Ravenna as a Battlefield : Late Antique Monuments between Orientalism and Nationalism



Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference Orient oder Rom? History and Reception of a Historiographical Myth (1901-1970)
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords historiography; fifth century; orientalism; nationalism; Ravenna
Description Attempts to identify “Western” and “Eastern” features of Ravenna’s monuments have often led scholars beyond the borders of art history, and their findings have become powerful tools in various political debates. The present paper aims to search the roots of these discussions and focuses on the main periods of (not only) Italian history where the question East or West is crucial: the debate was introduced into the historiography of Ravenna first by Italian nationalists after the unification of the country in 1861, then taken up by the Italian founders of Byzantine studies in Italy at the turn of the twentieth century. Nor were the scholars of the Vienna School of Art History able to avoid framing their work on Ravenna as a debate – Orient oder Rom? The question loomed large in the work of interwar art historians, and the debate has lost little of its intensity even today.

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