1. Explain the formal and iconographic characteristics of Early, Middle, and Late Byzantine art
2. Describe and analyze the architecture and ornamentation of churches built within Byzantium
3. Discuss the function of art and architecture within the Eastern Orthodox liturgy
4. Explain the causes and effects Byzantine iconoclasm
5. Identify and discuss the persistence of classical traditions in art produced in the Early, Middle, and Late Byzantine periods
6. Explain the materials and techniques of Byzantine art and architecture

Location(s) of power
  • Who moved the capital of the Roman Empire in the early 4th Century CE?
  • What was the name of this capital – the “New Rome”?
  • Why do you think the capital was relocated?
  • Name the term that scholars use to define / describe the Eastern Roman Empire?
  • Why did the division of the Roman Empire occur?
  • Summarize the extent and accomplishments of the Roman Empire in the east.
  • Make a chart of the 3 “golden ages” of Byzantium.

Justinian and his religious prescription
  • When did Justinian live?
  • Name 3 accomplishments of Justinian.
  • What specific type of religion did Emperor Justinian prescribe to his people?
  • What role did Orthodox dogma play in Byzantine art?

Hagia Sophia
  • What does the term Hagia Sophia mean?
  • Who were the men responsible for building the great Hagia Sophia?
  • How long did it take to build this church?
  • Name and illustrate two (2) "architectural innovations" that enabled the builders to achieve the placement of the dome atop the large structure.
  • Explain the distinct characteristics in architecture of Hagia Sophia.
  • Summarize the cultural mix of Roman, Christian, and eastern influences in the art of Byzantium, especially as seen in Hagia Sophia.
  • What did Justinian hope to accomplish, through the efforts of building Hagia Sophia?
  • Describe the nature of Justinian’s remark (in reference to a previous temple), made just after completion of the great Hagia Sophia.
  • Compare / contrast the plan and design of the domed church of Hagia Sophia to the Roman Pantheon.
  • Make a list of the architectural changes / modifications that have taken place to the Hagia Sophia building over time.

Church of San Vitale
  • Justinian’s general, Belisarius, conquered this major center in 539 CE, thus assimilating it into the Byzantine Empire. Name this center.
  • Explain the distinct characteristics in architecture of San Vitale.
  • Explain art in the “golden age of Justinian.” How do the San Vitale mosaics define his role as leader of the church and leader of the state? (Don’t forget to read the passage entitled: "...Most Unusual Theodora")

  • The church of San Vitale, located in Ravenna, contains two rather important mosaics (within the apse - flanking one another). Name the two prominent figures that these works sought to feature.

Justinian and Attendants
  • In the Justinian mosaic, list the manner in which the figures are grouped.
  • Do you notice any inherent religious symbolism here? Explain.
  • What is the significance of the background being stark gold (two [2] good reasons)?
  • Do you notice anything strange with respect to the feet of the men?
  • Furthermore -- what might be meant by the ambiguity that exists between the positioning of Justinian and Maximian?

Theodora and Attendants - mosaic
  • Who was Theodora?
  • How is she portrayed in the mosaic?
  • What religious symbolism can be found on her -- alluding to the overall message of her being a leader of the Christian faith?
  • How does Theodora's placement within the composition distinguish her among the other members depicted?
  • Describe the inherent 'visual movement' of the scene.
  • With respect to 'ceremony' -- What is implied by the figure on the left-hand side, who appears to be pealing back a curtain separating another interior space (notice the fountain; also, consider the context of the mosaics within the church of San Vitale)?
  • What then, might this imply about Theodora's rank (in relation to that of her husband's) in this ceremony?

San Vitale (Christ Between Two Angels, Saint Vitalis, and Bishop Ecclesius - apse mosaic)

  • The apse mosaic (located in the far end - b/t the flanking mosaics) in San Vitale depicts Christ, Saint Vitalis, and Bishop Ecclesius -- amid a pair of angels. State the significance of each of these figures and explain the manner in which they are portrayed in the art.
  • What symbols are present which may relate to the scene?

Sant'Apollinare in Classe (Saint Apollinaris Amid Sheep - apse mosaic)
  • Who was Saint Apollinaris?
  • What was significant about the church, with respect to this figure?
  • Describe the center of Classe, in relation to Ravenna.
  • In the apse mosaic, how is God the Father represented?
  • Who are the figures located on either side of the large medallion cross?
  • What scene is taking place here? Explain the story in your own words.
  • In the story of the Transfiguration, three (3) individuals accompanied Jesus to the foot of the mountain. Who are they? Explain the manner in which they are depicted here.
  • Who is the figure located at lower, central portion of the mosaic?
  • What is the significance of the sheep comprising the lower 'band' of the mosaic? What's the obvious reference? Furthermore, what might they represent (a more subtle suggestion)?
  • Do you see any contrasts being drawn here, with respect to the context of the figures?
  • How might the underlying, although rather subtle, relate directly / specifically to the figure of Saint Apollinaris?

Byzantine aesthetic
  • Scholars refer to it as the new "Byzantine aesthetic". The aesthetic of Byzantine art differed from the classical art (and much of the Early Christian art). Explain how it differed.
  • What might be the reason behind this new “aesthetic”? In other words, why might the imagery be intentionally created in a manner that appears less naturalistic?
  • Explain icons and iconoclasm. When did iconoclasm occur and why was the iconoclasm such a disaster for Byzantine art?
  • What is a tesserae?

Church plans
  • Between the two styles of church plans (Basilica- and Central-), which was favored in the East?
  • Explain what is meant by the following architectural church designs:
    • Basilica Plan
    • Central Plan
  • What purpose did the central-plan church fulfill in the western part of the Byzantine empire?

Byzantium aesthetic through time
  • How did mosaics from the Middle Byzantine era differ from the mosaics of Justinian and the Early Byzantine era?
  • How did the art from the Late Byzantine era differ from the art of the Middle Byzantine era?
  • How did Russia replace Byzantium as the leader of Orthodox art?

Define these terms:
  • Altarpiece
  • Anastasis
  • Byzantium / Constantinople / Istanbul
  • Chi-rho-Iota monogram
  • Choir
  • Cloisonne technique
  • Conches
  • Cupola
  • Hieratic organization of symbols
  • Icon
  • Iconostasis
  • Mandorla
  • Oratory
  • Pala
  • Pantokrator
  • Parekklesion
  • Pendentives
  • Psalter
  • Refractory
  • Squinches
  • Templon
  • Theotokos
  • Triptych
  • Vienna Dioskorides



• What was the Corpus Juris Civilis?
• How is the Nerezi Lamentation important?
• Explain the narrative and symbolism of the Barberini Ivory.

Christ between Two Angels (Figure 12-9)
a. How does this show the Early Byzantine aesthetic?
b. Why is that important?
c. Where is this image?

Justinian as World Conqueror (Figure 12-14)
a. How does this work show classical influences?
b. Why is that important?
c. Why is this iconography significant?
d. What is the medium?

St. Michael Archangel (Figure 12-15)
a. How does this show classical influences?
b. Why is that important?
c. How has this evolved into Early Byzantine?
d. What is the medium?

Christ Enthroned with Saints (Figure 12-26)
a. How has the imagery been adapted to fit the Middle Byzantine period?
b. What classical influences have resurfaced?

Christ as Savoir of Souls (Figure 12-31)
a. How does this reflect the Byzantine tradition?
b. Why is that important?




Mosaics of San Vitale, Ravenna - link