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Art history and archaeology of the Christian Middle East


Admission requirements

Admission to the Research Master Area Studies. Please, contact Dr. Mat Immerzeel, if you are interested in taking this course, but NOT a student of the Research Master Area Studies.


This tutorial presents an overview of the art and architecture of the various Christian communities in the Middle East, mainly in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, from the third century up till the present. Art objects such as wall paintings, icons and sculpture will be examined not only with regard to style and iconography, but also within the framework of the religious architecture and the ritual in which they function. Additional attention will be devoted to the historical context as well as to the interaction with Late Antique, Islamic and European art. Teaching materials are publications (see below) and PowerPoint presentations.
The course is accessible to MA students with a relevant background (e.g. in art history, archaeology, history, theology, Islamic studies, and Arabic studies).

Course objectives

  1. Insight in the development of Middle Eastern Christian art and architecture through the ages.
    1. Skills to distinguish this art in terms of chronology, history and regional development.
    2. Knowledge to place this art in the context of its original application.


  1. Early Christian art and architecture in the Middle East: Monday 5 Sept., 13-16 h.
    1. Christian art in the Early Islamic period: Wednesday 7 Sept., 10-13 h.
    2. The ‘Christian Renaissance’ (11th to mid-13th century): Monday 12 Sept., 10-13 h.
    3. Artistic interaction during the ‘Christian Renaissance’: Wednesday 14 Sept., 10-13 h.
    4. Ottoman Palestine and Syria: Thursday 15 Sept., 10-13 h.
    5. Ottoman Egypt: Tuesday 20 Sept., 10-13 h.
    6. Modern Christian art & the preservation of the heritage: Thursday 22 Sept., 10-13 h.


Witte Singel 25, room 107b.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

A written exam consisting of three essay questions related to the literature and course subjects in the final week of September. The practical details will be discussed on 5 September.

Reading list

Immerzeel, M., ‘Proskynetaria from Jerusalem: Souvenirs of a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land’, Series Byzantina 3 (2005), 9-24 (15 pp; PDF). Immerzeel, M., Identity Puzzles. Medieval Christian Art in Syria and Lebanon, Leuven 2009 (225 pp; hard copy). Immerzeel, M., A. Jeudy, B. Snelders, ‘A Mixed Company of Syrians, Saracens and Greeks. Artistic interaction in Middle Eastern Christian art in the Middle Ages’, in: D. Knipp (ed.), Proceedings of the International Conference ‘Siculo-Arabic Ivories and Islamic Painting 1100-1300, Pergamonmuseum, Berlin 6-8 July 2007’, Rome, forthcoming (35 pp; PDF). Peers, G., ‘The Church at the Jerusalem Gate in Crusader Ascalon: A Rough Tolerance of Byzantine Culture?’, ECA 6 (2009), 67-86 (20 pp; PDF). Plus additional 350 pp to be announced.

The PDFs will be sent by E-mail before the start of the courses; the hard copies of Immerzeel, Identity Puzzles can be borrowed from me and are available on 5 September. If you prefer receiving your copy earlier, please contact me for a short-term appointment.