Christian Archaeology/Byzantine Art History

(Prof. Dr. Ute Verstegen)

Facets of Victory: Military Elements in the Iconography of Byzantine Rulers

This project will deal with the development and transformation of Byzantine rulership from Late Antiquity to the Late Byzantine period, focusing on the interlocking of sacral and military aspects. Motifs, such as the Chi-Rho on the military equipment of the emperor and his bodyguards in the Early Byzantine period, referred to hoped-for divine assistance in battle, as well as the divine presence of the ruler. From the Middle Byzantine period, celestial figures such as archangels or certain saints with special military connotations are associated with the ruler to symbolise his victoriousness. Also to be considered are references to Old Testament rulers such as Melchizedek and David, as well as the Byzantine military semantics of ceremonial insignia.


Fighters in the Church: Weapons and the Military in Religious Iconographic Programmes of the Middle Ages

Representations of armed warrior emerge in various themes of church painting in the Middle and Late Byzantine periods. While the Byzantine military patrons are well-researched, little attention has been paid to the phenomenon of warriors in the narrative depiction of the Byzantine feast cycle (for example, Arrest on the Mount of Olives, the Crucifixion). The questions raised are whether arms and armour were used to conceptualise the warriors depicted (for example, by referring to the Varangian Guard), whether they reflect contemporary, retrospective or fictitious equipment elements, which positions the representations took within the space of the church and which role different groups of actors (particularly, on the part of the client) played in the creation of the image.


Fortifications in Transition: Structural Modifications in Late Antique and Byzantine Fortifications

The study of Byzantine fortification is a fundamental necessity, as so far there is neither a comprehensive documentation of the surviving monuments nor an overarching study. The preserved facilities range from barrier walls and city defences, military posts and castles to fortified monasteries and farms. On the basis of published findings and self-conducted fieldwork, this PhD thesis will aim to investigate the extent to which innovations in military technology and warfare (such as new weapon types, and guerrilla tactics) led to a change in the defensive elements of Byzantine fortification.