Empires of Faith

Project team

Department of Prehistory and Europe 


Supported by

The Leverhulme Trust

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Research aims and objectives

The research undertaken by this project will focus around a number of key questions:

  • How and why did religions and cults develop new iconographies across Europe and Asia between AD 200 and 800? How did the development of these iconographies influence each other, aid in the success or otherwise of these religions, and how did they draw on and influence the iconography of political as well as religious authority?
  • What were the particular properties of images and objects – and text as image – in this period that made them especially significant in constructing, embodying, and mediating new forms of political and religious authority?
  • What are the legacies of the new iconographies for modern and contemporary debates about the agency of religion in society?

Key project objectives include:

  • Create a new, international research community consisting of specialists in all visual- and material culture of the areas across the geographical and cultural scope of the project
  • Put the study of objects and images at the heart of academic debate on this period
  • Train a new generation of scholars able to think globally and diachronically about the significance of their cultural specialisms, and capable of translating their thinking directly into professional work either in a university or a museum environment.

Project outputs

The project will result in a series of scholarly publications, including monographs, papers in journals, and an edited volume addressing central questions of the project.

A book aimed at a non-specialist readership on the themes of this research and their continued legacy will be produced. The issue of the contemporary legacy of the transformations that took place in this period will also be addressed through workshops and public debates.