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East-West Interaction in Medieval Art and Architecture: The Case of Bizere Monastery (Romania)

Thursday, March 3, 2016, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Abstract: In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, one of the most important phenomena pertaining to the history of Christianity in the Hungarian medieval kingdom developed around the Mureș-Tisza river confluence area where more than thirty Benedictine and Greek monastic foundations emerged. After falling into ruin and oblivion, the nineteenth century marked the outset for various historiographic controversies (about their foundation places, rite, founders, cultural influences etc.), all based on the scarce evidence which these establishments had left behind. Among these monastic communities, the Benedictine foundation of ”Bizere” has benefited from an extensive research. The archaeological excavations brought to light hundreds of carved stones fragments, remains of the cloister, and traces of two Romanesque churches and a palace; furthermore, two decorated surfaces of floor mosaics were found in situ. Given the scarcity of the written sources, these artifacts bring evidence of East-West connections in the medieval art and architecture of this particular area. Their analysis provides fruitful suggestions about the origins and the western and eastern relationships of some monastic centers in this part of medieval Europe. 

Ileana Burnichioiu is lecturer at the History, Archaeology and Museology Department of the University of Alba Iulia, Romania. She received her BA degree in Art History and Archaeology at the same university in 1996 and the MA degree in Medieval Studies at Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca in 1997. In 2010 she earned the PhD. in Visual Arts from the University of Arts in Bucharest. She has authored several studies on the medieval art and architecture of Transylvania and the Banat, co-edited several collective volumes, organised extensive field work, exhibitions, and conferences. She is currently the principal investigator of the multidisciplinary project Monastic life, art and technology at Bizere monastery” (2013-2016) (UEFISCDI-Romanian Research Foundation) and member of the research team of the Palace of Transylvanian Princes in Alba Iulia (from 2014).  Her main areas of interest are: medieval art and architecture; medieval archaeology.