• Liminal Bishops: Episcopal Portraits from the Cathedral of Pachoras, Nubia

      Bolman, Elizabeth S., 1960-; Evans, Jane DeRose, 1956-; Evans, Jane DeRose, 1956- (Temple University. Libraries, 2010)
      Prior to the removal of monumental murals from the cathedral of Pachoras (Faras), the largely unknown cultural entity of Christian Nubia figured in scholarship merely as a peripheral outpost of Byzantine and Egyptian influence. The impressive corpus of visual evidence from Pachoras, located south of the first Nile cataract and now inundated by Lake Nasser, led Kurt Weitzmann to reevaluate its significance in a seminal essay published in 1970. By tracing artistic sources of Christian Nubian art to Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, Weitzmann initiated recognition of the close ties between Nubia and Byzantium. Since that time, however, this subject has received little art historical attention, and it continues to pose interpretive challenges. I endeavor to recuperate the Nubian wall paintings from Pachoras for mainstream Byzantine studies. To that end, I explore the depictions of three of the Pachoras bishops, with particular attention to their original location, relationship with surrounding images, and epigraphic evidence. I conceive of these tenth- and eleventh-century portraits as visual constructions of Nubian episcopal authority mapped out on the cathedral's walls. I also explore the possible meanings of the indigenous elements represented in the images of the Pachoras bishops, while considering their relationships to the eastern Mediterranean textual and visual traditions. Evidence includes the paintings with accompanying inscriptions, fourteenth-century scrolls of Bishop Timotheos, Greek and Coptic epitaphs engraved on ninth- through twelfth-century funerary steles, and a list of bishops, first painted around the turn of the tenth century.