Illuminated Ethiopic Gospel Books, 350-1400


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art




Ethiopia is home to one of the largest and oldest collections of Christian manuscripts in the world. However, the country’s extraordinarily rich cultural and artistic heritage is still poorly understood. This project remedies this deficiency by providing the first comprehensive in-depth study of Ethiopian manuscript illumination from late antiquity to the end of the medieval period. It focuses on a corpus of two dozen little-known Ethiopic Gospels whose illuminations—with scenes from the life, death, and resurrection of Christ—open a fascinating window onto the religious, spiritual, and daily life of Christian Ethiopians during the medieval period. By focusing on the iconography of the illuminations and on dynamics of cross-cultural interaction, the project rejects past narratives of Ethiopia as timeless, isolated, and dependent on foreign inputs and recontextualizes its material culture within a Eurasian framework that defies conventional academic boundaries and rejects Eurocentric attitudes towards the arts of Africa.