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Art and Society in the Land of Rūm: Thirteenth-Century “Byzantine” Paintings in Cappadocia

Tolga Uyar, Orient & Méditerranée, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Fellow 2013–2014

The cultural residue of the Greek communities living under Seljuk rule in Cappadocia represents the fullest and most detailed evidence for the multicultural artistic and social landscapes of late Byzantine Asia Minor. Although art historians have examined many of the thirteenth-century painting programs of the region, there has been little attempt to place them within a broader cultural context. In order to fill this lacuna, my study follows an interdisciplinary investigation of art history, history, anthropology, archaeology, and epigraphy. Grounded in a close examination of a large corpus of wall paintings and containing significant new visual and epigraphic data, the study methodologically demonstrates how visual culture can be used to understand the environment that produced it. The documentation is largely unpublished and was collected in five long field campaigns undertaken in Turkey.

Based on my doctoral dissertation, this study forms the subject of a monograph tentatively entitled Art and Society in the Land of Rūm: Thirteenth-Century “Byzantine” Paintings in Cappadocia. During my residential fellowship, I revised, edited, and translated several sections of my French thesis for publication, while reorganizing the first draft and rethinking and refining my conclusions. In addition, I wrote two substantial chapters on the artistic bonds between Byzantium, Seljuk Rūm, and the Eastern Mediterranean World and on the religious culture of Christian Cappadocia after Byzantine rule. I also submitted an article on Greek painters at the Seljuk court, which will be published in Islam and Christianity in Medieval Anatolia (forthcoming).