Sharp, Roger Stephen (2011)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
This study is concerned with the manner in which Byzantium manifested itself through the exterior of its buildings. The focus is the Black Sea from the ninth century to the eleventh.
Three cities are examined. Each had imperial attention: Amastris for imperial defences; Mesembria, a border city and the meeting place for diplomats: Cherson, a strategic outpost and focal point of Byzantine proselytising.
There were two forms of external display; one, surface ornament and surface modelling, the other through the arrangement of masses and forms. A more nuanced division can be discerned linked with issues of purpose and audience.
The impulse to display the exterior can be traced to building practice at imperial level in the capital in the early ninth century. Surface ornament continued to be linked with the display of secular authority.
Display through structure was developed in Cherson and the north Black Sea region to project the presence of Orthodoxy and was closely associated with conversion activity. By the end of the tenth century, through that external presentation, the form of the church building had itself become symbolic.
External display can be seen as a vehicle for the expression of regional forms and evidence for the tenacity of local building “dialects”.
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