Sacred architecture: Shared histories and the evolution of symbols

The architectural form is one indicator that reflects religious practices evolve over long periods of time. There are scholars who do not accept that religions and religious architecture have a history. These scholars prefer to believe that religious practices emerge fully formed and that they are static (i.e. they do not change). Most scholars, however, view the practice of religion as an evolving phenomenon based upon cultural symbolism. Furthermore, religious practices can be influenced by contact with external groups and often reflect shared histories between different religions. This is an idea that is frequently in conflict with political sensitivities, but may also offer opportunities for inter-faith dialogue.

Edith Dunn is an Architectural Conservator and Cultural Heritage Specialist with more than 20 year experience. She earned an MS in Historic Preservation from Columbia University, and PhD in Interdisciplinary Archeological Studies from University of Minnesota. Her projects have included monuments and archeological sites in the U.S., Africa, and the Middle East. Many of her projects have included religious buildings and sacred landscapes.

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