Sussex Centre for Byzantine Cultural History


The Sussex Centre for Byzantine Cultural History hosts The Composition of Byzantine Glass Mosaic Tesserae project. This is a continuation of the Leverhulme Trust-sponsored International Network of the same name. At present, the project’s main task is the updating and maintenance of the database of Byzantine mosaics. The Centre is also the home of the Madrid Skylitzes Project.

Current  Research projects and Publications of Centre Members

Liz James (Centre Director) currently holds a 3-year Leverhulme Trust Major Fellowship. During this time, she is engaged on researching and writing up her material on Byzantine mosaics into a general study of wall mosaics in Byzantium.

Nadine Schibille is currently revising her book manuscript on Early Byzantine aesthetics for publication and working on numerous archaeometric projects on glass and mosaic assemblage from various first millennium CE Mediterranean sites.

Wendy Watson, who completed her PhD in 2012, is managing the database of Byzantine mosaics, adding and correcting entries.

Helen Rufus-Ward has developed elements from her doctoral research on 19th century responses to Byzantine ivories.  Helen has also been conducting research into nineteenth-century plaster casting of Byzantine ivories (known as fictile ivories) culminating in an essay entitled Typecasting Byzantium: the nineteenth-century British Pro-classical polemic.  Future research will focus on a comparison between Byzantine and early Islamic art and will involve a study trip to Jerusalem in October 2013.

Iuliana Gavril is working as an Associate tutor in the Department of Art History. Iuliana studied both architecture and religious studies, and specialised in Late Antiquity art in the Eastern Mediterranean and Byzantine church architecture. She is particularly interested in spatial practices and representation of sacred spaces in texts (ekphraseis).

Rebecca Raynor is now finishing a monograph based on her Ph.D. entitled: In the Image of Saint Luke: The Artist in Early Byzantium. She is now building on her previous research on artists in the eastern-half of the Byzantine Empire by expanding her focus to explore the links between Byzantium and the peoples and cultural heritage of southern Italy.


Recent Publications by Members of the Centre

Liz James

Constantine of Rhodes, On Constantinople and the Church of the Holy Apostles (Ashgate, 2012), with a new edition of the poem by Ioannis Vassis

‘Images of text in Byzantine art: the apse mosaic in Hosios David, Thessaloniki’ in eds. K. Krause and B. Schellewald, Bild und Text im Mittelalter (Vienna, 2011), 255-66

‘”Seeing’s believing but feeling’s the truth”: touch and the meaning of Byzantine art’ in ed. A. Lymberopoulou, Images of the Byzantine world: visions, messages and meanings (Ashgate, 2011), 1-15

‘Mosaic matters. Questions of manufacturing and mosaicists in the mosaics of San Marco, Venice’ in eds. H. Maguire and R. S. Nelson, San Marco, Byzantium and the myths of Venice (Washington, 2010), 227-243

‘Byzantine glass mosaic tesserae: some material considerations’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 30,1 (2006), 29-47

Nadine Schibille

A quest for wisdom: the sixth-century mosaics of Hagia Sophia and late antique aesthetics. In: New light on old glass: recent research on Byzantine glass and mosaics. British Museum research publication (179). British Museum Company Ltd, London. ISBN 9780861591794 (In Press)

and McKenzie, Judith Glass tesserae from Hagios Polyeuktos, Constantinople: their early Byzantine affiliations. In: Neighbours and successors of Rome: traditions of glass production and use in Europe and the Middle East in the later first millennium AD. Oxbow, Oxford. (In Press)

Light as an aesthetic constituent in the architecture of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. In: Manipulating light in premodern times / Manipolare la luce in epoca premoderna. Mendrisio Academy Press / SilvanaEditoriale Cinisello Balsamo, Milano. (In Press)

and Degryse, Patrick (2013) The glassware: chemical analysis - provenance and recycling. In: The Nabatean Temple at Khirbet et-Tannur, Jordan: Volume 2: cultic offerings, vessels and other specialist reports. Final report on Nelson Glueck's 1937 Excavations. Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research Vol. 67.2, Manar al-Athar Monograph 2. (In Press)

Degryse, P, O'Hea, M, Izmer, A, Vanhaecke, F and McKenzie, J (2012) Late Roman glass from the 'Great Temple' at Petra and Khirbet Et-Tannur, Jordan: technology and provenance. Archaeometry, 54 (6). pp. 997-1022. ISSN 0003-813X

Schibille, Nadine, Degryse, Patrick, Corremans, Markku and Specht, Christian G (2012) Chemical characterisation of glass mosaic tesserae from sixth-century Sagalassos (south-west Turkey): chronology and production techniques. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39 (5). pp. 1480-1492. ISSN 0305-4403

Schibille, Nadine (2011) Supply routes and the consumption of glass in first millennium CE Butrint (Albania). Journal of Archaeological Science, 38. pp. 2939-2948. ISSN 0305-4403

Schibille, Nadine (2011) Late Byzantine mineral soda high alumina glasses from Asia Minor: a new primary glass production group. PLoS ONE, 6 (4). e18970. ISSN 1932-6203


Helen Rufus Ward

‘Representing the decline and fall: nineteenth-century responses to the Asclepius/Hygieia and Clementinus ivory diptychs’ in eds A Eastmond and L James, Wonderful Things. Byzantium through its art (Ashgate, forthcoming).