Inventing Late Antique Reliquaries

Reception, Material History, and Dynamics of Interaction
(4th-6th centuries CE)

Adrien Palladino
Collana: I libri di Viella. Arte / Studia Artium Mediaevalium Brunensia, 12
Pubblicazione: Settembre 2022
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Edizione cartacea
pp. 312+18 ill, col., 17x24 cm, bross.
ISBN: 9788833138671
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The cult of saints, their relics, and devotion to their shrines is a phenomenon born in Late Antiquity that durably shaped medieval and modern practices across a broad geographical and cultural area spreading first throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. How was the creation of vessels for the holy remains of saints implemented during a culturally heterogenous period? Indeed, how could boxes of various shapes, sizes, and materials become containers to shelter sacred matter? What materials could be used in reliquaries’ making, and what images should adorn them? And how did reliquaries, with their geographical and social portability, contribute to the translocation of site-bound sanctity and the spread of saints’ and shrines’ networks across the Late Antique world?

Tracing the medieval reliquary’s “pre-history”, this volume examines boxes bearing Christian images and patterns made between the fourth to the sixth century ce. It investigates how vessels adorned with images acquired meaning and power, exploring the dynamics of transformation that accompany both the creation of these objects and their long history of reuse, marginalization, and rediscovery.

  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface, by Jaś Elsner
  • Introduction. Late Antique Reliquaries in the Making
  • 1. Historiography, Prejudices, and Late Antique Boxes
    • 1. The Problem of the “Minor Arts”
    • 2. Problematic Tools, Methods in the Making
    • 3. The Cult of Relics and the Advent of Object Studies
  • 2. Containers of the Holy: From Cult to Material Culture
    • 1. Relics in Late Antiquity: Cult and Culture
    • 2. Between Matter, Mental Space, and Rhetoric
    • 3. The San Nazaro Silver Casket and Its Contents
    • 4. Pula and Novalja: Composite Reliquary Deposits
    • 5. From Aquileia to Grado: Practices of Re-Depositing Relics
  • 3. Inside and Around: Boxes as Spaces for Images and Memories
    • 1. The Samagher Ivory Casket
    • 2. The British Museum Casket with Passion Scenes
    • 3. The Wooden Casket from the Sancta Sanctorum
    • 4. Hiding, Showing, Memory: Three Boxes, Three Mnemonic Mechanisms
    • 5. The Brescia Ivory Casket: From Late Antique Riddle to Lombard Monastery
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index of Names
  • Index of Places

Cover illustration: Brescia Casket (Lipsanoteca) © Archivio fotografico Civici Musei di Brescia – Fotostudio Rapuzzi.

Adrien Palladino

Adrien Palladino is assistant professor at the Department of Art History, Masaryk University, Brno, at the Center for Early Medieval Studies. His interests include the history of art history, as well as the study of late antique and early medieval material cultures, with a special interest in the interaction between objects, stories, spaces, and people.

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