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Vicarious Byzantinist travel photos

Reducing the backlog anothe tiny slice, two days after the seminar described in the previous post I was at the first General Seminar of the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies in Birmingham for autumn 2014. This venerable body, to which the curatorship of the Barber’s coin collection now sort of granted me membership although they’d always been perfectly welcoming before as well, has an occasional tradition of starting its year with reports from its numerous postgraduates about what they’ve been up to over the summer. That is, of course, no kind of academic presentation to be reported upon and in any case I always dither about reporting on postgraduate work, but what I can do is grab ideas for a photo post, because they’d been to some fantastic places. Of course, I don’t have any photos of these places myself, though perhaps I should get some, but the web can come to the rescue.

Cross-slabs (khatchkars) in the cemetery at Noraduz, Armenia.

Cross-slabs (khatchkars) in the cemetery at Noraduz, Armenia.
By Arantz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

To start with, here are some cross-slabs. They are Armenian, and these oldest ones probably no older than the late tenth century, though that’s still in my remit of course, but you can imagine that when I, the erstwhile scholar of the Picts, saw them Armenia was not my first thought. The artwork is all different, but the sheer fact of memorialisation having been like this in two points so far separated was a little uncanny as the image went past me, especially since it turns out they are still/again doing it like that at least in this village.

The church of St John, Güllü Dere, Cappadocia in Turkey

It’s surprisingly hard to find a good big picture of this place given the number of people you can pay to take you there, but I believe this is the church of St John, Güllü Dere, Cappadocia in Turkey

Then, Cappadocia’s rock-cut settlements have been on my list of places I need to see before I die since I found out about them, but this one was new to my knowledge, this being Güllü Dere, the valley of the Roses, and its church of St John, which is seventh- to ninth-century in so far as these can be dated, and has a pretty impressive set of surviving frescos.

Fresco portrait of Arsenius from inside the church of St John, Güllü Dere, Cappadocia

Fresco portrait of Arsenius from inside the church

And lastly, also somewhat oddly inserted into its surroundings, this:

Apse of the chapel of St Astius, Dürres

Apse of the chapel of St Astius, Dürres, protruding from the tiers of the Roman amphitheatre there. Photo by Flickr user orientalizing and licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Isn’t this marvellous? A better example of the takeover of civic public space by Christian public space it would be hard to find, though it would also be nice to know what group of people actually got to worship here, in what was clearly not a very big church but in a very prominent place.

Inside the apse of the chapel of St Astius, Dürres

Inside the apse, looking out into the theatre. Photo by Flickr user orientalizing and licensed under Creative Commons, CC CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Whoever they were, they could apparently afford a bit of artwork.

Frescos inside the chapel of St Astius, Dürres

Frescos inside the chapel. Photo by Flickr user orientalizing, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

There’s so many good points one could make with this, but mainly I want to go and see it. If I ever do my own photos will be here if at all possible, is all I can promise…

One response to “Vicarious Byzantinist travel photos

  1. I visited Cappadocia’s rock-cut churches and settlements a few years ago. While interesting, I’m not so sure they are that outstanding that I would recommend them as a must see before you die. Overall there is so much to see in Turkey ( for a history lover) that I would recommend the country as a whole as a must see.

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