Technology of the Byzantine Empire
What you'll learn
- Students will encounter the varied mechanical technology of the Byzantine Empire.
- Byzantine technology included musical instruments, automata, hydraulic lifting machines, and more!
- Students will appreciate the intersection of art, technology, craftsmanship, and engineering in this unique course.
- A comprehensive vocabulary slide is included at the end of the course.
- College-level students with an interest in art history, engineering, and politics are the perfect fit for this course.
When the Roman Emperor Constantine founded Constantinople in the fourth century C.E. on the old Greek site of Byzantium, a new era was inaugurated which saw a distinct Christian identity fuse with the apparati and ceremony of the Roman imperial cult of state. As we are going to see in this lecture, throughout the centuries until the eventual demise of the Byzantine Empire- finally in 1453 at the hands of the Ottomans but with a great blow struck by the Fourth Crusade in the thirteenth century- mechanical technology played an important role in the awe and wonder intentionally fostered by Byzantine imperial ceremony and left a lasting impression on the Europeans who came into its orbit. Through the successive dynasties which held onto and lost the imperial title of the Roman Empire of the East, the Byzantines as we collectively call them, hydraulic technology was a mainstay of their court which fostered an environment of awe-inspiring splendor designed to impress whatever foreign dignitaries arrived upon their shores. Sound, whether it came from the varied lengths of the pipe organ or from the hidden bellows within a brazen beast, was an integral part of the sensorial experience of Byzantine spectacle, and movement made possible by steam or compressed air created experiences which- to the medieval mind unfamiliar with mechanics- could only be the proof of the mastery of supernatural forces. Moving thrones, golden trees, singing birds, animal automata, and musical organs that preserved Hellenistic-era technology (that had vanished from what had been the Roman Empire of the West) are some of the wonders of the history of Byzantine art and technology.
Who this course is for:
- This course is intended for adult learners of all levels.
Dr. Lily Filson has held the title of Assistant Professor for both private as well as state universities in the United States. She received her Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Formative Sciences and her M.A. in Italian Renaissance Art History; her educational fellowships include a European Research Council Grant Fellowship at the Universita' Ca Foscari in Venice, Italy, the Katerina Duskova Memorial Fellowship from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and the Syracuse University Florence Fellowship. She has more recently won a Short-Term Grant from the Renaissance Society of America and a Research Award from the University of Oxford.
Her studies and career have brought her into contact with numerous artworks and sites that go beyond traditional art history survey courses; her lectures feature unique content and fresh perspectives on the greatest story ever told: why and how art is made and how we relate to it over time. She brings first-hand experience and a warm delivery style to her video lectures which bring ancient artworks to life.