Kiefer, Michael

Heidelberg University

Research Title: Habitus Byzantinus. Self-Depiction of Secular Elites in Donor and Funerary Portraits of the Byzantine Middle Ages

Mr. Kiefer is a PhD student at the Institute for Classical Archaeology and Byzantine Archeology at the Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg, Germany. Prior to this he studied Classical Archeology, Byzantine Archeology, Ancient History, and Prehistoric Archeology at Heidelberg. These studies were concluded with the completion of a Masters degree and a thesis on Late Roman banquet culture. He took part in archeological field work in Germany as well as in southern Spain. Kiefer’s research interests focus mainly on the self-representation of Late Roman and Byzantine elites, the transcultural linkages of the Late Roman / Byzantine Empire with its respective neighbors, and on Byzantium in a global context.

These interests combine in his current work on portraiture in the Byzantine Middle Ages. Here he examines the self-fashioning of secular elites through donor and grave portraits and the role which depictions of dress and textiles could play in visualizing the social status of the portrayed. Through a culture-comparative approach the distinctive characteristics of the Byzantine portrait are worked out, allowing to situate it in a larger global art historical dialogue on how a work of art can represent a specific person.

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