Sonia Gutierrez Lloret, Julia Sarabia Bautista, Carolina Domenech and Victoria Amorós

The Buildings of the Visigothic Elite: Function and Material Culture in Spaces of Power (pdf)

(*En Portugués aquí; En Español aquí; En français ici)


In this work, we analyze the elements of power of the Visigothic elites through their representative buildings, as a symbol of the power of these groups, along with the objects they contained or were used in those spaces. In particular, we will focus on the episcopal complex of El Tolmo de Minateda built at the end of the sixth century or beginning of the seventh century, possibly as a political decision taken by the ecclesiastical authority in the capital of the Visigothic Kingdom (Toledo), as a way to counteract the Byzantine influence in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula and exercised from Cartagena.

The episcopal complex of El Tolmo is composed of three buildings, which are in turn the three main buildings of this type of religious facility: church, baptistery and bishop’s palace, the last one being the most authoritative ecclesiastical space for audiences and those in residence. With the comprehensive study of the whole complex (construction cycles, furniture, decoration and the location of spaces), we can interpret the function of each space in the basilica and the domus episcopi, the routes of liturgical and general movement, the existence of some hierarchical environments, and specify the chronological development of the buildings.

Complementing this work, we will analyze other types of objects that are in themselves indicators of prestige and economic power, such as import ceramics, metal objects or coins documented in the contexts of the use of these spaces. The objects analyzed within these spaces of power and their location in relation to them will help us to expand our vision of Visigothic elites and the symbolism both of their architecture and the objects that represented them.

CC license logo - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.png