You are here:Home/Research/ Byzantine Studies/ Fellows and Visiting Scholars/ Byzantine Enamel and the Aesthetics of Technological Power, Ninth to Fifteenth Century

Byzantine Enamel and the Aesthetics of Technological Power, Ninth to Fifteenth Century

Shannon Steiner, Bryn Mawr College, Junior Fellow 2017–2018

I completed drafts of two chapters of my dissertation, which examines the relationship between Byzantine enameling and alchemical practice and argues for an interpretation of Byzantine enamel as aestheticized technology. These chapters required deep engagement with extant middle Byzantine texts on alchemy, which also comprise some thirty or more treatises and short recipes for artistic production in a variety of media. I looked at Dumbarton Oaks’ impressive collection of Byzantine enameled objects and began intensive study with local goldsmiths using techniques reproduced from both the alchemical texts and observed in Byzantine objects. I presented a paper at the 2017 Byzantine Studies Conference and participated in an international and interdisciplinary workshop on translating and testing Byzantine technical literature at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz, the proceedings of which will be published. Finally, I completed a draft of an article on artifice as an aesthetic value in middle Byzantine goldsmiths’ works, to be submitted upon revision.