Medieval Eurabia: Religious crosspollinations in architecture, art and material culture during the High and Late Middle Ages (1000–1600)

Day: Friday 6 April


Sami Luigi de Giosa (Oxford University)
Nikolaos Vryzidis (British School at Athens)

Session Abstract

The coexistence of Christianity and Islam in the Medieval Mediterranean led to a transfer of knowledge in architecture and material culture which went well beyond religious and geographical boundaries. The use of Islamic objects in Christian contexts, the conversion of churches into mosques and the mobility of craftsmen are only some manifestations of this process. Although studies beginning with Avinoam Shalem’s Islam Christianized (1996) have dealt extensively with Islamic influence in the West and European influence in the Islamic Mediterranean, sacred objects, and material culture more generally, have been relatively neglected. From crosses found in Mosques, to European-Christian coins with pseudo/-shahada inscriptions, medieval material culture is rife with visual evidence of the two faiths co-existing in both individual objects and monuments.

This session will endeavor to address these issues, with papers touching upon various aspects of material culture and art (from textiles to precious oils, and from manuscripts to rock crystals), and covering most of the Mediterranean geography (from Spain to Sicily, and from Egypt to Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire). Finally, the contexts within which these interactions are negotiated reveal how multi-layered the religious arena can be, going well beyond the dynamic of exoticism and even otherness: from shared material culture and church interiors to the visual landscape of Christian-Muslim literati and luxurious artifacts laid to rest in tombs.

Speakers & Papers

Maeve O’Donnell-Morales (The Courtauld Institute of Art) Islamic Objects on Castilian Altars: Luxurious building blocks for a new identity

Francesco Lovino (Center for Early Medieval Studies, Brno) Arabs, Christians and the Gospel Marc. gr. Z. 539.

Vera-Simone Schulz (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz) Beyond the Church Treasury: Laying Islamic artifacts to rest in Medieval Europe: The geopoetics of graves and gravestones

Hani Hamza (Independent scholar) Balsam Oil: Mamluk contribution to Medieval Christian liturgy

Arielle Winnik (Bryn Mawr College) Tiraz Textiles with Coptic Language Inscriptions in Medieval Islamic Egypt

Miriam Ali-de-Unzaga (The Institute of Ismail Studies) Exploring Muslim-Christian Coexistence Materialised on Fatimid and Andalusi Textiles

Nikolaos Vryzidis (British School at Athens) Empires of Silk: Greek ecclesiastical use of Islamic textiles, 11th to 17th centuries – The traits of an ever shifting pattern

Gunseli Gürel (Oxford University) The Ottoman Representations of the Hagia Sophia in the Mid-16th Century: A case study in the Ottoman Approaches to the Greaco- Roman Heritage of Constantinople/Istanbul

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