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A mixed style ie a style composed of Graeco-Roman and Oriental elements which in earlier centuries cannot be clearly separated The form of the church used most in the west a nave supported on columns and an atrium see BASILICA appears in many examples of the fifth century in Byzantium as well as in Rome the sixth century saw such churches erected in other regions outside Rome at Ravenna in Istria and in Africa In the West this style of building occasionally presents in S Lorenzo and S Agnes at Rome peculiarities which are ascribed by some authorities to Oriental origin -- galleries over the side aisles spirally channelled columns and imposts between capitals and arches Vaulted basilicas are to be found at an early date in Asia Minor Syria Africa and also at Constantinople But the early Etruscans and Romans were skilful in the art of constructing vaults even before that time for instance the basilica of Constantine The domical style with barrel-vaulted side aisles and transepts is a favourite with the Orientals many of the oldest basilicas in Asia Minor as well as the Church of St Irene Constantinople eighth century carried one or more domes This type leads naturally to the structure in a centralized -- circular octagonal cruciform -- plan That the Orient had and still has a peculiar preference for such a type is well known nevertheless Italy also possessed ecclesiastical buildings so planned of which the oldest examples belong to the fourth and fifth centuries Sta Costanza a circular building and the baptistery of the Lateran an octagonal building In ancient Roman times tombs and baths had this sort of plan The essential type of all these buildings cannot therefore be regarded as purely Oriental or even specifically Byzantine There are similar objections in the case of subordinate architectural details Thus the apse sometimes three-sided sometimes polygonal the narthex a narrow antechamber or vestibule instead of the large rectangular
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