First Advisor

Anne McClanan

Date of Award

Winter 3-2024

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Art History and University Honors


Art History




Byzantine, San Vitale, Great Palace, Mosaic, Roman Tradition, Justinian I


The Church of San Vitale and the Great Palace of Constantinople offer remarkable examples of artistic productions in early Byzantine mosaics. Bridging from the same Roman past they reinvented a classical medium with their unique interpretations of earlier traditions. They exemplify the diversity of Byzantine artistic productions that could coexist within the same medium and era. The mosaics of the Great Palace were part of a secular governmental public space and found deep in the heart of the Eastern Roman Empire. The mosaics of the Church of San Vitale were made for the domain of the newly reconsecrated Orthodox church of Italy. These two crucial sites of early Byzantine mosaics show the creativity of a multifaceted empire. Reflected in this paper is how fluid the dialogue of the early medieval world was to the ancient Roman traditions, as the classical past stood as the touchstone used to enhance Byzantine’s claims to power and authority.