In this volume, noted Columbia University Professor of Architecture Cyril M. Harris offers a unique tour through the entire history of architecture: an extraordinary compendium of clear, concise definitions for over 5,000 important terms. This thoroughly accurate and comprehensive gathering of architectural knowledge is complemented by an unprecedented collection of over 2,000 line drawings that richly illustrate significant aspects of architectural styles. Unusual cutaway views, close-ups of intricate details, and precisely rendered plans show many of the greatest architectural achievements of all time.
From ancient ruins to twentieth-century Modernism, the Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture covers the full spectrum of architecture's rise and development. Subject areas include the following periods: Ancient, Islamic, Greek and Hellenistic, Mesoamerican, Roman, Romanesque, Early Christian, Gothic, Renaissance, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Modern. This volume is an important research tool that places particular emphasis on clarity and accuracy. For the architect, artist, historian, student, teacher, or architecture enthusiast, this valuable guide offers indispensable information and lucid illustrations covering the whole of architecture.
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Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture
By Cyril M. Harris
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1977 Cyril M. Harris
All rights reserved.
Aaron's rod An ornament or molding consisting of a straight rod from which pointed leaves or scroll work emerge on each side, at regular intervals.
abaciscus 1. A tessera, as used in mosaic work. Also called abaculus. 2. A small abacus, 1.
abaculus See abaciscus, l.
abacus 1. The uppermost member of the capital of a column; often a plain square slab, but sometimes molded or otherwise enriched. 2. In ancient construction, a square table, placed on the head of wood columns, to provide a broad flat surface for the superincumbent beam which supported the roof. 3. A slab of marble used in finishing the walls of rooms in ancient Roman construction; occasionally the marble was simulated in paint.
abamurus A buttress, or a second wall added to strengthen another.
abated Cut away or beaten down so as to show a pattern or figure in low relief.
abatjour Any beveled aperture, or a skylight, in a wall or in a roof to admit light from above.
abaton A sanctuary not to be entered by the public; a holy of holies.
abat-vent Louvers which are placed in an exterior wall opening to permit light and air to enter but to break the wind.
abat-voix In a church, a sound reflector behind and over a pulpit.
abbey A monastery or convent; particularly the church thereof.
abbreuvoir Same as abreuvoir.
abreuvoir In masonry, a joint or interstice between stones, to be filled with mortar or cement.
absidiole Same as apsidiole.
absis Same as apsis.
abutment A masonry mass (or the like) which receives the thrust of an arch, vault, or strut.
acaina, akaina An ancient Greek measure of length, equal to 1215 in. (3,086 cm).
acanthus A common plant of the Mediterranean, whose leaves, stylized, form the characteristic decoration of capitals of Corinthian and Composite orders. In scroll form it appears on friezes, panels, etc.
accolade An ornamental treatment, used over an arch, a door, or a window, composed of two ogee curves meeting in the middle; often a richly decorated molding.
accouplement The placement of columns or pilasters close together, in pairs.
Achaemenid architecture An architecture developed under the Achaemenid rulers of Persia (6th to 4th cent. B.C.) by a synthesis and eclectic adaptation of architectural elements which included those of surrounding countries. In the hypostyle hall it achieved a highly original new building type.
achchaday In Indian architecture, the outer stone facing of a stupa.
achelor, achiler, achlere Same as ashlar.
acorn A small turned ornament, conical or globular in shape, or in the form of an acorn; used as a finial, knob, or pendant.
acoustic resonators See golosniki.
acroaterion In ancient Greece, a hall or place where lectures were given.
acrobaticon In ancient Greek construction, scaffolding.
acrolith A statue or sculptured figure in which only the head, hands, and feet are of stone, the rest being usually of wood.
acropodium 1. An elevated pedestal bearing a statue, particularly if raised from the substructure on supports. 2. The plinth of a statue if resting on supports.
acropolis 1. The elevated stronghold of a Greek city, usually with the temple of the patron divinity. 2.(cap.) The Acropolis of Athens. 3. Any elevated group of buildings serving as a civic symbol.
acroterion, acroter, acroterium 1. Strictly, a pedestal at the corners or peak of a roof to support an ornament. 2. More usually, the ornament itself.
actus An ancient measure of length equal to 120 pedes (Roman feet); equivalent to 116.4 ft (35.49 m).
acuminated Finished in a point, as a lofty Gothic roof.
acute arch, lancet arch A sharply pointed two-centered arch whose centers of curvature are farther apart than the width of the arch.
