"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Byzantine Pilgrimage Art

Interest in all things Byzantine, as well as all things iconographic, both remain very high, as I have noted on here many times before. A recent book looks at both in the context of the age-old practice of pilgrimage:

Gary Vikan, Early Byzantine Pilgrimage Art, Revised Edition (Dumbarton Oaks Studies, 2011, 118pp.).

About this book, the publisher tells us that
Early Byzantine Pilgrimage Art explores the portable artifacts of eastern Mediterranean pilgrimage from the fifth to the seventh century, presenting them in the context of contemporary pilgrims’ texts and the archaeology of sacred sites. The book shows how the iconography and devotional piety of Byzantine pilgrimage art changed, and it surveys the material and social culture of pilgrimage. What did these early religious travelers take home with them and what did they leave behind? Where were these “sacred souvenirs” manufactured and what was their purpose? How did the images imprinted upon many of them help realize that purpose? The first edition of this pathbreaking book, published in 1982, established late antique pilgrimage and its artifacts as an important topic of study. In this revised, enlarged version, Gary Vikan significantly expands the narrative by situating the miraculous world of the early Byzantine pilgrim within the context of late antique magic and pre-Christian healing shrines, and by considering the trajectory of pilgrimage after the Arab conquest of the seventh century.

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