Between Authority and Sanctity: The Monastic Landscapes of Middle Byzantine Hellas

Mann, Justin, History of Art and Architecture - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Kondyli, Fotini, AS-Art (ARTD), University of Virginia

Recent scholarship portrays the Byzantine monastery as a cultural microcosm that embodied broader social structures. Additionally, the monastery extended its influence outward, greatly altering natural and cultural topographies. Using extensive archaeological survey supported art historical and textual evidence, this dissertation project envisions the monastic landscape as a composite entity composed of interwoven human relationships that push the monastery’s boundaries beyond its walls. With a specific focus on the monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas, Hosios Meletios, Sagmata, and Zoodochos Pege, the dissertation attempts to disentangle these relationships one-by-one to understand better how they contributed to broader experiences of monastic authority and sanctity, which, in turn, formed the foundation for the construction of a monastic landscape. As such, the experience of Byzantine monasticism was not just upon a landscape; the monastery was the landscape.

The primary research aim of the dissertation is thus to push the study of monasticism in the Middle Byzantine period beyond the katholikon (abbey church) of the monastery. The dissertation argues that it is through the study of a relational monastic landscape that scholars of Byzantine monasticism can gain a valuable tool for understanding better these highly complex and important social institutions. To do so, however, requires one to consider and unite a broader range of archaeological, environmental, textual, and phenomenological data that have not yet been marshaled together in the study of Byzantine monastic landscapes. Therefore, the dissertation, while mostly archaeological in scope, will draw from methods and theory belonging to a range of disciplines, including anthropology, art and architectural history, and human geography. A secondary effect of this research agenda is that it also opens the study of Byzantine monasticism to broader cross-cultural comparison, bringing the field into dialogue with scholars of monasticism, religious landscapes, and social institutions from outside the Empire. In sum, the picture that emerges is of a monastic landscape that has the potential to bind, set apart, and distinguish a monastery.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Monastic Landscape, Middle Byzantine, Central Greece, Archaeology, Hosios Loukas, Daphni, Sagmata, Hosios Meletios, Zoodochos Pege, Hellas
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: