Art Throughout the Ages

  • 330

    Constantinople is founded as the "New Rome."

    Constantinople is founded as the "New Rome."
  • Period: 330 to Jan 1, 1453


  • 410


    The Roman legions leave Britain. In an effort to protect themselves, the Romano-Briton kings invite in Germanic tribes such as the Angles and Saxons.
  • Period: 476 to Jan 1, 1050

    Early Medieval

  • Period: 527 to Jan 1, 726

    Early Byzantine

  • 537

    Hagia Sophia

    Hagia Sophia
    Hagia Sophia, the cathedral of Constantinople and seat of the Byzantine patriarch, is dedicated by the emperor Justinian I.
  • Jan 1, 625

    Sutton Hoo ship burial

    Sutton Hoo ship burial
    The Sutton Hoo ship burial (British Museum) is interred around this time, a rich array of objects buried inside a wooden ship, under a mound. Although no body has been found (perhaps due to soil acidity), many fascinating grave goods have been recovered, including an iron helmet decorated with tinned bronze foil appliqués, gold buckles inlaid with niello, and a purse cover adorned with cloisonné enamel.
  • Jan 1, 661

    Umayyad caliphate

    Umayyad caliphate
    Muhammad's cousin, son-in-law, and fourth caliph—and establishes the Umayyad caliphate, the first Islamic dynasty. Arabian Peninsula to Syria, and Damascus becomes the capital of an empire that eventually extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indus River under Mucawiya's successors.
  • Period: Jan 1, 661 to


  • Period: Jan 1, 661 to Dec 31, 750


    Location: Iran, Iraq, Syria
  • Period: Jan 1, 726 to


    In the Byzantine world, Iconoclasm refers to a theological debate involving both the Byzantine church and state. The controversy spanned roughly a century, during the years 726–87 and 815–43. In these decades, imperial legislation barred the production and use of figural images; simultaneously, the cross was promoted as the most acceptable decorative form for Byzantine churches.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1000 to Jan 1, 1200


    The study of medieval art began in earnest in the decades following the iconoclasm of the French Revolution. Art historians in the early nineteenth century, following the natural sciences in an effort to classify their field of inquiry, coined the term "Romanesque" to encompass the western European artistic production, especially architecture, of the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1038 to Jan 1, 1194


    Locationm: Iran, Iraq, Turkey (1077-1307)
  • Jan 1, 1054

    The Schism between Byzantine and Roman churches

    The Schism between Byzantine and Roman churches
    Ongoing dissension between the Orthodox Church of Byzantium, led by the patriarch of Constantinople, and the Roman church, led by the pope, comes to a head in a mutual excommunication by the two leaders. The Schism marks one of the most significant breaks between Eastern and Western Christianity.
  • Jan 2, 1080


    The bronze effigy of King Rudolf of Swabia in Merseburg Cathedral (Saxony-Anhalt) is the earliest example of a recumbent, lifesize funerary figure (known as a gisant, from the French for "to lie"), a model that will be followed for centuries throughout Europe.
  • Jan 2, 1140

    Abbot Suger

    Abbot Suger
    advisor to Louis VI and Louis VII, begins to remodel the royal abbey church of Saint-Denis outside Paris, the burial site of French rulers since Carolingian times. In 1144, Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine attend the consecration of the choir, remarkable for its open, light-filled spaces. Suger's architectural innovations spell out the basic principles of Gothic architecture.
  • Period: Jan 2, 1140 to Jan 2, 1500


  • Jan 1, 1150

    Cathedral of Saint-Stephen, Bourges

    Cathedral of Saint-Stephen, Bourges
    Bishops and architects around Paris experiment with architectural forms as they compete to create ever larger and taller churches, such as the Cathedral of Saint-Stephen, Bourges. The collapse in 1284 of the 64-meter-high vault of the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre Beauvais marks the technical limits of Gothic architecture.
  • Jan 1, 1186

    Salah al-Din

    Salah al-Din
    Along with their renown in the arts of inlaid metalwork, pottery, and enameled glass, the Ayyubids are also great builders. Their generous patronage and local courts help revive the cities of Aleppo and Damascus. The outstanding secular architecture from this period includes the fortified citadel of Aleppo (early thirteenth century).
  • Jan 1, 1200

