Byzantine Empire (Internship Interview)

The Byzantine Empire is an incredible instance of a time in history where a culture primarily represented their beliefs through art. This enormous Empire lasted for one and a half millennia, through the first three quarters of the Christian Era. They were attacked time and time again, yet they persevered. The empire is greatly remembered for their lengthy timeline, and beautiful art that will continue to influence the world for years to come.

Byzantine Art had a major influence on other art during its time, as well as on the art of today. Common characteristics, such as long noses and sullen faces, originated from the Byzantine Era. Today, these features can be found in churches all around Europe, such as Mosaics in Italy, Bulgaria, and Greece, an indication of how extensive the Empire was and the lasting impact of their art.

Although the Old Testament prohibited graven images of God in the Ten Commandments, Byzantine art reflected  the people’s devotion to Christianity.  It is a common misconception to believe the Byzantines worshipped their art; they merely used it as a worship aide. During their era, the leaders of the Empire themselves questioned whether they were being punished for their icons. These thoughts were expressed, and even acted upon by the Emperor as the Byzantine Empire began to shrink due to attacks in the mid 900s,and as a result, the icons were destroyed. This is still greatly relevant today, evident in events such as ISIS’s destruction of religious sites.

The Byzantine Empire outlasted the Roman, and Greek Empires by hundreds of years, and although all three still influence art in the world today, the Byzantine style and content can be found in almost all styles of art and religious images.

 

Abigail Crouch