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Department 1



The geographic focus of this discussion of Byzantine domestic architecture, from the late fourth to fifteenth centuries, will be on the Balkans and Asia Minor. Although more dwellings exist than any other type of structure within a settlement or outside it, emphasis has often been on large public buildings or the peristyle house rather than the range of housing units and their multifunctional nature. Those who study domestic architecture tend to look at palaces and other grand and richly decorated structures; only recently has attention been paid to lower-class and rural dwellings.

The chances of excavation often dictate our knowledge of ancient housing, which consists too frequently of isolated mosaic floors and incomplete ground plans. Preservation is usually limited to foundations or socles of walls so that nothing is known about windows, and upper floors are signaled only by surviving stairs. Compartments within houses are identified by shape and decoration, while the information provided by furnishings or artifact assemblages about possible, multiple functions of space is not collected or is ignored. Nevertheless, despite many excavated but unpublished houses, Byzantine dwellings may be described in some detail. [excerpt]




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