    High Gothic

    High Gothic
    Windows in cathedrals and churches are filled with stained glass; the shimmering colored light transfigures the vast interiors. Depicting biblical stories, scenes from the lives of the saints, or single figures, stained-glass windows complement the sculptures on the exterior and the rites and ceremonies observed within.
  • Period: Nov 1, 1204 to Jan 1, 1453

    Late Byzantinme

  • Jan 1, 1215

    Magna Carta

    Magna Carta
    King John is forced by his barons to sign the Magna Carta, a document stating and ensuring the civil rights of his subjects, and the king's obligations to them. This becomes the model for many later, similar documents.
  • Nov 28, 1274

    Reuniting of the Byzantine and Roman churches

    Reuniting of  the Byzantine and Roman churches
    Theological debate over unification persists as a divisive issue in the Byzantine church. The 1274 measure is repealed in 1282, only to be reconsidered several times until the empire's fall in the mid-fifteenth century.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1281 to


    Location: Turkey, Iraq (from 1534), Syria (from 1516),
    Egypt (from 1516)
  • Jan 1, 1400

    The Rediscovery of Classical Antiquity

    The Rediscovery of Classical Antiquity
    Byzantine scholars travel to Italy, where they contribute to the revival of Greek language and culture that underlies the humanist studies of the Renaissance.
  • Jan 1, 1453

    End of Byzantine

    End of Byzantine
    The Byzantine empire, reduced to the city of Constantinople and its environs, falls to the Ottoman armies led by Mehmed II. The modern name for the city, Istanbul, gradually supercedes Constantinople in common speech.
  • Dec 1, 1516

    Ottoman rule

    Ottoman rule
    Under Ottoman rule, architecture and the arts at first continue in the style set by the Mamluks, reflecting Ottoman admiration for the work of their predecessors. With time, imperial Ottoman elements are integrated into the local vocabulary. Congregational mosques follow Istanbul models, with hemispherical domes, slender pencil-shaped minarets, and enclosed courts with domed porticoes, but also incorporate local features such as striped masonry.
  • Christianization of Athens

    Christianization of Athens
    Schools for ancient philosophy are closed by the emperor Justinian I (r. 527–65). During the sixth century, the Parthenon is converted for use as the city's cathedral and the temple's interior is decorated with Christian frescoes.
  • Restoration of Images

    Restoration of Images
    The empress Theodora (r. 842–56), with her young son Michael III, restores icons, ending the period of Iconoclasm. The image of Christ is reinstalled on the Chalke Gate and redecoration soon begins at Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, with the addition of figural mosaics.
  • Preservation of Knowledge

    Preservation of Knowledge
    An intense interest in systematizing knowledge and preserving past traditions is seen in Byzantine culture under the patronage of tenth-century emperors, including Constantine VII Porphyrogennetos. Classicizing, naturalistic styles in tenth-century manuscript painting and ivory carving are linked to this increased interest in the past. Contemporary historians praise Constantine himself as a painter of realistic, lifelike images.
  • Construction of Dome of the Rock

    Construction of Dome of the Rock
    Built on a prominent and historically important site formerly occupied by Solomon's Temple and later associated with Muhammad's ascent to heaven, the building has an elaborate and sophisticated program of decoration. Byzantine and Sasanian motifs in the architecture and mosaics are especially noteworthy.
  • Book of Kells

    Book of Kells
    he Book of Kells is created, perhaps at the Irish monastery at Iona. Considered a masterpiece of Hiberno-Saxon art, the book is filled with full-page illuminations of breathtaking complexity and intricate interlace patterning that calls to mind the precision of metalwork.
  • Reformation of the Church

    Reformation of the Church
    A great reformation of the church begins, mirroring similar events on the Continent, resulting in the commision of many manuscripts and illuminations.
  • Period: to Jan 1, 1204

    Middle Byzantine

  • Period: to Jan 1, 1171


    Location: Egypt, Syria
  • Period: to Dec 31, 1258


    Location: Iran, Iraq, Syria (to 941)