Historical region of Country
Ecclesiastical architecture. While the structure of houses, tombs, baths, military installations and other public buildings was not significantly modified by the advance of Christianity, two new types of building with particular characteristics appeared: churches and convents, whereas the building of pagan sanctuaries seems to have stopped. a. General characteristics. Egyptian church architecture, from the time of its oldest known expressions, exists in the context of the Mediterranean architectural tradition. The structure of buildings in the countries of N Africa and the Near East, with the expected canonical partitions, esp. for the basilica, was also obligatory, with the same connotations, in Egypt. There too the most common structure was the three-aisled basilica. The sanctuary was to the E and consisted, as in Syria, of a central apse with, at the sides, two more rooms assigned to collateral liturgical functions. The naos, the area reserved for the laity, usually had three aisles, rarely five. The side aisles, esp. in Upper Egypt, were often connected by two other small aisles on the W and E sides, thus forming a quadripartite ambulatory. This typically Egyptian peculiarity occurs in basilicas nowhere else. Otherwise, the only typically Egyptian feature is the general scheme of the architectural layout, which is given a cubic, compact form resembling those of the old Pharaonic temples. A narthex was added to this compact structure, usually on the W side. An atrium of the type generally found in European churches was unknown here.