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Article

Peter Grossmann

[Abū Mīnā]

Site of a Christian city and pilgrimage centre in the Maryūt Desert, c. 45 km south-west of Alexandria, Egypt. It grew up around the shrine of St Menas, who was martyred during the persecution of the Christians instigated by Diocletian (reg 285–305). The ancient name of the site is not known, and the position of the saint’s grave had been long forgotten until, according to legend, several miracle cures led to its rediscovery. The place then quickly developed into an increasingly major centre of pilgrimage where, among other things, the so-called Menas ampules were manufactured as pilgrim flasks and achieved particular renown. The first excavations of the site were undertaken by Kaufmann in 1905–7. Further excavations have been directed successively by the Coptic Museum in Cairo (1951), Schläger (1963 and 1964), Wolfgang Müller-Wiener (1965–7) and Peter Grossmann (since 1969).

The earliest archaeological remains date to the late 4th century, although the grave itself was in an older hypogeum. The first martyrium basilica erected over the grave dates to the first half of the 5th century and was rapidly enlarged by various reconstructions and extensions. Around the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, the Great Basilica was added to the east in the form of a transept-basilica, making it the largest church in Egypt (...

Article

Stephen Mitchell

[‘Pisidian’]

Greek and Roman city in western Asia Minor (now Turkey) on a plateau above Yalvaĉ. It was founded by the Seleucids in the 3rd century bc and refounded as a colony for veteran soldiers by Augustus c.25 bc; it flourished until the Early Christian period. The site was excavated in 1924 by D. M. Robinson and was the object of a detailed archaeological survey by S. Mitchell and M. Waelkens in 1982–3. Further excavations have taken place during the 1980s and 1990s, directed by M. Taslianan. About 4 km south of the city Hellenistic remains survive at the sanctuary of Mên Askaênos, where an imposing temenos with porticos on four sides enclosed a mid-2nd-century bc Ionic temple (6 by 11 columns) on a high, stepped podium. The design of the temple was influenced by the layout of the temples of Zeus Sosipolis and Artemis Leukophryene at Magnesia on the Maeander...

Article

Bawit  

C. Walters

Site on the west bank of the River Nile, c. 16 km west of Daryūt in the province of Asyūt, Egypt. A large monastery with rich sculptural and painted decoration originally lay in the desert 1 km to the west. According to tradition it was founded by the monk Apollo in the late 4th century ad and was inhabited until the late 12th century. The site was excavated intermittently between 1901 and 1913 by the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo; most of the structural finds were removed to the Coptic Museum in Cairo and the Louvre in Paris. The monastery consisted of an enclosed nucleus with other buildings outside the walls, although it is not known how much of the site was occupied at any given time. Within the enclosed area were two churches. A number of two-storey structures were excavated, of which the ground floors were probably chapels and the upper floors served as living quarters, as in the monastery of Apa Jeremiah at Saqqara (...

Article

Seton Lloyd

Ancient settlement around the upper reaches of the Büyük Monderes (Meander River), near Çivril in Turkey, that flourished during the Bronze Age (c. 3500–1200 bc) and was briefly reoccupied in the Early Christian period. The imposing ruin mound, with twin summits, was excavated (1954–9) by the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara under Seton Lloyd.

These excavations revealed 40 successive levels of occupation with modest building remains. At the earliest levels, the pottery can be dated to a late phase of the Chalcolithic period (c. 3500 bc), though metal objects (including silver) already appear in small quantities. Comparable finds from other sites in the same area combine with the Beycesultan material to produce a schematic chronological sequence for the whole of south-western Anatolia. The architectural and artistic material shows the evolution of a culture that was possibly the direct forebear of the Iron Age civilization in western Anatolia. In the 2nd millennium ...

Article

Calvary  

Michael Morris

[Lat. Calvaria: ‘skull’; Aramaic Golgotha]

Site in Jerusalem where the crucifixion of Christ took place and name given to representations of that event. It is identified as the Place of the Skull in the New Testament Gospels and was at that time located outside the city walls, not far from a gate and near a road, a garden and at least one tomb. These landmarks of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection have been revered by Christians since at least the 4th century, when Emperor Constantine the Great excavated the area and erected on top of it the basilican church of the Holy Sepulchre (c. 325–36; see Jerusalem, §II, 2). The rock of Calvary, originally 4 m high, was cut and reshaped to serve in the basilica as a pedestal for a great jewelled cross placed on top of it. Calvary’s elevation does not appear in the earliest depictions of Christ’s crucifixion, but it gradually develops in art, for example in the ...

Article

Garni  

J. M. Rogers

[anc. Gornea]

Armenian village, 30 km east of Erevan in the Abovian district, famous for its pagan and Christian architectural remains. The earliest indications of settlement are the Early Bronze Age (c. 2500 bc) foundation courses of Cyclopean masonry (see Masonry, §II) at the site of Garni’s fortress, which is strategically situated on a triangular promontory high above the River Azat. An Urartian inscription records its conquest by King Argishti I (reg 785–760 bc). The present fortress was probably built in the 3rd century bc, using massive dressed basalt blocks reinforced with iron clamps set in lead. Garni is recorded by Tacitus (Annals XII.xlv) as the Roman garrison of Gornea in ad 51, shortly after which the fortress was partially dismantled and the garrison expelled (62). If the Greek restoration inscription dated to the eleventh year of the reign of King Trdat is attributed to the first ruler of that name (...

