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Architecture - first of the arts


Some types are found in adjoining Christian areas, but in Armenia their plans were usually modified to conform to local conditions. A number of unique church forms were invented by Armenian architects in their pursuit of ever more efficiently built and aesthetically conceived houses of worship.

1. CLASSIFICATION OF MONUMENTS
The data of architecture, as in any scientific discipline, are studied by arranging what is diverse and heterogeneous into categories based on similarities of features and according to periods.

The convenience of this methodology for a coherent discussion of architectural features should never obscure the reality that such labels as medieval, renaissance, modern are made up by scholars, whereas the architects and builders were totally oblivious to such considerations.

They erected buildings as they were needed with the material available and in a style either asked for by a patron or within own their competence and preference.

2. FORMATION OF A NATIONAL STYLE
Despite the large diversity in the types of early churches, Armenian architecture achieved a distinctive style through the combination of a number of common characteristics and materials.

The compositional employment of these traits was unique to Armenia, though its northern neighboring Georgia was also to benefit by a flourishing of building activity.

By the late sixth or early seventh century a unique national style of church architecture came into being. Some scholars have called this phenomenon the first national style in Christian architecture.

It had been achieved long before the Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic or the less known Ethiopian, Scandinavian, and Slavic styles were concretely formed.

What are the features that make an Armenian church instantly recognizable? First, all churches are built entirely in stone. The scarcity of wood prevented its architectural use in medieval Armenia.

With rare exceptions, the stone used is a volcanic tufa abundant in Armenia in many colors and shades: pink, red, orange, black. Dark basalt was also used for more sturdy foundation work.

Only in outlying regions of Armenia, where tufa is not readily available, was another stone substituted. In many respects tufa is an ideal material for construction because it is light of weight, easy to sculpt, and has the property of becoming harder and more durable with exposure to air and the passage of time.

 
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Writer: Dickran Kouymjian
Editor: Eugenia Melkonyan
 
 
 Date Added: Tuesday September 05, 2006 10:46:23 
 




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