Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece (2023 NEMC)

Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece (2023 NEMC)

Sat., March 25, 2023

The 2023 NEMC (New England Medieval Consortium) conference is held in conjunction with an NEH-supported exhibition at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.  The exhibition and the conference are entitled Bringing the Holy Land Home: The Crusades, Chertsey Abbey, and the Reconstruction of a Medieval Masterpiece.

The conference takes place at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.  The exhibition (Jan. 26-April 6 2023) takes place at the Cantor Art Gallery at the College of the Holy Cross.

On Saturday, March 25, 2023, a conference including the following guest speakers will take place:

Lloyd de Beer, the British Museum
Paroma Chatterjee, University of Michigan
Paul Cobb, University of Pennsylvania
Matthew Gabriele, Virginia Tech
Sarah Guerin, University of Pennsylvania
Cynthia Hahn, Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York
Eva Hoffman, Tufts University
Richard Leson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Amanda Luyster, College of the Holy Cross
Suleiman Mourad, Smith College
Nicholas Paul, Fordham University
Matthew Reeve, Queen’s University
Euan Roger, National Archives, Kew
Naomi Speakman, the British Museum
Elizabeth Williams, Dumbarton Oaks

For more information about the conference, please contact Amanda Luyster at

Bringing the Holy Land Home reveals the impact that art objects manufactured far away, particularly in the Byzantine and Islamic Mediterranean, had on the medieval visual culture of  England and western Europe.  The exhibition takes as its starting point the iconic Chertsey tiles, on loan from the British Museum, including the Richard the Lionheart and Saladin combat tiles. This exhibition reframes the combat tile mosaic in light of a recent digital reconstruction completed by an international team, headed by Guest Curator Amanda Luyster. This digital reconstruction, which includes both images and lost Latin text, demonstrates not only that the theme of the entire mosaic is the Crusades, but also that its composition draws from imported Islamic and Byzantine silks, often carried home by returning Crusaders.  The Crusading rhetoric of the tiles, in which English victory is proclaimed over their foreign opponents, thereby relies on visual traditions developed and perfected by Muslim and Byzantine artists in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Chertsey tiles are displayed in dialogue with materials from the Byzantine and Islamic worlds, including ceramics, metalwork, liturgical objects, weapons, and textiles, as well as western European objects that incorporated or were impacted by imported objects. This exhibition draws from the collections of the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, the Dumbarton Oaks Collection in Washington, DC, Harvard University Art Museums, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the Worcester Art Museum.  The exhibition has been awarded generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture, and the ICMA (International Center of Medieval Art).  Associated research was funded by the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art.

A symposium focusing on the exhibition will take place on campus on March 25, 2023.  The symposium will be held under the auspices of the NEMC and is supported by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the Rev. Michael C. McFarland S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture.

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