Pseudo-Arabic and the Material Culture of the First Crusade in Norman Italy: The Sanctuary Mosaic at San Nicola in Bari

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Abstract

Pseudo-Arabic is a form of ornament, derived from Arabic script, which appears in both Islamic and Christian contexts from the 10th century onwards. The city of Bari in south-east Italy, and its hinterland, boasts a number of examples of this motif. This article explores how pseudo-Arabic was employed in Bari and how the circulation of luxury objects in the medieval Mediterranean contributed to the dissemination of the motif. Bari’s most prominent church, the Basilica of San Nicola, contains a particularly inventive example of pseudo-Arabic in its apse mosaic, which can be dated to the decades following the First Crusade. This article explores the idea that booty from the crusade may have provided the inspiration for the pseudo-Arabic pavement.

How to Cite: Vernon, C., (2018). Pseudo-Arabic and the Material Culture of the First Crusade in Norman Italy: The Sanctuary Mosaic at San Nicola in Bari. Open Library of Humanities. 4(1):36, pp.1-43. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/olh.252

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