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Peter Brown

Peter Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton. His books include Augustine of Hippo: A Biography and, most recently, Treasure in Heaven: The Holy Poor in Early 
Christianity. (September 2020)

A relief showing battles between Roman soldiers and barbarians, from the sarcophagus of a Roman general, circa 180–190

No Barbarians Necessary

The Tragedy of Empire: From Constantine to the Destruction of Roman Italy

by Michael Kulikowski

Escape from Rome: The Failure of Empire and the Road to Prosperity

by Walter Scheidel

King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne

by Janet L. Nelson

September 24, 2020 issue

The ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra in 2009, many of which were destroyed by ISIS militants in 2015

Cities That Touched Heaven

The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, March 18–June 23, 2019

The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity Through Architecture, Landscape, and the Built Environment, 550 BCE–642 CE

by Matthew P. Canepa

The Last Pagan Emperor: Julian the Apostate and the War Against Christianity

by H.C. Teitler

June 6, 2019 issue

The Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, constructed circa 532–537

A World Winking with Messages

The Eerdmans Encyclopedia of Early Christian Art and Archaeology

edited by Paul Corby Finney

Hagia Sophia and the Byzantine Aesthetic Experience

by Nadine Schibille

December 20, 2018 issue

Mark the Evangelist; illustration from the Garima Gospels, late fifth or sixth century CE. As Peter Brown writes, the discovery of the gospels at the Ethiopian monastery of Abba Garima confirms G.W. Bowersock’s emphasis in The Crucible of Islam on the importance of the kingdom of Axum, to which early Muslims fled for protection in about 615.

At the Center of a Roiling World

The Crucible of Islam

by G.W. Bowersock

The Garima Gospels: Early Illuminated Gospel Books from Ethiopia

by Judith S. McKenzie and Francis Watson

The Red Monastery Church: Beauty and Asceticism in Upper Egypt

edited by Elizabeth S. Bolman

May 11, 2017 issue

‘Icon with Saint George and the Young Boy of Mytilene’; Holy Land, mid-thirteenth century. According to the ‘Jerusalem’ exhibition catalog, ‘The jug and wineglass held by the youth connect the image to a popular miracle account in which a boy captured by Saracens is made to serve as cupbearer for an amir and pressured to convert to Islam.’

Recapturing Jerusalem at the Met

Jerusalem, 1000–1400: Every People Under Heaven

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, September 26, 2016–January 8, 2017

December 8, 2016 issue

‘Bowl with Couple in a Garden’; stonepaste plate, Iran, late twelfth–early thirteenth century

Splendors of the Seljuqs in New York

Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, April 27–July 24, 2016

August 18, 2016 issue

A reliquary medallion from the court of Charles V of France, who reigned from 1364 to 1380. According to Cynthia Hahn in Saints and Sacred Matter, ‘on the front of the object we see what looks like the back of a ring brooch. The thorn [from Christ’s crown of thorns], identified in inscriptions as enclosed in the brooch’s “pin,” is encircled by a tubular ring that also holds Passion relics and reinforces the idea of the Crown.’

The Glow of Byzantium

Saints and Sacred Matter: The Cult of Relics in Byzantium and Beyond

edited by Cynthia Hahn and Holger A. Klein

Allegories of the Iliad

by John Tzetzes, translated from the Greek by Adam J. Goldwyn and Dimitra Kokkini

The Lost World of Byzantium

by Jonathan Harris

Imagining the Byzantine Past: The Perception of History in the Illustrated Manuscripts of Skylitzes and Manasses

by Elena N. Boeck

July 14, 2016 issue

‘Portrait of the Four Tetrarchs’; detail of a porphyry statue from about 300 AD of Diocletian and three other emperors who ruled the Roman Empire, now at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice

The Purple Stone of Emperors

Porphyry: Red Imperial Porphyry: Power and Religion

by Dario Del Bufalo, translated from the Italian by David Graham and Lara Cox

Porphyre: La Pierre Pourpre des Ptolémées à Bonaparte [Porphyry: The Purple Stone from the Ptolemies to Bonaparte]

by Philippe Malgouyres and Clément Blanc-Riehl

Byzantine Matters

by Averil Cameron

Dialoguing in Late Antiquity

by Averil Cameron

December 18, 2014 issue

Tintoretto: Temptation of Adam and Eve, sixteenth century

The Risks of Being Christian

Sin: The Early History of an Idea

by Paula Fredriksen

Heaven’s Purge: Purgatory in Late Antiquity

by Isabel Moreira

December 20, 2012 issue

A silver plate from Constantinople depicting two companions of Dionysos, Silenus and a Maenad, 613–630. Images from classical mythology persisted in Byzantine art well into the Christian era, and in Middle Eastern art long after the Islamic conquest.

The Great Transition

Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)

an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, March 14–July 8, 2012

May 10, 2012 issue

Vittore Carpaccio: Saint Augustine in His Study, circa 1502

A Tale of Two Bishops and a Brilliant Saint

Ambrose and John Chrysostom: Clerics between Desert and Empire

by J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz

Ambrose of Milan: Political Letters and Speeches

translated from the Latin with an introduction and notes by J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz, with the assistance of Carole Hill

Font of Life: Ambrose, Augustine, and the Mystery of Baptism

by Garry Wills

Augustine’s Confessions: A Biography

by Garry Wills

Once Out of Nature: Augustine on Time and the Body

by Andrea Nightingale

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March 8, 2012 issue

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