Category: Publications

Children and Asceticism in Late Antiquity

Ville Vuolanto. Children and Asceticism in Late Antiquity: Continuity, Family Dynamics and the Rise of Christianity. Ashgate, 2015.

From Ashgate

In Late Antiquity the emergence of Christian asceticism challenged the traditional Greco-Roman views and practices of family life. The resulting discussions on the right way to live a good Christian life provide us with a variety of information on both ideological statements and living experiences of late Roman childhood. This is the first book to scrutinise the interplay between family, children and asceticism in the rise of Christianity. Drawing on texts of Christian authors of the late fourth and early fifth centuries the volume approaches the study of family dynamics and childhood from both ideological and social historical perspectives. It examines the place of children in the family in Christian ideology and explores how families in the late Roman world adapted these ideals in practice.

Offering fresh viewpoints to current scholarship Ville Vuolanto demonstrates that there were many continuities in Roman ways of thinking about children and, despite the rise of Christianity, the old traditions remained deeply embedded in the culture. Moreover, the discussions about family and children are shown to have been intimately linked to worries about the continuity of family lineage and of the self, and to the changing understanding of what constituted a meaningful life.

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Inscriptions in Byzantium and Beyond

Andreas Rhoby. Inscriptions in Byzantium and Beyond. Methods – Projects – Case Studies. Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015.

From Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

The present book, the first collective volume entirely devoted to aspects of Byzantine epigraphy, mainly comprises papers delivered at two international meetings (Vienna 2010, Sofia 2011). The book is divided into four sections and includes among others the following contributions: after an introductory article about the “history” of the discipline of Byzantine epigraphy Cyril Mango tries to define the term “Byzantine inscription” and its limits. Vincent Debiais offers some interesting observations by comparing medieval Latin inscriptions from the West with Byzantine epigraphic traditions. The second section of the book bears the title “Methods of Editing Byzantine Inscriptions”: while the paper of Peter Schreiner discusses the urgent necessity of creating a new epigraphic initiative within Byzantine Studies, Walter Koch describes the Western medieval inscription projects in detail. Both Guglielmo Cavallo and Erkki Sironen discuss editorial guidelines while Charlotte Roueché stresses the advantages of creating online-corpora, and Joel Kalvesmaki describes his recently published epigraphic font “Athena Ruby”. The third section covers articles which report current epigraphic projects: two projects from Greece presented will be published within databases. Maria Xenaki discusses the epigraphic wealth of Cappadocia and its hardly studied graffiti. The last section is devoted to case studies articles. Their content ranges from Late Antiquity (Sencer Şahin, Mustafa Sayar) until the middle and the late Byzantine period (Ida Toth, Linda Safran).

Open Access

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New Issue of Gesta

Gesta, volume 54, no. 1 (2015).


Encounter: Otto Demus
Herbert L. Kessler

“He Who Is at the Point of Death”: The Fate of the Soul in Byzantine Art and Liturgy
Vasileios Marinis

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John of Damascus: New Studies on his Life and Works

Vassa Kontouma. John of Damascus: New Studies on his Life and Works. Variorum Collected Studies Series: CS1053. Ashgate, 2015.

From Ashgate

For more than five hundred years the life and work of John of Damascus (c. 655–c.745) have been the subject of a very extensive literature, scholarly and popular, in which it is often difficult to get one’s bearings. Through the studies included here (of which 6 appear in a translation into English made specially for this volume), Vassa Kontouma provides a critical review of this literature and attempts to answer several open questions: the author and date of composition of the official Life of John, the philosophical significance of the Dialectica (a study which has its first publication here), the original structure of the Exposition of the Orthodox faith, the identity of ps.-Cyril, the authenticity of the Letter on Great Lent, and questions of Mariology. She also opens new vistas for research along four main lines: the life of John of Damascus and its sources, Neochalcedonian philosophy, systematic theology in Byzantium, and Christian practices under the Umayyads.

