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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

Mary Gough

[Koca Kalesi]

Early Christian monastery on the southern slopes of the Taurus Mountains in Isauria, part of the Roman province of Cilicia in south-western Turkey. It is some 300 m above the main road between Silifke (anc. Seleucia) and Konya (anc. Iconium), 21 km north of Mut (anc. Claudiopolis). From two funerary inscriptions, pottery and coins, the monastery may be securely dated to the reigns of two Isaurian emperors, Leo (reg ad 457–74) and Zeno (reg 474–91).

The monastery was originally founded in a series of caves in a limestone outcrop at the west end of a narrow mountain ledge. The largest of these caves contained two rock-cut churches. The ledge was later enlarged by quarrying to the north and by the construction of a retaining wall to the south. The earliest building, immediately to the east of the caves, was the three-aisled Basilica. It was originally lavishly decorated, both inside and out, with architectural sculpture in a flowing naturalistic style, including plant forms, birds and fishes; figures occur only on the jambs and lintel of the main doorway between the narthex and the central aisle. On the west side of the lintel is a head of Christ set in a circle supported by angels, and at each end of the lintel and on the doorposts are four busts in high relief, possibly of the Evangelists. On the inner faces of the jambs are full-length figures of the archangels Michael and Gabriel in flat relief, while on the underside of the lintel is a remarkable relief of the four ...

Article

Albenga  

Franz Rickert

[Lat. Albingaunum; Albium Ingaunum; Album Ingaunum]

Italian town and bishopric, 72 km south-west of Genoa. It was a port in the Roman period, and its street grid-plan has partly survived, but, with the silting of the River Centa, it is now 1 km inland. Pottery and sections of the hull of a merchant ship that sank offshore c. 80–60 bc are preserved in the Museo Navale Romano in the Palazzo Peloso-Cepolla (13th century). The Civico Museo Inguano is housed in the Palazzo Vecchio del Comune (1387 and 1421). The cathedral, which was built in the 11th century and enlarged in the early 14th century, has a galleried apse and a campanile built in 1391.

The most important monument, however, is the 5th-century baptistery. Its ground-plan is decagonal without and octagonal within, the alternating rectangular and semicircular niches being flanked by columns. The original cupola was destroyed in the 19th century. The edge of the octagonal font at the centre of the hall has starlike points and was surmounted by a baldacchino. The only mosaics that survive are on the front wall of the building and on the vaulting of the presbytery niche. Although the latter has been heavily restored, it can be dated to the 5th century. At the centre of the vault is a christogram comprising the letters A and ...

Article

Judith McKenzie, Gordon Campbell, R. R. R. Smith, Wiktor A. Daszewski, A. H. Enklaar, Dominic Montserrat, C. Walters, Wladyslaw B. Kubiak, Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

Egyptian city situated on the Mediterranean coast west of the delta of the River Nile, capital of Egypt from c. 320 bc to ad 642, seaport and centre of ancient Greek culture.

Judith McKenzie

Alexandria was founded in 331 bc by Alexander, on the site of the small Egyptian settlement of Rhakotis. Its location, with access by canal to the River Nile, enabled it to become an important and highly prosperous trading centre, and by c. 320 bc Alexandria was the capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. During Ptolemaic times (304–30 bc) it became a major centre of learning, with famous scholars of literature, mathematics, astronomy, medicine and geography, and it played a major role in the transmission of Greek culture to the East.

With the defeat of the last Ptolemaic monarch, Cleopatra VII (51–30 bc), by Octavian (later called Augustus) at the Battle of Actium in 30...

Article

L. James

(b ?Constantinople, c. ad 461–3; d Constantinople, c. 527–9). Byzantine patron. As the great-granddaughter of Galla Placidia and daughter of Flavius Anicius Olybrius (Emperor of the West, reg 472) she was the last major figure of the Theodosian house. In 512, during a popular uprising against Emperor Anastasius I (reg 491–518), the imperial crown was pressed on her husband Flavius Areobindus Dagalaifus, an honour he avoided by flight. Her imperial connections and social standing gave her an important status at court and she was an active patron. She is chiefly remembered for the Dioskurides codex (Vienna, Österreich. Nbib., med. gr. 1), which was produced in Constantinople c. 512 (see Early Christian and Byzantine art, §I, 2, (ii)). The inscription around her portrait (fol. 6v) indicates that the manuscript was commissioned for her by the people of Onoratou, a suburb of Constantinople, in gratitude for a church she built for them....

