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Builders, Patrons, and Identity: The Domed Basilicas of Sicily and Calabria

Charles E. Nicklies
Gesta
Vol. 43, No. 2 (2004), pp. 99-114
DOI: 10.2307/25067098
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25067098
Page Count: 17
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Builders, Patrons, and Identity: The Domed Basilicas of Sicily and Calabria
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Abstract

In an effort to place the architecture of the Norman south more fully within its contextual relationship to the Islamic world, this article analyzes seven domed basilicas located in the Valdemone in eastern Sicily and in Calabria. All these churches, which were constructed between 1091 and 1130, demonstrate a particular debt to the Muslim architecture of North Africa and Egypt in their planning, detailing, and, in certain instances, symbolic content. Although appropriations from Islamic traditions were likely due to the initiative of the builders, the Norman patrons would have approved of-if not openly promoted-the idea of cultural symbiosis conveyed in these churches. Indeed, the buildings may represent an early manifestation of the concept that the de Hauteville rulers had successfully unified the Muslim, Byzantine, and Italian populations living in the Norman territories, an idea that later received more explicit and fuller promotion during the monarchy of Roger II.

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