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Byzantium as Bridge between West and East

Christian Gastgeber and Falko Daim, eds. Byzantium as Bridge between West and East. Proceedings of the International Confernce, Vienna, 3rd -5th May, 2012. Vienna, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015.

From Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

The international conference “Byzantium as Bridge between West and East” (3rd–5th May 2012) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences underlined the mediation role of Byzantium between the cultures in the West and East as well as of its own culture to the neighboring nations. This mediation was discussed not only in terms of influence, but also of receptive function, symbolized in its bridging role. Such a bridge was built also within Byzantium, in the transition from pagan to Christian culture. The proceedings which were supplemented by additional contributions of specialists underpin the importance of Byzantine culture and politics for an overall understanding of late Roman, medieval and early modern history and once again restore Byzantium from a romanticized oriental, distant, mysterious kingdom into European history and its cultural landscape. Thus, the focus is particularly on its huge boost, its reception and its mediation between Europe and the East, in a never-ending process of mobility between Europe, Africa and Asia.

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Working Drawings of Icon Painters after the Fall of Constantinopolis

Maria Vassilaki. Working Drawings of Icon painters after the Fall of Constantinopolis. The Andreas Xyngopoulos portfolio at the Benaki Museum. Benaki Museum, A.G. Leventis Foundation, A. G. Leventis Gallery, 2015.

From the Benaki Museum

This book presents the 452 working drawings that compose the Andreas Xyngopoulos portfolio in the Benaki Museum, commented upon and illustrated in their entirety. Mainly intended for creating portable icons, they comprise pricked and imprinted cartoons, painted drawings and sketches, which date from the 17th until the early 20th century. They were produced from portable icons and were used for making identical copies. Their use became widespread in Venetian Crete during an era of mass production of icons.

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Effect of Function on the Selection of Raw Materials & Manufacturing Technology of Byzantine Pottery

Ahmed Al-Shorman and Atef Shiyab. "The Effect of Function on the Selection of Raw Materials and Manufacturing Technology of Byzantine Pottery: A Case Study from Qasr Ar-Rabbah, South Jordan." Palestine Exploration Quarterly 147, no. 1 (March 2015): pp. 4–19.

A collection of different forms of Byzantine pottery from Qasr Ar-Rabbah, Jordan was examined to determine their chemical, mineralogical, and microtexture contents. In order to investigate the effect of form and function of pottery on the selection of raw materials and manufacturing technology to produce them, petrography, X-ray diffractograph, energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF), and cluster analysis were used. Cooking pots were made with more attention than other pottery forms, being produced with thin walls, non-calcareous clay, and fired at relatively high temperatures.

Greek Manuscripts at the Wellcome Library in London: A Descriptive Catalogue

Petros Bouras-Vallianatos. “Greek Manuscripts at the Wellcome Library in London: A Descriptive Catalogue.” Medical History 59, no. 02 (April 2015): 275–326.

This article presents a new, detailed catalogue of the Greek manuscripts at the Wellcome Library in London. It consists of an introduction to the history of the collection and its scholarly importance, followed by separate entries for each manuscript. Each entry identifies the text(s) found in the respective manuscript – including reference to existing printed edition(s) of such texts – and gives a physical description of the codex, details on its provenance and bibliographical references.

Bāwīṭ to Marw. Documents from the Medieval Muslim World

Andreas Kaplony, Daniel Potthast, and Cornelia Römer, eds. From Bāwīṭ to Marw. Documents from the Medieval Muslim World. Brill, 2014.

From Brill

The dry climate of Egypt has preserved about 130,000 Arabic documents, mostly on papyrus and paper, covering the period from the 640s to 1517. Up to now, historical research has mostly relied on literary sources; yet, as in study of the history of the Ancient World and medieval Europe, using original documents will radically challenge what literary sources tell us about the Islamic world.

The renaissance of Arabic papyrology has become obvious by the founding of the International Society for Arabic Papyrology (ISAP) at the Cairo conference (2002), and by its subsequent conferences in Granada (2004), Alexandria (2006), Vienna (2009), and Tunis (2012). This volume collects papers given at the Vienna conference, including editions of previously unpublished Coptic and Arabic documents, as well as historical and linguistic studies based on documentary evidence from Early Islamic Egypt.

