Ruins, reuse and appropriation: rethinking temple-church conversion in the Eastern Mediterranean, A.D. 300-800

McElroy, Ian Elliot (2017) Ruins, reuse and appropriation: rethinking temple-church conversion in the Eastern Mediterranean, A.D. 300-800. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information:


Temple-church conversion was a deeply meaningful process that took many different forms throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. It was not simple triumphalism, nor was it motivated purely by expedience. No such single, overarching explanations are found. Instead, many factors influenced the process, with factors local to specific sites key to understanding why conversion took place and why different forms were taken. This variety led, both intentionally and not, to a vast array of created, appropriated and adapted user experiences. Unlike many previous studies, I believe one can only understand temple-church conversion by considering user experience, not by categorising them by type, e.g. direct, indirect, cella-church, and related types. Indeed, I actively divorce analysis from such types and demonstrate throughout the necessity of doing so.

Rather, I develop a theoretical approach and thematic method in Part One that allows for in-depth analysis of specific sites in terms of user experience. This focusses upon phenomenological analysis, with memory, landscape, materiality and biography important. By placing this theoretical basis at the fore, I repopulate often sterile architecture. In so doing, the terms temple-church and temple-church conversion are reconsidered and new definitions that focus upon user understanding and experience are created that replace those that rely heavily on architectural continuity. I am then able to tackle the three central research questions of this thesis: why conversion took place; why examples took the forms that they did; and what the process actually meant to users.

I focus upon three regions of the Eastern Mediterranean: the Levant; Asia Minor; and Greece, which constitute Parts Two, Three and Four. Within each, analysis is divided into a number of sections that focus upon themes of experience and use, e.g. Temple replacement, Experiences of temple inversion, and Appropriation of associations and spaces, enabling analysis to focus upon user experience and understanding. By examining examples in depth within these thematic sections reinterpretations and new analyses of specific sites are provided and key local factors explored, enabling questions of motivations, forms and user understandings to be considered. Broader Eastern Mediterranean-wide comparisons are discussed in the final part, Part Five. Data is gathered from architectural, archaeological and literary sources. Architectural study is brought together with archaeological context and theory, the two too often kept separate. Similarly, literary evidence, often excluded or marginalised in archaeological studies, is used critically to enable comparisons between literary and archaeological data to be made and to allow for analysis of the often quite different narratives each created. In turn this enables the experiences of readers and listeners to be added to the evolving biographies of sites.

By focussing upon user experience and developing and utilising a new theoretical approach, this thesis demonstrates the inadequacy of any typology of temple-church forms and its use in analysing the phenomenon, while also demonstrating that temple-church conversion did not in many ways constitute a unified phenomenon; a vast array of forms, experiences and interpretations were created and appropriated.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions the full text of this thesis cannot be made available online. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: Asia Minor, Turkey, Greece, Levant, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Late Antiquity, temple-church, temple conversion, classical architecture, pagan architecture, temple architecture, early Christian architecture, ruins, early Christianity, user experience, architectural conversion.
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
Funder's Name: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Given, Dr. Michael and Xenophontos, Dr. Sophia
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Ian Elliot McElroy
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8543
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2017 16:40
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2017 14:38
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