Article

M. Rautmann, Katherine M. D. Dunbabin and Mine Kadiroğlu

[now Antakya]

Greek and Roman city on the River Orontes in south-east Turkey (ancient Syria), which flourished from c. 300 bc to the 7th century ad.

Its advantageous site on the edge of the Amuk Plain at the foot of Mt Silpius, commanding important trade routes linking Anatolia with Palestine and the Mediterranean with inland Syria, attracted the attention of Seleukos I (reg 305–281 bc), who founded the city (c. 300 bc) as the capital of his Syrian empire. With its port at Seleucia and residential suburb at Daphne, Antioch prospered as capital of the Roman province of Syria from 64 bc. The city enjoyed the attentions of Roman benefactors from Julius Caesar onwards and attained the height of its prosperity during the 2nd to the 7th century ad, becoming the diocesan capital of Oriens. Its influence was particularly strong in early Christian affairs: Paul and Barnabas were active at Antioch, while Peter was regarded as its first bishop. ...

Article

Franz Rickert

Roman and Early Christian city at the east end of the plain of the Veneto, c. 90 km north-east of Venice and 5 km from the Adriatic coast. Founded as a Roman colony in 181 bc, it received full town status in 89 bc and became the regional capital of Venetia et Histria. It was strategically sited on the River Natissa, which was navigable to the sea, and at the intersection of routes leading north-west over the Alps and north-east to the Balkans. Written sources indicate that several emperors, including Constantine the Great, had a residence in Aquileia; from ad 294 to the 5th century it also had its own mint. In 313 it became a bishopric and in 381 it was the venue of a council before which followers of Arianism were tried. Civil wars and the invasions of the Huns (452) and the Lombards (568) led to the migration of most of the population and the transference of the see to Grado....

Article

Dorothy Verkerk

Illuminated manuscript of the first five books of the Old Testament (now incomplete), dating from the late 6th or early 7th century (Paris, Bib.N., MS. nouv. acq. lat. 2334) and named after the English collector Bertram Ashburnham. Also known as the Pentateuch of Tours, the Ashburnham Pentateuch is one of the oldest surviving pre-Carolingian Vulgate manuscripts of the Old Testament. In its present condition, it lacks the last verses of Numbers and all of Deuteronomy; while 18 pages of illustration and 1 frontispiece survive from the original 65 pages with illustrations. The illustrated pages comprise several scenes generally arranged in two or three bands, although some pages have one or two large scenes, others combine illustration and text. Painted tituli that follow the Vulgate accompany the miniatures; however, beneath the painted titutli are preliminary inscriptions penned in ink that follow the Vetus latina text.

Based upon stylistic, iconographical and codicological evidence, the Pentateuch appears to have been made in a late 6th- to early 7th-century Italian scriptorium. Twelve pages were added in the 8th century by scribes from Fleury; an additional restored page (fol. 33) was added in the 7th century by a Touronian scribe. The illustrations often deviate from the exact retelling of the biblical text. The column of smoke and fire, for example, in the story of the Crossing of the Red Sea is depicted as a large candle held in two hands, a reference to Easter Vigil liturgical ceremonies (fol. 68...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Mark Whittow

[Turk.: ‘The Thousand and One Churches’]

Group of late Roman and Byzantine sites on the Karadağ, an isolated mountain in the plain north of the Taurus Mountains in the modern province of Karaman in south-central Turkey (Roman and Byzantine Lykaonia). The mountain has been convincingly identified as the site of Barata, a minor city attested as a bishopric from the 4th century ad to the 12th. On the mountain there are the remains of over 40 churches and associated buildings. These are concentrated in two groups: a lower settlement now known as Maden Șehir and an upper settlement called Değler. There are also numerous other remains on the Karadağ, including some Hittite rock carvings, several churches built on the peaks of the mountain and several medieval fortifications.

Although known to scholars since 1826, the first and only survey of the Karadağ was that carried out by Sir William Ramsay (1851–1939) and Gertrude Bell in ...

Article

Bitolj  

Srdjan Djurić

[Bitola; Herakleia Lynkestis; Turk. Manastir, Monastir]

Town on the Pelagonian plain in the Republic of Macedonia, at the foot of Mt Pelister. The ancient city of Herakleia Lynkestis, strategically situated on the River Siva Reka, 3 km south of Bitolj, was probably founded by Philip II of Macedon (reg 359–336 bc). Under Roman rule from 148 bc, it became a major military and commercial centre on the Via Egnatia and continued to flourish throughout the early Byzantine period until the settlement of the Slavs in the late 6th century ad. In the 5th and 6th centuries Herakleia was also an important ecclesiastical see. The site was excavated in 1935–8 and 1957–80, and 14 early Byzantine mosaic floors were uncovered. The sculptural and archaeological finds from the site are kept in Bitolj (Archaeol. Mus.), Skopje (Archaeol. Mus. Macedonia) and Belgrade (N. Mus.).

Only the western part of the site has been explored, revealing six buildings, including the Roman theatre (2nd century ...

Article

Butrint  

T. F. C. Blagg

[It. Butrinto; anc. Gr. Bouthroton; Lat. Buthrotum]

Site in southern Albania, set on a hill beside a coastal lagoon connected to the sea by a natural channel. The city flourished in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine times. Excavation and display of its extensive and deserted remains, begun by the Italians in 1928, have been continued by Albanian archaeologists; finds are displayed in the site museum (renovated 1988) and in the National Historical Museum, Tiranë. It was probably a colony of Kerkyra (Corfu), from which its site is visible. Earliest occupation on the hilltop is shown by Corinthian pottery of the 7th–6th centuries bc and a wall of polygonal masonry, rebuilt in the 5th century bc. By the following century the expanding city required new walls, which survive up to 9 m high and include the Lion Gate, named after the Archaic relief reused as its lintel (6th century bc). Butrint became a centre for the surrounding Epirot people, the ...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

Simon P. Ellis

Ruined city on the North African coast at the end of a narrow peninsula pointing into the Bay of Tunis. Now an archaeological site at the edge of Tunis itself, Carthage was founded, according to legend, by the Phoenician queen Elyssa in 814 bc. It became a major Mediterranean power until its destruction by the Romans in 146 bc. Carthage flourished as a Roman city, Christianity reaching it by the 2nd century ad. The city was revived by Emperor Justinian, but it was finally destroyed by the Arabs in ad 698.

For later history see Tunis.

In the 6th and 5th centuries bc the city’s interventions in disputes between the Greek and Phoenician city states of Sicily made Carthage the leading western Phoenician colony, and it formed a close alliance with the Etruscans. From the 5th century bc the Carthaginians spread into the African hinterland, eventually controlling the area that is today the northern half of Tunisia. They also concluded three alliances with the newly emergent power of Rome. Further conflict in Sicily, however, precipitated (...

Article

John Osborne

(Rome)

Subterranean cemeteries outside the walls of Rome, which were in continuous use from the 2nd to the 6th centuries ce (see also Catacomb). The soft volcanic tufa of the region lends itself well to excavation, and when Roman burial practice shifted from cremation to inhumation in the 2nd century ce, the need for more space led to the extension of cemeteries underground. Approximately 40 catacombs are known, ranging in size from a single burial chamber (cubiculum) for the use of one family to vast multi-level networks of underground passages and cubicula. Although such cemeteries were used by the adherents of many faiths that practiced inhumation, the majority can be identified as Christian, particularly in the years following the legitimization of Christianity by Emperor Constantine I in 313. One of the oldest and largest catacombs is that of St Calixtus on the Via Appia Antica. Named after the future pope, who as a deacon was charged with overseeing the Christian cemeteries in the time of Pope Zephyrinus (...

Article

M. Guardia

Early Christian mausoleum in Catalonia, Spain, with an outstanding 4th-century mosaic cycle. It is situated 5 km north of Tarragona, which, as Tarraco, was the capital of the Hispano-Roman province of Hispania Tarraconensis. Excavations between 1959 and 1970 by Schlunk and Hauschild revealed that it was built within the living quarters of a Roman suburban villa, which was extensively remodelled during the 4th century. An adjacent room may also have been a mausoleum. Its ground-plan comprises a double-shell design, consisting of a circular core (diam. 10.7 m) and a quadrangular outer shell with an apse at each corner. A stairway leads down from the mausoleum’s centre to a barrel-vaulted burial crypt and sub-crypt or chamber, which insulated the crypt from the damp subsoil. The mausoleum is built in brick and concrete and has a domed roof 13.6 m high; the construction of the dome has parallels in eastern Roman architecture. It is lit by two windows in the mausoleum’s north and south sides and by the main northern entrance....

