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Synopses & Reviews
The broken or pointed arch, which is formed by the intersection of two opposite curves at an angle more or less acute, was known to architects long before its systematic application. It occurs in build ings of the ninth century in Cairo, and was used prior to this in Armenia, and still earlier in Persia, where indeed it superseded all other forms of span from the times of the last of the Sassanides onwards. It is an expedient which gives increased power of resistance to the arch by diminishing its lateral thrusts.
The pointed arch is a form which admits of infinite variations. The one law which governs its construction is expediency. It frankly abandons those rules of classic proportion which are-the canons, so to speak, of the round-headed arch. Thus we shall find the pointed approximating to the round headed form in the twelfth century, only to diverge from it more widely than before, till, towards the close of the thirteenth and throughout the fourteenth century, it took on the acute proportions necessitated by a perilous disposition to prefer loftiness to solidity.
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