Perceptions of the Body and Sacred Space in Late Antiquity and Byzantium: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Perceptions of the Body and Sacred Space in Late Antiquity and Byzantium

1st Edition

Edited by Jelena Bogdanovic


240 pages | 65 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138561045
pub: 2018-03-07
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Perceptions of the Body and Sacred Space in Late Antiquity and Byzantium seeks to reveal Christian understanding of the body and sacred space in the medieval Mediterranean. Case studies examine encounters with the holy through the perspective of the human body and sensory dimensions of sacred space, and discuss the dynamics of perception when experiencing what was constructed, represented, and understood as sacred. The comparative analysis investigates viewers’ recognitions of the sacred in specific locations or segments of space with an emphasis on the experiential and conceptual relationships between sacred spaces and human bodies. This volume thus reassesses the empowering aspects of space, time, and human agency in religious contexts. By focusing on investigations of human endeavors towards experiential and visual expressions that shape perceptions of holiness, this study ultimately aims to present a better understanding of the corporeality of sacred art and architecture. The research points to how early Christians and Byzantines teleologically viewed the divine source of the sacred in terms of its ability to bring together – but never fully dissolve – the distinctions between the human and divine realms. The revealed mechanisms of iconic perception and noetic contemplation have the potential to shape knowledge of the meanings of the sacred as well as to improve our understanding of the liminality of the profane and the sacred.


‘Each of the eight contributors shows in a different way how art, design, and architectural space could help transform the human body into a vehicle of the divine. Icons and the spaces they occupied had a real presence facilitated by shimmering surfaces; they demanded that believers should move bodily through constricted or open spaces, and they rewarded the pious who gazed upwards with animated manifestations of the heavenly realm’ – Time and Mind

Table of Contents

Introduction: Encounters with the Holy

Jelena Bogdanović


1. Images of Invisible Beauty in the Aesthetic Cosmology of Dionysius the Areopagite

Filip Ivanović


2. Monumental Icons and Their Bodies in Early Christian Rome and Byzantium

Maria Lidova

3. Imperial Bodies and Sacred Space? Imperial family images between monumental decoration and space definition in Late Antiquity and Byzantium

Maria Cristina Carile

4. The Influence of Icons on the Perception of Living Holy Persons

Katherine Marsengill


5. Delivering the Sacred: Representing Translatio on the Trier Ivory

Ljubomir Milanović

6. Bodies in Motion: Visualizing Trinitarian Space in the Albenga Baptistery

Nathan S. Dennis

7. A Mobile Dialogue of an Immobile Saint: St. Symeon the Younger, Divine Liturgy, and the Architectural Setting

Ayşe Belgin-Henry

8. Framing Glorious Spaces in the Monastery of Hosios Loukas

Jelena Bogdanović

Conclusions. Iconic Perception and Noetic Contemplation of the Sacred

Jelena Bogdanović with Katherine Marsengill


About the Editor

Jelena Bogdanovic is Associate Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University, USA. Trained as an architect and an historian of art and architecture, she specializes in the architectural history of Byzantine, Slavic, Western European, and Islamic cultures in the Balkans and the Mediterranean.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General