HomeAncient and Early Medieval building techniques in the mediterranean area: from East to West

HomeAncient and Early Medieval building techniques in the mediterranean area: from East to West

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Published on Monday, December 10, 2018


This workshop is devoted to the study of the ancient construction techniques in the Near East from the Roman period to the Early Islamic era and on the transmission and diffusion of these techniques in the Mediterranean basin.


The workshop Ancient and Early Medieval building techniques in the mediterranean area: from East to West that will be held at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the Maison de l'Archéologie & Ethnologie-René-Ginouvès on the 12th, 13th and 14th of December 2018 is part of the Marie Skłodowska Curie European ACTECH project (G.A.703829).


The study of building techniques leads to a complex analysis of historical buildings from different points of view. Characterizing a wall structure and defining different building techniques in order to determine the construction history of buildings means overturning the accepted “style-analytical” approach in order to understand the architecture. This workshop aims to address the theme of building techniques and technologies in the ancient Mediterranean basin, starting in the Hawrān region where Roman-Byzantine construction know-how came into contact with much older building technologies, and here the first examples of Islamic architecture were developed—a sort of “natural bridge” between East and West. In this fertile basin of local experiences new building techniques and architectural typologies developed and from there spread throughout the Mediterranean basin. The interlinking between different regions and cultures in the ancient world, and the creation of networks and relationships between men, objects and ideas, is not a new theme, but the phenomenon needs to be studied more in depth, and it is possible only if we consider ancient societies on the basis of innovative approaches. For this reason, the workshop will bring together scholars working from different disciplines, periods and geographical areas to explore this complex theme and to encourage future interdisciplinary collaborations.

The topic will cover more than nine centuries (2nd-11th), a period of fundamental importance in the history of the Near East and the entire Mediterranean basin, which went on to influence the destiny of a large part of Europe. Thus, a greater understanding of Near Eastern buildings would surely contribute to the European debate and may also improve our knowledge of the development of ancient architecture in the Mediterranean, thus offering a new and updated contribution to current historiographic research regarding the transitional phase from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

The construction techniques are part of material (the buildings) and immaterial heritage (ideas and knowledge at the basis of their execution). A key role for the development of a building technique is the environment and its resources. The functions, durability and aesthetics of a structure are strictly linked to the environment. These features, however, depend on human know-how: a corpus of knowledge developed through the transmission of techniques and rules, elaborated and codified only after long periods of testing (empirical knowledge) and influenced by tastes and skills dictated by the times (trends) as well as by specific demands of patrons and the ability of the artisans. A better understanding of the traditional building methods in a territory means entering into a background that is as historical-anthropological as it is technical-structural, which may open up points of view for the analysis of social and cultural processes, which are otherwise difficult to analyse.

In order to try to reflect in more detail these issues, the workshop will provide a fresh and innovative exploration of the Near East built heritage from Roman period to the Islamic Era and analyse the diffusion of different building traditions, open horizons to broader-based reflections on construction know-how and its circulation in the Mediterranean basin and reflect on the future implications in the European medieval architecture.



Salle Doucet - 3, rue Michelet, Paris


  • François Villeneuve – Paris 1 / UMR 7041 _ France
  • Welcome by the Director of ARSCAN and supervisor of the ACTECH project

Part one – The ACTECH Project : Buildings Archaeology, Archives and IT applied to Cultural Heritage

Chairperson: François Villeneuve

  • 15.50 Piero Gilento - Paris 1 / UMR 7041 / ACTECH Project_France, The Study of the Near Eastern Building techniques and the Legacy of Howard Crosby Butler
  • 16.30 Stefano Anastasio – MiBACT_Italy, The contribution of historical archives to Jordan archaeology: some case studies
  • 17.10, Livio De Luca – MAP / CNRS_France, Reality-based 3D annotation for the collaborative study of heritage artefacts

17.50 - 18.10 Coffee Break

Part two – Building in the "Geat Syria" (I) : Material Culture in the Near East: building processes and pottery productions

  • 18.10 Jean-Claude Bessac CNRS (Hemeritus)_France, An overview of stone building processes in the Near East between Late Antiquity and the early Middle-Ages
  • 18:50 Pierre-Marie Blanc CNRS / UMR 7041_Paris_France, Pottery Production in the Hawrān from the Roman time to the Islamic era: Interactions and Exchanges between spaces and times

