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Conquering the Sacred East: The Orthodox, Latin, & Muslim Histories of Haiga Sophia, Pangaea Atheniotissa, and the Holy Sepulcher

Naomi Ruth Pitamber

Naomi Ruth Pitamber, University of Wyoming

Publication Date: 2018
Department: Department of Visual and Literary Arts 
Location: Jerusalem 

Team:
Naomi Ruth Pitamber earned her Ph.D. in Art History at the University of California in 2015, where she studied western medieval history and Byzantine art history. Her first book, Replacing Byzantium: Laskarid Urban Environments and the Landscape of Loss (1204-1261), is under review with Cambridge University Press. Her current research focuses on late antique and early Christian architecture, illuminated manuscripts in Greek and Latin, crusader and Byzantine architecture, and interaction between the themes of exile, memory, and the sea and landscape. 

Pitamber joins the Faculty of Art and Art History in 2016 following the completion of two postdoctoral fellowships: The Onassis Foundation Teaching Postdoctoral Fellowship in Byzantine Art History at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, and the Andrew W. Mellon Mediterranean Regional Research Fellowship from the Council for American Overseas Research Centers, which funded two summers of travel and research for her second book entitled Conquering the Sacred East.

Previous to the University of Wyoming, Pitamber taught at the University of Texas at San Antonio, Loyola Marymount University, UCLA, Portland State University, and Simon Fraser University. She teaches late antique and Early Christian art and architecture, western medieval and Byzantine art and architecture, and ancient Greek and Roman art and architecture.

Research Question
The project I propose is entitled “Conquering the Sacred East: The Orthodox, Latin, and Muslim Histories of Hagia Sophia, Panagia Atheniotissa, and the Holy Sepulchre,” a book-length project on three eminent architectural monuments in the eastern Mediterranean. The research question for this book project centers on the persistence of sacred space epitomized in the multi-cultural histories of three monuments from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries. Each of the three monuments was taken over and converted for religious use by Orthodox Christians, Latin Christians, and Muslims.

Significance
The primary significance of this study lay in describing the non-traditional narratives of three of the most important architectural monuments remaining from the medieval world.

Methods Used
As a study of sacred space and the architecture that defines it, this project requires that I spend more than a cursory amount of time in and around these monuments. I have studied their building and excavation histories at length, and spent significant time at Hagia Sophia and at the Parthenon during my other periods of fieldwork (2011-13, 2015-16), but not at the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. I have positive relationships with academic contacts in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem; however, I have not had the opportunity to spend much time in Israel. I would like to deepen my relationship with research centers in Israel by being resident in Jerusalem, and by working with their scholars and students on areas of common interest. The fellowship through the Center for Global Studies would allow me a valuable opportunity to continue my professional relationship with scholars in Israel and to complete the necessary fieldwork required for the chapter on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and to bring those relationships and contacts back to the academic community – scholar and student – at UW.

Conclusions/Outcomes
The primary initial outcome would be completing the fieldwork necessary to draft the chapter on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre within the book-length project, which I anticipate completing by the end of 2020, and sending to publishers with vested interests in this area and time frame (Oxford UP, Cambridge UP, Yale UP). In the process of conducting this research, I anticipate collaborating with Israeli and other
international researchers through lectures and on-site fieldwork, which may lead to collaborative articles in peer-reviewed art historical, historical, and archaeological journals prior to the book’s publication. Other outcomes include strengthening a future application of mine to the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research for a longer-term residential fellowship (1-4 mos.). The benefits to the University of Wyoming include investing in academic relationships within Israel and perhaps creating exchanges with foreign visiting academics to campus, and generating new teaching material and other learning opportunities (on archaeological digs, in museums abroad, etc.) for undergraduate students at UW. I would also be delighted to share my ongoing research on this project within the UW community, and certainly plan on delivering talks at conferences within my discipline in the coming two years.

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