‘Archi-texts’ for contemplation in Sixth-Century Byzantium: the case of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople

Gavril, Iuliana-Elena (2012) ‘Archi-texts’ for contemplation in Sixth-Century Byzantium: the case of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis aims to contribute towards a better understanding of what the
Byzantines experienced in church spaces. By thoroughly mapping users’ encounters
with the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in the sixth-century, it examines
whether the experience of the architectural space during the Eucharistic ritual
augmented a religious experience, which in turn, influenced the way the Byzantines
talked about their spiritual experience whilst being in a church, and thought of their
churches as ‘heaven on earth.’ It places textual evidence alongside architectural
evidence. The basic approach of this thesis is rooted in phenomenology and multisensory
perception of space.

In the first chapter, I make a case for the necessity of studying the textual
evidence in light of the spatial experience of the building. I suggest that the concept of
‘archi-text’ is key to answering the question of what was a church in sixth-century
Byzantium. Developed in three chapters, the textual analysis focuses on sixth-century
ekphraseis of Hagia Sophia written by Procopius of Caesarea and Paul the Silentiary, and
the inauguration kontakion composed for the church dedication. In the first two
chapters, I examine how the spatial perception of the church influenced the way Hagia
Sophia was described. In the next chapter, I explore how the Byzantines thought of the
church in symbolic and theological terms. The literary analysis concludes that Hagia
Sophia was perceived as a centralised space and represented as a ‘heaven on earth.’
These two points are further scrutinized all through the spatial analysis of the church.
The final chapter links the Byzantines’ symbolic representation of the church to the
architectural physicality of Hagia Sophia.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Art History
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR > N5300 History > N5940 Medieval art > N6250 Byzantine art
N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts > NK1648 Religious art
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2012 05:54
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015 14:26
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/40497

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