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Reconsidering Tusk and Bone: An analysis of the Forms, Functions and Perceptions of Anglo-Saxon Ivories, c.500-1066

Smith, Lyndsey (2015) Reconsidering Tusk and Bone: An analysis of the Forms, Functions and Perceptions of Anglo-Saxon Ivories, c.500-1066. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.


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It is the purpose of this thesis to reconsider the ivories of early medieval England with an in-depth analysis drawing on various disciplinary approaches. The last extensive published scholarly work on these ivories was that produced over forty years ago by John Beckwith (Ivory Carvings in Early Medieval England, 1972). Since then there has been little in the way of scholarly investigation of these objects beyond occasional studies of individual ivories in the form of articles or as entries in catalogues of museum collections – or even more rarely, as a passing mention within monographs on Anglo-Saxon art in general. While Beckwith’s publication was, by comparison, comprehensive in its coverage, there were, nevertheless, some ivories that were not included – in some cases because they have come to light since 1972. Generally speaking, however, the scholarly trend has been to consider the ivories of Anglo-Saxon England only in relation to continental workshops (namely, Carolingian, Merovingian or Italian centres of production), and most discussions of them has been from a formalist art historical point of view, concentrating on style rather than materiality or iconography. Such approaches fail to acknowledge the full potential of the ivories. To remedy this situation, this thesis will situate the publication and collection of Anglo-Saxon ivories between 1850-2015 as a means of explaining the nature of the scholarship as it exists today. This will be followed by chapters that first, examine the materiality, archaeology, economic footprint and social/cultural perception of ivory in early medieval England; second, re-assess the (potentially Anglo-Saxon) style of the ivory carvings; and third, that considers the iconographic significances of the carvings in order to situate them within the ecclesiastical milieux from which they emerged. In closing, these approaches will be brought together to examine the perceptions of value invested in the ivories – through their embellishments (precious metals and stones) and the iconography of the material of ivory in Anglo-Saxon England and the wider medieval world.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > History of Art (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.686555
Depositing User: Ms Lyndsey Smith
Date Deposited: 24 May 2016 09:46
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:21
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13126

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