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Sacred Precincts: The Religious Architecture of Non-Muslim Communities Across the Islamic World

Mohammad Gharipour, eds. Sacred Precincts: The Religious Architecture of Non-Muslim Communities Across the Islamic World. Brill, 2015

From Brill

This book examines non-Muslim religious sites, structures and spaces in the Islamic world. It reveals a vibrant portrait of life in the religious sites by illustrating how architecture responds to contextual issues and traditions. Sacred Precincts explores urban context; issues of identity; design; construction; transformation and the history of sacred sites and architecture in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from the advent of Islam to the 20th century. It includes case studies on churches and synagogues in Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Morocco and Malta, and on sacred sites in Nigeria, Mali, and the Gambia.

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New Issue of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies

Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies, 55, no. 1 (2015)


The Repetitive Verse: A Comparative Study in Homeric, South Slavic, and Ugaritic Poetry     
Daphne Baratz

Trojan Politics and the Assemblies of Iliad 7     
Joel P. Christensen

Learning the Alphabet: Abecedaria and the Early Schools in Greece
William C. West, III

The Iconography of Dionysiac Choroi: Dithyramb, Tragedy, and the Basel Krater
Matthew C Wellenbach

The opsis of Helen: Performative Intertextuality in Euripides
Aspasia Skouroumouni Stavrinou

γρίφους παίζειν: Playing at Riddles in Greek
Anna Potamiti

The Eranistai of Classical Athens
Christian Ammitzbøll Thomsen

Reading the Arrivals of Harpalus
Alex Gottesman

Linguistic Variation in Greek Papyri: Towards a New Tool for Quantitative Study     
Mark Depauw, Joanne Stolk

The Quaestor Proclus     
Charles F. Pazdernik     

Protective Iambic Incantations on Two Inscribed Octagonal Rings
Michael Zellmann-Rohrer     

Reading Diodorus through Photius: The Case of the Sicilian Slave Revolts     
Laura Pfuntner     

Michael Choniates at the Christian Parthenon and the Bendideia Festival of Republic 1
Byron David MacDougall     

Life Is Short, Art Long

Life Is Short, Art Long: The Art of Healing in Byzantium. Exhibition catalogue. Pera Museum, 2015.

Exhibition catalogue for Life Is Short, Art Long: The Art of Healing in Byzantium, on view at the Pera Museum February 11–April 26, 2015.

From Pera Museum

The famous aphorism of Hippocrates—“life is short, art long”— stands at the heart of this exhibition, which examines the art and practice of healing in Byzantium from Roman times to the late Byzantine period. It traces the concurrent methods of healing—faith, magic, and rational medicine—from the foundations laid by Apollo and Asklepios, healers of antiquity, as well as Hippocrates and Dioscorides, the founders of rational medicine. The fascinating coexistence of a belief in demons as the primary cause of illness and a rational perception of disease, grounded in Hippocratic teachings, come together in the protagonists of the “art of healing”—the physicians, druggists, saints, holy men, and magicians who healed the sick. The daily rituals involved in maintaining and pursuing well-being, protecting against demons, purifying the body and soul offer a glimpse into the daily life of the Byzantines.

The exhibition catalogue illustrates the influence of Byzantium’s ancient cultural heritage on religious and rational thought as well as contemporary scientific developments and innovations from around the Mediterranean. The catalogue is one of the most updated and extensive publication on the history and art of healing in Byzantium with essays written by the acclaimed academics and with various works, some of them being published for the first time. 

