Spring 2016 - HS 303 D100

Selected Topics in Hellenic Studies (4)

Byzantine Art and Architect

Class Number: 8568

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
    AQ 4140, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 13, 2016
    12:00 PM – 3:00 PM
    AQ 5005, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

  • Instructor:

    Naomi Pitamber



The study of issues related to Hellenic Studies not offered in regular courses.


Glittering gold and silver mosaic-covered domes, brilliant polychrome murals of landscapes and heroic quests, rich silk tapestries of royal purple. Holy relics covered by boxes of carved ivory and encrusted with gold and cabochon gems. In their own time, objects like these—objects of Byzantine art and architecture—were highly valued both at home and abroad, making them the “global” art of the medieval world, a world perceived to be coterminous with “Christendom.” The Byzantine Empire, while marked historically as beginning with the transfer of the imperial capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in 324 by Constantine the Great and ending with loss of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks in 1453, possessed a central role in the creation and development of art and visual culture in the Mediterranean basin, Europe, and parts of western Asia and the Near East, wielding an influence far beyond its own political borders for more than a millennium.

This course will present the canon of Byzantine art and architecture in a chronological, historically driven narrative inflected by interactions, both peaceful and agonistic, amongst the myriad of cultures of the Mediterranean basin from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries. In addition, this course will position the arts of Byzantium in their (ever-changing) socio-historical contexts, informed by the combined study of architecture and archaeological sites of importance, centering on the capital of Constantinople and imperial art, but including other urban and rural sites in what are today the countries of Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Russia, Italy, Egypt, Syria, Israel, Palestine and parts of western Europe.

Interactions at the highest levels of society, between emperors and princesses, khalifs and dragomen, crusaders and pilgrims, soldiers and peasants—evidenced through currency and hoards, diplomatic gifts and deeds, through seals and portraits—will be paralleled with material drawn from the archaeological record, pointing to artistic cultural interactions between real Byzantine people on islands, coastlines, valleys, and mountain tops. Texts in translation by authors from Byzantium as well as those in the Latin west and Islamic east will be featured: the events of the First and Fourth Crusades will also be a focus.


  • Class participation / Attendance 25%
  • Written assignments / Quizzes 45%
  • Guided research paper 30%


HS 303 is cross-listed with HUM 360. Students can take this course under either course designation for credit.



R. Cormack, Byzantine Art (Oxford, 2000)

R. Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, 4thed. (New Haven, 1985)

C. Mango, Byzantine Architecture (New York, 1985)

C. Mango, The Art of the Byzantine Empire (Toronto, 1986)

*Additional required course readings will be posted online.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html