Adam style An architectural style based on the work of Robert Adam (1728–1792) and his brothers, predominant in England in the late 18th cent, and strongly influential in the U.S.A., Russia, and elsewhere. It is characterized by clarity of form, use of color, subtle detailing, and unified schemes of interior design. Basically Neoclassical, it also adapted Neo-Gothic, Egyptian, and Etruscan motifs.
additus maximus In an ancient Roman amphitheatre, a main entrance.
addorsed, adorsed Said of animals or figures in decorative sculpture placed back to back.
adit An entrance or passage.
adobe brick Large, roughly molded, sundried clay brick of varying sizes.
adytum, adyton 1. The inner shrine of a temple reserved for the priests. 2. The most sacred part of a place of worship.
aedes 1. In Roman antiquity, any edifice or a minor shrine, not formally consecrated. 2. Now, any chapel or temple.
aedicula 1. A canopied niche flanked by colonnettes intended as a shelter for a statue or as a shrine. 2. A door or window framed by columns or pilasters and crowned with a pediment. 3.Dim. of aedes. 4. A small chapel.
aedis Same as aedes.
aegicranes Sculptured representations of the heads and skulls of goats or of rams, which were used as decorations on altars, friezes, etc.
aenum Same as ahenum.
aerarium In ancient Rome, the public treasury.
aes In ancient Rome or Greece: copper, tin, or any alloy of these metals.
aethousa 1. The portico on the sunny side of the court of a Greek dwelling. 2. The place in an ancient Greek dwelling where strangers slept.
aetoma A pediment, or the tympanum of a pediment.
aetos, aetoma A pediment.
affronted, affronté Said of animals or figures facing each other, as in pediments, overdoors, etc.
agalma In ancient Greece, any work of art dedicated to a god.
agger In ancient Rome, an earthwork; an artificial mound or rampart.
agger murorum An embankment upon which the walls and towers of an ancient fortified Roman city were built, and which served as a rampart upon which the garrison was stationed to defend it.
agger viae The central part of an ancient Roman highway which was paved with stones imbedded in cement laid upon several strata of broken rubble, and slightly raised in the center.
agiasterium In the early church, that part of a basilica in which the altar was set up.
agnus dei Any image or representation of a lamb as emblematic of Christ, esp. such a representation with a halo and supporting the banner of the cross.
agora The chief meeting place or marketplace in an ancient Greek city.
agrafe, agraffe The voussoir or keystone of an arch, esp. when carved as a cartouche.
aguilla An obelisk, or the spire of a church tower.
agyieus An altar or statue of Apollo, as guardian of the streets and public places; generally placed at the street door of Greek houses, and at the center door of the scena of Greek theatres.
ahenum A boiler system for supplying hot water for ancient Roman baths; consisted of three copper vessels placed one above the other over the furnace to conserve fuel. The largest vessel was directly over the furnace; the smallest (coolest), at the top, received cold water directly from the cistern; hot water drawn from the lowest vessel was replaced by water from the middle one, which had already acquired a certain amount of heat.
aileron A half gable, such as that which closes the end of a penthouse roof or of the aisle of a church.
ailure Same as alure.
aisle 1. A longitudinal passage between sections of seats in an auditorium or church. 2. In a church, the space flanking and parallel to the nave; usually separated from it by columns, intended primarily for circulation but sometimes containing seats.
aiwan A reception hall in an ancient Parthian building.
