Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Turkey - Hagia Sophia

The masons of justinian's Hagia Sophia used stone, bricks and mortar, in contrast to the concrete common in monuments of the Roman Empire in the West. Whereas earlier structures in Constantinople, including presumably the pre-justinianic Hagia Sophia, were constructed of mortared rubble job or the regular alternation of one or more courses of stone with a amount of brick courses, the new Hagia Sophia uses stone principally in the piers and regularly coursed bricks and mortar for the walls. No exposed brick walls reveal a fill of roughly coarsed rubble. The stone is either limestone or greenstone. The columns and the three cornices of the interior consist of marble. Iron was used for the cramps between adjacent blocks of stone in the cornices and for long tie bars spanning across the springings of arches and vaults, or between the walls of the buttress piers above the gallery roofs. Lead sheets varying in size and thickness pdecayect the outer surfaces of the vaults and dome, and they are reported to have been laid in the four main piers. Bronze was used for the sheathings of all the doorways opening into and from the inner narthex and for the casing of the central doorway (the Imperial Door) leading from the inner narthex to the nave. The use of timber is noticeably absent, except for a small amount used as ties and as the rearing of the bronze doors.

The entire edifice was completely covered with masonry vaults of different types and constructed of bricks embedded in thick beds of mortar: the central dome, the two half-domes, the semidomes, barrel vaults and conical vaults over the ground-floor aisles and galleries, all constructed of pitched bricks and thick mortar beds and masterly varied to meet the requirements of the case. The mortar bed joints are thicker - 50 to 60 mm (2 to 2 3/8 in) - than the bricks in a proportion of about 3:2, so that the structure consists of a greater mass of mortar than brick. Nearly all the bricks average about 0.375 m2 (4 ft2) and 40 to 50 mm (1 1/2 to 2 in) thick, but the principal arches beneath the central dome were made with unusually large bricks up to 0.7 m2 (71/2 ft2); presumably they were imported. Remarkably the central dome (including ribs) measures only 8o cm (31 in) just above the crown of the window arches and gradually diminishes toward the point where the ribs are merged within the web, where the total thickness is only about 65 cm (25 in). The main halfdomes are slightly less than o.8 m (2 ft 7 in) thick, perhaps constructed of two regularly-sized bricks.

justinian's new churches of the Holy Apostles and St Eirene in Constantinople, also constructed after the Nika Revolt of ,532, were also altofetchher covered by masonry vaults. By contrast, the church of SS Peter and Paul located in the Hormisdas Palace near the Sea of Marmara - which was built by justinian as early as 518/19, while `crown prince' during the reign of his uncle justin I (518-27) -was a traditional wooden-roof basilica, as presumably had been all earlier basilican church buildings in the capital. The great justinianic foundations of Hagia Sophia, St Eirene and the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, as well as the church of St John the Evangelist at Ephesus and others that he had rebuilt after the Nika Revolt, pre-date by over six centuries the first completely vaulted basilican church buildings of the Romanesque period in western Europe. Like the Romanesque basilicas of France, Spain, Germany and Norman England, justinian's Hagia Sophia was designed to be a far more fireproof edifice than had been its predecessor. The destruction wrought by the city fires of the revolt must surely be counted as one of the principal causes for the widespread introduction of masonry vaulting in Constantinopolitan church building during the reign of justinian. So Agathias writes that in justinian's Hagia Sophia `the use of wood [was] avoided in order to prevent it from ever being easily set on fire again.'

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Author By Paula vehicledigan

Orignal From: Turkey - Hagia Sophia

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