Features Podcast

The materiality of Byzantine objects, with Elizabeth Dospěl Williams

A conversation with Elizabeth Dospěl Williams on how people in Byzantium experienced the materiality of the objects they used, especially jewelry and textiles. We look at some of those objects together, discuss their qualities, and situate our engagement with material culture in broader discussions of historical theory.

You can see the objects that we discuss for yourself, including this earring and ring pair; a St. Demetrios reliquary; a child’s tunic; and a garment with a clavus.


Elizabeth Dospěl Williams is an Associate Curator at Dumbarton Oaks, responsible for the care of the Byzantine Collection. You can learn more about her work on

The conversation is based partly on Elizabeth’s study ‘Appealing to the Senses: Experiencing Adornment in the Early Medieval Eastern Mediterranean,’ in the volume Sensory Reflections: Traces of Experience in Medieval Artifacts (Berlin 2019); and the textile exhibition Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt (The George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum, 2019).

The Dumbarton Oaks Museum is located in Washington D.C. Please visit their website to learn more about it.


Byzantium & Friends is hosted by Anthony Kaldellis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at The Ohio State University. You can follow him on his personal website.

You can listen to more episodes of Byzantium & Friends through Podbean.

Top Image: Byzantine collections of Dumbarton Oaks – photo by Johnbod / Wikimedia Commons


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