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Valerie Nunn

The earliest surviving illustrated Byzantine Bible (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. Reg. gr. 1), produced in the 9th century ad or the first half of the 10th. It is named after the Byzantine official who commissioned it and is also known as the Bible of Queen Christina (of Sweden; reg 1626–89), from whose collection it passed to the Vatican Library. Leo, patrikios, praepositos (grand chamberlain and highest-ranking eunuch) and imperial sakellarios (treasurer), is identified in a metrical preface, and he had himself depicted in the first gathering of the manuscript, proffering his Bible to the Virgin. He is portrayed as white-haired and beardless, and it may be assumed that he was an elderly eunuch, a status eminently compatible with the office of praepositos.

Only one volume survives, containing the books from Genesis to Psalms. Both the preface and a contents page, however, testify that the original project comprised the whole of the Old and New Testaments. The volume (more than once trimmed and rebound) is distinguished by its unusually large format (410×270 mm). The full-page miniatures that preface selected books were inserted on separate leaves, which may imply that they were added after the completion of the text. There are also two dedicatory miniatures, one depicting Leo in the presence of the Virgin and Christ and the other his brother Constantine with Abbot Makar, kneeling before St Nicholas. All the miniatures are framed by verse inscriptions, which were apparently composed by ...


Byzantine church on the Karpas peninsula of Cyprus c. 85 km north-east of Nicosia. The original basilica church was probably constructed in the late 5th century and restored after the Arab raids of the mid-7th. A second major restoration, perhaps after an earthquake c. 1160, is attributed to the late 12th century, when the church received a narthex, a dome and three barrel-vaulted aisles.

This building is known principally for a fragmentary mosaic (probably c. ad 526–30; untraced), formerly preserved in the irregularly shaped conch of the apse until it was stolen between 1974 and 1979. It originally occupied the entire conch and was composed of a central mandorla showing the Virgin seated on a lyre-back throne with the Child on her lap. The combination of these iconographical elements has been interpreted as a relatively early depiction of the Incarnation, a theme apparently originating from Constantinople (Megaw and Hawkins). The presence of the mandorla may also have signified an assertion of Chalcedonian doctrine (Sacopoulo). An archangel and a palm-tree were depicted on either side of the mandorla; 12 medallion busts of the Apostles and one of St Paul were on the fore-edge of the conch. Ten of these portraits were completely or partly preserved and identified by inscription. The mosaic combines both formalizing and classicizing stylistic elements....


Barbara Zeitler, Paul Magdalino, and Susan Pinto Madigan

Line of Byzantine emperors and art patrons (867– 1056). The dynasty was founded by (1) Basil I, whose family had settled in the military and administrative zone of Macedonia; it became extinct on the death of the empress Theodora (reg 1042 and 1055–6) in 1056. The earlier Macedonian emperors from Basil I to (3) Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus took an active part in the artistic renewal that followed the end of iconoclasm, and this has given rise to the concept of a 9th- to 11th-century ‘Macedonian Renaissance’; but contemporary sources offer little evidence in support, and the military emperors of the late 10th century and the early 11th, Nikephoras Phokas (reg 963–9), John Tzimiskes (reg 969–76) and Basil II (reg 976–1025), were not active patrons of art. Moreover, the characteristics usually associated with an artistic renaissance such as creativity, progress or close study of the art of antiquity are scarcely to be found in the Macedonian period (see Walter). Such claims as have been made for a revival of Classical art (see Weitzmann) have largely been based on a small number of manuscripts and ...


Sarah Morgan

Term for a miraculous image (untraced) of Christ, believed to date from the 1st century ad. It is one of a number of holy images ‘not made by human hands’ whose origins are obscured in legends of the early Christian East. In the late 6th century the image was first mentioned as a miraculous icon. The fully developed 8th-century version of the legend relates how King Abgar V (reg 4 bcad 50) of Edessa (now Urfa in Turkey) commanded a portrait to be made of Christ but received instead a cloth miraculously imprinted with Christ’s features. The image became known as the Holy Mandylion (Arab. mandil: ‘small cloth’). The fame and importance of the Edessan image grew as the need increased to counter arguments against the cult of images. During the Iconoclastic Controversy (726–843) the Mandylion (though still in Arab-occupied Edessa) was cited frequently by Iconophiles as proof of Christ’s endorsement of image making. In 944 it was brought from Edessa to Constantinople and honoured as a prime relic of the Orthodox Church and remained there until the Crusader conquest of Constantinople in ...



J.-C. Margueron

[Mesken; Meskene; Miskina]

Small town in north Syria on the south bank of the River Euphrates near an ancient site known in antiquity as Emar, in Byzantine times as Barbalissos and in Islamic times as Balis. It lay on an ancient trade route between the Mediterranean, Anatolia and Mesopotamia. The site was excavated in 1929 and again between 1971 and 1976 during salvage operations accompanying the building of the Tabqa Dam. The minaret was dismantled and rebuilt on higher ground, but the ancient site and Maskana itself have been flooded by Lake Assad. Finds are in the National Museum, Aleppo, and the Musée du Louvre, Paris; objects looted from the site are in numerous private collections.