ajaraca In southern Spain, an ornament in brick walls, formed of patterns, a half brick deep, more or less complicated.
ajimez In Islamic architecture, a twin window having arched lights which are separated by a column or mullion; characteristic of Mozarabic architecture and Mudejar style architecture of the Iberian peninsula.
a jour, ajouré Pierced, perforated, or cut out to form a decorative opening in wood, stone, metal, or other material.
akaina See acaina.
ala An alcove or small room opening off the atrium of an ancient Roman house.
alabaster Fine-grained, translucent variety of very pure gypsum, generally white or delicately shaded.
alameda A shaded public walk or promenade.
alatoria, alatorium 1. A piazza, corridor, or covered walk. 2. The flank of a building.
albanega In Islamic architecture, a spandrel formed between a horseshoe arch and the rectangular frame around the arch.
albani stone A pepper-colored stone used in buildings in ancient Rome before the introduction of marble.
albarium A white lime used for stucco; made by burning marble.
albarium opus A setting coat of pure lime, finished as white as possible, and not intended to receive color.
albarius Same as albarium opus. album In ancient Roman architecture, a space on the surface of a wall covered with white plaster, located in a public place, on which public announcements and records, etc., were written.
alcala A Moorish citadel.
alcazaba A Moorish fortress.
alcazar A Moorish or Spanish fortress or castle.
alcoran Same as minaret.
alcove A small recessed space, opening directly into a larger room.
aleaceria A castle, palace, or other large edifice.
aleatorium In ancient Roman architecture, a room in which dice games were played.
aleipterion Same as alipterium.
aleois The loopholes in castle walls through which arrows could be discharged.
alette 1. A minor wing of a building. 2. A door jamb. 3. A rear pilaster, partially visible within a cluster of columnar elements. 4. The wing of the pier on both sides of an engaged column.
Alexandrian work Same as opus Alexandrinum.
Alexandrinum opus Same as opus Alexandrinum.
alfarje In Islamic architecture, the timber framework which supports the roof; often decorated with moldings carved in geometrical patterns. Also see laceria.
alfiz A rectangular molding which frames a horseshoe arch; typical in Moorish architecture.
Alhambra A fortress and palace built by the Moorish kings of Granada in southern Spain from the 11th to the 15th cent. The name Alhambra probably is derived from the Arabic word for "red" because of the color of the brick used in its construction. The Citadel, with its massive walls, protected by strong towers and fortified gates, is today mostly in ruins. The Moorish Palace contains many patios, the most famous of which are the Lion Court and the Myrtle Court, around which are chambers of the officials; the courts are lavishly decorated with tiles of many shapes and colors and with polychrome stuccos carved in rich patterns; the vaults and domes are decorated with muqarnas; the wooden ceilings are carved and inlaid. Around the courts are arcades with unusually slender columns which support multicolored filagree stucco arches.
alicatado Tile work which is executed with azulejos; used to decorate pavements and walls, esp. in patios.
aliform Having a wing-like shape or extensions.
alignment The theoretical, definitive lines that establish the position of construction (such as a building) or the shape of an individual element (such as a curved or straight beam).
alinda In the architecture of India, a verandah.
alipterium, alipterion, aleipterion In ancient Roman architecture, a room used by bathers for anointing themselves.
alkoran Same as minaret.
allée A broad walk, planted with trees on each side, usually at least twice as high as the width of the walk.
allege A part of a wall which is thinner than the rest, esp. the spandrel under a window.
allegory A figurative representation in which the meaning is conveyed symbolically.
alley A garden walk between rows of trees; an allée.
allieny Same as alure.
allover A pattern covering an entire surface; usually one which is repeated.
allure See alure.
almariol A storage place for ecclesiastical vestments; an ambry.
almary See ambry.
almehrabh In Arabian architecture, a niche in a mosque which marks the direction of Mecca.
almemar, almemor 1. A bema, 2. 2. In a synagogue, a desk on which the Torah is placed while being read to the congregation.
almena An indented trapezium serving as an embattled parapet.
