The Golden Age of Kyivan Rus´

From the time of the Christianization of Kyivan Rus´ in 988 until the capture of Kyiv by the Mongols in 1240, a distinct literary and artistic culture emerged and flourished throughout the Kyivan Rus´ principalities. The Golden Age of Kyivan Rus´ is a MAPA project that aims to present and describe the artistic and literary endeavors that emerged during that period of almost three centuries and shaped the medieval culture of one of the most successful Slavic polities of the European Middle Ages.

Church buidingScholarly literature on Kyivan Rus´ culture in recent decades has often focused on the degree of similarity between Kyivan artistic achievements and their possible Byzantine or South Slavic models (Bulgarian, Macedonian, or Serbian). An emphasis on the borrowing and adaptation process has somewhat overshadowed the agency of scribal and artistic culture in Kyivan Rus´. In literature in particular, an excessive focus on only a few canonical works has obscured the rich tapestry of writings that increasingly circulated in monastic scriptoria all over the territory of Kyivan Rus´ and that were responsible for the distinct religious and cultural milieu before the fall of Kyivan Rus´ to the Mongols. Similarly, the excessive attention received by the Caves Monastery in Kyiv, due to its initial relevance and exceptional status in the newly converted Rus´, has obscured the works of the other twenty-three monasteries that we can attest in Kyivan Rus´ before 1240.

For the first time ever, an interdisciplinary digital humanities project will showcase the achievements and highlights of medieval Kyivan Rus´ culture linked to centers of political and religious power, to show how a cultural and literary conscience emerged in East Slavic over the decades that was not only a more or less adequate adaptation of other Slavic and Byzantine written cultures, but also one with specific and distinctive features of its own.

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