The Church of the Kathisma on the Jerusalem–Bethlehem Road: Archaeological, Art Historical, and Historical Study
My project at Dumbarton Oaks was to prepare a manuscript of a comprehensive monograph, complementing the technical archaeological final report (submitted in 2003 to the monograph series IAA Reports), on the Church of the Kathisma situated near Jerusalem. The church was excavated under my direction on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The excavations revealed a large octagonal structure (41 x 38 m) with an unusual complex plan. Three strata were recognized (dated to the fifth, sixth, and eighth centuries CE). Archaeological evidence indicates that during the eighth century the building was used simultaneously as a mosque within the church.
My goal this year was to update and pursue a thematic expansion of my dissertation, namely, to put the Kathisma within a broader Christian and Islamic context. Topics included the history of the building; pilgrimage; the beginnings of the veneration and cult of the Theotokos in the Holy Land and abroad; mutual influences between Jewish, Christian, and early Islamic traditions; architecture and art, such as the influence of the Kathisma on other martyria, including the Dome of the Rock; and the artistic influence of the wall mosaic of the Dome of the Rock on two important floor mosaics in the Kathisma.
Besides completing a draft of my projected book, a year of residence at Dumbarton Oaks enabled me to meet and exchange views with different scholars (Dumbarton Oaks staff, fellows, and visiting scholars), thus yielding new ideas for future research.