J.-C. Margueron

This Bronze Age city flourished during the 3rd and 2nd millennia bc as a staging-post on a major trade route, where not only goods but also ideas and influences were exchanged. The city is mentioned in the Ebla texts of the second half of the 3rd millennium ...


John Lowden

Byzantine illuminated calendar manuscript (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. Vat. gr. 1613) of 439 pages (363×287 mm). It covers the first half of the administrative year (1 Sept–28 Feb) and contains up to eight commemorations for each day. It is presumed to be the surviving first volume of a two-volume set and, according to the dedicatory poem on p. XIII, was made for Emperor Basil II (reg 976–1025). It is organized as a picture book, with each page divided horizontally in half for a miniature and its accompanying 16-line text. The 430 miniatures alternate between the upper and lower halves of the page, and include scenes from the Life of Christ (e.g. Nativity, Baptism), as well as standing saints, numerous scenes of martyrdom, and more unusual events, such as the discovery of relics.

There are some peculiar features about the book. On 15 pages the illuminations lack any accompanying text, indicating that, contrary to normal practice, the illustrations were supplied first. Eight different names (e.g. ...



Alessandra Anselmi, Marco Carminati, Giovanni Valagussa, Janice Shell, Anna Maria Massinelli, Luciana Arbace, Giovanni Battista Sannazzaro, Lia Di Giacomo, Christine Verzar, Dale Kinney, and Franz Rickert

[It. Milano; Lat. Mediolanum]

Italian city and capital of Lombardy. A Celtic settlement that became a Roman colony in 89 bc, it served as the capital of the Western Empire from ad 280 to 402 and also became a prominent Early Christian centre under Archbishop Ambrose (reg ad 374–97). By the mid-11th century it had developed into one of the early Italian communes and from 1257 to 1499 was ruled by a succession of powerful families: the Torriani, the Visconti, and the Sforzas. Between 1499 and 1859 Milan fell to the invading powers of France, Spain, and Austria. Much of the city centre was destroyed in World War II.

A. Bosisio: Storia di Milano (Milan, 1958) P. Mezzanotte and G. C. Bascapè: Milano nell’arte e nella storia (Milan, 1968) G. Bologna: Milano nei libri e nei documenti del suo archivio storico (Milan, 1980) M. Mirabella Roberti, A. Vincenti, and G. M. Tabarelli: Milano città fortificata...



Wolfgang Müller-Wiener

Site on the west coast of Turkey, near the mouth of the River Meander (now Bügük Menderes). The city flourished under the Greeks and the Romans from the 5th century bc to the 3rd century ad. A large Byzantine church was built there in the 6th century. Miletos was once a port but is now 9 km from the sea. German archaeologists have been excavating there since the late 19th century. Milesian architecture played a significant role in the development of ancient Greek architecture in general. It comprised three phases of varying importance.

Little is known of the first settlement, established near the Theatre Bay in the late 16th century bc, except that it consisted of largish but fairly simple dwellings. Towards the end of the 13th century bc it was fortified with a strong wall, mud-brick on stone foundations, 4.3 m high and reinforced by bastions; it enclosed an oval area measuring ...


Sebastian Wormell

(b St Louis, Senegal, 1867; d Paris, May 8, 1953).

French art and architectural historian. His main interest was in Byzantine art of the medieval period, and he was one of the first Western European scholars to take a serious interest in the art of the Palaiologan period (1261–1453). Most of his original research was based on field work undertaken between 1890 and 1914 in Trebizond, Greece and Serbia. This resulted in the publication (1916) of two major works, one relating medieval paintings in Greece to liturgical sources and the other an attempt to develop a classification of regional schools and chronology in Byzantine architecture. Although some of the methodology is now outdated, these pioneering works are still of value, as are his study of the monastery of Dafni and his albums of illustrative material on the Byzantine monuments at Mystras and Mt Athos. Another major contribution to Byzantine studies was the large photographic library he assembled at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. His interests led him to the art and architecture of other regions influenced by Constantinople, especially in the Balkans and the Slavic countries. His study of medieval Serbian churches is still fundamental, and he edited an important collection of papers on the impact of Byzantine art on the Slavs. Millet’s work in this field was of particular interest to art historians in the countries of south-eastern Europe who were seeking the roots of their national artistic traditions....



