The Late Antique Kosmos of Power

Matthew P. Canepa

in The Two Eyes of the Earth

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780520257276
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944572 | DOI:
The Late Antique Kosmos of Power

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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As a result of their diplomatic exchanges, the Roman and Sasanian courts began to display an increasingly similar visual culture of power beginning in the late third century. How and why did a global visual culture of kingship grow between Rome and Sasanian Iran in the sixth and seventh centuries? A diverse group of objects and structures offer evidence of this phenomenon. Some of these visual elements, such as royal insignia, were almost legalistically determined within and between the two cultures. Indicative of the processes that led to the emergence of a global aristocratic visual culture, the majority of the evidence comes directly from the highest echelons of the aristocracy and from the court centers. This chapter discusses insignia as cross-cultural mediators and sites of competition, the link between clothing and hierarchy, the privileged place of red footwear in both cultures, investiture as a site of competition, and global ornament and royal identity in the sixth and seventh centuries.

Keywords: Rome; Sasanian Iran; royal power; kingship; royal insignia; competition; clothing; red footwear; investiture; royal identity

Chapter.  13077 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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