Byzantine decoration became more elaborate and changed the shape of arches. In arches, stone was often alternated with brick, giving a red and white striped effect called voussoir, referring to the wedge-shape pieces forming the arch. Mesopotamia adopted the Islamic religion after 622 c.e., and Islamic people carried the striped arch motif across northern Africa through Morocco into Spain. Islamic arches added ogival, scalloped, multilobed, or a curve inward at the bottom, forming a horseshoe shape. This motif was seen in Spain from 785 c.e., when the Great Mosque at Cordoba was started, through construction of The Alhambra (1338-1390).
While Europe was in the Dark Ages (476 to 1000 c.e.), having lost most of the ancient Roman building technology, eastern regions under Byzantine and later Islamic rulers were thriving. From 1095 to 1291 c.e.
European Crusaders traveled south to Jerusalem to fight Islamic forces for control of the Holy Land. The Islamic forces kept control, but Crusaders returned to Europe with the concept of a strongly fortified stone castle. Stone was used for the structural walls and ground floor covering in buildings that were considered important. Interior stone walls were kept refreshed by a whitewash containing lime to cover the soot deposited from fires.
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Through the Gothic period (1150 to 1550 c.e.), stone could be found in interiors of churches and castles. When the castle walls were stone several feel thick, small spiral staircases were often carved in the stone walls. Gothic churches, found in France, Germany, northern Spain, and England, used stone walls and pointed arches to achieve higher interior spaces. The lower walls were fortified with stone buttresses (reducing the need for load-bearing walls) and ribbed vaults, diminishing the number of columns necessary. Higher parts of the walls had large window openings with stone tracery in the window. Gothic roofs were steep and often covered with slate stone tiles.
The Renaissance (1400 to 1600 c.e.) first appeared in Italy, striving to emulate Classical Roman and Greek forms. Stone, used for structural arches and columns, was a primary building material. In southern Europe, marble or limestone was used for floors and walls.
For important rooms, the floor would be stone parquet, in patterns of circles or squares. The most important rooms had marble laid in checkerboard patterns. Stone or marble could also cover the lower part of the wall, the dado. Renaissance design moved to Spain,
France, and England around 1500. Interior walls were generally covered in materials that gave a softer sound and warmer finish than stone would provide, but stone was used for trim around fireplaces, doors, and windows.