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Imagining the Divine: art in religions of Late Antiquity across Eurasia - 11-12-13/01/2018, Oxford (

The conference brings together early career researchers and established scholars of the art and archaeology of Late Antiquity (c.AD 200-800), across cultures and regions reaching from Gupta India to Umayyad Iberia, to discuss how objects can inform our understanding of religions. Major transformations are visible in the production of religious art and in the relationships between people and objects in religious contexts across the ancient world during this period. These shifts in behaviour and formalising of iconographies are visible in art associated with numerous religious traditions including, but not limited to, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, religions of the Roman Empire, and paganism in northern Europe. Studies of these religions and their material culture, however, have been shaped by Eurocentric and post-Reformation Christian frameworks that prioritised Scripture and minimised the capacity of images and objects to hold religious content. Despite recent steps to incorporate objects, much academic discourse, especially in comparative religion, remains stubbornly textual.

FECHA/DATE/DATA: 11-12-13/01/2018

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies, University of Oxford (Oxford, England)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Nadia Ali; Philippa Adrych; Katherine Cross; Dominic Dalglish; Jaś Elsner; Stefanie Lenk; Maria Lidova; Georgi Parpulov; Rachel Wood

INFO: web -


inscripción online / registration online / registrazione online


Thursday 11th January 16:00 Welcome Prof. Jaś Elsner (Empires of Faith)

Keynote Address Prof. Finbarr Barry Flood (NYU) Drinks reception followed by a private view of the Imagining the Divine: Art and the Rise of World Religions exhibition, Ashmolean Museum. Friday 12th January – Materiality of Religions

09:00 Registration

09:30 Welcome

Morning session chair: TBC

09:45 Material Religion in comparative perspective: how different is BCE from CE? Prof. Christoph Uehlinger (University of Zurich) 10:45 Bodies, Boxes and Borders: Framing the Divine in Greco-Roman Antiquity Prof. Verity Platt (Cornell University) 12:05 Material Practice and Metamorphosis of a Sign: Early Buddhist Stupas and the Origin of Mahayana Buddhism Prof. Lars Fogelin (University of Arizona)

Afternoon session chair: Prof. Bryan Ward-Perkins (University of Oxford)

14:05 Images in synagogue mosaics in late-Roman Palestine Prof. Martin Goodman (University of Oxford) 15:05 Empire and Faith: Religious Encounters on the Franks Casket Prof. Catherine Karkov (University of Leeds) 16:30 The sideways images of Eastern Christian gospel-books and Manichaean service-books Prof. Zsuzsanna Gulácsi (Northern Arizona University)

17:30 General discussion. Chair: Prof. Finbarr Barry Flood

Saturday 13th January – Visual conversations in art and religions of Late Antiquity 09:30 From Kufa to Kells: The Church, the Caliphate, and the Illuminated Word (7th-9th centuries) Prof. Ben Tilghman (Washington College) and Dr Umberto Bongianino (University of Oxford)

Chaired by Dr Katherine Cross (Empires of Faith)

11:30 From Sarapis, to Christ, to the Caliph. Faces as a re-appropriation of the past Prof. Ivan Foletti (Marysak University) and Dr Katharina Meinecke (University of Vienna)

Chaired by Dr Nadia Ali (Empires of Faith)

14:00 Sacred symbols on domestic and martial objects Dr Ine Jacobs (University of Oxford) and Dr Katherine Cross (Empires of Faith, The British Museum & University of Oxford)

Chaired by Robert Bracey (The British Museum, formerly Empires of Faith project)

16:00 Buddhist and Islamic amulets: forms and functions Dr Gergely Hidas (The British Museum) and Prof. Emilie Savage-Smith (University of Oxford)

Chaired by Dr Maria Lidova (Empires of Faith)

17:30 Concluding discussion chaired by Prof. Jaś Elsner (Empires of Faith)

19:00 Conference party. All welcome.

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