Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Opus Sectile work in the Holy Land - Does anyone have any information about these patterns?

I was contacted by an archeologist who is on site in Jerusalem, who wondered if I knew anything of the origins of two opus sectile floor patterns that appear in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They were laid down during the 11th/12th century Crusader renovations of the church. The architect, Frankie Snyder, tells me that the first one shown below appears in 4 places:

1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Chapel of the Apparition (just north of the Rotunda) -- late 11th century (with 20th century repairs to the starburst patterns)

2. Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Chapel of the Franks -- 12th century

3. St. John the Baptist Church in Ein Kerem, under central dome -- 12th century

4. St. John the Baptish Church in Ein Kerem, grotto, birthplace of John the Baptist, home of Zachariah -- 12th century

5. Remnants of these tiles have been found on the Temple Mount, so there was evidently another chapel with this same floor built by the Crusaders on the Temple Mount during the 12th century.

Click for larger view
The second appears in 2 places:

1. Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Latin (Franciscan) Chapel of Calvary -- 12th C (20th C replica of original)

2. Inside the Dome of the Rock -- used by Crusaders as a church during the 12th C

Click for larger view
All are made of local black bituminous limestone and hard red limestone, and imported white marble. All tile sizes seem to be based on the inch.

If anyone has any information please let us know. You can email Frankie at: frankie.snyder@gmail.com

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