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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

Ahenny  

Roger Stalley

Site of an obscure Early Christian settlement formerly known as Kilclispeen (St Crispin’s Church) in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. The only remains are two outstanding stone crosses and the base of a third (c. 750–900), which are situated in a graveyard below the village. The crosses belong to a well-defined regional group and were constructed of three characteristic elements: a square base with sloping sides, a shaft with an unusually wide ring and a peculiar, rather ill-fitting, conical cap (the latter missing on the south cross). With its capstone, the north cross measures 3.7 m in height. The form of the Ahenny crosses is emphasized by a bold cable ornament along the outer contours. Projecting from the main faces are sculpted bosses, the most prominent feature of the ‘Ahenny school’. The ring and shaft of the crosses are covered with dense patterns of carved ornament, including interlace, spirals, frets, entangled beasts and interlocking men. Much of this decoration can be compared with the metalwork and manuscript illumination of the period, and it appears that the sculptors were in effect transposing altar or processional crosses into stone. With the addition of pigment, the analogy with metalwork would have been complete. In contrast to the shafts and rings, the bases bear figure sculpture in low relief. That on the north cross is best preserved and represents Adam and Eve with the animals in the Garden of Eden, a chariot procession (a theme repeated on other Irish crosses), seven ecclesiastics (possibly symbolizing Christ’s mission to the Apostles) and an enigmatic funeral procession with a headless corpse....

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

Árpád  

János M. Bak

Modern term for the dynasty that ruled Hungary until 1301. Their name is derived from the chief of the Magyar tribal alliance, Prince Árpád (reg 896–907). During the four centuries of their reign (which included 5 princes and 21 kings, half of whom were buried in the now destroyed basilica at Székesfehérvár), the country became a Christian kingdom with a social and political order similar to its western neighbours. The art and architecture of the age was influenced mainly by Italian and French models with some Byzantine elements. The castle (after 1241, archiepiscopal palace) in Esztergom has significant remains from the 10th to 12th centuries. It was excavated and partly restored in the early 21st century. The west door, the porta speciosa of Esztergom Cathedral is decorated with marble intarsia in a French-influenced, Byzantine style (c. 1190) and is one of the few surviving figural monuments (now in the Esztergom Castle Museum). After the Mongol invasion of ...

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

Carmela Vircillo Franklin

(b Berlin, Aug 18, 1911; d Cambridge, MA, Sept 6, 2006).

German historian of antiquity and the Middle Ages, active also in Italy and America. Bloch was trained at the University of Berlin under the historian of ancient Greece Werner Jaeger, art historian Gerhart Rodenwaldt and medievalist Erich Caspar from 1930 until 1933, when the rise of National Socialism convinced him to move to Rome. There he received his tesi di laurea in ancient history in 1935 and his diploma di perfezionamento in 1937. He then participated in the excavations at Ostia, Rome’s ancient port, which was an important site in the revival of Italian archaeology under Fascism. At the outbreak of World War II, he immigrated to the USA, and began his teaching career in 1941 at Harvard University’s Department of Classics, where he remained until his retirement in 1982. His experience of totalitarianism shaped both his personal and professional beliefs.

Bloch applied a deep knowledge of epigraphy, history and material culture, art history, literary and archival sources to his research and he had a propensity for uncovering the significance of new or neglected evidence. One such area was Roman history. His first publications, on ancient Rome’s brick stamps (many of which he discovered ...

Article

Delia Kottmann

Italian village in Lazio, north of Rome, known for its church. The church of SS Anastasius and Nonnosus is all that remains of the 6th-century Benedictine monastery, which submitted to Cluny in ad 940. Apart from some re-used fragments, the architecture is Romanesque, with a Cosmati pavement in opus sectile as well as an ambo and ciborium. The church is famous for its wall paintings from the first quarter of the 12th century. The apse and its adjacent walls, showing the 24 elders, are influenced by Romano–Christian motifs. Christ in the middle of the conch is flanked by Peter and Paul in a Traditio legis depiction, with a procession of lambs below. Underneath, Maria Regina has to be reconstructed in the middle, between two conserved angels followed by female saints in a Byzantine manner. No Romano–Christian iconography seems to have influenced the vast apocalyptic cycle painted on the side walls of the transept. A band of prophets runs beneath the roof on all the walls of the transept. An inscription in the apse indicates three Roman painters....

Article

Marco Carminati

[anc. Sibrium]

Italian village in Lombardy, 14 km south of Varese, with a population of c. 1000. It was an important town from the Early Christian period to the late Middle Ages and its architectural and artistic remains were rediscovered, excavated and studied after World War II following centuries of dereliction. In the 4th or 5th century a fortified settlement called Sibrium was established in the hilly area between present-day Milan and Varese. It played an important military and strategic role and was soon granted a parish church, with jurisdiction over a vast territory stretching from Lake Lugano to the gates of Milan. Under the Lombards (569–774) it became the regional administrative centre. During the Carolingian period the surrounding region of Seprio experienced substantial prosperity and independence. Around the year 1000, however, its fortunes turned owing to the desire of the increasingly powerful cities of Como and Milan to extend their influence over this rich and strategically significant territory. Castelseprio sided with Frederick Barbarossa in his conflict with the ...

Article

[CESCM]

French organization founded in Poitiers in 1953. The Centre d’études supérieures de civilisation médiévale (CECSM) is affiliated with the Université de Poitiers, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), and the Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication. The founders, among them historian Edmond-René Labande and art historian René Crozet, began CESCM as a month-long interdisciplinary study of medieval civilization, inviting foreign students to participate. CESCM has since developed into a permanent organization but maintains the international and interdisciplinary focus of its founders.

CESCM continues to hold its formative summer session, known as ‘Les Semaines d’études médiévales’, and invites advanced graduate students of all nationalities. The summer session spans two weeks and includes sessions on a variety of topics, each conducted by a member or affiliate of CESCM. CESCM supports collaborative research groups and regularly holds colloquia attended by the international scholarly community.

Since 1958 CECSM has published ...

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

(b Rome, Feb 22, 1822; d Castelgandolfo, Sept 20, 1894).

Italian archaeologist. Educated at the Collegio Romano and the university of Rome, he was the founder of the scientific archaeology of early Christianity. Using his extensive knowledge of ancient topography, literary sources, and the researches of the humanists (especially those of Antonio Bosio), he illuminated contemporary understanding of Early Christian life and art in Rome. His earliest excavations were carried out between 1847 and 1850 at the ancient Christian Catacomb of Praetextatus. His researches revealed the extent of the underground galleries at the site as well as the richness of the material remains. He was a formidable epigrapher and in 1861 published the first volume of Inscriptiones christianae urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquiores, in which he collected, discussed and often depicted the earliest Christian inscriptions from the city of Rome. In 1863 De Rossi founded the Bullettino di archeologia cristiana, which aimed to publish and discuss all aspects of Christian art, archaeology, and history. The following year he produced the first volume of his magisterial ...

Article

Alison Stones

French town in the Dordogne that grew up on the site of Roman Vesunna. Roman remains include the arena, temple and villa, the latter now the site of a museum of Roman art designed by Jean Nouvel. Several medieval houses preserve fragments of 13th-century wall paintings. The former medieval cathedral dedicated to St Etienne is located between the temple and arena and preserves several bays of its early 12th-century choir with a flat east end vaulted with domes on pendentives. Similar domes are found at the 12th-century abbey church of St Front, originally outside the walls and since 1669 the cathedral. St Front has a Greek-cross plan like that of the Holy Apostles (destr.) in Constantinople and St Mark’s in Venice. It was restored by Paul Abadie, architect of Sacré-Coeur, Paris, who endowed both buildings with ‘pepper-pot’ turrets. Fragments of early 12th-century sculpture from St Front survive at the Musée du Périgord in Périgueux, some from the tomb of St Fronto described in the mid-12th-century Pilgrims Guide to Santiago de Compostela, where it is claimed that Fronto was sent to Périgueux by St Peter. Other medieval holdings in the museum include the Diptych of Rabastens (Tarn), the founding charter of the Confraternity of the Assumption, containing the names of the founding members beneath scenes of the ...

Article

Andrew Poulter

Site in Bulgaria, 15 km south-west of Plovdiv. Under Roman rule it served as an important religious centre, with dedications set up to such Greek divinities as Asklepios, Hygieia and Hera, to the eastern Cybele and Mithras and to the Thracian horseman god. By c. ad 400 there was a church on the site, which was in turn levelled (?c. 500–550) to make way for the Byzantine Red Church, the ruins of which are still standing (h. c. 14 m). The name of the Byzantine church derives from the use throughout of brick construction. Its plan is unusual for the Balkans and comprises a central space of 8 sq. m with apses on each side and encircling single-storey north and south aisles. Four piers connected by arches support the central dome and the half-domes that cover the apses. The eastern apse is deeper than the others, with a barrel-vaulted choir separating it from the nave. At the west end of the church are an inner and outer narthex, the latter containing a quatrefoil ...

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

Elizabeth B. Smith

Italian Benedictine abbey in the Abruzzo region. Founded in the 9th century by Emperor Louis the Pious (reg 814–40) and dedicated to St Clement I, whose relics it claimed, the abbey flourished under Abbot Leonate (reg 1155–82), a member of the papal curia. Leonate began an ambitious rebuilding project starting with a new façade, complete with rose window, and a portico for the church, both of which were decorated with monumental stone sculpture carved by masters who were probably not local but rather of French or north Italian origin, perhaps on their way to or from the Holy Land. An elaborately carved pulpit and paschal candelabrum also date to the time of Leonate, as does the Chronicon Casauriense (Paris, Bib. N., MS. lat. 5411), a compilation of documents pertinent to the abbey combined with a history of its existence up to the time of Leonate’s death. Although Leonate died before completing his rebuilding programme, his successor Joel installed the bronze doors still on the central portal of the façade. Construction continued on the church in the early 13th century....

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

(b Spetsai, Sept 20, 1888; d Athens, Jan 25, 1963).

Greek archaeologist and art historian. Although he originally studied theology, Soteriou devoted his life to Early Christian and Byzantine archaeology, which he studied at the universities of Leipzig, Berlin and Vienna from 1909. He was appointed Inspector General of Byzantine Antiquities at Athens in 1915 and Director of the Byzantine Museum at Athens in 1923. Under his leadership the museum grew into an international centre of Byzantine architectural and archaeological studies.

From 1928 to 1951 he was Professor of Christian archaeology and palaeography at the National Capodistrian University of Athens. He was elected to membership of the Athens Academy in 1926 and held its presidency in 1941; he was also a member of many learned societies both in Greece and abroad. In 1957 he was presented with the prestigious Grand Prix G. Schlumberger for Byzantine studies by the Académie Française.

Soteriou brought to light many previously little- or unknown monuments, as in his excavations (...

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....

Article

Patsy Vanags

Site of a Roman temple incorporated into an Early Christian or early medieval church, c. 15 km north of Spoleto, Italy. The River Clitumnus, with its numerous springs, was sacred in Roman times, and there were many shrines along its course. Spolia from these may have been used in the existing structure. It has some traits in common with Roman temples, most notably its four-columned façade with a pediment above. The framing of the columns with two apparently contemporary square section columns is uncommon, but other aspects of its design mark it out as an Early Christian building (4th or 5th century ad) or an early medieval one (8th or 9th century). The interior has a narrow horseshoe arch in the apse and carved mouldings with early medieval characteristics. The building stands on a podium, but instead of a staircase at the front, a flight of steps on either side leads to a small pedimented doorway giving access to the interior. This unusual arrangement may be due to the siting of the building on a sloping bank, but its bold form, with miniaturized Hellenistic grandeur reminiscent of the Roman sanctuary (late ...

Article

Gregor M. Lechner

(b Eiglau, Silesia, Aug 21, 1857; d Rome, Feb 13, 1944).

German archaeologist and priest. He studied philosophy and theology at the Jesuit academy in Innsbruck, where he was ordained in 1883. Through the mediation of Cardinal Friedrich Egon von Fürstenberg (1853–92) of Olmütz he made a study trip to Rome in 1884 and became curate at the seminary at the Campo Santo. There he began the independent research into Early Christian art that was to be his life’s work. In 1892 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the theological faculty of Münster University, Westphalia; he was appointed Protonotary Apostolic in 1903 and Dean of Münster University in 1924. From 1926 he taught at the Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana and published frequently in the Römische Quartalschrift edited by A. de Waal. His many other writings include several standard works on Early Christian wall paintings and mosaics in Rome and on Early Christian sarcophagi. Of a more autobiographical nature was his ...