Byzantine Garden Culture
Only in the last decade has much serious attention been paid to the Byzantine garden, so indirect is the mass of information, both in literature and the visual arts, that is available for scholars. Byzantine Garden Culture, which comprises the revised versions of papers delivered at a colloquium of the same title held at Dumbarton Oaks in November 1996, is the first book ever devoted to the subject.
Individual chapters deal with Byzantine conceptions of paradise, the textual evidence for monastic horticulture, animal and game parks, Palaiologan gardens, Theodore Hyrtakenos's literary ekphrasis of a garden, the horticultural sections of the agricultural manual known as the Geoponika, herbs in medicinal pharmacy, and the famous illustrated copy of Dioskorides' herbal manual in Vienna. An opening chapter explores questions and observations from the point of view of a non-Byzantine garden historian, and the closing chapter suggests possible directions for future scholarship in the field.
To increase the usefulness of this book, both the bibliography and a chapter on the scholarship of Byzantine gardens cover every aspect of the subject, and have been brought up to date to October 2001. An unusually thorough index is provided.
Byzantine Garden Culture provides both garden historians and those interested in Byzantine civilization in general with information and insights into this neglected but fascinating area which, as is clear from their own innumerable allusions, was of paramount importance to the Byzantines themselves.