This is a broad survey of the various structural and decorative uses of marble and antiquities throughout the Mediterranean during the Millennium following the Emperor Constantine. The heavy footprint of Roman civic and religious architecture helped provide attractive and luxurious building materials, re-used to construct diverse and often sophisticated monuments. The book argues that marble-rich sites and cities around this lake were linked at various times and in varying degrees by trade, pilgrimage, war and diplomacy, as well as by the imperatives of religion - Venice to Alexandria, Damascus to Cordoba. Aachen makes less sense without reference to Rome or Jerusalem; Damascus without Kairouan; Istanbul without Cairo. To accompany the illustrations in the text, the DVD at the back of the book contains over 5,000 images, together with discussions which extend various arguments in the printed book.
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Michael Greenhalgh, MA, Ph.D. (Manchester 1968) is Emeritus Professor of Art History at the Australian National University. His books include Donatello & his Sources (1982), The Survival of Roman Antiquities in the Middle Ages (1989), and many papers on the later fate of classical monuments.Review:
'Marble Past, Monumental Present is excellent and, best of all, both compelling and on occasions provocative. The bibliography is bang up to date. It will shed new light on an immense architectural story.' Richard Hodges, Professor and Director of the Institute of World Archaeology, University of East Anglia, co-author of Byzantine Butrint (2004) 'Building on his previous studies, Michael Greenhalgh in this book has produced a dazzling survey and a proper synthesis of the use and the aesthetics of "spolia" (and architectural borrowing more generally) in the whole early and central medieval, Mediterranean and European, world. Everyone working on medieval material culture, and on urban and cultural history in general, will have to read this book.' Chris Wickham, Chichele Professor of Medieval History, University of Oxford, and author of Framing the early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean 400-800 (2005) 'Con uno sguardo telescopico, l'autore misura - senza gerarchie - l'influenza, la forza e la suggestione delle pietre antiche reimpiegate nell'architettura dei paesi cristiani e mussulmani aperti su quel "lago circondato dal marmo" che e il Mediterraneo. Attraverso una pluralita di riferimenti ed esempi l'a. dispone, entro un eccezionale quadro di insieme, le diverse forme e i 'perche' del riutilizzo dei marmi antichi. Ne emerge una filigrana intrigata e ricca entro la quale ogni mediterraneo riscopre legami e relazioni indissolubili che, oggi piu di ieri, meritano - attraverso la diffusione e la traduzione dell'opera - di essere affermati e conosciuti dai cittadini europei.' Simonetta Ciranna, Universita degli Studi dell'Aquila, and author of Spolia e caratteristiche del reimpiego nella Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura a Roma (2000) 'In this engaging book, Michael Greenhalgh explores the recycling of marbles and other antiquities throughout the post-Roman Mediterranean. Without denying the continuation of artistic and architectural ideals, he shows how dynamic and innovative was the re-use of past monuments and materials. With a nuanced comparative analysis he demonstrates the lack of any desire to imitate the glory of Rome by exact architectural reproduction, and he reminds us all that in order to understand the West, one should constantly look at events and developments in the East. Marble Past, Monumental Present is not only a thought provoking contribution to the history of medieval architecture; it is also an important step forward in our understanding of the ways in which rulers, artists and architects perceived their own past.' Professor Yitzhak Hen, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, author of Roman Barbarians: The Royal Court and Culture in the Early Medieval West (2007) and General Editor of the Series Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Brepols: Turnhout)
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