From the veils of the first-century Jewish temple, to the Orthodox iconostasis, to the tramezzi of Renaissance Italy, screens of various shapes, sizes, and materials have been used to separate spaces and order communities in religious buildings. Drawn from papers presented at a recent Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies symposium, the contributors to this volume use a variety of perspectives to approach the history of religious screens and examine the thresholds that they mark. Focusing on the Middle Ages and Renaissance in the East and West, the volume includes discussions of screens in Egypt, Byzantium, the Gothic West and Italy. Some authors argue that screens, and particularly the one marking the threshold between the sanctuary/choir and nave, were conduits rather than barriers. Other authors emphasize the critical role of screens in dividing the laity and clergy, men and women, the pure and impure.
This volume provides new research on the history of religious screen and important insights into the many ways in which the sacred and profane are separated within ecclesiastical contexts.