“Late Byzantine Rings, 1204-1453” is the first study of the rings of the last years of the Byzantine Empire, the period encompassing the Latin occupation of Constantinople (1204–1261) and the restored empire under the Palaiologan rulers until the fall of Byzantium to the Turks in 1453. The rings from this period are remarkable not only for their fine design but also for the variety of inscriptions they bear, including personal names and monograms, official titles, and epigrams composed by Byzantine poets. The book illustrates and discusses nearly fifty rings from the Palaiologan period, as well as some earlier Byzantine rings, contemporary Byzantine jewelry, and related material from Bulgaria, Serbia, and the West. Many of the rings are published here for the first time.
“Late Byzantine Rings, 1204-1453” is the first study of the rings of the final years of the Byzantine Empire, the period encompassing the Latin occupation of Constantinople (1204-1261) and the restored empire under the Palaiologan rulers until the fall of Byzantium to the Turks in 1453. The rings from this period are remarkable not only for their fine design but also for the variety of inscriptions they bear, including personal names and monograms, official titles, and epigrams composed by Byzantine poets. The book illustrates and discusses nearly fifty rings from the Palaiologan period, as well as some earlier Byzantine rings, contemporary Byzantine jewelry, and related material from Bulgaria, Serbia, and the West. Many of the rings are published here for the first time. The study begins with a review of the great diversity of rings that existed at the end of the twelfth century, just before the Latin Conquest, and suggests that in view of the occupation of both Constantinople and Thessalonica, the production of rings and jewelry in Byzantine style was disrupted. When the Byzantine workshops in Constantinople resumed after 1261, the rings took new forms, combining tradition Byzantine style with considerable Western influence apparent in the style of engraving and the occasional use of engraved gems. The material gathered in this study will be of importance to a variety of students of Byzantine and Medieval history, literature, art, and jewelry. The rings preserve a number of previously unrecorded personal names and titles that shed light on relations between the imperial court and the new landowning class that emerged in the late Byzantine period. Find sites and names also demonstrate a great degree of political and economic contact with neighboring Serbia and Bulgaria. Influence from the West (especially Venice) is apparent in the workmanship of the rings and their frequent use of heraldic devices in Western style. Verses engraved on some rings can be identified as works of both traditional and contemporary Byzantine poets. The surviving rings also demonstrate that fine quality jewelry was still being produced in the imperial court in Constantinople in the Palaiologan period.
JEFFREY B. SPIER
August 2004-present: University Associate, Department of Classics, University of Arizona Guest Curator, The Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, for the exhibition Picturing the Bible: the Earliest Christian Art, to be shown November 18, 2007-March 30, 2008 December 1999-to September 2002: Faculty Research Associate, Literae Humaniores, Oxford University March 1998-June 1999: Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London February-April 1997: Guest Curator, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, for the exhibition San Marco and Venice 1988-1997: Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Lecturer in Greek Numismatics, 1991-92, 1993-94; Greek Vase Painting, 1996.
Academic Training: October 1983-April 1988: Merton College, Oxford. D.Phil., Classical Archaeology (Faculty of Literae Humaniores), for the dissertation Minor Arts and Regional Styles in East Greece, 700-500 B.C., under the direction of Professor Sir John Boardman. September 1976-September 1977: Research Assistant to Professor George M.A. Hanfmann at the Archaeological Exploration of Sardis (Turkey), Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. September 1973-June 1977: Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. B.A. degree in Classical Archaeology.
