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Invitation to the Byzantine Symposium

Posted On April 16, 2015 | 11:19 am | by meredithb | Permalink
“The Holy Apostles” | April 24–26, 2015

In the early years of Dumbarton Oaks, one of the research projects initiated by A. M. Friend was devoted to the church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople. This early humanities collaboration of a literary scholar (Glanville Downey), an architectural historian (Paul Underwood), and an art historian (Friend) represented an attempt to reconstruct a lost building. A three-volume publication on the subject was envisaged, and a symposium was held in 1948, in which major scholars were involved, with Sirarpie Der Nersessian as symposiarch. Friend gave two lectures on the reconstruction of the lost mosaic cycle and Underwood spoke about the architecture. Der Nersessian herself gave two lectures on mosaics, while Downey spoke about literary texts, Milton Anastos about imperial theology, and Francis Dvornik about the patriarch Photios. As Kurt Weitzmann summarized, “It was a very unified program, demonstrating how Friend had been able to get every scholar at Dumbarton Oaks involved in his project.”

Unlike the Dumbarton Oaks projects on Norman Sicily or on Venice, the results of the Holy Apostles initiative were never published, nor was the 1948 symposium. Some materials survive in ICFA from the project, also unpublished. Nevertheless, the church of the Holy Apostles continues to attract scholarly attention from philologists, historians, and art historians. In the seventy-fifth year of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, a symposium devoted to the church of the Holy Apostles will complete the task of those early years by assessing the significance of the church, its milieu, and its legacy.