19.30 – Welcome Aperitif


Centre Max Weber, Nanterre

Part three – Building in the "Great Syria" (II) : Construction Techniques between Syria and Jordan

Chairperson: Laurent Tholbecq - Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

  • 9.30 Pascale Clauss–Balty, Independent scholar_France, Building techniques in Southern Syria: a fully lithic and modular architecture
  • 10.10 Pauline Piraud – Fournet – IFPO Amman Jordan, Bostra, the “Trajan Palace”. Stratigraphy and Constructive Techniques

10.50 – 11.10 Coffee Break

  • 11.10 Shaker al-Shbib – UMR7041, Paris_France, Building techniques of the Byzantine and Early Islamic Times of the fortifications in Northern Syria
  • 11.50 Mattia Guidetti – University of Vienna_Austria, The conversion of landscape in Early Medieval Syria

12.30 – 14.00 Lunch

  • 14.00 Piero Gilento - Paris 1 - UMR 7041 – ACTECH Project_France, Building Techniques in the Jordanian Hawrān: Chrono-typologies for Walls and Arches
  • 14.40 Nayl Mohammad Tuhamer – Department of Antiquities of Jordan_Jordan, Byzantine and Islamic architecture in Northern Jordan

15.20 – 15.40 Coffee Break

  • 15.40 Apolline Vernet – UMR8167_France, Making the newcomers feeling at home: a reappraisal of domestic architecture in Near East after the Islamic Conquest
  • 16.20 Barbara Perlich – Technical University of Berlin_Germany, Building Qasr al-Mushatta

17.00- 17:30 - Discussion animated by François Villeneuve and Roberto Parenti

19:30 Joint Dinner


Centre Max Weber, Nanterre

Part Four – Building between East and West : Influences, Interactions and Transmission (North Africa and Spain)

Chairperson: Roberto Parenti

  • 9.30 Jean-Pierre Van Staëvel – University of Paris 1- Panthèon Sorbonne_France, Echoes of the Empire: Building materials and techniques in Ifrîqiya under the Aghlabid and Fatimid rule 9th-10th centuries)
  • 10.10 María de los Ángeles Utrero Agudo – CSIC - EEA_Spain, Early Medieval Hispanic Churches (8th-10th c.). From stratigraphy to building technology

10.50 – 11.10 Coffee Break

  • 11.10 Pedro Gurriarán Daza – Independent Scholar_Spain, Islamic Building Techniques in al-Andalus from the VIII to the X c.

11:50 - 12.30

  • Round Table animated by François Villeneuve, Roberto Parenti and Antonio Almagro
  • Conclusions by Antonio Almagro – EEA / CSIC_Spain

12:30 Greetings

Organizing committee

  • Piero Gilento, University of Paris 1, Panthéon – Sorbonne, France
  • François Villeneuve, University of Paris 1, Panthéon – Sorbonne, France
  • Pierre-Marie Blanc, CNRS, France
  • Maria de Los Angeles Utrero-Agudo, CSIC, Spain

International scientfic committee

  • Monther Jamhawi, Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Jordan
  • Hélène Dessales, École Normale Supérieur, Paris, France
  • Roberto Parenti, University of Siena, Italy
  • François Villeneuve, University of Paris 1, Panthéon – Sorbonne, France
  • Hani Hayajneh, University of Yarmouk, Jordan
  • Eduardo Manzano Moreno, CSIC, Madrid, Spain


  • Salle Doucet, third floor - 3, rue michelet
    Paris, France (75006)
  • Max Weber Building - 21, allée de l'Université
    Nanterre, France (92)


  • Wednesday, December 12, 2018
  • Thursday, December 13, 2018
  • Friday, December 14, 2018


  • building techniques, technology, transmission, circulation, Mediterranean basin


  • Piero Gilento
    courriel : piero [dot] gilento [at] univ-paris1 [dot] fr

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Piero Gilento
    courriel : piero [dot] gilento [at] univ-paris1 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Ancient and Early Medieval building techniques in the mediterranean area: from East to West », Study days, Calenda, Published on Monday, December 10, 2018, https://calenda.org/522953

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