Dr Sean Leatherbury

I completed my DPhil in History (Late Antique and Byzantine Studies) at Oxford in 2012. Between 2013 and 2014, I held research fellowships with the the Council for British Research in the Levant and the Bard Graduate Center. In 2014-15, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, where I worked on the changing aesthetics of votive offerings from pagan Rome to Christian Byzantium. Since 2015, I have been Assistant Professor of Art History at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. My involvement with the Monumental Art of the Christian and Early Islamic East project began during the summer of 2017, and continues during a research leave from my teaching position from Summer 2018 to Fall 2019. In addition to my work as a researcher and teacher, I am a curator and editor of Manar al-Athar, the open-access photo archive based at Oxford directed by Judith McKenzie. 

My research focuses on Roman and late antique visual and material culture, and examines the relationship between art and text (especially inscriptions), issues of identity and geography (“regionalism,” “provincialism”), and the transformation of the so-called minor arts (gold-glass, votives) from the Roman to the Byzantine period. Currently, I am completing a monograph, Inscribing Faith in Late Antiquity: Between Reading and Seeing (Routledge, forthcoming), that will be the first in-depth examination of the visual functions of texts inscribed within Christian, Jewish, and early Islamic buildings across the Mediterranean. Additional projects include two edited volumes, the first on late antique art and local identities, and the second on traveling Egyptian artists in late antiquity. Here at Oxford, I am starting a new project on the Roman and late antique floor mosaics of Syria, with the dual aims of analyzing the distinctive Syrian character (style, iconography) of the mosaics as compared to their better-known relatives in modern Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel/Palestine, and of tracing the mosaicists and patrons involved with the projects. Combining methodologies from art history and social history as well as archaeology, this project will result in the first English-language monograph on the mosaics, and will sharpen our understanding of the evolving cultural and religious identities of Syrians in late antiquity.

Late Antique art and archaeology; mosaics; Late Antique East

Full Publications: Dr Sean Leatherbury publications

Selected Publications:

  • Christian Wall Mosaics and the Creation of Sacred Space

  • Framing Late Antique Texts as Monuments: The Tabula Ansata between Sculpture and Mosaic

  • Writing (and reading) Silver with Sidonius: the material contexts of late antique texts

  • Textiles as ‘Gifts to God’ in Late Antiquity: The Evidence of Christian Altar Cloths

  • Writing, Reading and Seeing Between the Lines: Framing Late-Antique Inscriptions as Texts and Images

  • Reading and Seeing Faith in Byzantium: The Sinai Inscription as Verbal and Visual “Text”

  • Competitive Sacrifice: Christian Visual Engagement with Jewish Sacrificial History and the Temple in Late Antique Arabia

  • Writing in Colour in Late Antiquity: Evidence from North African Mosaic Pavements

  • More
List of site pages