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Author: Nira Stone
Volume Editors: Michael E. Stone and Asya Bereznyak
Nira Stone (1938-2013) was a scholar of Armenian and Byzantine Art. Her broad and close acquaintance with the field of Armenian art history covered many fields of Armenian artistic creativity. Nira Stone made notable contributions to the study of Armenian manuscript painting, mosaics, and other forms of artistic expression. Of particular interests are her researches on this art in its historical and religious contexts, such as the study of apocryphal elements in Armenian Gospel iconography, the place of the mosaics of Jerusalem in the context of mosaics in Byzantine Palestine, and of the interplay between religious movements, such as hesychasm, and Armenian manuscript painting.
Sacred Thresholds. The Door to the Sanctuary in Late Antiquity offers a far-reaching account of boundaries within pagan and Christian sanctuaries: gateways in a precinct, outer doors of a temple or church, inner doors of a cella. The study of these liminal spaces within Late Antiquity – itself a key period of transition during the spread of Christianity, when cultural paradigms were redefined – demands an approach that is both interdisciplinary and diachronic. Emilie van Opstall brings together both upcoming and noted scholars of Greek and Latin literature and epigraphy, archaeology, art history, philosophy, and religion to discuss the experience of those who crossed from the worldly to the divine, both physically and symbolically. What did this passage from the profane to the sacred mean to them, on a sensory, emotive and intellectual level? Who was excluded, and who was admitted? The articles each offer a unique perspective on pagan and Christian sanctuary doors in the Late Antique Mediterranean.
In Late Antique Images of the Virgin Annunciate Spinning: allotting the scarlet and the purple, Catherine Gines Taylor traces the way early Christians assimilated the symbolism of spinning into images of the Annunciation. Taylor offers an art historical and interdisciplinary look at the earliest images of Mary spinning, underscoring the iconographic model of idealized matronage consistent with lay piety and the cult of Mary. The personal and domestic nature of this motif is evidence toward popular Mariological devotion that preceded the exclusive, semi-divine presentation of the Theotokos, and stands in contrast with traditional ascetic models for Mary.
In Terracotta and domestic worship. Bestiary of the Graeco-Roman Egypt, Celine Boutantin proposes a new approach of terracotta produced in Egypt in the Greco-Roman period. A study taking into account the archaeological contexts allows to propose a synthesis of production workshops and to show, in some cases, an adaptation of the production of local cults. An inventory of figurines found in homes, temples and tombs allow to study the functions of these objects. Through the study of a particular theme, animal terracottas, the author raises questions about beliefs and personal or private practices.

Dans Terres cuites et culte domestique. Bestiaire de l’Égypte gréco-romaine, Céline Boutantin propose une nouvelle approche des figurines en terre cuite produites en Égypte à l’époque gréco-romaine. Une étude prenant en compte les contextes archéologiques permet de dresser un bilan des ateliers de production et de montrer, dans certains cas, une adaptation de la production à des cultes locaux. Elle permet aussi de dresser un inventaire des figurines trouvées dans les maisons, les sanctuaires et les tombes et de proposer une synthèse sur les fonctions de ces objets. A travers l’étude d’un thème particulier, les représentations animales, l’auteur aborde sous un angle nouveau la question des croyances et des pratiques personnelles ou privées.