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The Rock-Cut Monastery of Karanlık Kilise in the Göreme Valley: Monasticism, Art and Patronage in Byzantine Cappadocia

Antonios Tsakalos, Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens, Greece, Summer Fellow 2008/09

During this fellowship, my aim was to undertake research leading to the publication of my Ph.D. dissertation, which focuses on the middle Byzantine rock-cut monastery of Karanlık kilise in the Göreme valley (Cappadocia). In general, I tried to check systematically the bibliographical references cited in the footnotes, and especially to consult the most recent publications in order to update the information provided in my text. Being conscious that the task undertaken needed more than two months to be completed, I decided to focus particularly on two major topics treated in my thesis:

Research on the different forms of Byzantine monasticism allowed me to better understand the archaeological material and to consolidate my hypothesis that the Karanlık kilise monastery was a small coenobium, to which several ascetics living in the surrounding area would have been attached.

The role of the seven donors depicted in significant places in the catholicon of the monastery was undoubtedly decisive. It seems that the donors conceived their participation in the foundation of Karanlık kilise as involving a kind of ‘mission’, probably concerning the interests of the Byzantine Church.

In addition, undisturbed concentration on my research for two months and the opportunity to work again on a text completed a couple of years ago offered me the chance to realize that several modifications (such as the shortening of certain parts of the text or reorganization of the existing material in several instances) would render the final presentation more coherent and effective.

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