Masons at Work

2012 Center for Ancient Studies Symposium – Third Circular


Architecture and Construction in the Pre-Modern World


at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)

30 March-1 April 2012


The symposium assembles specialists in various fields to examine building practices in the pre-modern world, with an emphasis on aspects of construction and structure in ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, medieval, and early-to-middle period Islamic architecture.


Note: There is no registration fee; however, if you plan to attend, please let us know at  For updates on the symposium, visit our website at


Accommodations: Due to exceptional popularity, rooms at the conference hotel (Club Quarters) are fully booked.  For other hotels in the area, google: “Hotels near University of Pennsylvania.”  The Sheraton and the Inn at Penn are on campus; any hotel near Rittenhouse Square will be easily accessible to campus by public transportation or by foot.



Preliminary Schedule


All sessions will meet in Claudia Cohen Hall


Friday, 30 March


5:00-7:30 pm: Plenary Session I (Chair: Lothar Haselberger)


Organizers’ Introduction

Lynne Lancaster, "Pendentives, Pitched Brick, and Diocletian's Dome in Split"

Ulrike Wulf-Rheidt, "Still higher and more audacious: The brick masonry of the imperial palaces on the Palatine in Rome"

John Ochsendorf, “Engineering Analysis of Historic Masonry: Challenges and Opportunities”


7:30: Reception


Saturday, 31 March


8:30 Coffee


9:00-10:30: Plenary Session II (Chair: Renata Holod)

Katia Cytryn-Silverman, “Pragmatic Building Techniques in the Early Islamic Period as evinced from the Tiberias Excavations”

Lorenz Korn, "The Great Mosque of Golpayegan (Iran). Architectural survey and archaeological soundings"


10:45-12:15: Parallel Sessions


III.  Technology in Context (Chair: Frank Matero)

Katja Schröck, “A Comparative Look at Stone Setting Techniques”

María de los Ángeles Utrero Agudo, “Building Churches in the 8th-10th Centuries in the Iberian Peninsula. Technology and Context”

Pere I. Schneider, “Detecting Ideas of Rationalization in Medieval Islamic Building Design: The Case of the Rizk Camii in Hasankeyf, Turkey”


IV. Workshop Practices (Chair: Michael Davis)

Nikos Tsivikis, “Considerations on Chronological and Geographical Limits of Early Byzantine Architectural Planning: The Case of Some Monuments from Greece”

David Khoshtaria, “Medieval Architectural Design and Building Process According to the Sculptural Images of the Church at Korogo”

Chris Henige, "The Contractors of Chartres Revisited"


12:15-1:30 Lunch


1:30-3:00: Parallel Sessions

V. Large-Scale Experiments (Chair: Brian Rose)

David Wendland, “Analytical and Experimental Studies on Geometric Design and Construction of Late Gothic Vaults”

Marco G. Brambilla, “Large Scale Building Techniques in Ilkhanid Iran”

Attilio Petruccioli, “Fathpur Sikri: Indian Wood Architecture Materialized in Stone”

VI. Urban Buildings (Chair: Robert Maxwell)

Giulia Annalinda Neglia, “Architecture and Construction of the Dead Cities in Northern Syria”

Bernhard Flüge, “Construction and Conception Techniques of Residential Buildings and Urbanism in Medieval Europe around 1100 AD: The Example of Cluny, France”

Judith Ley, “Building Construction at the Turn from Antiquity to the Middle Ages: The Carolingian Palace in Aachen”

3:15- 4:45: Parallel Sessions


VII. Building in Time (Chair: Ann Kuttner)

Allyson McDavid, “Renovation and Redesign in Late Antiquity: the Hadrianic Baths of Aphrodisias”

Robert B. J. Mason,  “Monks and Masons at the Monastery of St. Moses, Syria”

Karin Uetz and Manfred Schuller, “A Close Look at the 11th-Century Cross-Domed Church of St. Mark’s, Venice”


VIII. God is in the Details (Chair: Alessandra Ricci)

Seth Bernard, “The Two-Piece Corinthian Capital and the Strategies of the Roman Builder”

Stavros Mamaloukos, “Observations on the Doorways and Windows in Byzantine Architecture”

Ahmed E. Wahby and Dina Montasser, “The Ornamented Domes of Cairo: The Mamluk Mason’s Challenge”

5:00- 6:30: Parallel Sessions

IX. Logistics and Materials (Chair: C.L. Striker)

Brian Sahotsky, “Masons, Materials, and Machinery: Logistical Challenges in Roman Building”

Jordan Pickett, “The Energetics of Monumental Construction in the 13th Century: Four Cross-Cultural Case Studies”

Philip Brune, “The Re-fabrication and Fracture Testing of a Trajanic Mortar”


X. Arches, Vaults, and Domes (Chair: Michael Meister)

Bernard O’Kane, “The Carved Stone Domes of Cairo”

Stefan Bürger, “Irregularity as a Stimulus for Order or an Impetus toward Chaos: The Virtuoso Art of Stone Masonry in the Marienkirche in Pirna”

Stefania Petralla, “Arches and Ribbed Vaults of the Iranian Tradition”

7:00 pm: Speakers’ Dinner chez Ousterhout


 Sunday, 1 April


8:30 Coffee

9:00-10:30: Plenary Session XI (Chair: Robert Ousterhout)

Dimitrios Athanasoulis, "Masons and Workshops in the Medieval Peloponnese."

Gionata Rizzi, “Masons, Masonry, and the Mysteries of the Façade of Parma Cathedral”

10:45-12:15: Parallel Sessions


XII. Architectural Transmissions (Chair: Campbell Grey)

Oleg Ioannissian and Gleb Ivakin, “Construction Materials and Building Constructions in the Architecture of Medieval Rus’ from the X to the Beginning of the XII Centuries”

Heather Grossman, “On Transmission and the Practice of Building in the Crusader Mediterranean”

Michalis Olympios, “Architectural Legerdemain: Some Remarks on the Design of the West End of the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Nicosia, Cyprus”


XIII. Structure and Construction (Chair: Eric Ivison)

Nikolaos Karydis, “Limiting the Use of Centering in Vault Construction: The Early Byzantine Churches of West Asia Minor”

Matthew Savage, “Observations on a Vault Construction Technique in 9th- and 10th-Century Constantinople”

Charles Anthony Stewart, “Flying Buttresses and Pointed Arches in Byzantine Cyprus”   

12:15- 1:15: Concluding Session XIV

            Respondent: Kostis Kourelis

Closing Remarks: Lothar Haselberger, Renata Holod, Frank Matero, Robert Ousterhout   

1:15     Lunch

Getting There

 Philadelphia is easily accessible with an international airport and good train service.  Taxis are plentiful.  From the airport a taxi to center city will cost around $30; there is also train service from the airport via campus [University City station, just off the southeast corner of the map] to 30th Street Station [at 30th and Market Streets, just off the northeast corner of the map]. 

 If you travel by Amtrak or a regional train, you will arrive at 30th Street Station.  A taxi from there to the Rittenhouse Square area will cost around $10.

 All sessions will take place in Cohen Hall [#1 on plan] on the University of Pennsylvania campus.  From Club Quarters or the Rittenhouse Square area, take the 42 bus on Walnut Street going west; it will cross the river and turn onto 34th Street.  Disembark at 34th and Spruce Streets [*] by the Irvine Auditorium [#3].  City buses cost $2 cash.  Walk past Houston Hall [#2] to Cohen Hall; use terrace entrance. 

 To return, catch the 42 bus at the corner of 33rd and South Streets [*] at the corner of the Penn Museum [#6].  It will go toward city center via Chestnut Street. 

 From the Sheraton [#7] or the Inn at Penn [#8], enter campus via 36th Street.  Parking garages are indicated by P on plan.