Saeed Al-Dewachi


City in northern Iraq. Located on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient city of Nineveh, Mosul is surrounded by fertile plains. It replaced Nineveh under Byzantine rule and was conquered in ad 637 by Muslim Arabs, who used it as a base from which to conquer Azerbaijan and Armenia and as an important entrepôt for overland trade between Iran and Syria. It served as the capital of the Hamdanid (reg 905–91) and ‛Uqaylid (reg 992–1096) dynasties, and, after a brief interregnum, became the capital of the Zangids (reg 1127–1222). ‛Imad al-Din Zangi (reg 1127–46) restored the fortifications and expanded the city. Under Nur al-Din Zangi (reg 1146–74) several important buildings were erected (see Islamic art, §II, 5(ii)(e)), but most have been extensively rebuilt. The most important was the congregational mosque (1170–72), of which the only medieval parts to remain are the brick minaret, some columns and the mihrab (...



Melita Emmanuel

[Mistra; Mistras; Myzithras]

Site of the Byzantine capital of the Morea (Peloponnese, Greece), on a foothill of the Taygetos range, c. 5 km south-west of Sparta. It was originally called Myzithras, but this name was later corrupted to Mystras (‘mistress’).

The castle of Mystras was founded in 1249 by William II of Villehardouin (reg 1246–78), prince of the Frankish principality of Achaea. In 1259 he was defeated and captured by Michael II, Despot of Epiros (reg 1236–71), at the Battle of Pelagonia in northern Greece; in 1262, in order to pay his own ransom, William was forced to concede the castle of Mystras to the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos (reg 1261–82). Soon afterwards Mystras became the capital of the growing Greek province of the Morea and expanded to accommodate the inhabitants of the vale of Sparta, who moved there for greater protection during the continual warfare between the Franks and Greeks. At first it was governed by a resident Byzantine general. In ...




Srdjan Djurić

Byzantine monastery in the Republic of Macedonia, 5 km south-west of Skopje. It was founded by the imperial prince Alexios Komnenos, the grandson of Alexios I Komnenos (reg 1081–1112), and the date 1164 is given on the lintel of the church’s main door. Little remains of the conventual buildings, but the church, which was restored in the 1960s, contains some of the finest frescoes in Macedonia, executed by a 12th-century artist from Constantinople. It is cross-in-square in plan, with a domed octagonal drum and four smaller square drums rising from the centre and corner bays respectively. The eastern bays serve as forechoirs of the main apse and are accessible from both the altar and nave, while the western pair of bays form separate chapels accessible only from the narthex. These architectural features are similar to those found in other churches of the Komnenian period. The exterior of the Nerezi church is built in cloisonné masonry with colonnettes and carved capitals decorating the recessed windows. The sculptural decoration inside the church includes an elaborately carved iconostasis and a plaster frame around the fresco-icon of the church’s patron, St Panteleimon, depicting peacocks drinking from a kantharos....


John Richards

[Deodata; Deodatus]

fl Lucca, c. 1280; d before 1331).

Italian painter. He was an eclectic and apparently prolific artist whose works record the transition from Italo-Byzantine painting of the 13th century to the Giottesque milieu of the 14th. They also indicate the importance of Florentine styles for Lucchese painting in his time. The earliest work attributed to him is a Crucifix with a living Christ (c. 1280; Pisa, Mus. N. S Matteo), and if this attribution is correct it suggests that his early development was influenced by Berlinghiero Berlinghieri. Deodato was probably the ‘Datuccius Orlandi’ documented in 1284, and in 1288 he signed a richly ornamented Crucifix for S Cerbone, Lucca (Lucca, Villa Guinigi). This was evidently strongly influenced by Cimabue, for example in the way the hair spills from the (rather larger) head on to Christ’s shoulder, although the figure of the dead Christ has none of Cimabue’s monumentality. The style is linear, largely devoid of chiaroscuro though not without grace, and the modelling is barely structural. Some attempt has been made to reproduce the translucent drapery of the Christ of Cimabue’s later Crucifix (Florence, Santa Croce), but the swaying body keeps closer to the axis of the apron than is the case with Cimabue’s versions. The terminal figures of St John and the Virgin are seen in three-quarter length....


Barbara Zeitler

Byzantine imperial dynasty of patrons. Between the reigns of Michael VIII (reg 1259–82) and Constantine XI (reg 1449–53), the empire underwent a last flowering of Byzantine art; at the same time there was a marked change in patterns of patronage. Constrained by financial difficulties, the imperial family was no longer the most important patron of the arts, although the artistic patronage exercised by women of the Palaiologan dynasty is notable. Courtiers and wealthy individuals were the major patrons of the period, for example Theodore Metochites (1270–1332) and Michael Theodore Doukas Glavas Tarchaneiotes, who respectively commissioned large parts of the decoration in Christ the Saviour in Chora (see Istanbul §III 3., (ii)) and in the church of St Mary Pammakaristos (see Istanbul §III 7.). The majority of the imperial commissions appear to date from before 1320, but losses since that time may have distorted our knowledge of Palaiologan patronage. Little has survived of the luxury arts; metalwork, for instance, was frequently made into coins. Among Palaiologan ecclesiastical foundations is the south church of the monastery of Constantine Lips (now Fenari Isa Cami) in Constantinople (now Istanbul), which was built between ...


