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Documenting Cappadocia

Alice Lynn McMichael, Art History
Faculty Advisor: Jennifer Ball
Project Website: Documenting Cappadocia
NML Award: The Dewey Digital Teaching Award (December 2012)

This project is the result of a recent trip to Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey in which there are dozens of Byzantine churches cut out of volcanic rock. Many of these structures contain elaborate wall paintings, in varying degrees of preservation. Because virtually no texts survive from middle Byzantine Cappadocia, the caves and their paintings are our most important documentation of that region.

There is a plethora of information about Cappadocia available from commercial sources such as travel websites, and there is published academic research about the area’s monuments that assumes a relatively high level of knowledge on the part of the reader. However, there are few resources in English that provide a scholarly introduction to the area. My project will be a multimedia website intended to bridge that gap.

The project will include an introductory essay, interactive maps, photos of a selection of churches and paintings, plans of those churches, and a bibliography to encourage further research. It will be a pedagogical tool for instructors who need to prepare an introductory lecture, a starting point for researchers and graduate students to investigate new projects, and a resource for scholars who will benefit from a collection of photos and plans of the monuments. My goal is to produce a site that raises interest in Cappadocia within the scholarly community while documenting monuments that are in danger of being destroyed by weather and human interference.

Rock-cut architecture in Cappadocia. Clockwise from top left: Tenth-century paintings in Kiliclar Kilise (The Sword Church); a carved facade at Aciksaray; Thirteenth-century paintings in St. Jean Church near Gulsehir; Hallac Monastery Church.

Rock-cut architecture in Cappadocia. Clockwise from top left: Tenth-century paintings in Kiliclar Kilise (The Sword Church); a carved facade at Aciksaray; Thirteenth-century paintings in St. Jean Church near Gulsehir; Hallac Monastery Church