Literary Spolia in the Twelfth-Century Latin East: Constructing the Past of the Templum Domini

Yolles, J. (Guest lecturer)

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


When the Latins settled in the area of the Levant they considered the Holy Land, they were confronted with competing narratives told by communities at the sacred sites. New Latin communities variously adopted elements of these narratives and crafted their own stories. This paper examines the Latin narrative tradition about one of these sites: that of what Latins called the Templum Domini, situated on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Canons at the new Latin institution at this site, housed in the Muslim edifice of the Dome of the Rock, created new narratives placing the site at the heart of Christendom; earlier Melkite traditions, however, had their own idealizing narrative that presented the construction of the Dome of the Rock as the outcome of exemplary Christian-Muslim interactions. In his grand history, William of Tyre innovatively united these two narrative strands, resulting in a picture strikingly similar to the construction of the Dome of the Rock itself, which comprises spolia from Roman temples. The paper concludes with a reflection on how the concept of “literary spolia” may help to explain Latin strategies for engaging with the Levantine past more generally.
Period28. Jun 20212. Jul 2021
Event titleSociety for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East 10th International Conference : Crusading Encounters
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United Kingdom


  • crusades
  • Latin East
  • crusader states
  • Latin literature
  • Christian-Muslim Relations