Soundscapes of Byzantium: The Acheiropoietos Basilica and the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki

by Sharon E. J. Gerstel, Chris Kyriakakis, Konstantinos T. Raptis, Spyridon Antonopoulos, and James Donahue

Hesperia, Volume 87, Issue 1
Page(s): 177-213
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2972/hesperia.87.1.0177
Year: 2018


In 2014, an international team of scholars measured the acoustical properties of eight Byzantine churches in Thessaloniki. This article examines two of the tested churches, the Acheiropoietos basilica and the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, in order to provide objective and phenomenological accounts of how sound—both chanted and spoken—was produced and received. Framing the soundscape of each church through an examination of its original shape, furnishings, decoration, liturgy, music, acoustics, and psychoacoustics raises new questions about ties between the two buildings and the streets that connected them. This study also deepens our understanding of the archaeoacoustics of Thessaloniki's early churches.