Column of Justinian w. Dr. Elena Boeck

A triumphal column, the Column of Justinian, built in the 6th century in Constantinople, is considered to have been a tour de force, and over a thousand years ahead of its time as a constructional feat. Dr. Elena Boeck, Professor of History of Art, DePaul University, joins the show and explains more.

Some topics explored

  • The estimated size of the The Column of Justinian
  • What the monument was to represent
  • How the perception of the monument changed over the years
  • Some of the columns referenced during the episode: Column of Trajan (Rome), Column of Marcus Aurelias (Rome), Column of Constantine (Constantinople), Column of Theodosius (Constantinople), Column of Louis XIV
  • The established decorum for building triumphal monuments in Byzantium
  • The materials used to construct the column
  • The canonical source of its existence and how Dr. Boeck came about it
  • Speculation about the quality of the team that constructed the column
  • When and where the next statue of its magnitude was built
  • A story about how Leonardo da Vinci once planned to build a similarly sized equestrian statue in Milan, which project subsequently never occurred, and why
  • A standard procedure of rulers using materials from existing monuments of their predecessors, and using such materials to construct their own
  • When, and why, the Column of Justinian was demolished
  • Where, and how many years it took for a comparable triumphal monument to be constructed

Listen to the episode

The episode can be streamed below and is also available on major podcast apps: Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Amazon Music.

Show Notes

About Professor Elena Boeck

Elena N. Boeck is Professor of History of Art at DePaul University and specializes in the arts of the medieval Mediterranean world. A native of Riga, Latvia, she traces her ancestral origins to Romania and Russia. Her recent book Imagining the Byzantine Past: The Perception of History in the Illustrated Manuscripts of Skylitzes and Manasses (Cambridge, 2015) investigates the rise of illustrated histories in the Mediterranean world from the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries and explores the ideological motivations for visualizing Byzanitine history in Sicily and Bulgaria. She is currently completing a trans-historical biography of the most cross-culturally significant Byzantine imperial monument—the bronze horseman of Justinian in Constantinople. In spring 2018 Professor Boeck was appointed Excellence Initiative Professor at Radboud University (Nijmegen, the Netherlands). She also served as the Director of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks and editor of Dumbarton Oaks papers for academic year 2016-2017.

Her teaching encompasses the Mediterranean world from the ancient to early modern periods, along with theory and methodology. She also teaches Honors Program classes on medieval Spain, the Crusades, Constantinople, and late antiquity.​

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