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(260 words)

Author(s): Peschlow, Urs
In antiquity the term “basilica” denoted a rectangular hall, usually divided by pillars and used for various purposes. From the fifth century a.d. its main use was for churches. When official permission was given to build churches under Constantine (306–37), this form was commonly chosen, adopted from secular, rather than pagan, sacral architecture. If the details were borrowed from Roman places of assembly, the structure as a whole was something new: a rectangular building, divided by colonnades into a broader and …


(308 words)

Author(s): Peschlow, Urs | Leonard, Bill J.
Originally the term baptisterium denoted the basin in the frigidarium (cold bath) of the Roman baths. From the fourth century it came into use for the piscina (Lat. for “tank, basin”), or baptismal church. Other names were balneus and loutron (bath) and, among Christians, phōtistērion (enlightenment). From the third century certain cultic places were set apart for the purpose of baptism. In keeping with the form and situation of the piscina, these were often round or octagonal with surrounding pillars, upper lighting, and a cupola. Such forms derived from the a…