Historical region of Country
Since such 5th-c. buildings attest for the sanctuary a program of relatively mature and complex spaces, as in all likelihood can be learned from the width of the space in question, there follows for the smaller buildings of the same period a canonical division of the spaces into three categories. As a rule this consists of a semicircular apse and two adjacent rectangular rooms, at least one of which is directly accessible from the nave. Exceptional cases, in which the adjacent rooms are absent, are thus far known only in the Mediterranean coastal zones.
In buildings that possess a presbytery in the form of a triconch, the G-shaped side rooms are attached to the lateral conchs. From the 5th c. on, esp. in the Theban area, the two central columns of the E ambulatory of the naos stood out more prominently and were set farther apart, thus forming a second triumphal arch at the front of the apse. The altar was now, except in the churches of the monastic colony of Kellia, almost always placed in front of the apse and was surrounded, as usual, by cancelli. The walls of these churches, esp. of the sanctuary, but also often of the area reserved for the congregation, are furnished with numerous niches, regularly spaced.
These account for the sometimes enormous thickness of the walls in most Egyptian churches; they also occur in simpler buildings. Only in the churches of the Mediterranean coastal area, more profoundly influenced, as we know, by imperial architecture, are such lateral niches absent. c. Principal buildings of the 6th c. In the 6th c. the structure of the basilica remains more or less unvaried. However, the proportions appear more reduced and the design more uniform. No more great complexes were built. In their place were built esp. in the area around Alexandria some central-plan buildings which can be assigned to the type of fourlobed buildings that originated in Syria and Asia Minor and which were certainly influenced by them see P. Grossmann, Abu Mina IX, 222ff.. So far we know two examples: one from Abu Mina and a perfectly circular church at Pelusium P. Grossmann – M. Fafiz, BSCA 40 2001 109-116. Most have three aisles, i.e., a central space and an ambulatory separated from the central space by columns. These buildings can rightly be numbered among the bestknown examples of Late Antique architecture in Egypt.