Novermber 29—Christopher A. Pharaone, A Medieval Copper Plaque from Egypt (Louvre inv. AD 00372): Composite Amulet or Pattern-Book for Making Individual Body-Amulets?

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce our final meeting of Autumn 2016:

A Medieval Copper Plaque from Egypt (Louvre inv. AD 00372): Composite Amulet or Pattern-Book for Making Individual Body-Amulets?

Louvre inv. AD 00372

Christopher A. Faraone
Professor of Classics, Frank and Gertrude Springer Professor in the Humanities and the College

A copper plaque purchased in Egypt, probably near Luxor, was donated in the 1840s to the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and eventually made its way into the Egyptian collection of the Louvre. This paper will argue that this unique piece is a “pattern-book” originally designed to be hung on the wall of a studio in order to remind an artisan how to make amulets for eye-disease, stomachache and other problems by carving or drawing the six designs and the texts that accompany them. Its designs date back to the Roman period and were altered at some point probably by a Christian or an artisan with Christian clientele, who suppressed and Christianized some of the more troubling pagan details (e.g. animal-headed gods). The version in the Louvre is even later: the Arabic inscription in the top left corner of the obverse tells us that the date of its manufacture was probably in the 8th or 9th century CE.

Tuesday, November 29 — 4:30 pm in CWAC 152

We look forward to seeing you there!

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November 22—Anita Jambrek, Thief, Donor, Potentate, and Mourner: The Story of the Shrine

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce our next meeting:

Thief, Donor, Potentate, and Mourner: The Story of the Shrine


The Chest of St. Simeon (detail).
Scanned from Ivo Petricioli, St. Simeon’s Shrine in Zadar (Zagreb: Drago Zdunić, 1983).

Anita Jambrek
Ph. D. Student, University of Chicago Divinity School

The golden shrine (sarcophagus) commissioned in 1378 by Hungarian Queen Elisabeth Kotromanić is the most important piece of evidence for the cult of St. Simeon in the Adriatic. The shrine is of prismatic shape with a roof on top, decorated with various scenes of Biblical, historical, and personal events. By focusing on the four representations of Elisabeth, this paper will trace her role in the making of the shrine and the development of the cult of St. Simeon.

Tuesday, November 22 — 4:30 pm in CWAC 152

We look forward to seeing you there!

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November 15—Julian Führer, Phantoms of Literacy: Communication through Letters and Charters in the Early Middle Ages (6-8th c.)

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium, in collaboration with the Medieval Studies Workshop, is pleased to announce our next meeting:

Phantoms of Literacy: Communication through Letters and Charters in the Early Middle Ages (6-8th c.)

sang-190-p-3
St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang 190, p. 3

Dr. Julian Führer
University of Zürich

When we read early medieval letters and charters, how much do they convey a reliable idea of actual written communication? This talk will examine the legal requirements of writing down transactions, the control exercised over the use of the written word (especially in religious contexts), and the social background of writing letters. The difference between late antique and early medieval literacy originated in political, religious, social, and material factors—all of which are relevant for the transmission of these texts.

Tuesday, November 15 — 4:30 pm in CWAC 153

We look forward to seeing you there!

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October 11—Zach Ralston, The Reception of the Mandylion at Constantinople

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce our next meeting:

The Reception of the Mandylion at Constantinople

romanos-lekapenos-receives-the-mandylionMadrid Skylitzes (Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid, MS Graecus Vitr. 26-2), fol. 131 r

Zach Ralston
MA Student, University of Chicago Divinity School

The Mandylion, one of the most widely known acheiropoieta (icons not made by human hand), was simultaneously an icon and a contact relic. Stored in the church of the Virgin of the Pharos with other relics associated with the life of Christ, the Mandylion functioned not only as a relic-image of the miracle of God Made Flesh, but also an object that takes part in the mystery. Though deeply associated with the miracle of the Incarnation, Constantinopolitan liturgy and rhetoric used the Mandylion as a multi-layered theological and political statement about the God-protected status of Constantinople and the imperial office by typological comparison with Scripture’s most sacred holy object: the Ark of the Covenant.

Tuesday, October 11 — 4:30 pm in CWAC 156

We look forward to seeing you there!

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October 4—Michael Allen, Rome and Its Visitors in the Early Middle Ages: the Itinerarium Einsidlense Reconsidered

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce our next meeting:

Rome and Its Visitors in the Early Middle Ages:
the Itinerarium Einsidlense Reconsidered

Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, Codex 326(1076), f. 77v + f. 78r – Manuscript of collected works

Michael I. Allen
Associate Professor of Classics and the College, and Associate in History

The manuscript usually known as the Itinerarium Einsidlense is a small book with a large reach. Our only source for certain inscriptions and visitors’ itineraries of early Medieval Rome, the task of adequately and coherently representing its content has remained unfulfilled; reflecting more, and nearer to the parchment, on its content, inner workings, and possible hidden workings brings us closer to some real contours of friendship and duty toward the past, and as pilgrim in the present.

