Beyond the Western Mediterranean: Materials, Techniques and Artistic Production, 650–1500


10.00 – 18.20, Saturday 20 April 2013 (with registration from 09.30)
Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN

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Ivory pyxis with poetic inscription, Cordoba, 960s Ivory pyxis with poetic inscription, Cordoba, 960s © Hispanic Society of America, New York

Speaker(s): Silvia Armando (Università di Urbino ‘Carlo Bo’); Kathleen Bickford Berzock (Art Institute Chicago); Jonathan Bloom (Boston College); Michael Brett (SOAS, University of London); Chloé Capel (Université de la Sorbonne, Paris); Marta Caroscio (Harvard University, Villa I Tatti); Jeremy Johns (Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford); Matthew Harpster (Institute of Nautical Archaeology, Texas A&M University); Anna McSweeney (SOAS, University of London); Elise Morero (Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford); Ronald A. Messier (Vanderbilt University, Tennessee); Sam Nixon (Sainsbury Research Unit, University of East Anglia); Tom Nickson (The Courtauld Institute of Art); Emma Rogers (The Courtauld Institute of Art); Jessica Streit (Cornell University); Rose Walker (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Ticket/entry details: £16 (£11 students, Courtauld staff/students and concessions: over 60)
BOOK ONLINE: Or send a cheque made payable to ‘Courtauld Institute of Art’ to: Research Forum Events Co-ordinator, Research Forum, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, stating ‘Mediterranean’. For further information, email

Organised by: Sarah Guérin (The Courtauld Institute of Art) and Mariam Rosser Owen (Victoria and Albert Museum)

The notion of a shared Mediterranean culture has become a central tenet in the study of medieval art history. Growing out of the Roman mare nostrum, the Mediterranean as a conduit of communication, dissemination, and transmission throughout the Middle Ages is shaping the scope of our discipline. Yet the investigation into the Mediterranean remains unbalanced, and while the northern and eastern edges of the basin are well investigated, historiographical and political considerations have limited the study of the sea’s southern shores, not to mention the exchanges across that other sea – the sea of sand – that lies beyond those territories’ southern borders.

This one-day workshop at The Courtauld Institute of Art takes as its topic the broader sphere of influence of the Western Mediterranean. Focusing primarily on interconnections in the Western Mediterranean basin, from the Maghreb to Italy, from Ifriqiya to Iberia, we will also investigate how this north-south axis extended well beyond the littoral regions to encompass sub-Saharan kingdoms. The day’s proceedings are primarily intended to implicate art historians in this discussion about a global middle ages, and we will draw from interdisciplinary discoveries in recent years, especially the wealth of archaeological work accomplished by London-based colleagues. The material culture of these regions, including such luxurious materials as ivory, gold, ceramics, pigments and textiles, augments the limited offerings of historical texts in delineating the complex interactions across geographical boundaries. In this way we hope to probe the foundations of a world artistic culture not only through shared materials and techniques, but also through the yearnings and desires such interactions engendered.

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This event has been made possible through the generous support of The Barakat Trust, the Economic History Society and Sam Fogg.

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