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Mediterranean Cross-Currents: The So-called "Salerno ivories" as Examples of Artistic Interaction in the Middle Ages

Institute for Art History LMU

Cooperation project at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence/Max-Planck-Institut

During the second half of the twentieth century the field of medieval art-history was mainly dominated by the concept that Byzantium had been the leading production-center in the Mediterranean, offering "superior exempla", understood largely in terms of strong ties to the classical past. Although some attention was paid to individual monuments in areas other than the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, the role of Southern Italy, among other centers, was not sufficiently recognized.

A detailed, multifaceted, interdisciplinary analysis of the extraordinary eleventh-twelfth century, the 'Salerno ivories', the largest ivory ensemble preserved from the Middle Ages, (mostly Salerno, Museo Diocesano), still needs to be accomplished. An analysis of this ivory ensemble can decidedly help in understanding other coeval artifacts of complex cultural identity, prestigious as well as ordinary objects, like the oliphants with Islamic, Byzantine and western accents; the sculpture of Southern Italy and the Crusaders' domains in the Eastern Mediterranean; the serial metal objects from the loca sancta of the Mediterranean; the glass beakers with Christian iconography produced in the islamized Syria, etc.

Projektleitung Dr. Francesca Dell'Acqua (Università di Salerno), Prof. Dr. Herbert L. Kessler (Johns Hopkins University), Prof. Dr. Avinoam Shalem (Institut für Kunstgeschichte München, Max Planck Fellow), Prof. Dr. Gerhard Wolf (Max-Planck-Institut),