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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

Ms Tanja Tolar

BA (History of Art), BA (Comparative Literature), MA (Medieval Studies, CEU), MA (History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS)


Tanja Tolar
Ms Tanja Tolar
Email address:
Thesis title:
Islamic enamelled glass and its connections with Byzantium and Venice
Internal Supervisors


I studied Art History at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia where after my BA I decided to broaden my knowledge of history and culture with another BA in Comparative Literature. I spent nearly ten years intensely studying languages: Dutch, German, Danish, Czech and Spanish which resulted in over eight years of teaching and translating from German and Dutch, and publishing translations in Slovenian journals. I was always interested in the cultural and religious contacts during the Medieval period and decided to study Muslim-Christian relations in art. I subsequently went on studying for an MA in Medieval Studies in an interdisciplinary programme at Central European University. I continued my exploration of Islamic art in the MA programme at SOAS where I focused on ceramics and textiles. I am now continuing my study of contacts in the Eastern Mediterranean through research on enamelled glass.

PhD Research

This research has been motivated by a desire to readdress the current understanding of mutual impacts and cross-currents between Islamic and Byzantine enamelled glass production. In evaluating painterly techniques this thesis seeks to explore fragmented material from a variety of collections and proposes a chronological evolution of enamelling on glass. The inspection of consulted glass fragments was executed with the intention of bridging the gap between art historical and archaeological practices together with the inclusion of results from scientific research where these exist. In this regard, this work is different from previous scholarly practices in studying the glass fragments which, with few exceptions, did not attempt to correlate the visual references with archaeological data and/or scientific research. In doing so, this thesis attempts to assess the Byzantine glass production and its involvement in the manufacture of Islamic glass in Syria and Egypt, along with a study of the influences of Seljuk art on early enamelled glass production in Syria. It also discusses the relevance of fragmented material in the iconographical evaluation of historical narratives as seen on glass.

PhD Conferences

  •  3rd May 2012 Lecture at the NVIC (Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo) with a title : Collecting medieval Islamic enamelled and gilded glass and questions of its iconography.
  • CIHA2012 Nuremberg 15th-20th July 2012 (Poster with a title From Cyprus to Corinth via Anatolia : re-examination of a group of blue glass bottles)
  • 19th International Congress of the Association Internationale pour l'Histoire du Verre, Piran – Slovenia, 18th - 22nd September 2012  (paper presented with a title: Seljuk art as a possible source of decoration on Islamic enamelled glass)
  • Trading Diasporas' Role in Trade and Diplomacy, CEU, Budapest, 8th - 9th September 2012 (paper presented with a title: Between the Doge and the Sultan: re-examination of a group of gilded and enamelled glass bottles and fragments)


Member of Comité international d'histoire de l'art
Member of Association Internationale pour l'Histoire du Verre (AIHV)
Member of Association for the History of Glass
Member of the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean