- Light, Human Evolution, and the Palaeolithic
- The Role of Darkness in Ancient Greek Religion and Religious Practice
- Darkness and the Imagination: The Role of Environment in the Development of Spiritual Beliefs
- Rediscovering the Winter Solstice Alignment at Newgrange, Ireland
- Light and Shadow Effects in Megalithic Monuments in the Iberian Peninsula
- Sunlight, Divination, and the Dead in Aegean Ritual Tradition
- Illuminating Triangulations: Moonlight and the Mississippian World
- The Chacoan World: Light and Shadow, Stone and Sky
- Animate Shadows of Bears and Giants
- The Beautiful Face of Ra: The Role of Sunlight in the Architecture of Ancient Egypt
- The Handling of Light: Its Effect on Form and Space in the Greek Temple and the Byzantine Church
- In Visible Presence: The Role of Light in Shaping Religious Atmospheres
- Lighting in Muslim and Christian Religious Buildings: A Comparative Study
- Prehistoric Light in the Air: Celestial Symbols of the Bronze Age
- Phenomenology of Light: The Glitter of Salvation in Bessarion’s Cross
- The Light of the Flame: Use and Symbolism of Light and Lighting Devices in Traditional Greek Culture
- Encountering Photoamulets and the Use of Apotropaic Light in Late Antiquity
- Visibility, Privacy, and Missing Windows: Lighting Domestic Space in Ancient Mesopotamia
- Lighting the Good Life: The Role of Light in the Aristocratic Housing System duringLate Antiquity
- Thirty Days of Night: The Role of Light and Shadow in Inuit Architecture, North of the Arctic Circle
- Household Consumption of Artificial Light at Pompeii
- Industrializing Light: The Development and Deployment of Artificial Lighting in Early Factories
- Materializing Light, Making Worlds: Optical Image Projection within the Megalithic Passage Tombs of Britain and Ireland
- Lighting in Reconstructed Contexts: Experiential Archaeology with Pyrotechnologies
- Çatalhöyük: A Study of Light and Darkness—A Photo-essay
- Light and its Interaction with Antiquities and Works of Art: A Conservator’s Perspective
- Lighting and Museum Exhibits
- Modalities of Meaning: Light and Shadow in Archaeological Images
- Reconstructing Artificial Light in Ancient Greece
- The Eleusinian Projector: The Hierophant’s Optical Method of Conjuring the Goddess
- Constructing the Invisible: Light and Darkness in the Topography of Hades
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter explores the uses and perception of light in religious architecture. Often characterized as an ambiguous materiality—neither concrete and tangible nor distinctly immaterial—light seems to offer itself readily as both matter and metaphor for the divine. We argue in this chapter that this is precisely what happens in contemporary Danish churches, yet not without conflicts between the ideal of immaterial divinity and the need for tangible religious practices. We trace a number of luminous as well as numinous qualities to medieval church architecture, still in use today, and show that despite architectural continuities, modernist churches capture and cherish light in a number of ways that emphasize mainly its immaterial aspects. Architectonic discourse is seen as challenged by light practices in the churches, where light lends itself as an instrument for bridging the ontological positions of matter and spirit.
Mikkel Bille has a PhD in Anthropology from University College London, where he studied material culture and heritage among the Bedouin in the Middle East. He is currently working on a comparative project on the introduction of energy saving lighting technologies in Denmark and Jordan with regards to orchestrations of atmosphere and environmental ethics and consumption.
Tim Flohr Sørensen has a PhD in Prehistoric Archaeology from the University of Aarhus, where he studied the relationship between emotional movement and bodily movement at cemeteries in prehistoric and contemporary Denmark. He held a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge, where he worked on metal production in the Early Bronze Age, and is currently involved in an interdisciplinary project on ‘Death, materiality and the origin of time’.
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