Reuse is good, right? And the notion conjures in most of us an image of linking code modules. Which is why I was astounded to run into the following case, while touring the beautiful island of Sicily.
Here you see your intrepid tourist in front of the Duomo (cathedral) of Siracusa, the city where Archimedes lived, engineered, and famously died defending his sand drawings. The baroque facade is a late addition (18th century) and nothing to write home about; but to its left there’s something unique and bizarre…
Below, left, is a close-up of the left wall of the Duomo. Note the embedded Doric columns, visible with their abaci and architrave (don’t worry, I had to look that up myself). These are also visible on the inside of the church, as seen in the photo at right.
So what’s going on? Well, the church was built in the 7th century AD. The columns, however, predate it by more than a millennium; they are what’s left of a Greek temple dedicated to Athena, which was built in the 5th century BC. Rather than follow the destroy-and-recycle method often applied to preceding cultures, the Christians reused the framework of the temple as is, filling in the spaces between the columns!