About the year 1337 this hesychasm, which is obviously related to certain well-known forms of Oriental mysticism, attracted the attention of the learned and versatile Barlaam, a Calabrian monk, who at that time held the office of abbot in the Basilian monastery of St Saviour's in Constantinople, and who had visited the fraternities of Mount Athos on a tour of inspection.
Apart from the illuminated MSS., the mural paintings, the mosaics, and the goldsmith's work of Mount Athos are of infinite interest to the student of Byzantine art.
It is said that the shadow of Mount Athos fell at sunset on a bronze cow in the agora of Myrina.
The usual Eastern arrangement is exemplified in the plan of the convent of Santa Laura, Mount Athos (Laura, the designation of a monastery generally, being converted into a female saint).
Two scientific missions - to Mount Athos in 1874 and to Asia Minor in 1876 - appeared at first to incline him towards the study of the ancient history of the Christian churches of the East.