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Originality in Byzantine Architecture: The Case of Nea Moni

Robert Ousterhout
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians
Vol. 51, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 48-60
DOI: 10.2307/990640
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/990640
Page Count: 13
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Originality in Byzantine Architecture: The Case of Nea Moni
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Abstract

The katholikon (main church) of Nea Moni on Chios was constructed and lavishly decorated c. 1042-1055 under the patronage of the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachus. Although the church adheres to a conservative ground plan, the vaulting of the naos is unusual: the large dome is supported by an octaconch superimposed on a square naos. This unique structural and spatial solution may be best viewed as an example of experimentation, and I speculate that it was the result of a change in the design implemented during the process of construction. Whereas sources for the vaulting may be sought in Arab architecture, it would seem that the new forms were employed at Nea Moni specifically for the display of mosaic decoration.

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