When is a blank wall not blank at all? This talk will show how image adjustment software can assist in the detection of now faded or whitewashed wall paintings in Armenian churches. After a discussion of the methodology used to produce these images, this talk will focus on monuments in the Ani region (including Mren, Horomos, and Ani Cathedral), discussing the style, iconography, and date of the painted fragments, as well as relevant comparative material. Given the compromised state and/or inaccessibility of many monuments in historic Armenia, and the often unpredictable political conditions of the region, this work can and should be undertaken immediately alongside the documentation and preservation of architecture, sculpture, and epigraphy.
Christina Maranci is the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Chair of Armenian art and architectural history at Tufts University and Chair of the Department of the History of Art and Architecture. She is the author of three books and over eighty articles and essays on medieval Armenian art and architecture, including most recently an introduction to Armenian art (Oxford UP, 2018). Maranci has worked on issues of Armenian cultural heritage for over a decade. Her campaign for the Cathedral of Mren, near Ani, resulted in its inclusion on the World Monuments Watch List for 2015-17. Along with Brandie Ratliff, she runs East of Byzantium, an initiative which promotes the study of the cultures east and south of the Byzantine empire through graduate student workshops and lectures.