Lecture 2. The Introduction of Byzantine Christian Architecture to Rus’(10th–12th centuries CE)

This lecture explores the early phase of assimilation of the Middle Byzantine tradition of masonry church architecture in medieval Rus’ after its Christianization by Prince Vladimir at the end of the 10th cent. CE. It focuses on the introduction of the cross-in-square churches from Constantinople and possibly northern Anatolia and Bulgaria first in Kiev and Chernigov--the southern urban centers of Rus’ in modern Ukraine--and subsequently in Novgorod and Polotsk in Russia and Belarus respectively. It covers the theological and cultural premises of the canonization of the cross-in-square plan as the dominant type of church arrangement in medieval Russian architecture. The lecture explores the notion of holy objects as developed during the Middle Byzantine period and transferred to Rus’. It discusses the challenges encountered in the process of transferring the Middle Byzantine masonry techniques to the East European Plain, which lacked its own tradition of stone and brick construction, as well as with the maintenance of vaults and domes originated in the Mediterranean within the cold and humid climate of Rus’.

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