Article

Lucy Der Manuelian and Armen Zarian

Site located in the village of Aparan, Armenia, which includes ruins of a palace and Early Christian basilica (4th–5th centuries). The site is first mentioned by Ptolemy as ‘Casala’ and later became part of the Nig region of the historic province of Ayrarat. A Greek inscription by King Trdat III (reg 287–98) of the Arsacid dynasty indicates that he gave this area to the Gnt‘uni feudal princes, who constructed a palace and administrative centre there. Excavations were undertaken by A. Sahinyan between 1944 and 1947. The architectural details of the basilica indicate that it was built in the late 4th century ad and transformed into the Christian church of the Holy Cross (Sourb Khatch; 20.87×10.0 m) by the addition of an eastern apse probably at the end of the 5th century. Later additions are the rectangular chamber at the north-east corner of the church, a vaulted hall constructed along the north wall and a small basilica adjacent to the hall. The complex is constructed of black tufa facing a rubble core, and it rests on a three-stepped platform made of large blocks of basalt. The exterior walls of the basilica, the apse, the transverse arches of the south aisle, and portions of the north chamber and hall have been preserved, but the barrel vaults and tiled pitched roof have collapsed. The interior is divided into three aisles by three pairs of T-shaped piers. The projecting eastern apse is pentagonal on the exterior but horseshoe-shaped on the interior....

Article

Mendes  

Robert S. Bianchi

[now Tall al-Rub‛a and Tall Timay; Tell el-Rub‛a and Tell Timay]

Egyptian city in the Nile Delta, which flourished from at least the Old Kingdom (2575–c. 2150 bc) to the Christian era (c. ad 800). The site, which was first excavated by François Mariette in 1860, consists of two contiguous mounds. To the north is Tall al-Rub‛a, the site of the capital of Egypt in the 29th Dynasty (399–380 bc), and to the south Tall Timay (Gr. Thmuis), the site of an ancient settlement, which superseded that of Tall al-Rub‛a during the Roman period (30 bcad 395). The principal deity of Mendes was Banebdjed, usually represented as a ram or a ram-headed man. Numerous stone sarcophagi of the sacred ram abound in the north-western part of Tall al-Rub‛a. Banebdjed, Hatmehyt the dolphin-goddess (worshipped at Mendes in Predynastic times) and their child, Harpocrates, formed a group of deities known as the Mendesian triad....

Article

J.-P. Sodini

[Kalaat Seman; Kal‛at Sim‛an; Kal‛at Sim‛ân; Qal‛at Seman; Qal‛at Sem‛an; Qalat Siman]

Early Christian pilgrimage centre built in the 5th century ad, 30 km north-west of Aleppo, northern Syria. This architectural complex, situated on a hilltop in the Jabal Sim‛an, and dedicated to St Simeon the Stylite, ranked with St John at Ephesos and Abu Mina in Egypt among the major centres of pilgrimage in the eastern Mediterranean outside the Holy Land. It was built around the column (originally 16–18 m high) on which St Simeon (c. ad 390–459), the first stylite saint, perched for 40 years. Construction of the martyrium was financed by the emperor Zeno (reg ad 474–91), probably within 20 years of the saint’s death. The site was first brought to scholars’ attention by de Vogüé in 1862 and later by Butler, who visited it in 1899. In the 1930s Krencker investigated the roofing of the central octagon and excavated the eastern basilica, and Tchalenko began to study the whole site and establish its layout....

Article

Sohag  

C. Walters

[Sūhāg]

Chief town of the province of Sohag, Egypt, situated on the west bank of the River Nile, c. 490 km south of Cairo. To the west of the town are two 5th-century Coptic churches, known as the White Monastery (Dayr al-Abyad) and the Red Monastery (Dayr al-Ahmar). The White Monastery is the more important of the two. Although the surrounding area was investigated briefly by Petrie in 1907, further excavations were not undertaken until the late 1980s.

The White Monastery itself was founded in the first half of the 4th century ad. Its abbot between c. ad 388 and 446 was Shenute, one of the leading figures of the early monastic movement. The structure is enclosed by high walls of white limestone blocks and comprises a basilical church (35×75 m), probably founded c. ad 440, which is preceded by a western narthex, terminates in an eastern trefoil apse with a single, central altar and is flanked to the south by a long hall of unknown use. Galleries surmounted the hall and the basilica’s narthex and side aisles....

Article

In its most general sense, spolia (pl., from Lat. spolium: ‘plunder’) denotes all artifacts re-employed in secondary contexts, from building blocks reused in a wall to pagan gems mounted on a Christian reliquary. It is a matter of debate whether this broad application of the term is justified, or whether it should be restricted to the relatively small subset of reused objects that were taken or ‘stripped’ (like spoils) from their original context, rather than found, purchased, inherited or otherwise acquired by non-violent means. It is likewise debated when the use of spolia should be considered meaningful, if at all. Arnold Esch defined five possible motives for using spolia: convenience, profanation, Christianization, political legitimation and aesthetic attraction. Michael Greenhalgh has argued for reducing the motives to three (at least with regard to marble): pragmatism, aesthetics and ideology; while Finbarr Barry Flood cautioned against reductive interpretations generated by any taxonomy, insisting that reused objects are mutable in meaning and capable of multiple interpretations during their life cycle....