"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, July 11, 2014

New Studies in Byzantine History

Peter Lang informs me of two recent publications in Byzantine history. The first is an academic collection edited by Maximilian Lau, Caterina Franchi, and Morgan Di Rodi, Landscapes of Power: Selected Papers from the XV Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference (Lang, 2014), 307pp.

About this volume we are told:
This volume contains selected papers from the XV International Graduate Conference, highlighting the latest scholarship from a new generation of Late Antique and Byzantine scholars from around the world. The theme of the conference explored the interaction between power and the natural and human environments of Byzantium, an interaction that is an essential part of the empire’s legacy. This legacy has come down to us through buildings, literature, history and more, and has proved enduring enough to intrigue and fascinate scholars centuries after the fall of Constantinople. From religion and trade at the end of Antiquity, imperial propaganda and diplomacy at the end of the first millennium, to culture and conquest under the Komnenian and Palaeologan dynasties - this volume demonstrates the length and breadth of the forays being made by young academics into the still often undiscovered country of the Late Antique and Byzantine world.
A second title treats ecclesial realities more directly: Bernard Mulholland, ed., The Early Byzantine Christian Church: An Archaeological Re-assessment of Forty-Seven Early Byzantine Basilical Church Excavations Primarily in Israel and Jordan, and their Historical and Liturgical Context (Lang, 2014), 229pp.

About this book we are told: 
The observation that domestic artefacts are often recovered during church excavations led to an archaeological re-assessment of forty-seven Early Byzantine basilical church excavations and their historical, gender and liturgical context. The excavations were restricted to the three most common basilical church plans to allow for like-for-like analysis between sites that share the same plan: monoapsidal, inscribed and triapsidal. These sites were later found to have two distinct sanctuary configurations, namely a Π-shaped sanctuary in front of the apse, or else a sanctuary that extended across both side aisles that often formed a characteristic T-shaped layout. Further analysis indicated that Π-shaped sanctuaries are found in two church plans: firstly a protruding monoapsidal plan that characteristically has a major entrance located to either side of the apse, which is also referred to as a ‘Constantinopolitan’ church plan; and secondly in the inscribed plan, which is also referred to as a ‘Syrian’ church plan. The T-shaped layout is characteristic of the triapsidal plan, but can also occur in a monoapsidal plan, and this is referred to as a ‘Roman’ church plan. Detailed analysis of inscriptions and patterns of artefactual deposition also revealed the probable location of the diakonikon where the rite of prothesis took place.
The publisher also provides details of the contents:
Contents: Domestic artefacts in Early Christian churches – Methodology – What can church sites reveal about liturgy? – A second focus of liturgical activity – Other activities in Early Byzantine basilical churches – Gender analysis: is there evidence for segregation of the sexes in Early Byzantine basilical churches?

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