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ARTH401: Early Christian and Byzantine Art

Unit 1: Early Christian Art   This course begins with the earliest examples of Christian art, which date back to the second century in Rome.  The Christian art created during this period emerged directly out of the Classical Roman artistic tradition and is often difficult to distinguish as “Christian.”  Not only were stylistic elements borrowed from Roman art but so too were subjects and themes; Roman gods like Apollo took on new significance in a Christian context, for example, and the Roman basilica assumed a new function as a Christian building.  While indebted to Roman tradition, as Christian art became more confident and reached a wider and wider audience, it began to declare its Christian message with greater force and originality. 

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit will take you 21 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 6 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 5.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3: 4.5 hours

☐    Unit 1 Assignment: 5 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  • Identify Early Christian works of art, being able to provide date of creation, artist, patron, medium, and culture.
  • Recognize those features (stylistic and iconographic) that are typical of the arts of the Early Christian world.
  • Explain and discuss the history of Christianity in the Late Antique period.
  • Describe the significance and function of Christian art in the Late Antique period.
  • Identify and discuss the sources of influence important for the development of Christian art in the Late Antique period.
  • Describe the techniques and materials used to create works of Early Christian art.
  • Explain the ways in which Early Christian art reveals the social, religious, and political mores of the culture in which it was produced.

1.1 The Emergence of Christian Art   1.1.1 Introduction to Early Christian Art   - Reading: Smarthistory: Dr. Allen Farber’s “Early Christian Art—An Introduction” and The Humbox Project: Dr. Diana Edelman’s “The Bible and Art—Lecture Text” Links: Smarthistory: Dr. Allen Farber’s “Early Christian Art—An Introduction” (HTML) and The Humbox Project: Dr. Diana Edelman’s “The Bible and Art—Lecture Text” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of these webpages for an introduction to Early Christian art.  To read Dr. Edelman’s lecture text, you may view the PDF document on the webpage, or download the Word document.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Isabelle Pafford’s “Christianity” Link: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Isabelle Pafford’s “Christianity” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Please listen to this audio lecture.  The beginning of the podcast deals with administrative topics for Professor Pafford’s course, so you may skip over this and begin the video at about 5:11 minutes until the end of the video (approximately 30 minutes).
     
    Terms of Use: The above material is reposted from the University of California -- Berkeley's Webcast, Berkeley. This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercia-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

1.1.2 The Earliest Christian Art: Catacombs and Sarcophagi   1.1.2.1 Catacombs   - Reading: Smarthistory: Dr. Allen Farber’s “Early Christian Art—An Introduction (Part 2)” and “Early Christian Art;” Belmont University: Dr. Joseph Byrne’s “Out of the Depths...The Christian Catacombs of Ancient Rome: An Introduction” Links: Smarthistory: Dr. Allen Farber’s “Early Christian Art—An Introduction (Part 2)” (HTML) and “Early Christian Art;” (HTML) Belmont University: Dr. Joseph Byrne’s “Out of the Depths...The Christian Catacombs of Ancient Rome: An Introduction” (HTML)
  
Instructions: Please read the entirety of these webpages for an introduction to Christian catacombs.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

1.1.2.2 Sarcophagi   - Reading: Smarthistory: Dr. Allen Farber’s “Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus” and “Sarcophagus in the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua (Rome)” Links: Smarthistory: Dr. Allen Farber’s “Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus” (HTML) and “Sarcophagus in the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua (Rome)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of these webpages for an introduction to Christian sarcophagi.  Please also watch the brief video (5 minutes) embedded in the “Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus.”
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

1.1.3 Dura Europos and the Early Christian ‘House Church’   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation's "Dura Europos and the Early Christian ‘House Church’" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "Dura Europos and the Early Christian ‘House Church’" (PDF)

 Instructions: Please read this entry in its entirety for an
overview of the development of the earliest Christian churches and a
discussion of the most famous surviving example.

1.2 Christian Rome and the Emperor Constantine   1.2.1 Introduction to Christian Art in Constantine’s Rome   - Reading: Smarthistory: Dr. Allen Farber’s “Early Christian Art and Architecture after Constantine” and United Methodist Women’s version of Constantine Augustus’s and Licinius Augustus’s “Edict of Milan” Link: Smarthistory: Dr. Allen Farber’s “Early Christian Art and Architecture after Constantine” (HTML) and United Methodist Women’s version of Constantine Augustus’s and Licinius Augustus’s “Edict of Milan” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of both webpages for an introduction to the Emperor Constantine’s Christianization of Rome.  Please note that the “Edict of Milan” is an English translation of the famous Edict of Milan, which legalized Christianity in the late Roman world. 
 
Terms of Use: This text is in the public domain. 

