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John A. McGuckin

Subject Religion

Key-Topics arts and architecture, churches

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405185394.2011.x


The Ambo (Gk. “crest of a hill”) was the raised platform in the middle of church from which the scriptures and litanies were read. In early times it was not often used for preaching, though St. John Chrysostom was an exception to the rule (Socrates, Church History 6.5). In the Eastern Christian world a pathway ( Solea ) from the sanctuary ( Bema ) to the Ambo was often established, which eventually came to be similarly raised. Several examples of Byzantine Ambo remain (e.g., Byzantine Museum, Athens; the gardens of Hagia Sophia Cathedral, Istanbul) which are polygonal raised platforms with steps leading up (in the Middle Ages it became the western “pulpit”). The Ambo in St. Mark's Venice is a rare late-Byzantine “double-decker,” where the gospel was read from the upper section and the epistle from the lower. Byzantine emperors, after the 6th century, were crowned from the Ambo of Hagia Sophia church, a lost masterpiece described by the poet Paul the Silentiary. In the modern presentation of most Orthodox churches the Ambo shrank back and was conflated with the smaller area of raised Solea immediately in front of the Iconostasis. ( 1966 ) “ Ambo. ” In ) Reallexicon zur byzantinischer Kunst , vol. 1 , cols. 126–33 . Stuttgart : Hiersemann . ( 1966 ) “ The Ambo in Early Liturgical Planning: A Study with Special Reference to the Syrian Bema ,” Heythrop Journal 7 : ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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