The thirteen papers in this volume were delivered at the international symposium held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art May 23–25, 1997, in the context of "The Glory of Byzantium" exhibition, which was on view from March 11 through July 6, 1997. One of the main purposes of this exhibition was to explore the Byzantine Empire's complex and varied relationship with its neighbors, recognizing the multi-national, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural character of its artistic traditions.
Whereas the symposium was conceived in close conjunction with the exhibition, its intent was somewhat different. It strove to acknowledge the international character and diversity of current scholarship on Byzantine art, and to present not only new material but also the variety of objectives, approaches, and methodologies that shape modern perceptions of the subject. Thus, the symposium was not restricted to a specific theme; instead, the participants were asked to address a broad range of aspects of the "Glory of Byzantium" exhibition. The contributors to this volume, all of whom are scholars of Byzantine art and culture, hail from ten different countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the United States of America. They all hold prominent positions in the leading scholarly or cultural institutions of their respective countries, and are distinguished experts in their fields of specialization, with established international reputations. Immediately apparent is that many of the authors are from Eastern Europe, and reside in lands that once were under the ecclesiastical and cultural sway of Byzantium. Yet, their perceptions of the Byzantine artistic legacy, which contributed to the cultural identity of their homelands, rarely are included in such English-language symposia and publications.