New Issue of Byzantinoslavica - Revue internationale des Etudes Byzantines

Byzantinoslavica - Revue internationale des Etudes Byzantines, LXXII, no. 1–2, 2014


Empress Verina and the Events of 475-476
Kamilla Twardowska

Unique Byzantine Architecture in Southern Levant near Jordan River
Mohammad Waheeb and Eyad Almasri

Oats in Ancient Greek and Byzantine Medical Treatises, V century BC – XI century AD
Zofia Rzeźnicka,Maciej Kokoszko, and Krzysztof Jagusiak

Числа в трудах Прокопия Кесарийского (Numeral data of Procopius)
Vadim V. Serov

The Concept of Al-takbi-r in the Byzantine Theological Writings
Tarek M. Muhammad

In vino veritas…Is there truth in wine? Drinking and intemperance in Great Moravian and Early Czech legislation
Lubomíra Havlíková

Description de l’Ukraine in light of De Administrando Imperio: Two Accounts of a Journey along the Dnieper
Łukasz Różycki

О времени заложения Успенского собора Киево-Печерской лавры (About the date of the Dormition cathedral of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra foundation)
Mariana M. Nikitenko

Bogomils on Via Egnatia and in the Valley of Pelagonia: The Geography of a Dualist Belief
Robert Mihajlovski

Achilles at the battle of Ostrovo - George Maniakes and the reception of the Iliad
Frederick Lauritzen

The daughter of a Byzantine Emperor – the wife of a Galician-Volhynian Prince
Alexander V. Maiorov

Eusebius’ of Caesarea image in 14th century Byzantium and its sources
Lev Lukhovitskiy

The Moveable Canopy. The Performative Space of the Major Sakkos of Metropolitan Photios
Jelena Bogdanović

Hagia Sophia and Ottoman architecture
Elisabeth Piltz

Два ранее не издававшихся греческих текста "Сказания о 12-ти пятницах" и славянская традиция (Two previously unedited Greek texts of “The Tale of the 12 Fridays” and the Slavic tradition)
S.V. Ivanov and M.L. Kisilier

Ramenta carminum byzantinorum
Rudolf Stefec

St. John the Baptist in Dayr al-Suryan, in the Wadi Natrun: A Crusader era Deesis icon from the Byzantine periphery Re-vivified
Zuzana Skálová

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The Byzantine Republic: People and Power in New Rome

Anthony Kaldellis. The Byzantine Republic: People and Power in New Rome. Harvard University Press, 2015.

From Harvard University Press

Although Byzantium is known to history as the Eastern Roman Empire, scholars have long claimed that this Greek Christian theocracy bore little resemblance to Rome. Here, in a revolutionary model of Byzantine politics and society, Anthony Kaldellis reconnects Byzantium to its Roman roots, arguing that from the fifth to the twelfth centuries CE the Eastern Roman Empire was essentially a republic, with power exercised on behalf of the people and sometimes by them too. The Byzantine Republic recovers for the historical record a less autocratic, more populist Byzantium whose Greek-speaking citizens considered themselves as fully Roman as their Latin-speaking “ancestors.”

Kaldellis shows that the idea of Byzantium as a rigid imperial theocracy is a misleading construct of Western historians since the Enlightenment. With court proclamations often draped in Christian rhetoric, the notion of divine kingship emerged as a way to disguise the inherent vulnerability of each regime. The legitimacy of the emperors was not predicated on an absolute right to the throne but on the popularity of individual emperors, whose grip on power was tenuous despite the stability of the imperial institution itself. Kaldellis examines the overlooked Byzantine concept of the polity, along with the complex relationship of emperors to the law and the ways they bolstered their popular acceptance and avoided challenges. The rebellions that periodically rocked the empire were not aberrations, he shows, but an essential part of the functioning of the republican monarchy.

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Languages and Cultures of Eastern Christianity: Greek

Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, ed. Languages and Cultures of Eastern Christianity: Greek. Ashgate, 2015.

From Ashgate

This volume brings together a set of fundamental contributions, many translated into English for this publication, along with an important introduction. Together these explore the role of Greek among Christian communities in the late antique and Byzantine East (late Roman Oriens), specifically in the areas outside of the immediate sway of Constantinople and imperial Asia Minor.

