be indulged in for ordinary houses. At El Barah, in an area of about 250 ft. by 150 ft. as shown by de Vogüé, there are about 100 monolith columns, 12 ft. high, on the ground storey alone. In a villa at El Barah the open court is surrounded on three sides by buildings, those at the east end of considerable extent and in three storeys. A smaller example at Mujeleia has two courts, one of them being for stables and other services; otherwise the residence of the proprietor is similar to the one above described. Here and there the fantasy of the artist has been allowed to revel in the carving of the balustrades, door lintels, &c. The capitals are of endless design, and show interpretations of Ionic and Corinthian capitals, in some cases not dissimilar to the Byzantine versions in St Mark’s at Venice.
Hostelries and public baths are amongst other civil buildings which are recognizable, the hostelries in some cases being attached to the monasteries.
Tombs.—The principal tombs are either excavated in the rock, with an open court in front and an entrance portico, like the tombs of the kings at Jerusalem, and sometimes a superstructure of columns or a podium raised above them; or again they are built in masonry, and take the form of sepulchral chapels; in the latter case, if many sarcophagi have to be deposited, and the chapel is of great length, arches are thrown across, about 6 ft. centre to centre, to support the slabs of stone with which they are covered. This carries on the traditional custom of the Roman temples in Syria, the roofs of which, in stone, were similarly supported. Sometimes there will be two storeys, the upper one covered with a dome. Those which are peculiar to the country are square tombs, with a pyramidal stone roof all built in horizontal courses, and either enclosed with a peristyle all round, on one or two storeys, or having a portico in front with flat stone roof. The cornices, string courses and lintels of the doors of these tombs of the 4th and 5th centuries, are enriched with carving, showing strong Byzantine influence, though probably due to the employment of Greek artists.

 (R. P. S.) 


The Coptic Church in Egypt

The earliest places of Christian worship in Egypt were probably only chapels or oratories of small dimensions attached to the monasteries, which were spread throughout the country; a wholesale destruction of these took place at various times, more especially by the order of Severus, about 200 B.C., so that no remains have come down to us. The most ancient examples known are those which are attributed to the empress Helena, of which there are important portions preserved in the churches of the White and Red monasteries at the foot of the Libyan hills near Suhag.
Although the plan of the Coptic church is generally basilican, i.e. consists of nave and aisles, it is probable that they were not copied from Roman examples, but were based on expansions of the first oratories built, to which aisles had afterwards been added. There are no long transepts, as in the early Christian basilicas of St Peter’s at Rome, and of St Paul outside the walls, and there is only one example of a cruciform church with a dome in the centre following the Byzantine plan. Even at an early period the nave and aisles were covered sometimes with barrel vaults, either semicircular or elliptical. The Coptic church was always orientated with the sanctuaries at the east end. The aisles were returned round the west end and had galleries above for women. Sometimes the western aisle has been walled up to form a narthex; in many cases a narthex was built, but, in consequence of the persecution to which the Copts were subject at the hands of the Moslems, its three doors have been blocked up and a separate small entrance provided. The narthex was the place for penitents, but was sometimes used for baptism by total immersion, there being epiphany tanks sunk in the floor of the churches at Old Cairo, known as Abu Serga, Abu-s-Sifain (Abu Sefen) and El Adra; these are now boarded over, as total immersion is no longer practised.
There are a few exceptions to the basilican plan; and in four examples (two in Cairo and two at Deir-Mar-Antonios in the eastern desert by the Gulf of Suez) there are three aisles of equal widths, divided one from the other by two rows of columns with three in each row, thus dividing the roof into twelve square compartments, each of which is covered with a dome.
The sanctuaries at the east end, as developed in the Coptic church, differ in some particulars from those of any other religious structures. There are always three chapels or sanctuaries, with an altar in each, the central chapel being known as the Haikal. The chapels are more often square than apsidal, and are always surmounted by a complete dome, a peculiarity not found out of Egypt. The seats of the tribune are still preserved in a large number of the sanctuaries, and there are probably more examples in Egypt than in all Europe, if Russia and Mount Athos be excepted. Those of Abu-Serga, El Adra and Abu-s-Sifain, with three concentric rows of seats and a throne in the centre, are the most important; but even in the square sanctuaries the tradition is retained, and seats are ranged against the east wall, and in one case (at Anba-Bishôi) three steps are carried across, and behind them is a segmental tribune of three steps, with throne in the centre.
The most remarkable Coptic churches in Egypt are those of the Deir-el-Abiad (the White monastery) and the Deir-el-Akhmar (the Red monastery) at Suhag. These were of great size, measuring about 240 ft. by 130 ft. with vaulted narthex, nave and aisles separated by two rows of monolith columns taken from ancient buildings, twelve in each row and probably roofed over in timber, and three apses, directed respectively towards the east, north and south. These apses are unusually deep and have five niches in each, in two storeys separated by superimposed columns. In the church of St John at Antinoe there are seven niches. A similar arrangement is found in the three apses, placed side by side, in the more ancient portion of St Mark’s, Venice, built A.D. 820, and said to have been copied from St Mark’s at Alexandria. There is no external architecture in the Coptic churches; they are all masked with immense enclosure walls, so as to escape attention. The walls of the interior still preserve a great portion of the paintings of scriptural subjects; the screens dividing off the Haikal and other chapels from the choir are of great beauty, and evidently formed the models from which the panelled woodwork, doors and pulpits of the Mahommedan mosques have been copied and reproduced by Copts.
Illustrations are given in A. J. Butler’s Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt (1884); Wladimir de Bock’s Matériaux archéologiques de l’Égypte chrétienne (1901); and A. Gayet’s L’art coptique.

 (R. P. S.) 


Romanesque and Gothic Architecture in Italy

“Romanesque” is the broad generic term adopted about the beginning of the 19th century by French archaeologists in order to bring under one head all the various phases of the round-arched Christian style, hitherto known as Lombard and Byzantine Romanesque in Italy, Rhenish in Germany, “Romane” and Norman in France, Saxon and Norman in England, &c. In character, as well as in time, the Romanesque lies between the Roman and the Gothic or Pointed style, but its first manifestation in Italy has already been described in the section on “Early Christian Architecture,” and it only remains to deal with the subsequent development from the age of Charlemagne, which marks an epoch in the history of architecture, and from which period examples are to be found in every country.

In consequence of the lack of homogeneousness in the Romanesque style as developed in Italy, owing to the mixture of styles, and the difficulty of tracing the precise influence of any one race in buildings frequently added to, restored or rebuilt, their description will be more easily followed if a geographical subdivision be made, the simplest being Northern or Lombard Romanesque, Central Romanesque and Southern Romanesque; after the latter would follow the Sicilian Romanesque, which, owing to the Saracenic craftsman, constitutes a type by itself. This leaves still one other phase to be noted, the influence recognized in northern Italy of the architectural style of the Eastern Empire at Byzantium, either direct or through Istria and Dalmatia. In the churches at Ravenna, this influence has already been referred to in the section on “Early Christian Architecture,” but it appears again in the church of St. Mark at Venice, and in much of its domestic architecture, so that it is necessary to recognize another term,, that of “Byzantine Romanesque.”

Northern or Lombard Romanesque.—Although the materials for forming an adequate notion of the earlier work of the Lombards are very scanty, after their conversion to the Catholic faith the Church probably exercised a powerful influence in their architectural work. Under Liutprand, towards the close of the 8th century, an order