Over the centuries, Sicily has known an unequalled variety of building experiences. Strategically located, the largest Mediterranean island has served as a centre for the dissemination of innovative solutions, as well as a collector of ideas from multiple sources. This intellectual interchange is clearly evident in the long history of stereotomy or stone construction. A rich tradition of advanced stone cutting (domes, cross vaults and complex stair solutions), evolved through experimentation and importation. Initially solutions from the Byzantine world and North Africa were influential. A wider experimentation occurred during the Renaissance. In this era new technologies often related to seismic concerns and involving the use of lighter structures stimulated innovation. The multiple earthquakes that struck the island initiated a fascinating and, in some ways, effective series of experiments in the field of anti-seismic construction technology.
This project aims to investigate building criteria applied between the Middle Ages and the Modern era in the Mediterranean basin, with a particular attention to Sicily and other big islands, southern Italy, eastern Spain, North Africa and near East. Measurements, surveys, and the material knowledge of the building techniques will be intertwined with the tools of the historical investigation. Research will study geometric, constructive and formal models and chart their origins and routes of development. A most challenging aspect of the project is the verification of the flow of ideas in the Mediterranean, in order to show a less simplistic image of the history and of the civilizations that here faced. It is expected to have a relevant scientific and social impact, modifying scholars' attitude on the investigated topics and laying the foundations for a new strategy of conservation and management of the Mediterranean cultural heritage, thought as a whole, stimulating the rising of new study interests and fruition circuits.
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