Article

Yu. P. Kalashnik

[now Khersmes]

Site on the south-west of the Crimean peninsula, near Sevastopol’. Its position on the Black Sea trade routes determined its commercial importance. It was founded by the people of Herakleia Pontica jointly with the Delians c. 422/421 bc and became an important state in the 4th and 3rd centuries bc after assimilating the fertile lands of north-west Crimea. From the 3rd century bc, however, the expansion of the Scythian kingdom led to the contraction of the city’s territory. In the first centuries ad Chersonesos lost its independence, becoming subordinate to the neighbouring kingdom of the Bosporus and the administration of the Roman province of Lower Moesia; a garrison of Roman troops was stationed in the city. In the late 4th century ad Chersonesos became part of the Byzantine empire, and from the late 10th century it played an important part in the spread of Christianity in Kievan Russia. In the 13th century the city was destroyed by enemy attack....

Article

Tomas Lehmann

Village 2 km north of the ancient town of Nola in Campania, Italy. Cimitile is a dialect form of the Latin coemeterium, meaning cemetery, and refers to the town’s foundation over a Roman necropolis. Among the most significant remains from the necropolis are two mythological, early 3rd-century ad sarcophagi depicting Endymion and Persephone, originally in mausolea in the village, now in the old basilica, and two Early Christian arcosolium-paintings (c. 250–300) of Jonah Cast into the Sea and Adam and Eve after the Fall in Mausoleum 13 (in situ). These are among the earliest surviving paintings on Christian subjects outside Rome. In the 4th century the tomb of St Felix (d c. 275–300) in the northern part of the necropolis became an important Early Christian place of pilgrimage. The small square mausoleum erected over his grave (c. 303–5) probably represents the earliest example of such a structure over a martyr’s tomb. As early as the 330s the mausoleum was replaced by a larger, single-aisled building with an apse to the north, and by ...

Article

Charles Murray

[Flavius Valerius Constantinus]

(b Naïssus [now Nish, Serbia], c. ad 285; reg 306–37; d Constantinople, 337).

Roman emperor and patron. He was the son of Constantius Chlorus (reg 293–306) and Helena (c. 248/9–328/9) and succeeded his father as Co-Emperor in ad 306. Six years later he defeated his rival Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge outside Rome and became sole ruler in the West. In 313, with Licinius (reg 307–24), the Eastern Emperor, he published the Edict of Milan, which openly favoured Christianity. He defeated Licinius at the Battle of Chrysopolis in 324 and united the Empire under his control. Artistic and literary sources during his reign show an imperial policy dominated by the newly authorized religion, and new artistic values gradually transformed public art into a more fully recognizable Christian form. He believed that his military successes were attributable to the Christian God, whose sign of the Cross had appeared to him, superimposed on the sun, at the Milvian Bridge. In the final battle he ordered the monogram of Christ to be painted on his soldiers’ shields, thus establishing the cross and the chi-rho in later iconography. His victory was commemorated in 315 with the construction of a triumphal arch in the Roman Forum....

Article

John Lowden

Byzantine illuminated manuscript (London, BL, Cotton MS. Otho B. VI), probably of the late 5th century ad. It consists of the fragments of 129 folios, shrunken and charred by a fire in 1731, which are all that remain of one of the most profusely illustrated and magnificent books of the period. The manuscript has long been the focus of scholarly attention, and work on a facsimile was begun in 1621–2 by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, although it probably did not advance far.

All discussion of the Cotton Genesis starts from the ingenious reconstruction by Weitzmann and Kessler, according to whom the manuscript originally comprised some 221 folios (c. 330×250 mm) and contained the text of Genesis, illustrated by some 339 illuminations distributed throughout the book, most half-page or larger (including perhaps 36 full-page). These adopted a literal approach to the text, but some contained extra-biblical details derived from written commentaries (Christian or Jewish) or possibly from more informal, oral traditions. They were framed scenes with fully painted illusionistic settings, and they used a full range of pigments, including gold leaf for some details. Although Weitzmann and Kessler argued for an origin in Egypt, the evidence for this has been questioned by Wenzel....