Tuesday, October 4 — 4:30 pm in CWAC 156

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Welcome Back! Autumn Quarter 2016

Welcome back to another year at the Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium! We are pleased to announce our schedule for Autumn Quarter 2016—please be sure to mark your calendars!

October 4

Rome and Its Visitors in the Early Middle Ages:
the Itinerarium Einsidlense Reconsidered

Prof. Michael Allen (University of Chicago, Classics)

October 11

The Reception of the Mandylion at Constantinople

Zach Ralston, MA Student (University of Chicago, Divinity)

November 15

Phantoms of Literacy: Communication through Letters and
Charters in the Early Middle Ages (6-8th centuries)

Prof. Julian Führer (Historisches Seminar der Universität Zürich)

N.B.: This meeting will be co-sponsored with
the Medieval Studies workshop; location TBD.

November 22

Thief, Donor, Potentate, and Mourner: The Story of the Shrine

Anita Jambrek, Ph. D. Student (University of Chicago, Divinity)

November 29

A Medieval Copper Plaque from Egypt (Louvre inv. AD 00372):
Composite Amulet or Pattern-Book for Making Individual Body-Amulets?

Prof. Chris Faraone (University of Chicago, Classics)

All meetings, unless otherwise noted, will be held on Tuesday afternoons at 4:30 pm in the Cochrane-Woods Art Center, room 156. Refreshments, as always, will follow. Stay tuned for more information both here and on our mailing list; in the meantime, please direct any questions, accessibility requests, or other inquiries to Felix Szabo (pheletes@uchicago.edu).

We look forward to seeing you at the workshop!

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May 10 – Kelly Andino

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce its next meeting.

Kelly Andino will present “The Holy Sepulchre until the Siege of Jerusalem: An Examination of the Late Antique Texts, Archaeological Evidence, and Material Sources.”

This paper will attempt to reconstruct the history of the early life of the Basilica Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem until the seventh century, relying upon textual and material sources to reconfigure a narrative of both the physical building and its role within Byzantine religion and culture.

Please join us on Tuesday, May 10th, at 4:30 pm in CWAC 152.

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May 3 – Leonidas Pittos

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce its next meeting.

Leonidas Pittos will present “Aesthesis and Aesthetics in Nicholas Kabasilas’ Mystagogic Works.”

The relationship between Hesychasm and the liturgical theology of the lay theologian and humanist Nicholas Kabasilas has been debated in modern scholarship. Yet, much of the debate has focused narrowly on the differences between Hesychasm’s contemplative spiritualism and Kabasilas’ emphasis on liturgy as well as on the role of reason in spiritual perfection. This paper will suggest that aesthetics and the role of the senses in liturgy and spirituality may cast a brighter light on Kabasilas’ relationship to Hesychasm.

Please join us on Tuesday, May 3rd, at 4:30 pm in CWAC 152.

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April 19 – Carlos Grenier

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce its next meeting.

Carlos Grenier will present “To String the Pearls of Orthodoxy: Vernacular Sunni Apologetics in Fifteenth Century Gallipoli in its Borderland Context.”

This paper assesses vernacular Turkish Sunni dogmatic and catechistic writing in the fifteenth-century Marmara frontier region within its local context, marked by contemporaneous conversations between local Muslims and Christians — as recorded in Ottoman, Greek, and Western accounts — on the nature of their respective faiths. It argues that the successful and durable forms of populist Ottoman Islam represented by the writings of the Yazicizade brothers of Gallipoli (Mehmed, d. 1451 and Ahmed, d. 1465) was fundamentally conditioned by the interconfessional debates of the frontier.

Please join us on Tuesday, April 19th, at 4:30 pm in CWAC 152.

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April 12 – Nathan Leidholm

The Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium is pleased to announce its next meeting.

Nathan Leidholm will present “The Representation and Appropriation of the Persian Past in Middle Byzantine Court Rhetoric.”

It is commonly acknowledged that Byzantine culture owed a particular debt to and maintained certain affinities with elements of the Ancient Greek, Roman, and Christian past. This is particularly visible in imperial court rhetoric, which served as a vital means of constructing the public image of the emperor and reinforcing the cultural values that held the empire together. This paper, however, explores a fourth, often overlooked element in such rhetoric, which played an important role in the construction of the image of the Byzantine ruler and of the empire’s place in history: the Achaemenid Persian past.

Please join us on Tuesday, April 12th, at 4:30 pm in CWAC 152.

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