The Two Eyes of the Earth

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Active ImageTransformation of the Classical Heritage

●Winner of the 2010 James Henry Breasted Prize from the American Historical Society for 'best book in any field of history prior to CE 1000.'
●Winner of the 2008 Archaeological Institute of America von Bothmer publication subvention award.

Author: Matthew P. Canepa

Hardcover: 456 pages
Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0520257278
ISBN-13: 978-0520257276

Active ImageThis pioneering study examines a pivotal period in the history of Europe and the Near East. Spanning the ancient and medieval worlds, it investigates the shared ideal of sacred kingship that emerged in the late Roman and Persian empires. This shared ideal, while often generating conflict during the four centuries of the empires' coexistence (224-642), also drove exchange, especially the means and methods Roman and Persian sovereigns used to project their notions of universal rule: elaborate systems of ritual and their cultures' visual, architectural, and urban environments. Matthew Canepa explores the artistic, ritual, and ideological interactions between Rome and the Iranian world under the Sasanian dynasty, the last great Persian dynasty before Islam. He analyzes how these two hostile systems of sacred universal sovereignty not only coexisted, but fostered cross-cultural exchange and communication despite their undying rivalry. Bridging the traditional divide between classical and Iranian history, this book brings to life the dazzling courts of two global powers that deeply affected the cultures of medieval Europe, Byzantium, Islam, South Asia, and China.

Active Image"This book is a true tour de force in the scholarship of the late ancient world. Canepa has bridged the traditional divide between Classical and Iranian studies to illuminate the long-running artistic dialogue between the late Roman and Sasanian Empires. Every chapter offers exciting new insights into the development of late antique art and rituals of power."--Joel Walker, author of The Legend of Mar Qardagh: Narrative and Christian Heroism in Late Antique Iraq

"The Two Eyes of the Earth is a masterly synthesis of a theme of the utmost importance for the political culture of the late antique world."--Peter Brown, author of Power and Persuasion

About the Author:

Matthew P. Canepa is Assistant Professor of Art History at the College of Charleston where he is a faculty member in the interdisciplinary programs in Archaeology and Asian Studies.

Active ImageMatthew Canepa (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is intrigued by topics of cross-cultural interaction in pre-modern visual cultures. His research tends to focus on the intersection of art, ritual and power in the Mediterranean and ancient Iran. His first book, entitled The Two Eyes of the Earth (University of California Press, 2009), is the first to analyze the artistic, ritual and ideological interactions between the Roman and Sasanian empires in a comprehensive and theoretically rigorous manner. Recent publications include an edited volume that studies the phenomena of cross-dddddcultural interaction between the Mediterranean, Iran, and China, a study of the art and ritual of late antique diplomatic exchange, an article on the recreation of Persian monuments and identity in the Sasanian period, and an examination of the impact of Achaemenid and Seleukid practices on Middle Iranian royal funerary monuments and associated rituals. He is writing a book exploring the transformation of Iranian art and kingship between the invasions of Alexander and Islam and is currently serving as an area advisor/editor for the planned Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity.

Professor Canepa is a Fellow the Society of Antiquaries of London, and has been the recipient of numerous research grants including the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (2002-2003), the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (2007), the Archaeological Institute of America (2008) and a Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (2009-2010). In fall 2009 he was invited to be the Michaelmas Term Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College, University of Oxford. Before joining the Department of Art History at UMN in 2010, Prof. Canepa taught at the College of Charleston for five years.

Active ImageIn addition to seminars on historiography and theory, Canepa teaches courses in the art and archaeology of ancient Iran, Hellenistic Asia and the late Roman/early Byzantine empire. He encourages prospective graduate students who wish to pursue research in these areas or who are interested in critical approaches to the study of pre-modern art and architecture to contact him.

Recent and Forthcoming Publications:


The Two Eyes of the Earth: Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran Transformation of the Classical Heritage 45. Berkeley: University of California Press, Nov. 2009.

(editor) Theorizing Cross-Cultural Interaction among the Ancient and Early Medieval Mediterranean, Near East and Asia Ars Orientalis 38. Washington D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Inst., 2010.

Active ImageIran Between Alexander and Islam: Contesting the Global Idea of Iranian Kingship in Hellenized and Western, Central and South Asia. [In progress]
An examination of the development of art, architecture and ritual of Iranian kingship in the Middle Iranian period. Project awarded fellowships from the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI) and American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).

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