RAVENNA: SEDES IMPERII And Artistic Trajectories in the Late Antique Mediterranean (402-476)


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
RAVENNA: SEDES IMPERII And Artistic Trajectories in the Late Antique Mediterranean (402-476)
Frantová Zuzana
Bock Nicolas, Foletti  Ivan
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des lettres
Faculté des lettres
Université de Lausanne
CH-1015 Lausanne
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Ravenna ranked among the most significant administrative, political and religious centres of late antique period. The thesis is focused on the period between the transfer of the impérial court to Ravenna (402) and the déposition of the last western emperor Romulus Augustulus by the Germanie commander Odoacer (476).
The starting point of the thesis as well as its unifying thread is a présentation of the historiographical background against which the monuments of Ravenna have been studied up to now. It présents a général overview of those monuments in the light of the main question that has accompanied their study since the beginnings of modem research in the nineteenth century: what was Ravenna's position between East and West?
The thesis is divided into two main parts. The first, entitled "Création of a new sedes imperii", deals with the practical and material aspects of the individual crafïts involved in constructing a new impérial residence. Its starting point is the author's conviction that individual surviving examples of architecture, along with their décoration, sarcophagi, ivory and gold objects, can be best understood not only by examining their historical context and iconography, but also through their own materiality. Thus it focuses primarily on craftsmen and their traditions, on conscious breaks with those traditions, as well on the way workmen moved about the late antique world and thereby fostered the exchange and spread of technology and artistic models. Nor it does not ignore the availability of materials and the way they were used. Looking at the art of Ravenna through the lenses of archaeometric analysis and new archaeological discoveries led the author to a broader conclusion: in the early Christian period, there was unified Roman culture covering both West and East. To study Ravenna's art, one has to study the art of the late Roman Empire, an art that was "globalized" in the sense that workshops across the late Roman world used the same materials and were organized in the same way.
Just as (the author believes) it is necessary to study the material culture of Ravenna in the context of the entire late antique world, so is it necessary to consider the development not only of Ravenna, but also of the other major centres in the Roman Empire. A broad reappraisal of the rôle of these centres, along with the art produced there, forms the basis of the second part of this work entitled "Changes of Authorities". Even if the period studied is relatively short, it cannot, be examined as an undifferentiated block when Ravenna was simply the "capital of the West". The intentions of Emperor Honorius (and his powerful générais) differed from those of Emperor Valentinian III and his mother Galla Placidia (or of the eastern emperor Theodosius II), and the years when Bishop Neon was the principal authority in Ravenna (since the Emperor only intermittently resided there) must be considered independently as well. The theological and political changes taking place throughout the Empire are thus context for more individualized interprétation of Ravenna's monuments.
The thesis shows connections between politics, art, ideas, conflicts, and social phenomena and thus present Ravenna not as an isolated phenomenon but as one of many players in the political, ecclesiastical and social games of the late antique world.
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01/06/2017 11:47
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30/10/2020 9:52
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