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Byzantium through Armenian Eyes: Cultural Appropriation and the Church of Zuart'noc'

Christina Maranci
Gesta
Vol. 40, No. 2 (2001), pp. 105-124
DOI: 10.2307/767241
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/767241
Page Count: 20
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Byzantium through Armenian Eyes: Cultural Appropriation and the Church of Zuart'noc'
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Abstract

The seventh-century church of Zuart'noc' in Armenia is the earliest and largest aisled tetraconch in the medieval Caucasus. While previous scholarship has described the monument as a product of Byzantine influence, here Zuart'noc' is examined from the point of view of the patron, Nersēs III (640-661). This article argues that the construction was intended to convey a specific political message: to demonstrate the patron's alliance with the Byzantine political and cultural world. Through choices made in the iconography of the sculptural program, in epigraphic language and devices, in architectural planning, and perhaps even in the selection of the dedication, the church presents a network of references to the Byzantine imperium. As such, it is revealing of Armenian perceptions of Byzantium, standing as a witness to seventh-century diplomatic ties in a time of acute military tension on the eastern frontier.

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