The local identities based around indigenous eastern Christian languages (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, etc.) and post-Chalcedonian doctrinal confessions (Miaphysite, Church of the East, Melkite, Maronite) were solidifying precisely as the Byzantine polity in the East was extinguished by the Arab conquests of the seventh century. In this multilayered cultural environment, Greek was a common social touchstone for all of these Christian communities, not only because of the shared Greek heritage of the early Church, but also because of the continued value of Greek theological, hagiographical, and liturgical writings. However, these interactions were dynamic and living, so that the Greek of the medieval Near East was itself transformed by such engagement with eastern Christian literature, appropriating new ideas and new texts into the Byzantine repertoire in the process.

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Sacred Plunder: Venice and the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade

David M. Perry. Sacred Plunder: Venice and the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade. Penn State University Press, 2015

From Penn State University Press

In Sacred Plunder, David Perry argues that plundered relics, and narratives about them, played a central role in shaping the memorial legacy of the Fourth Crusade and the development of Venice’s civic identity in the thirteenth century. After the Fourth Crusade ended in 1204, the disputes over the memory and meaning of the conquest began. Many crusaders faced accusations of impiety, sacrilege, violence, and theft. In their own defense, they produced hagiographical narratives about the movement of relics—a medieval genre called translatio—that restated their own versions of events and shaped the memory of the crusade. The recipients of relics commissioned these unique texts in order to exempt both the objects and the people involved with their theft from broader scrutiny or criticism. Perry further demonstrates how these narratives became a focal point for cultural transformation and an argument for the creation of the new Venetian empire as the city moved from an era of mercantile expansion to one of imperial conquest in the thirteenth century.

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New Issue of Speculum

Speculum, 90, no. 1 (January 2015)


Translations from Greek into Latin and Arabic during the Middle Ages: Searching for the Classical Tradition
Maria Mavroudi

Byzantium's relationship with what we call “the classical tradition” is central to the development of its civilization and has been extensively discussed by Byzantinists for a number of reasons: since the fifteenth-century Renaissance, European interest in Byzantium was spurred by research on classical antiquity, and Byzantine literary culture was generally treated as a warehouse from which to retrieve information on ancient texts. In addition, Byzantine studies as a modern academic discipline was formed around the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, when the classical tradition was understood as a constituent part of modern Western culture, while ancient Greece and Rome served as political and aesthetic paradigms for the world's industrialized nations.

Peter Frankopan reviews

Michael Attaleiates, The History, trans. Anthony Kaldellis and Dimitris Krallis. (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library 16.) Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012.

Paul Magdalino reviws

Averil Cameron, Byzantine Matters. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014. Paul Magdalino

Dimitris Krallis reviews

Warren Treadgold, The Middle Byzantine Historians. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

New Issue of Byzantinische Zeitschrift

Byzantinische Zeitschrift, 107, no. 2 (December 2014)


Ditches of destruction – Cyril of Alexandria and the rhetoric of public security
Maijastina Kahlos

Eine Exkommunikationsandrohung des Johannes Kalekas an den Metropoliten von Trapezunt und ihre Hintergründe
Nestor Kavvadas

Psellos and Plotinos
Frederick Lauritzen

Üçayak: a forgotten Byzantine church
Marina Mihaljević

Du recueil à l’invention du texte: le cas des Parastaseis Syntomoi Chronikai
Paolo Odorico

Açıksaray “Open Palace”: a Byzantine rock-cut settlement in Cappadocia
Fatma Gül Öztürk

Romanos Melodos on the Raising of Lazarus
Barbara Saylor Rodgers

Die Hunnen bei Malalas
Tibor Schäfer

Eine Schmähschrift des Michael Apostoles
Rudolf S. Stefec

Zu Iustinians dies imperii und zum Problem von Datierungen in der Osterzeit. Überlegungen zur antiken Überlieferung, besonders zu Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, De cerimoniis aulae Byzantinae 1,95
Joachim Szidat

Miniature diptych from Jerusalem
Yana Tchekhanovets

Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium

Panagiotis Roilos ed. Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium. Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014.