1.2.2 Early Christian Churches   1.2.2.1 Old Saint Peter’s Basilica   - Reading: SUNY College at Oneonta: History of European Medieval Art: Dr. Allen Farber’s “The Early Christian Basilica” Link: SUNY College at Oneonta: History of European Medieval Art: Dr. Allen Farber’s “The Early Christian Basilica” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read “The Early Christian Basilica” in its entirety.  Note that this reading will cover the material you need to know for subunits 1.2.2.1-1.2.2.4.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Columbia University: The Medieval Architecture Online Teaching Project: Professor Dale Kinney’s “St. Peter’s Basilica” Link: Columbia University: The Medieval Architecture Online Teaching Project: Professor Dale Kinney’s “St. Peter’s Basilica” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read the entirety of this webpage, and then select the following pages from the drop-down menu “Click to explore:” “Old St. Peter’s Basilica: Description,” “Old St. Peter’s Basilica: Symbolism,” and “Old St. Peter’s Basilica: Function & Liturgy.”  For all of these pages, be sure to click on the embedded images for larger versions of these images.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.2.2 Santa Costanza   - Reading: Sacred Destinations: Holly Hayes’s “Santa Costanza—Rome, Italy” Link: Sacred Destinations: Holly Hayes’s “Santa Costanza—Rome, Italy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of this webpage for an overview of this important early Christian church. This subunit is also covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 1.2.2.1. 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Sacred Destinations: “Photos: Santa Costanza, Rome” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

    Submit Materials

1.2.2.3 Santa Sabina   - Reading: Sacred Destinations: Holly Hayes’s “Santa Sabina—Rome, Italy” Link: Sacred Destinations: Holly Hayes’s “Santa Sabina—Rome, Italy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of this webpage, carefully examining all images of Santa Sabina, its interior, exterior, and decorative details. This subunit is also covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 1.2.2.1. 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Smarthistory: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Santa Sabina” Link: Smarthistory: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker’s “Santa Sabina” (YouTube)
     
    Also Available in:
    Abobe Flash
     
    Instructions: Please watch this short video lecture (4 minutes) for an overview of the church of Santa Sabina in Rome.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.2.4 Santa Maria Maggiore   - Reading: Sacred Destinations: Holly Hayes’s “Santa Maria Maggiore—Rome, Italy” Link: Sacred Destinations: Holly Hayes’s “Santa Maria Maggiore—Rome, Italy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read the entirety of this webpage, carefully examining all images of Santa Maria Maggiore, its interior, exterior, and decoration. This subunit is also covered by the reading assigned beneath subunit 1.2.2.1. 
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: Smarthistory: Richard Bowen (Courtesy Context Travel), Beth Harris, and Steven Zucker’s “Santa Maria Maggiore” Link: Smarthistory: Richard Bowen (Courtesy Context Travel), Beth Harris, and Steven Zucker’s “Santa Maria Maggiore” (YouTube)
     
    Also Available in:
    Adobe Flash
     
    Instructions: Please watch this short, embedded video lecture (5 minutes) for an overview of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: The Vatican: “The Papal Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore” Virtual Tour Link: The Vatican: “The Papal Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore” Virtual Tour (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Please visit all eight virtual locations on this webpage, exploring the three-dimensional view available by means of navigating with your mouse.  Try to get a sense for the layout of the building.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.3 Constantinople: Rome in the East   - Reading: University of Chicago: LacusCurtius: Bill Thayer’s online version of J.B. Bury’s History of the Later Roman Empire, Vol. I, Chapter 3 Link: University of Chicago: LacusCurtius: Bill Thayer’s online version of J.B. Bury’s [History of the Later Roman Empire,Vol. I, Chapter 3](http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/BURLAT/3.html#1) *(HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read this webpage for an introduction to the history of the founding of Constantinople and a discussion of some of its first building projects.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Isabelle Pafford’s “The Later Reign of Constantine and the Founding of Constantinople” Link: University of California, Berkeley: Professor Isabelle Pafford’s “The Later Reign of Constantine and the Founding of Constantinople

    Instructions: Please listen to the entirety of this lecture podcast (38 minutes).  The beginning of the lecture deals with class administration topics for Professor Pafford’s course, so feel free to skip this section and begin at about 1:50 minutes.
               
    Terms of Use: The above material is reposted from the University of California -- Berkeley's Webcast, Berkeley.  This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercia-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Unit 1 Assignment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1 Writing Assignment: Comparing and Contrasting Early Christian and Roman Art” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1 Writing Assessment: Comparing and Contrasting Early Christian and Roman Art
 
Instructions: Please carefully read through the assessment overview and instructions and view all required images and reading assignments to complete this assessment.  When you are done, check your work against The Saylor Foundation’s “Guide to Responding to Assignment 1.”