Inscriptions convey meaning not just by their contents but also by other means, such as choice of script, location, scale, spatial organisation, letterform, legibility and clarity. The essays in this book consider these visual qualities of inscriptions, ranging across the Mediterranean and the Near East from Spain to Iran and beyond, including Norman Sicily, Islamic North Africa, Byzantium, medieval Italy, Georgia and Armenia. While most essays focus on Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, they also look back at Achaemenid Iran and forward to Mughal India. Topics discussed include real and pseudo-writing, multilingual inscriptions, graffiti, writing disguised as images and images disguised as words. From public texts set up on mountainsides or on church and madrasa walls to intimate craftsmen's signatures, barely visible on the undersides of precious objects, the inscriptions discussed in this volume reveal their meanings as textual and visual devices.
Antony Eastmond is A. G. Leventis Reader in the History of Byzantine Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. He has written extensively on the art and culture of medieval Georgia and its relations with Byzantium. He also works on Byzantine ivories. He is the author of The Glory of Byzantium and Early Christendom (2013), as well as Art and Identity in Thirteenth-Century Byzantium: Hagia Sophia and the Empire of Trebizond (2008) and Royal Imagery in Medieval Georgia (1998). He has published articles in the Art Bulletin, Art History, Dumbarton Oaks Papers and Speculum. He currently holds a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship and is working on a study of cultural interaction in eastern Anatolia on the eve of the Mongol invasions.
Introduction: viewing inscriptions Antony Eastmond; 1. Text, image, memory, and performance: epigraphic practices in Persia and the ancient Iranian world Matthew P. Canepa; 2. Prayers on site: the materiality of devotional graffiti and the production of early Christian sacred space Ann Marie Yasin; 3. Erasure and memory: Aghlabid and Fatimid inscriptions in North Africa Jonathan Bloom; 4. Textual icons: viewing inscriptions in medieval Georgia Antony Eastmond; 5. Pseudo-Arabic 'inscriptions' and the pilgrim's path at Hosios Loukas Alicia Walker; 6. Arabic inscriptions in the Cappella Palatina: performativity, audience, legibility, and illegibility Jeremy Johns; 7. Intercession and succession, enlightenment and reflection: the inscriptional and decorative program of the Qaratay Madrasa, Konya Scott Redford; 8. Remembering Fernando: multilingualism in medieval Iberia Tom Nickson; 9. Displaying the word: words as visual signs in the Armenian architectural decoration of the monastery of Noravank (fourteenth century) Ioanna Rapti; 10. Written in stone: civic memory and monumental writing in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa Stefania Gerevini; 11. Place, space, and style: craftsmen's signatures in medieval Islamic art Sheila S. Blair; Afterword: re-viewing inscriptions Antony Eastmond.