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  • Writer's pictureLogan Quigley

Speculum Spotlight: Jewelry & People in the Cemetery of Parapotamos Epiros (Makris, Jansen & O'Mara)

Updated: Feb 24

Jewelry reflecting the tastes, needs, and practices of past users across all social strata constitutes one of the most representative portable arts in the Middle Ages. Jewelry’s typical lack of iconography or original context has often prevented scholars of Byzantine art from engaging with the medium’s socio-historical value. By bringing together artworks from museum collections and objects found in the cemetery of Parapotamos, in northwestern Greece, this study disentangles medieval jewelry from an inquiry into provenance or the development of fashion and instead situates specific jewels in a discussion about meaning on a social level, in terms of ownership and human behavior in Byzantium and beyond.

This episode is an installment in a special partnership with Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies. Each episode is designed to bring you behind the scenes of an article published in an upcoming Speculum issue.

Georgios Makris is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory at the University of British Columbia. His work has appeared in Gesta and Dumbarton Oaks Papers, among other venues, and he is currently at work on a monograph on the archaeology and material culture of monasticism in Byzantium.

Katherine L. Jansen is a historian at the Catholic University of America whose work specializes in the history of medieval Italy, religious culture, and women and gender. Her most recent book is Peace and Penance in Late Medieval Italy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2018). She currently serves as the Editor of Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies.

Reed O'Mara is a PhD candidate and Mellon Fellow in the Department of Art History & Art at Case Western Reserve University. Her primary research interests lie in Jewish illuminated manuscripts, Gothic architectural sculpture, and Indian miniature painting. Reed served as Chair of the Graduate Student Committee of the MAA 2022-23 and was the Mentorship and Professionalization Coordinator for the Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies Board of Directors 2021-23. She is one of the founding producers of The Multicultural Middle Ages.

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