Igor Dorfmann-Lazarev: Adam as the Giver of Names and as Proto-Noah: The Idea of Kingship in the Iconographic Programme of the Palatine Church at Ałt҅amar (915–921)
The paper will examine the iconographic programme of the palatine church erected between 915 and 921 by the Armenian king Gagik Arcruni on the island of Ałt҅amar in Lake Van. Carved or painted on each of its walls, it is the single example of a church covered with reliefs anywhere in the Christian world before the middle of the eleventh century. The eclectic character of this church’s figurative language and the particular attention paid by the artists to the outer surface of its walls are indicative of the importance accorded to external observers. The outer reliefs and sculptures of the church reflect the search for a new conception of kingship, half a millennium after the ancient Armenian kingdom had been abolished and more than two centuries after Armenia had been incorporated into dār al-Islām. Para-Biblical sources, especially those transmitted in Armenian and in Syriac, played an important role in this intellectual elaboration. Adam, depicted at the centre of the east façade as the Giver of names to all living beings, is presented as the prototype of every kingship. Writings of tenth– and eleventh–century Armenian authors allow us to ascertain that the church at Ałt҅amar was not the only place in the South Caucasus where Adam was presented in these terms.
Universität Regensburg, SGLG 319