Susan Pinto Madigan

(fl c. 976–1025).

Byzantine painter. The name ‘Pantoleon zographos’ (Gr.: ‘painter’) appears next to 79 of the 430 miniatures in the Menologion of Basil (976–1025) (Rome, Vatican, Bib. Apostolica, MS. gr. 1613). Pantoleon worked in Constantinople (now Istanbul), where he painted miniatures and icons and, according to a Life of St Athanasios the Athonite, witnessed a miraculous manifestation of that saint while he completed a commission for the Emperor. The Life reports that a certain Cosmas saw an icon of St Athanasios painted by Pantoleon and wanted one of his own. The owner agreed to find him a duplicate based on the original icon while Cosmas waited. When the owner arrived at Pantoleon’s shop to place the order the artist was perplexed, claiming that the day before he had received the same request from Athanasios, and that the icon was already completed. Pantoleon had experienced an ‘overshadowing’, having been visited by divine Grace....


Robert Ousterhout

[pl. parekklesia]

Generic Greek name for the subsidiary chapel of a Byzantine church, as distinct from the main structure variously called ekklesia, naos or katholikon. Parekklesia vary considerably in size, position, architectural form and decoration. They frequently form an integral part of the overall church design, and many are distinguished externally by a dome. Often parekklesia are later additions that occasionally are not aligned with pre-existing elements. Parekklesia were also constructed as free-standing chapels, which could serve for such purposes as the private worship of an individual or family. Burial and commemoration, however, seem to have been the most common uses, as is indicated by the surviving decorative programmes and documentary evidence. As mass could only be said at each altar once a day, it is probable that parekklesia developed to accommodate extra space for worship and additional altars.

Parekklesia were built according to several planning schemes with respect to the main church. In a satellite arrangement they flank the church and are either aligned with the narthex to the west, as in the ...


Byzantine illuminated manuscript. It contains a collection of 52 homilies by Bishop Gregory of Nazianzus (329–89) on 468 folios (418×305 mm; Paris, Bib. N., MS. gr. 510). It is prefaced by full-page miniatures of Christ Enthroned; Emperor Basil I Flanked by Elijah and Gabriel; Empress Eudokia, with her Sons Leo and Alexander and two full-page crosses. On this basis the manuscript can be dated 879–93, perhaps to late 879. It is further illustrated by 41 surviving full-page illustrations inserted into the text as part of a scheme to preface each homily with appropriate images. Most of the miniatures are subdivided to depict a number of separate scenes, and in general the pictorial content is rich and very complex.

The approach to the illustration of the homilies is often obscure and has defied attempts at a full explanation, but Brubaker has argued convincingly for the personal involvement of the learned Patriarch ...


John Lowden

Byzantine illuminated manuscript. Comprised of 449 folios (360×260 mm; Paris, Bib. N., MS. gr. 139), it contains the Psalter with a catena. It has occupied a key position in the study of Byzantine art since the late 19th century. The prefatory image of the youthful shepherd David, in the guise of Orpheus, charming the natural world and accompanied by a personification of Melody (fol. 1v), bears comparison to late Roman works in the Hellenistic tradition (see fig.). Once thought to be a product of the 6th or 7th century ad and hence to some extent still in touch with antiquity, Weitzmann and Buchthal, working independently, redated the manuscript convincingly to the 10th century. It thus stands as the apogee of a highly self-conscious classicizing trend in Byzantine art, termed by Weitzmann the ‘Macedonian Renaissance’. Some controversy remains over whether the 14 surviving full-page miniatures reproduce older images (Buchthal) or were newly created in the 10th century from older elements (Weitzmann)....


Debra Higgs Strickland

Early Christian allegorical and moralizing text about animals originally composed in Greek by an unknown author, probably during the 2nd century ad in Alexandria. The precise meaning of the name, Physiologus, is unclear, but it has been translated as ‘The Naturalist’ or ‘Natural Philosopher’. The text’s narrator discourses on the natural world, combining ancient animal myth and lore with biblical references in order to draw allegorical parallels between animal and human behaviour with references to Christ, the Devil and the Jews. For example, the hoopoe chicks’ diligent and loving care of their ageing parents is held up as an admirable example of obeying God’s commandment to ‘honour thy father and mother’. The panther, whose sweet breath attracts all animals except the dragon, is likened to the sweetness of Christ, which attracts everyone but the Devil. The unclean hyena, known to change its sex from male to female and back again, is compared to ‘the duplicitous Jews, who first worshiped the true God but were later given over to idolatry’. As testimony to its wide popularity, the Greek ...