Walking on Water: Cosmic Floors in Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Fabio Mariano Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


For centuries, observers imagined a "frozen sea" in the book-matcbed marble floor of Hagia Sophia. Enduring perceptions of marble as a liquid substance led to similar descriptions of floors of other medieval churches, east and west, and the concept was consciously revived in late-nine teenth-century London. Such floors could simultaneously evoke primeval chaos and theological images of the sea: devotees who "walked on water" could visualize themselves in a sacred edifice of macrocosmic pretensions in which the Creator too would feel at home.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-656
Number of pages31
JournalThe Art Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


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