Stereotomy and the Mediterranean: Notes Toward an Architectural History



Stereotomy, the art of cutting stones into particular shapes for the construction of vaulted structures, is an ancient art that has been practiced over a wide chronological and geographical span, from Hellenistic Greece to contemporary Apulia and across the Mediterranean Basin. Yet the history of ancient and medieval stereotomy is little understood, and nineteenth- century theories about the art’s Syrian origins, its introduction into Europe via France and the crusaders, and the intrinsic Frenchness of medieval stereotomy are still largely accepted. In this essay, I question these theories with the help of a work-in-progress database and database-driven maps that consolidate evidence of stereotomic practice from the third century BCE through the eleventh century CE and across the Mediterranean region. I argue that the history of stereotomy is far more complex than what historians have assumed so far and that, for the most part, it has yet to be written.

Keywords/Palabras clave

Stereotomy, stone vaulting, applied geometry, history of construction techniques.

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UCOPress. Cordoba University Press (UCOPress Editorial Universidad de Córdoba)

ISSN: 2445-2378


Call for Papers, third Issue.

Mediterranea publishes original papers relating to all aspects of the knowledge transfer from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern period. All submissions from Arts and Humanities, Cultural Heritage, Social Sciences and Experimental Sciences are welcome.

Mediterranea is an international journal focusing on various areas of knowledge transfer from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern period, covering the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin, and paying special attention to philological, philosophical, scientific, cultural and religious fields of research.

If there is one thing that characterizes the powerful process of knowledge exchange between the Near East and the Latin West it is the passion for knowledge and the discovery of its secrets that inspired scholars of the period. This led to long journeys and rich encounters, and the mutual exchange between cultures that have repercussions up to the present day.

Mediterranea is a project focused on combining efforts, by linking highly qualified research institutions with expertise in the field of transfer of knowledge within the different areas of study that will be addressed in the journal.


Posted: 2017-04-18