Sacred Objects from the Armenian Churches of Constantinople Topic of Fresno State Lecture

Dove: Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople

FRESNO—Dr. Ronald Marchese will discuss his recent research in Constantinople/Istanbul with a talk on “Treasures of Faith: Sacred Objects from the Armenian Churches of Constantinople and What They Tell Us About Armenian Society and Culture” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, January 28.

This Leon S. Peters Foundation Lecture will be held in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, Room 191, on the Fresno State campus and is part of the Armenian Studies Program Spring 2013 Lecture Series.  The lecture is funded in part by the Associated Students, Inc. at Fresno State.

Dr. Marchese is professor of ancient history and archaeology at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and has spent the last several years documenting the rich cultural history of the Armenians in Constantinople, by studying the works of arts that the Armenians produced. He will accompany his talk with slides of some of the artwork that he has catalogued.

Over the course of hundreds of years Armenian society and culture developed in Constantinople after the founding of the Armenian Patriarchate in the city in 1461. Although a traditional date, it is clearly evident that a substantial number of Armenians from eastern Anatolia had established themselves in the city long before this date. Most went unnoticed in the pages of history due to the fact that they were absorbed within Byzantine material and political culture. Simply stated they became “Byzantine” in nature. After the mid-fifteenth century and especially after the establishment of their own patriarchate and “patrik” this “invisibility” disappears.

Encouraged to immigrate “to the city” (to istan-polis) the Armenian population increased substantially as witnessed by the steady growth of neighborhoods and churches to match the population increase. By the mid-18th city to the mid nineteenth century—1750-1850—approximately half of all Armenian churches in the city were founded. Some were in close proximity to others in densely concentrated areas near the Patriarchate, especially in Kumkapi, Yenikapi, Samataya, and Beyoglu.

Associated with this increase in population was the rise of an Armenian “aristocracy” –the amira class. Many of these individuals financed church construction and are well-known in both Ottoman and Patriarchal records. The issue here is not who these people were, a powerful group of wealthy entrepreneurs, merchants and bankers, who gave clout to their group, but rather those who worked hard, accumulated modest amounts of wealth and were faithful church goers who participated in the affairs of their congregation and neighborhood—the emerging “petty bourgeois.” Who were they and what they did has barely been recorded. It was their contributions to their respective churches that is brought to light in his current research and is illustrated in this presentation.

Dr. Marchese received his PhD from New York University and has a distinguished career in archaeology, having conducted research at the Plataiai Archaeological Excavation in Greece and at Tel Dor in Israel. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters in the field. He is an alumnus of California State University, Fresno.

He is the author, together with Marlene Breu, of Splendor and Spectacle: The Armenian Orthodox Church Textile Collections of Istanbul (Çitlembik Ltd., Istanbul, 2010). He has authored several other books on art and weaving.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Parking: Parking rules have changed for the university. Parking is available in Lots A or J on campus, only if a free parking pass is obtained by using parking code 273305 in any of the campus kiosks.

For more information on the lecture please contact the Armenian Studies Program at 559-278-2669.

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