Honorary positions: Elected Fellow of the American Numismatic Society, New York, October, 2005
Publications: Books: - Ancient Gems and Finger Rings. Catalogue of the Collections, The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu, 1992) - San Marco and Venice (exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1997) [with G. Morrison] - A Catalogue of the Calouste Gulbenkian Collection of Gems (Lisbon, 2001). - Late Antique and Early Christian Gems (Wiesbaden, 2007) - Picturing the Bible: the Earliest Christian Art (New Haven and London, 2007, in association with the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth) - Treasures of the Ferrell Collection (Wiesbaden, 2010) - Byzantium and the West: Jewelry in the First Millennium (London, 2012)
Articles (only recent): - Catalogue entry no. 13, “Ring Engraved with the Standing Virgin Holding the Christ-Child,” in M. Vassilaki, ed., Mother of God: Representations of the Virgin in Byzantine Art (Exhibition catalogue, Benaki Museum, Athens, 2000), pp. 294-295 - Catalogue entries describing seals, jewelry, and rings in C. Stiegemann, ed., Byzanz. Das Licht aus dem Osten (Exhibition catalogue, Mainz, 2001), pp. 235-238, nos. III.7-10; p. 241, no. III.15; pp. 298-299, nos. IV.16-17; p. 321, no. IV.48; and pp. 323-335, nos. IV.50-79. - “The Demirler, Lycia (c. 1972) Hoard (CH 1.6, 8.40, 9.351),” in A. Meadows and U. Wartenberg, eds., Coin Hoards, vol. IX (London, 2002), pp. 87-93 [with M. Arslan and A. Dervısagaoglou] - Catalogue entries in J. Michael Padgett, ed., The Centaur’s Smile. The Human Animal in Early Greek Art (Exhibition catalogue, Princeton, 2003), pp. 136-137, no. 14 (“Seal with Centaur and Archer”); p. 138, no. 15 (“Seal with Centaur”); and p. 139, no. 16 (“Double-Sided Seal with Centaur and Two Men”) - “A lost consular diptych of Anicius Auchenius Bassus (A.D. 408) on the mould for an ARS plaque,” Journal of Roman Archaeology 16 (2003), pp. 350-354 - “Middle Byzantine (10th-13th century AD) Stamp Seals in Semi-precious Stone,” in C. Entwistle, ed., Through a Glass Brightly. Studies in Byzantine and Medieval Art and Archaeology Presented to David Buckton (Exeter, 2003), pp. 114-126 - Descriptions of gems in Jane Biers, ed., A Peaceable Kingdom. Animals in Ancient Art from the Leo Mildenberg Collection, Part VI (Mainz, 2004), pp. 9-11, nos. VI, 13-17; pp. 59-60, nos. VI, 60-61; p. 64, nos. VI, 68-69; and p. 68, no. VI, 75 - “Late Antique, Early Christian and Jewish Gems,” on the Beazley Archive website, Oxford University: http://www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/gems/styles/late-antique/default.htm - “A Revival of Antique Magical Practice in Tenth-Century Constantinople,” in Charles Burnett and W.F. Ryan, eds., Magic and the Classical Tradition (Warburg Institute Colloquia 7, London and Turin, 2006), pp. 29-36 - “St. George,” in Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti and John Boardman, Ancient and Modern Gems and Jewels in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen (London, 2008), p. 45, no. 24 (a thirteenth century cameo in the Royal Collection, Windsor) - “Fifth Century Gems and Rings: From Constantinople to Italy and the West,” in Gemma Sena Chiesa and Elisabetta Gagetti, eds., Aquileia e la glittica di età ellenistica e romana (Trieste, 2009), pp. 237-245 - “Some Unconventional Early Byzantine Rings,” in Chris Entwistle and Nöel Adams, eds., “Intelligible Beauty”: Recent Research on Byzantine Jewellery (London, 2010), pp. 13-19 - “Most Fowl: Athena, Ares, and Hermes Depicted as Birds on Engraved Gems,” Pallas 83 (2010), pp. 245-250 - “Fashionable Magic. On the Ancient Vogue of Amulets,” Vestoj: The Journal of Sartorial Matters 2 (2011), pp. 171-177 - The chapters “Roman Bronzes”, “Roman Silverware”, and “Roman Jewellery”, in Mark Merrony, ed., Mougins Museum of Classical Art (Mougins, 2011) - “Late Antique and Early Christian Gems. Some Unpublished Examples”, in Chris Entwistle and Noël Adams, eds., “Gems of Heaven”: Recent Research on Engraved Gemstones in Late Antiquity c. AD 200-600 (London, 2011), pp. 193-207