Tribelone – Architectural Elements Of Churches


A tribelon, meaning “three curtains,” is a passage divided by two columns, whose resulting three openings can be closed by three curtains. The central opening is, as a rule, slightly larger than the two side ones. The tribelon occurs sporadically in some pharaonic tomb entrances, for example, in several rock tombs at Bani Hasan and in the Sixth-Dynasty mastaba of Seshemnefer at Giza (Junker, 1953, pp. 92-109), but otherwise it must be considered as essentially a Greek structural element. Because of its inherent symmetry, it was readily employed in early Christian and medieval churches as a half-open linking of adjoining rooms (Orlandos, 1952). In several early Christian churches in Egypt, the narthex is connected with the naos by a tribelon, for example the main church of Dayr Apa Jeremiah and the Great Basilica of Abu Mina.


  • Junker, H. Giza, Vol. 11, Der Friedhof südlich der Cheopspyramide Ostteil. Vienna, 1953.
  • Orlandos, A. K. Basilik», pp. 139, 148-50. Athens, 1952.


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