almery See ambry.
almimbar Same as minbar.
almocarabe Same as ajaraca.
almonry A building or part thereof where alms are distributed.
almorie Same as almariol.
almorrefa In southern Spain, brickwork intermixed with azulejos, used as flooring.
almshouse 1. A building where the indigent are cared for, usually privately supported in England. 2. An almonry.
alorium Same as alatoria.
aloryng Same as alure.
alourde Same as alure.
altar 1. An elevated table, slab, or structure, often of stone, rectangular or round, for religious rites, sacrifices, or offerings. 2. The Communion table in certain churches.
altar frontal An ornamental hanging or panel for the front of an altar.
altar of repose In a Roman Catholic church, a side altar, repository, or storage niche where the Host is kept from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday.
altarpiece A decorative screen, painting, or sculpture above the back of an altar.
altar rail A low rail or barrier in front of the altar, running transversely to the main axis of the church and separating the officiating clergy from the other worshipers.
altar screen A richly decorated partition of stone, wood, or metal, separating the altar from the space behind it.
altar slab, altar stone A flat stone or slab forming the top of an altar.
altar tomb A raised tomb, or monument covering a tomb, whose shape resembles an altar.
alto-rilievo, alto-relievo See high relief.
alure, allure, alur, alura, alourde, alury A gallery or passage, as along the parapets of a castle, around the roof of a church, or along a cloister.
alveus In ancient Rome, a bath constructed in the floor of a room, the upper part of it projecting above the floor, the lower part being sunk into the floor itself.
alvus In the caldarium of Roman baths, a space left vacant for a walk between the schola and each alveus.
amado In traditional Japanese architecture, a type of storm shutter made of sliding wooden panels which (when not in use) slide into a box-like storage cabinet attached to the exterior of the building at one side of the opening; usually set in place in the evening.
amalaka, amalasan, amalasila in Indo-Aryan architecture, a flattened, fluted, melon-shaped massive stone member crowning the top of a sikhara.
ambitus 1. A small niche in underground Roman or Greek tombs, forming a receptacle for a cinerary urn. 2. In the Middle Ages, such a niche, but enlarged to admit a coffin. 3. In the Middle Ages, the consecrated ground surrounding a church.
ambivium An ancient Roman road or street that went around a site rather than through it.
ambo, ambon 1. In early Christian churches, a pulpit for reading or chanting the Gospels or the Epistles. 2. In contemporary Balkan or Greek churches, a large pulpit or reading desk.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reading older literary descriptions often send me to the dictionary. When a building or a room is described, writers will use the proper term for a feature, such as an encarpus to describe something. What¿s an encarpus? My dictionary says ¿an ornament on a frieze or capital consisting of festoons (as of fruit or flowers).¿ What¿s a festoon? From the same source, it¿s ¿a decorative chain or strip hanging between two points.¿ All well and good, but without seeing a picture, how do you know what you¿re looking for? Well, in our age, Google is a place to go. But for a one stop resource nothing beats a specialized book on the subject. The Illustrated Dictionary of Historic Architecture was just what I was looking for. The editor, Cyril Harris, had collected thousands of old line drawings from historical books and chosen prime examples to illustrate the details described. It¿s a fun book to just to leaf through, as you find something interesting on every page. It¿s a great tool for architects, historians, artists, graphic designers and even English professors. In my personal experience, I¿ve already found it useful. A neighbor of mine, a contractor, was expanding a home. At the end of one particularly long day working on the project, he stopped over and we had a chat. He mentioned that he was having trouble with his new roof trusses as the house¿s existing ones didn¿t match up on each side. This was a particular problem as it was a gambrel roof. Before owing this book, I would have nodded along as if I knew what the heck that was and why it was a problem. But thanks to Cyril Harris, I now know that a gambrel roof is a roof with two pitches on each side, and with the attached illustration know that it¿s the typical roof found on an American barn. So just from casually flipping through the book a few times, I¿d already learned something that kept me from looking like a fool!