1st Edition

Between Islam and Byzantium Aght`amar and the Visual Construction of Medieval Armenian Rulership

By Lynn Jones Copyright 2007

    Between Islam and Byzantium provides the first complete analysis of the development of the visual expression of medieval Armenian rulership during the years 884-1045 CE. During this period, the Armenian rulers had loosened the ties that subjected them to the Arab caliphate, but by its end the Byzantine empire had instead become dominant in the region. The influences exerted by these external, opposing powers are a major theme in this book. Lynn Jones re-contextualizes the existing royal art and architecture by integrating analyses of contemporary accounts of ceremonial and royal deeds with fresh examinations of the surviving monuments, of which the church at Aght`amar, with its famous carvings, is the prime example. Setting the art and architecture of the period more clearly in its original context, the author reveals the messages these buildings, sculptures and manuscripts were intended to convey by those who created and viewed them. This study provides a new perspective on the complex interactions between a broad range of nationalities, ethnicities and religions, shedding fresh light on the nature of medieval identity. It adds to a growing literature on the eastern neighbours of Byzantium, and opens up new issues on the relationship between the Byzantine empire and the Islamic caliphate in the medieval period.

    Contents: Introduction to the historical context; Ceremonial; Bagratuni royal portraits; Artsrunik` royal portraits: the palace and palace church of the Holy Cross at Aght`amar; Royal deeds; Conclusion: methods and meanings of transmission; Notes; Select bibliography; Index.


    Lynn Jones is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at Florida State University, USA, and the editor of Byzantine Images and their Afterlives (2014).

    ’This admirable and indispensable book offers a lavishly illustrated comparison of the visual construction of kingship by the rival Armenian dynasties of the Bagratunis and the Artsrunis. ... The great strength of this book is the art-historical analysis... Scholars and students should welcome this book...’ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies ’There is much to recommend in this intelligent, thorough, and sharply focused investigation. ... With its close contextualization and insightful art-historical analyses, Between Islam and Byzantium stands as a central contribution not only to tenth- and eleventh-century artistic patronage in Armenia but more broadly to the study of medieval kingship and its imagery.’ Speculum ’Jones’ book provides a comprehensive and thorough examination of a relatively unknown medieval society and its culture and is therefore most welcome and appreciated.’ Art History