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Title: The architecture and liturgy of the bema in fourth- to sixth-century Syrian churches
Author: Loosley, Emma
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis explores the architectural and liturgical implications of the nave-platform known as the bema. Whilst bemata have been discovered in Iraq and the Tur 'Abdin region of Turkey, the largest concentration of these platforms occurs on the limestone massif of north-western Syria. Bemata have been documented in archaeological explorations of the region, notably by Tchalenko when he surveyed the massif in the 1950s, and liturgiologists have also addressed questions arising from the structure but this is the first interdisciplinary study of the bema. The work begins with a discussion of the archaeological and architectural background of the region's churches before concentrating on the churches that possess bemata. The existing literature is considered before the hypothesis is posited that the bemata are located in a distinct cluster pattern. After an exploration of the archaeology, the written sources are considered before the question of the liturgical implications of the bema are discussed. Reference is made both to the surviving early liturgical documents and to the contemporary liturgy of the Syrian Orthodox Church. In conclusion the study ends with a consideration of the issues raised, notably the discovery that there appears to be a pattern to the distribution of bemata, and weighs these against the limitations imposed on this field of research by a dearth of contemporary written sources. Finally after acknowledging that this is an issue that will continue to arouse interest in various academic disciplines there are suggestions of possible avenues for further investigation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral