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Byzantium Lecture – March 17th.docx

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HIST 218
Richard Greenfield

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Byzantium Lecture – Week 10 Lecture 1 - March 17 th Byzantine Art and Architecture Part 2 – Not Just Icons and Churches: Byzantine Secular Art, Music, and Literature: - Architecture: o Administration:  Public buildings of this type look similar to churches in some ways – arches o Infrastructure:  Waterworks – aqueducts still standing • Tunnels o Entertainment  Hippodrome  Other stadiums, and other venues – best in Constantinople o Private houses o Palaces  Many descriptions of these buildings available – not hard to look at ruins and these readings and get a sense of what they looked like in their prime  Many being restored, rebuilt, and reused  Byzantinthstyle palaces and mansions: • 8 century wall decorations – Great Mosque, Damascus o Mosaic illustration of major buildings, columns and capitols, semi domes, etc. o Military Installations:  Some of best surviving examples – e.g. walls, fortresses, harbour installations, etc. across the Byzantine world  Fortresses get rebuilt over time – Byzantine ones are built over Roman and Greek remains oftentimes o Commercial Facilities:  Many transformed into Medieval markets o Village Architecture:  Byzantium was a multi-level society – not just the elite - Secular Artwork: o Records have heavily skewed away from secular and towards the religious o Much of what was produced was religious, but that wasn’t everything (and secular art survived on a much smaller scale) o Jewelry:  A lot of Byzantine jewelry has survived – has been buried and hidden and later found  A lot of goldwork  Building on traditions from Roman Hellenistic and Greek world Semi-precious stones (often opals)  A lot of jewelry had dual purpose – hard to escape tinge of religion • E.g. gold marriage rings with religious blessing on it – praying for the marriage to last • Crosses incorporated into amulets o Amulets often have protective purposes • Obvious Christian imagery  Crowns o Cosmetics:  More for every day life  Combs, medicine boxes, class bottles, etc. – all contain imagery • E.g. combs are from Egypt, medicine box has Hygeia on the front th  Floor mosaic shows woman doing her makeup, 5 century Tunisia o Mosaics:  High end buildings, mansions, palaces – high end examples • E.g. Great Palace has some secular motifs • Jerash, Jordan (553 BCE) – more secular patterns (e.g. animals)  Marble, tile, and pebble floors • Pebbles in lower class homes – used to make patterned flooring for those who couldn’t afford marble o Marble Wall Treatments:  Marble for high end places – expensive material and inlay  Faux marble or mosaic wall treatments were used by those who couldn’t afford marble • Stucco work made these treatments look inlaid  Painted mosaics as well  Literature tells us what some of these places looked like o Sculpture:  Not many references – not nearly as possible as in Classical Period  There was relief work, though o Turkish Style Tiling:  Ornamental tiling – read about in some Byzantine nobility in 12 century  Motifs derived from common tradition • Interchange around motifs – borrowed and borrowed from  13 century tiles from Konya • Birds, Gryphons, scrollwork, leaves, bird with woman’s head • No more binary opposition between Byzantines and Ottomans – more shared elements and cultural combination o Tapestries and Carpets:  Have not survived  Rich opportunities for patterning and design elements  Pictures show early Turkish carpets to give an idea of textiles and motifs of the time (not Byzantine though)  Old mosaics not rendered in wood and thread – old patterns in new medium o Other Textiles:  Surviving primarily from Egypt  Monastic grass mats  A lot of woven textiles with design woven in or embroidered afterwards  Textile borders sewn on • Often very intricate  Cloths  Secular artistic expression in patterns, images, and colours  At the high end, there are linen decorative rondels and such • Very, very intricate • Woven silk with decorations o Manuscripts:  Lots of religious manuscripts, but there are secular ones as well  Illustrations of imperial life, battles, warfare, administration, tables with borders and decorations • E.g. adding harpie and centaur to table of biblical readings – classical element – maybe a bit too far o Pottery:  Most of it is more functional than decorative – jugs  Some patterning to the clay  Lamps used by everyone • Oil lamps • These had artistic design – some humorous, some erotic, some religious, some just functional  Cups, bowls, and other dishes • Often beige or yellowish-green and pale o Scrifito (grifito?) design o While pot is still damp and slip has been put on, design is gauged into it – two tone pattern • Issues around identification of pottery is that it is hard to distinguish from pottery of other places in the same time period o Ivory:  Bone carving very developed in this period  Caskets, chests, entertainments, jars, etc.  Classical background sometimes evident o Semi-precious Stone Ware:  Cups, goblets, etc. • Often identified in west as holy grail • Colour often fitting for imperial use • Often truly remarkable and stunning – stone made into the cup itself • Giant agate dish – Constantine himself probably saw and touched it o Precious Metal Work:  Belt buckles  Cups, table ware, dishes, plates – gold and silver  These things survived because they were buried and hoarded  People wanted to hide them and protect them – people later rediscovered them often hundreds of years later - Imagery found in these pieces: o Continuity of Classical Imagery:  People used this imagery even as Christianity took hold and grew th  Through to the 7 century – classical tradition still preserved in standard workmanship and style  There was later imitation and return back to Classical style, but it was still strong until 7 or 8 century  Classical literature used to teach people – everyone familiar with episodes from Iliad • Imagery from mythology and classical literature continued on • Judgment of Paris, triumph of Dionysus, etc. • Mythological scenes on 7 century plates or water
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