Islamic Golden Age Was Open Research Paper

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 10
  • Subject: Mythology - Religion
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #75356807

Excerpt from Research Paper :

The display of the various religious artwork effectively served to reinforce the fact that such faith was the governing power in the land, which the church itself reflected merely in its principle usage as a house of worship. The Hagia Sophia served a similar purpose, as it was built during one of the periods of devastation inflicted upon the Hagia Irene and was also viewed as a symbol of not only Christianity's reign, but also that of Emperor Justinian who commissioned the work.

One of the most important professions which could be learned at the trade guilds which was that of master builder, which included several lengthy stages of work which could eventually take youths into the chief senior architects of the day. There is a substantial amount of evidence that can be seen regarding the Byzantine influence in the position of the master builder, who was called a mechanikos. It is assumed that this meant something like architect as distinct from the group of mechanopois who were engineers. This distinction is interesting, since for the first time there is a clear separation between design and engineering. The division should not be overstated, however, since at the Hagia Sophia the mechanikos was present on site and involved with construction management. In fact, for this church there were two master builders, Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus, both "distinguished mathematical physicists" with extensive civil engineering experience (Freely and Cakmak 94). While they had the scientific knowledge to design and direct construction, they were not the overarching managers. The church had control over the building, including its design concept and construction methods. The church appointed a manager in an oversight role according to later Byzantine laws. This was a government official without connections to architecture who had the master builder under his command (Ousterhout 43 -- 8). The manager was a liaison between the workers and the client and vice versa. As a result, the master builders were freed from administrative work as never before, although with the division of power between architect and engineer they also did not wield as much authority.

6. Construction (Please elaborate to 1350 words)

The vast majority of Byzantine buildings, particularly those which served any sort of political and theological purpose, were culturally determined not only by the new religion which dominated this particular region, but were also influenced by numerous Roman and Eastern facets. Following Constantine I's ascension to power and the numerous visions he had regarding symbolism which is today widely accepted as denoting Christianity, the religion of Byzantium officially become Christianity. As a result, most of its greatest projects were churches like the Hagia Sophia (532 -- 537 AD), as well as other widely regarded structures including the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo and the Hagia Irene. Hagia Sophia, however, is perhaps the greatest example of early Christian architecture and set the tone for all later cathedral construction. It includes decorative architectural influences from Persia, although it is firmly based in the tradition of Roman domed temples such as the Pantheon. This Persian influence points towards the cultural fact of skilled Byzantine diplomacy and its economic centrality in the world of trade at the time. In fact, later the wealth of the empire would be used to fund the Crusades, which spawned new types of castles. Thus, culture was influential in multiple ways for architecture, as can be readily evidenced from the future it played in the construction and the maintenance of the Hagia Irene, which was highly influential in the spread of Christianity, particularly since it was one of the first churches built in Constantinople. Built under the auspices of Constantine I himself, this church was the location for numerous religious ceremonies, all of which helped to propagate the fledgling Christian faith. Despite the fact that the Hagia Irene has endured a lengthy history of reconstruction, it should be noted that virtually every attempt to rebuild this edifice (except for towards the mid and end of the second millennia when it was transformed into a museum) included a large degree of Christian culture.

Christian culture also played a large part in the formation of the Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, which has housed a number of different, and at times conflicting, denominations during its particular tenure of existence. These differences, which included eastern and western beliefs, as well as Arian and other varying denominations, are most sufficiently demonstrated in the motifs which have been housed within the domicile over the years. In fact, much of this artwork has been deemed the most valuable contribution of this particular structure to the architectural world. While some of the images which were housed or which are still housed within this edifice depict Christ at various points of his chronicle in the New Testament, including his parables, his Passion as well as his crucifixion and resurrection, they also portray various rulers (of Christian faith, invariably, such as Justinian I) and both personages and symbols of Catholicism.

In Byzantine times there was a return to brick building. The technologies used were the same as the Romans, along with some of the traditional and important architectural forms like the vault and the buttress, which were extensive components of Byzantine building. Specifically, these traits can be seen and identified in constructs such as the Basillica of Sant's Apollinare Nuova, which was primarily built of bricks constructed of a simple format. This trend demonstrates an adherence to previous Greco-Roman traditions, which can be very clearly seen in the work of the Hagia Irene, as a number of its facets, including its galleries, narthex and atrium, its spaces and nave and dual aisles, are directly related to basilicas constructed during Roman times, which is not surprising since Constantine I was Roman Emperor when he commissioned the erection of this edifice. Somewhat similarly, there are features of Greek architecture which highly influenced certain parts of the construction of the Basillica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, and its monograms, in particular, which were noted to be of a Greek design. The architects who conceived of the Hagia Sophia were also Greek, and employed a fair amount of the architectural concepts of their native country in the assembling of this building. This proclivity is perhaps best demonstrated in the particular substances they used to erect the edifice out of, which included brick, stone, and even gold. The bricks were procured from a specific island, and sealed with an unusual mortar which very well may have contributed to parts of the church's collapse not long after it had been erected. Still, such a means of creating mortar were certainly novel for this particular time period, and can be considered another scientific achievement which can be attributed to the Byzantine Empire during this particular epoch, which certainly influential in the architecture (specifically that for religious edifices) for subsequent generations. These Roman and Greek traits apply to both to building and to the mathematics and science that were used to conceive of building design. Had the Byzantines not kept alive the older scientific and intellectual traditions -- such as Aristotle, Galen, and Ptolemy -- they would not have possessed the knowledge to build as they did.

However, the one exception to this reliance on past science was in the creation of a new method for dome construction. The pendentives used to raise a circular dome on a square of arches were made possible by an advance in the mathematics of angles and arches, the latter of which were constructed to subtly transition into the above dome (Ousterhout). The transition between the square and the dome was made by curving triangles buttressed by masonry half-domes. At the time of construction, the master builders were uncertain that this new method would work. Yet it did, and a different way of supporting a dome down into the piers through curving triangles was invented. Out of this revolution came a new fusion of form: the marriage of a congregational basilica to a vaulted double-shell dome (Rodley 71). It is also significant to recognize the innovations which the builders of the Hagia Sophia achieved in the laying the foundation for this fairly magnificent, utilitarian work of art. But it was the positioning of majority of the weight of the building upon the corners which were supported by piers that was another technical triumph, which would play a significant role in attaching the dome to it.

The shortcomings of knowledge were clear at Hagia Sophia. Because this dome was erected under pressure of speed, the mortar did not bind properly. As a result of this structural weakness and an earthquake, the dome partially collapsed in 558 AD. This led to the first major reconstruction of the central dome from AD 558 to 562…

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