Sharon E. J. Gerstel, PhD
Director, UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture
Professor of Byzantine Art and Archaeology, Department of Art History
George P. Kolovos Family Centennial Term Chair in Hellenic Studies
Office Dodd Hall 200C
Sharon E. J. Gerstel’s research focuses on the intersection of ritual and art in Byzantium. Her books include Beholding the Sacred Mysteries (1999) and Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium: Art, Archaeology and Ethnography (2015), which was awarded the 2016 Runciman Prize by the Anglo-Hellenic League, the inaugural book prize by the International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA), and the Maria Theocharis Prize from the Christian Archaeological Society in Greece. Gerstel has also edited A Lost Art Rediscovered: The Architectural Ceramics of Byzantium (with J. Lauffenburger) (2001); Thresholds of the Sacred: Art Historical, Archaeological, Liturgical and Theological Views on Religious Screens, East and West (2007); Approaching the Holy Mountain: Art and Liturgy at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai (with Robert S. Nelson) (2010); Viewing the Morea: Land and People in the Late Medieval Peloponnese (2012); and Viewing Greece: Cultural and Political Agency in the Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean (2016). Gerstel has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a J. Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2011-2012). As an archaeologist, she has worked at numerous excavations in Greece, both as a field director and as a ceramics specialist. Her comprehensive study (with M. Munn) of the medieval village of Panakton appeared in Hesperia in 2003. Her publications on ceramic tiles produced in Nicomedia (modern-day Izmit, Turkey) have appeared in the Journal of the Walters Art Museum and elsewhere. Publications on Byzantine women, including empresses, village widows, and rural nuns, can be found in The Art Bulletin, the Deltion tes Christianikes Archaiologikes Hetaireieas, and the Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte. Gerstel’s current research focuses on the intersection of music, architecture, and monumental decoration. She is co-director, together with Chris Kyriakakis (USC) of the project “Soundscapes of Byzantium.” Research from this project has been published in Speculum, Hesperia, Gesta, and elsewhere. She is also currently spearheading the restoration of the church of Hagioi Theodoroi in Vamvaka, Mani. Her work on this project has been published in the Journal of Modern Greek Studies and has been recognized in the short documentary Blessings and Vows.
In June 2021, Gerstel was honored by Greece as a Commander of the Order of the Phoenix and was also awarded honorary Greek citizenship.
- Beholding the Sacred Mysteries: Programs of the Byzantine Sanctuary, CAA Monograph on the Fine Arts LVI (Seattle and London, 1999).
- A Lost Art Rediscovered: The Architectural Ceramics of Byzantium (ed. with J. Lauffenburger. University Park, PA, 2001).
- Thresholds of the Sacred: Architectural, Art Historical, Archaeological, Liturgical and Theological Views on Religious Screens, East and West (Washington, DC and Cambridge, MA, 2007)
- Viewing the Morea: Land and People in the Late Medieval Peloponnese (Washington, DC and Cambridge, MA, 2013)
- Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium: Art, Archaeology and Ethnography (Cambridge, July 2015)
- Viewing Greece: Cultural and Political Agency in the Medieval and Early Modern Mediterranean (Turnhout, 2016)
- “Art and Identity in the Medieval Morea,” in The Crusades from the Perspective of Byzantium and the Muslim World, ed. A. Laiou and R. Mottahedeh (Washington, D.C., 2001), 263-85.
- “A Late Medieval Settlement at Panakton,” Hesperia 2 (2003), 147-234 (with M. Munn, H. Grossman, E. Barnes, A. Rohn, and M. Kiel).
- “Civil and Monastic Influences on Church Decoration in Late Byzantine Thessalonike and its Hinterland,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 57 (2003), 225-39.
- “The Aesthetics of Orthodox Faith,” The Art Bulletin 87 (2005), 335-46.
- “Recording Village History: The Church of Hagioi Theodoroi, Vamvaka,” Journal of Modern Greek Studies 38 (2020), 21-42.
- “Holy, Holy, Holy: Hearing the Voices of Angels,” (with S. Antonopoulos, C. Kyriakakis, K. Raptis and J. Donahue) Gesta 60.1 (April 2021), 31-49.
Selected Graduate Courses
- Art, Architecture and Ritual in Byzantium
- Hagia Sophia
- Living with the Dead in Byzantium
- The Holy Monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai
- Byzantine Archaeology
- Late Byzantine Art and Archaeology
- Thessaloniki: A City and Its Cultural Production
- The Byzantine Village
- The Byzantine Diaspora
Links for publications:
Links on the UCLA Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture:
- 2019 Theodore Saloutos Award, American Hellenic Council
- 2019 Award from Hellenic Society of Constantinople
Links for Byzantine Acoustics:
- Article on “Soundscapes of Byzantium” in The Atlantic: Lafrance, Adrienne. Hearing the Lost Sounds of Antiquity. The Atlantic, February 19, 2016.
- Podcast on “Soundspaces of Byzantium” in Escape Velocity: “Acoustic Museums.”
- “Mapping the sound of Byzantine churches,” Spark with Nora Young. CBC Radio, February 28, 2016.
- “Acoustic Museums,” USC Viterbi School of Engineering Magazine, Spring 2016.
- “Recreating the sounds of an ancient Greek church in LA,” Religion News, February 27, 2017
- “Revealing the Acoustic Mysteries of Byzantine Churches, Faith and Form 49.3.
- GABAM lecture, Koc University, December 4, 2018
Links for Thessaloniki
- “Uncovering the History of a Long-Buried Byzantine Treasure,” in The Getty Iris
- Interview in Documento about the Thessaloniki Metro Remains: “«Θέλω να ελπίζω ότι η απόφαση του ΣτΕ για τις αρχαιότητες στη Θεσσαλονίκη θα επαναθεωρηθεί»
Links on Research for the Greek Village:
- An Interview with Sharon Gerstel, author of Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium
- Reading Greece | Sharon Gerstel: “Byzantine History opened my eyes to a culture that has long been marginalized in our studies,” Greek News Agenda
- “Episode 4: Vasilika: A Village in Modern Greece with Prof. Sharon Gerstel and Franka Horvat,” Dumbarton Oaks Podcast, October 2020.
Links for Academic Awards
- 2016 Runciman Award Announcement, June 2016.
- “Art historian Sharon Gerstel wins 2016 Runciman Book Prize,” UCLA Newsroom, June 15, 2016.
- ICMA Book Prize Winner: Sharon Gerstel, International Center for Medieval Art (ICMA), May 2017.