Marina Prusac Lindhagen, Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Constantine’s Jerusalem: Christianity the ‘Globalization’ of the late Roman Empire

    This project starts in aligning Constantine’s Jerusalem with this emperor’s typical religiously ambiguous programs implemented in Constantinople and Rome. Archaeological inquiries, to the extent that they are feasible, undergird the view that Constantine’s Jerusalem was in fact intended as a multi-cultural program, a space where traditional Roman religion and Christianity could co-exist, and where Judaism could also have a limited presence. Given that goal of cultural plurality, why did Constantine’s Jerusalem instead come to be remembered as the Christian Jerusalem par excellence? (cf. Halbwachs 1941) Pursuing this question Prusac Lindhagen will rely on archaeological literature on Late Antique Jerusalem, on theories of cultural memory (Assmann 2006; Nora 1984), and on cultural theory, especially theories of hybrid cultures (for instance Bhabha 1994). With a point of departure in the discourse on ‘Romanization’, Prusac Lindhagen follows the view that scholars must avoid the inherent Romanocentric bias by championing a more nuanced view. See for example Hingley (2005) for a ‘globalization’ perspective on the Roman Empire. The current project aims at identifying the relationship between the various claims on Constantinian markers in Jerusalem, such as the Holy Sepulchre, which turned out to symbolise one of the most complicated conflicts not only locally, but also in a global perspective. The significance of the local dynamics in Constantinian Jerusalem is compared to the historical situation that evolved in the following centuries, in order to shed light on the background of the present conflict on sites such as that of the Holy Sepulchre. The impact of local memories in a globally mediated world is re-evaluated from the stance taken that Constantine’s ideas for Jerusalem – as for the other greater cities of the Roman Empire – were culturally more inclusive than what has earlier been stated. Jerusalem was a city of utmost importance because of its Christian history, since Christianity served as a means of ‘globalizing’ the Roman world by the Constantinian government. This project analyses the local dynamics in the Constantinian rebuilding of Jerusalem and seeks to explain that the ‘global’ impact of them might have become larger than planned. In so doing, Prusac Lindhagen’s project links to central aspects of the LDG theory and interacts with a fairly well-documented and much-discussed historical record.

Short CV

Marina Prusac Lindhagen, Associate Prof. of Classical Archaeology & Keeper of the Egypt and Antiquity Collections, Museum of Cultural History, UiO. Her doctoral thesis, South of the Naro, North of the Drilo, from the Karst to the Sea: Landscape and Cultural identities in South Dalmatia 500 BC-AD 500 (Acta Humaniora 312, 2007) addresses local ‘Romanization’ in the border area of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Her monograph From face to face. Recarving Roman Portraits and the Late Antique Portrait Arts (Monumenta Graeca et Romana 18, Brill 2011), presents a new understanding of relations between art and society in change. She has experience from several international projects, is the co-leader of two on-going projects in Italy and Croatia and publishes on various material groups. Present research interests include expressions of memory, ambiguity, cultural identity and hybridity in Constantinan art and architecture.