Victory-Angel : the “conversion” of a Roman divinity in Early Byzantine coinage.
Dimitrios Krikelikos (Université d’Aristote de Thessalonique)
After the final victory of Constantine I over Licinius, in 324 A.D., the depiction of the ancient gods on coins came gradually to its final end. Nevertheless, the imagery of some personifications was not completely abandoned, to the extent that it could serve the imperial ideology, in terms of political and religious propaganda. This also holds true of the winged Victory, who was now assigned a new role, one that conformed to the official religion of the Byzantine Empire. Such an appropriation of ancient symbols was rather symptomatic of the formation process of the new imperial ideology and theology, which largely involved the connection of the paganistic past with the Christian doctrine.
Constantine and his immediate successors enhanced the iconography of Victory on coins with Christian attributes, the presence of which, rather discreet at the beginning, was to become much more prominent under the Theodosian dynasty. To the eyes of the viewer of the Early Byzantine period, this new Christianized iconography of Victory relayed the bond between the state and the new religion and conveyed the new role of the figure, which was to allude to the predominance of Jesus Christ over paganism and – from an eschatological point of view – over death. The dissemination of such messages among the masses was effectively promoted by the wide circulation of coins and gradually led to the transformation of the airy, female Roman Victoria into a less delicate, sexless Byzantine Angel.
Fine ware from the Glassworks building in the Early Christian city of Philippoi.
Stavros Zachariadis (Université d’Aristote de Thessalonique)
In the early christian city of Philippoi, to the southeast of its excavated part the Glassworks building provide us with sufficient evidence for constant use from the 3rd to the 7th century a.d. This particular building, that was occupying an entire city block, had originally a public character. During the 5th century it is converted into a workshop area connected with glass production. After a while a small bath complex is founded to the northern part of the building.
The fine ware consists of vessels imported from major production centers on the eastern Aegean coast, the North African coast, in the region of Tunisia and Algeria, and also in the Balkans, along with a series of imitations of these products. The study of the pottery emphasizes, along with typology, in matters of clay composition and technical details in order to clarify the vessels provenance and discriminate imported ware from imitations.
The systematic study of this pottery assemblage contributes to the dating of the archaeological context. Imported ware indicates the consistent interaction of the city with important centers on the Mediterranean coast, so as providing us with crucial information about trade routes in northern Greece, where only a few pottery assemblages are properly published.
In Search of Byzantium. Studies of Byzantine Art in Rome at the Beginning of 20th Century.
Giovanni Gasbarri (Université de la Sapienza de Rome)
This contribution is part of a Ph.D project in Art History started in 2010 at the “Sapienza” University of Rome. The research intends to highlight some crucial events which led the Byzantine Art History to become an independent discipline in Rome and in Italy on the turn of the 20th century. In those years, following the development of studies on this subject in the rest of Europe (first in Russia, then in France, England and Germany), Italy also gave its own contribution in evaluating Byzantium’s cultural role in the definition of European medieval art. Having newly become a capital, Rome hosted many collectors and scholars from abroad; their researches were encouraged by the most important foreign research Institutes such as the Ecole Française or the British School at Rome. In January 1901, the discovery of the Santa Maria Antiqua’s frescoes in the Roman Forum marked a turning point in the development of Byzantine studies, focusing the attention of an increasingly number of scholars in Eastern Christian arts. Furthermore, some later important cultural events certainly contributed to broaden that interest: the exhibition of Byzantine Art Works at Grottaferrata in 1905 (with a catalogue edited by Antonio Muñoz), and the 10th International Congress of Art History (1912), when many experts had the opportunity to present speeches dedicated to the arts and culture of Byzantium.
In this context, many famous scholars are remembered for their important writings on Early Christian and Byzantine art (Adolfo Venturi, Corrado Ricci, Antonio Muñoz, Pietro Toesca, Ugo Monneret de Villard, and others). The author of the first scientific monograph on the frescoes in Santa Maria Antiqua (1911), however, was one of the less famous personalities, baron Wladimir de Grüneisen. This contribution, therefore, also intends to offer a first overview on this important – but often neglected – scholar, trying to better define his profile within the Roman and European cultural context.