'Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond' - 54th Annual Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies

17-19 March 2023, Corpus Christi College & All Souls College, Oxford

54th spbs conference poster

The 54th Annual Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies will be held in Oxford on the theme of Material Religion in Byzantium and Beyond. The Symposium bringcombines Byzantine studies with a series of innovative approaches to religion's material nature and realities egrounding the methodological, historical and archaeological problems of studying religion through visual and material culture. Taking a broad geographical and chronological view of the Byzantine world, the Symposium will range across Afro-Eurasia and from Antiquity to the period after the fall of Constantinople. Sessions will be arranged around the themes of ‘Objects in motion’, ‘Religion in 3D’, ‘Religious landscapes’, ‘Things without context’, ‘Things and their context’ and ‘Spatial approaches to religion’.

The Symposium will be hybrid, taking place at Oxford – Corpus Christi College and All Souls College –, and on Zoom.
Symposiarchs: Ine Jacobs, Julia Smith, Jaś Elsner.


Visit the symposium's website




Unless otherwise indicated, sessions and breaks will take place in Corpus Christi College.

Friday 17 March 2023

11.30-12.00 Opening statement                   

12.00-1.00 Inaugural lecture

Birgit Meyer – Catching up: Byzantine reverberations in the material study of religion

1.00-2.00 Lunch      

2.00-3.30 Session 1: Objects in motion

Anne Lester – Beyond the Borders, Outside the Frame. Translating Presence from Byzantium to the West after 1204

Ivan Foletti – Beyond the Myth of Byzantium: Ritual Installations and Visual Concepts in Seventh-century Tsromi, Mren, and Talin

3.30-4.00 Tea and Coffee break                

4.00-5.30 Session 2: Religion in 3D         

Paroma Chatterjee – Statues and Sacred Icons in Constantinople: Movement, Naturalization, and Identity

David Frankfurter – Christian Figurines of Late Antiquity and Perceptions of Idolatry

7.00 Reception

Saturday 18 March 2023

9.00-11.00 Free communications Session 1, All Souls College

Barbara Crostini  The Dura Synagogue as Performative Space

Verena Fugger  The Holy Rider from the Artemision: New Considerations on the Cult of Saints in Early Byzantine Ephesus

Alexis Gorby  Sensing Death: Late Antique Sarcophagi in their Ritual Context

Paweł Nowakowski – “At the mines they built places of worship.” Material Evidence for Religious Activities at Quarries and Mines in late antique Asia Minor

María J. S. Vicent  Worship in the Stones of Santa María de Quintanilla de las Viñas. The Stonework and Carved Motifs Used for Liturgy in Late-Antiquity Hispania

Nadine Viermann  Relics in Translation: Holy Objects in Constantinople Between City Centre and Urban Periphery

Joaquin Serrano del Pozo  Processions with Holy Relics in the sieges of Constantinople (AD 626–1204)

Nila Namsechi  The Religious Built Environment of Byzantine Naples (ca. 650-1000)

11.00-11.30 Tea and Coffee break

11.30-1.00 Session 3: Religious landscapes

Myrto Veikou – Cavernous Landscapes in the Byzantine Aegean: a Discussion of Materialities of Cult and Sensorial Topologies

Troels M. Kristensen – Alahan: Religious Landscapes and the Scales of Mobility

1.00-2.00 Lunch

2.00-3.30 Session 4: Things without context

Regula Schorta – Eastern Silks in Western Treasuries

Béatrice Caseau – Sensoriality and Materiality in Byzantine Religious Rituals

3.30-4.00 Tea and Coffee break                

4.00-5.30 Session 5: Things and their context

Brigitte Pitarakis – Contextualizing the Bronze Object: The Performative Power of Decoration and the Ritual Experience

Sean Leatherbury – Materialising Motion in the Early Byzantine Church

6.00 SPBS Executive Meeting, All Souls College

7.30 Dinner, All Souls College

Sunday 19 March 2023

9.00-10.30 Free communications 2, All Souls College

James Cogbill  Spoken Word and Material Object in Monastic Installation Ceremonies at the Theotokos Evergetis

Maximilian Lau  Images and Realities of the Ecumenical Councils in the Twelfth Century

Patrick Martin  Material theology: Spatial and Temporal Coherence in Middle Byzantine Last Judgements

Dorota Zaprzalska  Assemblage Theory and Icons: Composite Icons as an Assemblage within an Assemblage

Gang Wu  Possible Buddhist Influence on the Byzantine Silk Industry 

Anna Muthesius  ‘Silken relic’ Material Culture East and West: a Sign of Common Humanity Across Time and Civilisations?

10.30-11.00 Tea and Coffee break

11.00-12.30 Session 6: Spatial approaches to religion

Ann Marie Yasin – Sacred Space Social-Time Machines: Accumulation Value and Material Affordances

Francesca Dell’Acqua – Putting on the Lord. The bosom as a locus for private devotion (seventh–ninth centuries)

12.30-1.00 SPBS AGM

1.00-2.00 Lunch      

2.00-3.00 Closing lecture: Material religion in writing

Ildar Garipzanov – Weather Control and Manuscripts’ Margins in the Early Medieval West          

Closing and announcement of the 55th Spring Symposium