Saturday, January 24, 2015

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Pointed Arches, Ribbed Vaults, Flying Buttresses and Christian Genius

Where are the equivalents for Moslems and Atheists ?

by Ferdinand III

Christians deployed the pointed arch in both medieval Syria and Europe out of architectural necessity. Rounded arches collapse under beyond a gross weight limit. The pointed arch dates back to Christian communities in Syria and the Levant sometime back to the 7th or 8th century, who used it to build churches and even basements to warehouse goods. Some historians like T.E. Lawrence [of Arabia fame]; through their Phd studies, maintain that the pointed arch appeared in Europe without Syrian influence during the 10th century, the reason being necessity. Heavy loads collapse rounded arches.  

There are indeed some artifacts which hint that the ancient Greeks may have used the pointed arch and that Christians in Alexandria were aware of its design and power. The pointed arch was however, only put to perfection during the Middle Ages or the mythical Dark Ages by Christians. Of this there is no doubt and the proof is in the Gothic stone-scrapers which dominate Europe even today. These ages are declared by some to be 'Dark' because the many tonnes of documents in Latin treasured in vaults across Europe sit undisturbed by lazy moderns and because the same moderns are almost entirely ignorant of their own civilization and its origins. Apparently Moslems created everything in the hand-waving metaphysics of multi-culturalism which is now called 'science', including arch-itecture. Romans, Greeks and Christians do not exist in this meme.

Necessity and engineering creativity, would have made the pointed arch a mandatory architectural implementation during the Middle Ages. To build higher and broader is impossible with the rounded or horseshoe styled arches. They collapse. The pointed arch secured at its sides by a support or buttress is the only way to build a 300 foot high monument to God and reason. With pointed arches working together you can created a ribbed vault which is the interior frame of a massive 100 tonne Gothic Cathedral.

Although the Romanesque architects had solved the greatest problem of the Middle Ages, viz. how to vault throughout with stone aclerestoried church, Basilican in plan, without the aid of the pointed arch, yet the employment of the pointed arch greatly facilitated building construction. Next to the use of diagonal ribs and flying buttresses it was the greatest improvement introduced into medieval architecture (Francis Bond). The pointed arch is stronger than any other kind of arch; it has a more vertical and a less lateral thrust than a semicircular one. It was of the greatest use in vaulting.”

Ribbed vaulting was another European invention as was the flying buttress. Both are found no where else in the world together in such harmony, but only in Europe. It is highly unlikely that these 3 inventions of genius – the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, and the buttress – were 'stolen' by Europeans from 'others', as is so often alleged. This depreciates our civilization and legacy and debases the intelligence of our ancestors. More realistic is the common-sense notion that necessity made these inventions inevitable. Bishop Suger in the 11th century, using his Bible as a template wanted to build a Solomnic temple whose Old Testament measurements of 30 feet for the first floor and 60 feet for the 'upper', for the Cathedral at Saint Denis near Paris. Above these levels Suger built the 144 cubits of Revelation's Temple or about 300 feet of masonry.

It is clear that in trying to build to Biblical standards using stone the options are limited. Many Cathedrals cracked and crashed when they ignored the 3 innovations already mentioned, or implemented them incorrectly. Amiens today, one of the largest Cathedral structures is an example, as is Beauvais the largest, which has collapsed twice in its history. Yet no where else in the world do we see such architecture, nor such a glorious dedicated to God's faith and reason. Only reason could build such temples to faith.

I have yet to see the Atheist or Moslem equivalent.