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Church architecture in the Early Byzantine period
  Church architecture of the Justinianic era shows signs of conservatism alongside with bold accomplishments resulting from gradual experimentations. The traditionnal timber-roofed basilica remained a popular architectural solution, together with domed buildings. Domes were introduced on both basilical structures and centrally planned double-shell buildings. The former were covered by either multiple domes or by one large central dome. Brick or brick alternating with courses of stone was the characteristic masonry in the Aegean coastline and Italy. Cut stone masonry was current in the interior of Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Churches served a variety of functions. There were congregational churches, martyria, episcopal churches and monastic churches (katholikon). Any given church plan need not correspond to a specific function of the building.
  The Early Byzantine church is normally divided into a sanctuary and central nave, reserved for the clergy, and side aisles for the congregation. Cathecumens (non-baptized individuals) were allowed to watch the liturgy from the narthex and the galleries. The narthex was often preceded by an exonarthex and/or an atrium. The sanctuary, which consists of an apse and a slightly raised platform projecting from it, is fronted by a colonnade and low parapet (sanctuary or chancel screen), made of carved slabs inserted between the columns. The altar is placed directly in front of the apse. The sanctuary is edged by concentric benches for the clergy (synthronon); in its centre stands the bishop's throne (cathedra). A raised pathway (solea) often connects the sanctuary to the pulpit (ambo) in the nave. The pulpit is a small raised platform reached by one or two flights of steps, the whole edged with carved parapets similar to those of the sanctuary screen. Saintly relics were placed either in a cavity of the altar or in a crypt underneath it. Crypts are generally cruciform and were reached from the sanctuary by means of narrow stairways.