Crossing the Threshold: Architecture, Iconography and the Sacred Entrance [Hardback]

Madeleine Mumcuoglu(Author); Yosef Garfinkel(Author)

ISBN: 9781789250763 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Year of Publication: 2018 | 1st | Language: English 208p, H280 x W220, b/w
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Crossing the Threshold


Every day millions of people enter public buildings of many forms and functions: Notre-Dame in Paris, Grand Central Station in New York, the British Museum in London, that are decorated with recessed doorways. None of them is likely to be aware that this style of decoration has been continuously employed for 6500 years in temples, royal palaces, tombs, churches, synagogues, and modern public buildings, becoming a symbol of the divine and of a place of worship. During this very long period, from the ancient Near East until today, the world has undergone immense changes, but the concept of the recessed opening was never forgotten or abandoned. What is the secret of its longevity? This unique cultural edifice is not only about architecture, but is a language that defines social order and relations with the ruling power and authorities.

These, sometimes highly decorated and elaborate, sometimes simple and understated, thresholds in fact functioned on two communicative levels: first, as a liminal marker demarcating a sacred area and second, to emphasize the social order, as few were permitted to pass through. In this book the history of this eternal symbol is presented for the first time through text, figures, and photographs. The authors consider historical, anthropological, sociological, religious, and economic factors that reflect the significance of crossing these iconic thresholds according to the concept of the longue durée.

Table of Contents

List of Figures and Tables

Part I. Introduction, Methodology, Summarizing the Data, Discussion

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Methodology

Chapter 3: Summarizing the Data

Chapter 4: Discussion

Part II. The Data: Recessed Openings in Architecture, Iconography and Text

Chapter 5: Recessed Openings from Late Prehistoric Mesopotamia (fifth and fourth millennia BCE)

Chapter 6: Recessed Openings of the World's Earliest Cities (late fourth and third millennia BCE Mesopotamia)

Chapter 7: Recessed Openings in Second Millennium BCE Mesopotamia and Adjacent Regions

Chapter 8: Recessed Openings in First Millennium BCE Mesopotamia

Chapter 9: Recessed Openings in the Iron Age and Persian Period in the Levant, Sardinia and Carthage (10th to 4th centuries BCE)

Chapter 10: Recessed Openings in Late Antiquity Judaism

Chapter 11: Recessed Openings in the Greek, Hellenistic and Roman Worlds (sixth century BCE to third century CE)

Chapter 12: Recessed Openings in Early Christian Architecture: Byzantine, Romanesque and Gothic (fourth century to 13th century CE)

Chapter 13: Recessed Openings in later Periods


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