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Middle and Late Byzantine Monastic Architecture

Stavros Mamaloukos, University of Patras, Summer Fellow 2014

In comparsion to other Byzantine monuments that were not purely ecclesiastical, monastic buildings survive in greater numbers and in better states of preservation. Nonetheless, any attempt to study monastic architecture before the key date of 1453 runs up against considerable difficulties, on the one hand due to the fragmentary preservation of the material and on the other because of the inadequate research to date. During my summer fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, I focused on the monastic architecture of the middle and late Byzantine periods in the context of the organization of urban and rural space. More specifically, I studied the historical context of foundation and the function of several types of monasteries, the general architectural arrangement and organization of monastic building complexes, the organization of the territory of production and annexes/dependencies (metochia), and monastic church architecture and the architecture of “secular” monastic buildings, i.e., the buildings of the monastic complexes and their dependencies without purely religious functions. These include fortifications and the different monastic buildings within and around the circuit wall (refectories, cells, storerooms, ancillary buildings, etc.). In doing so, I focused on spatial organization and typology on the one hand, and construction and morphology on the other. This research is part of an ongoing major project of mine on monastic architecture, which started many years ago and has greatly benefited from my work as an architect involved in the restoration projects of some of the most important Byzantine monasteries in Greece.