Dr. Lynn Jones specializes in the medieval East: the Empire of Byzantium, the kingdoms of Armenia and Georgia and the Islamic Caliphates. Issues of medieval identity have informed much of her work. Her first book, Between Islam and Byzantium: Aght`amar and the Visual Construction of Medieval Armenian Rulership (2007), covers a period (885-1100 CE) when Armenia was a vassal state of the Abbasid Caliphate and a buffer zone between the Byzantine Empire and the Caliphate. In it she demonstrates that the Armenian visual expression of power was modeled on the Abbasid paradigm, while the visual expression of Armenian piety reflected a specifically Armenian Orthodox view, eschewing all links with Byzantium and Greek Orthdoxy.
She is currently focusing on other aspects of identity. One project centers on Byzantine relics of the True Cross and their role as conveyors of eastern medieval identity. Her research explores how the Byzantine identity of these relics was perceived once they left the Empire and travelled to the West. Textual analysis paired with the examination of existing comparanda reveals patterns that add to our understanding of how non-Byzantine, non-Orthodox Christian cultures viewed Byzantium, how objects travelled and how Byzantine luxury works influenced production of similar objects in other lands and countries, in both style and form. Her published work on relics of the True Cross examines their reception in Merovingian Gaul, Anglo-Saxon England, tenth- and twelfth- century Armenia and the Latin Kingdoms of Jerusalem.
She is editor of, and contributed to, a festschrift, Byzantine Images and Their Afterlives: Essays in Honor of Annmarie Weyl Carr (Ashgate Publishing, 2014). The concepts linking the 12 papers written for the volume include the examination of form and meaning, the relationship between original and copy and reception and cultural identity in medieval art and architecture.
Dr. Jones has spent the last four years developing a project on the rock-cut churches of Cappadocia, Turkey—the topic of her next book, Cappadocia and Monumental Painting in Eleventh-Century Byzantium–The Rock-Cut Church of Meryem Ana (contracted, Ashgate Publishing). It first focuses on the church of Meryem Ana in the Göreme Valley in central Turkey. The rock-cut churches of Cappadocia contain some forty percent of the monumental painting remaining to us from the Middle Byzantine period (843-1204). The study of the church is then extended to consider workshop practices in this region of Cappadocia as a whole, leading to a re-examination of local workshop practices, of their constituent components and of the demands and desires of patrons—and the particular circumstances of female patronage. This also forces a re-evaluation of the relationship between Cappadocia and Constantinople, and thus the relationship between the perceived center and periphery in the Middle Byzantine period.