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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Byzantine Studies


The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection is an international centre for scholarship, providing resources for study and publishing scholarly works in Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies.

It has a special section on Byzantine Studies and publish on the net a number of interesting papers.

They have published an interesting paper on Byzantine Pilgrimage Art by Gary Vikan (.pdf file)

"Within a few generations of the foundation of the Empire by Constantine the Great, the east Mediterranean had come alive with pious travelers.

Among the first was Constantine’s own mother, Helena, who, according to Eusebius, journeyed to the Holy Land at her son’s request to dedicate his newly-built churches located at the sacred sites identified with the Birth, Death, and Ascension of Christ-Bethlehem, Golgotha, and the Mount of Olives

Thousands were to follow in a mass mobilization of body and spirit which grew uninterrupted until the Arab conquest of the Holy Land in the seventh century."

There then follows descriptions of the main sites of pilgrimage:

all the holy places in Jerusalem including the Anastasis;
the main sites mentioned in the Gospels (Bethlehem, Nazareth, Cana, Samaria)
the main sites mentioned in the Old Testament (Mount Sinai, and the like)
the main sites mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles

Many of the sites of pilgrimage are now no longer to be seen. The churches and cathedrals built were works of art in themselves.

Detailed references are made to Egeria, an anonymous pilgrim from Piacenza (Italy), and other early pilgrims from the Early Church of whom written records and ccounts are still extant.

"But art was important on a modest scale, since the pilgrim, like the modern tourist, wanted something to take home with him. And while, as Egeria points out, many may have wished for a sliver of the True Cross, few could actually expect to receive such a prize; indeed the vast majority of our pilgrims was obliged to accept instead a eulogia or "blessing"."

The article then discusses the remaining examples of eulogia still extant.


Other interesting papers on the website include:

The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World
edited by Angeliki E. Laiou and Roy Parviz Mottahedeh

Contents include:

I Introduction
Giles Constable : The Historiography of the Crusades

II Crusades and Holy War
Roy Parviz Mottahedeh and Ridwan al-Sayyid : The Idea of the Jihad in Islam before the Crusades

George T.Dennis : Defenders of the Christian People:Holy War in Byzantium

III Approaches and Attitudes
M.C.Lyons : The Land of War:Europe in the Arab Hero Cycles

Nadia Maria El-Cheikh : Byzantium through the Islamic Prism from the Twelfth to the Thirteenth Century

Robert W.Thomson : The Crusaders through Armenian Eyes

Alexander Kazhdan Ý : Latins and Franks in Byzantium:Perception and Reality from the Eleventh to the Twelfth Century

Elizabeth Jeffreys and Michael Jeffreys The "Wild Beast from the West ":Immediate Literary Reactions in Byzantium to the Second Crusade

Tia M.Kolbaba : Byzantine Perceptions of Latin Religious "Errors ":Themes and Changes from 850 to 1350

IV The Crusades and the Economy of the Eastern Mediterranean
Olivia Remie Constable : Funduq,Fondaco,and Khan in the Wake of Christian Commerce and Crusade

Angeliki E.Laiou,with an Appendix by Cécile Morrisson : Byzantine Trade with Christians and Muslims and the Crusades

David Jacoby: Changing Economic Patterns in Latin Romania:The Impact of the West

V Art and Architecture
Oleg Grabar : The Crusades and the Development of Islamic Art

Charalambos Bouras : The Impact of Frankish Architecture on Thirteenth-Century Byzantine Architecture

Sharon E.J.Gerstel : Art and Identity in the Medieval Morea


Holy Women of Byzantium: Ten Saints' Lives in English Translation
edited by Alice-Mary Talbot

There are presented a wide variety of Byzantine female saints: nuns who disguised themselves in male monastic garb; a repentant harlot who withdrew to the desert for forty-seven years of self-imposed isolation; a nun who escaped from Arab captivity to spend thirty-five years as a hermit on the abandoned island of Paros; a wonder working abbess who slew a dragon; widows who found refuge in the ascetic life of the convent; married laywomen and a queen abused by their husbands.