Speaking antiquity: ancient spolia as a visual koine in the medieval Mediterranean (12th to 15th Century)

Variant title
Antickou řečí: antická spolia jako vizuální koiné ve středověkém Středomoří (12.–15. století)
Source document: Convivium. 2021, vol. 8, iss. Supplementum 2, pp. [38]-59
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
License: Not specified license
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Remnants of antiquity were omnipresent in the medieval Mediterranean, where they served to evoke great empires and civilizations. A shared, particularly widespread practice was the integration of ancient architectural spolia into public structures. In the places considered here – Italian cities and the Byzantine and Mamluk Empires – the ancient past had specific meanings for medieval patrons and publics by expressing visually political and cultural identities. This essay begins by analyzing site-specific understandings of the past, made visual through the use of local antiquities as architectural decoration. In contrast to these particularized significations, ancient spolia, specifically Roman remnants, could be universalized not only to represent a shared visual culture but also to constitute a common koine. The essay goes on to treat the formation and implications of a visual koine on the basis of Roman remnants and the new visual system it forged through the cultural processes of mixing, aggregating, and reassignment.
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