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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Building Technology in the Ottoman Period

By the term “technology” in the pre-industrial building construction we mean: the means for architectural drawing, the degree of processing raw materials and the tool of equipment. Since architectural drawings from the Greek province have not survived, the model (maquette) of the katholikon of Xeropotamou Monastery on Mount Aths represents so far a unicum of its kind. However, drawings of impressive konak (Ottoman mansions), distinct in expression and structure, have been preserved in Constaninople. In the province the use of a wooden module for laying down the plan of a building, directly on the ground, is an evidenced practice. Thus, the vast technological divergence between center and periphery is more than obvious. Until the middle of the nineteenth century the building materials are limited to those available in the construction environment and are closely connected with the local architectural idiom. Due to favorable trade conditions, the local differences in building technology start decreasing with the Athonite monasteries and the merchants of the Greek Diaspora being the vanguards of every innovation. The new demands, however, did not lead to the technological development of the domestic sources of building materials, but to extensive imports exclusively from European industries. The sole use of hand tools and the general acceptance of naïve building practices lends to the works a picturesque character that fades away as nearing the centers, that is Mount Athos, the cities and the capital. Nevertheless, the craftsmen in later years start taking licenses and deviating from tradition even in the province: the development of technology since the mid-nineteenth century has not always contributed, as one would expect, to the quality and durability of buildings.