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Boshell Family Lecture Series on Archaeology: Becoming Christian Together: Arts of Ethiopia, Nubia, and Byzantium

May 18 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm



Three centuries after the pharaohs of ancient Egypt ended their rule, new African rulers built empires in the northern and eastern regions of that continent. Spanning from the Empires of Aksum and the later Empire of Ethiopia (Ethiopia and Eritrea) to the Christian kingdoms of Nubia (Sudan), these complex civilizations cultivated economic, political, and cultural relationships with one another. The Byzantine Empire (Byzantium)—which was inheritor of the Roman Empire—also took part in these artistic and cultural networks as it briefly expanded its footprint into northern Africa, including Egypt. Together, these great civilizations created their own unique arts while also building a shared visual culture across the regions linked by the Mediterranean and Red Seas, the Nile River, and the Sahara Desert.

From late antiquity through the early modern era (about 200–1800 CE), communities in these regions shared the experience of becoming Christian. This period’s arts reflect this constant evolution as multi-vocal sects, councils, and individuals shaped Orthodox Christian faiths. While past art historical studies have incorrectly described Nubian—and especially Ethiopian—Christian arts as “derivative” of Byzantine arts, this presentation foregrounds African agency and creativity by recounting how African artists chose, rejected, or adapted elements of foreign art while also making their own artistic innovations.

Dr. Kristen Windmuller-Luna, Curator of African Arts, Cleveland Museum of Art, will consider this theme through the Cleveland Museum of Art’s unique presentation of Africa & Byzantium, as well as through key works in the DMA’s collection.

This lecture is presented by the Boshell Family Lecture Series on Archaeology.  


Dallas Museum of Art
1717 N Harwood St.
Dallas, Texas 75201
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(214) 922-1818
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