From Harrassowitz Verlag

Written by eminent scholars in the field of Byzantine studies, the majority of the chapters included in Medieval Greek Storytelling: Fictionality and Narrative in Byzantium are revised versions of the papers that were presented at an international conference that Panagiotis Roilos organized at Harvard University in December 2009. The topics explored in the book cover an extensive chronological range of postclassical Greek culture(s) and literature, from early Christianity to early modern Greek literature, with a pronounced focus on the Byzantine period, as well as a variety of genres: hagiography, historiography, chronicles, “patriographic literature,” the novel, the epic, and philological commentary. One of the main aims of the book is to shift the focus of current scholarship on fictionality from those genres that are traditionally identified as “fictional,” such as the novel and the epic, to other literary discourses that lay claim to historical objectivity and veracity. By doing so, this volume as a whole sheds new light on the interpenetration of different, often apparently antithetical discursive categories and strategies and on the ensuing problematization of established demarcations between “historicity” and fictionality, as well as “objectivity” and imaginary arbitrariness, in diverse Byzantine literary and broader cultural contexts.

A Cosmopolitan City: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Old Cairo

Tasha Vorderstrasse and Tanya Treptow, eds. A Cosmopolitan City: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Old Cairo. The Oriental Institute, 2015.

From The Oriental Institute

This companion volume to the exhibit of the same name examines the multicultural city of Fustat, capital of medieval Egypt and predecessor to modern Cairo. It explores the interactions of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities within urban city life. These three communities practiced their own beliefs and enacted communal self-government, but they also intermingled on a daily basis and practiced shared traditions of life. Essays by leading scholars examine the different religions and languages found at Fustat, as well as cultural aspects of daily life such as food, industry, and education. The lavishly illustrated catalog presents a new analysis of the Oriental Institute’s collection of artifacts and textual materials from 7th through 12th-century Egypt. Highlights include documents from the Cairo Genizah (a document repository) of the Ben Ezra Synagogue as well as never-before-published artifacts from archaeological excavations conducted at Fustat by George Scanlon on behalf of the American Research Center in Egypt. The volume encourages discussion on the challenges of understanding religion through objects of daily life.

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Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction

Alessandro Bausi et al., eds. Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies: An Introduction. Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies, 2015.

From Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies

The present volume is the main achievement of the Research
Networking Programme ‘Comparative Oriental Manuscript Studies’, funded by the European Science Foundation in the years 2009–2014.

It is the first attempt to introduce a wide audience to the entirety of the manuscript cultures of the Mediterranean East. The chapters reflect the state of the art in such fields as codicology, palaeography, textual criticism and text editing, cataloguing, and manuscript conservation as applied to a wide array of language traditions including Arabic, Armenian, Avestan, Caucasian Albanian, Christian Palestinian Aramaic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Persian, Slavonic, Syriac, and Turkish.

Seventy-seven scholars from twenty-one countries joined their efforts to produce the handbook. The resulting reference work can be recommended both to scholars and students of classical and oriental studies and to all those involved in manuscript research, digital humanities, and preservation of cultural heritage.

The volume includes maps, illustrations, indexes, and an extensive bibliography.


The Islamic-Byzantine Frontier: Interaction and Exchange Among Muslim and Christian Communities

A. Asa Eger. The Islamic-Byzantine Frontier: Interaction and Exchange Among Muslim and Christian Communities. I. B. Tauris, 2014.

From I. B. Tauris

The retreat of the Byzantine army from Syria in around 650 CE, in advance of the approaching Arab armies, is one that has resounded emphatically in the works of both Islamic and Christian writers, and created an enduring motif: that of the Islamic-Byzantine frontier. For centuries, Byzantine and Islamic scholars have evocatively sketched a contested border: the annual raids between the two, the line of fortified fortresses defending Islamic lands, the no-man's land in between and the birth of jihad. In their early representations of a Muslim-Christian encounter, accounts of the Islamic-Byzantine frontier are charged with significance for a future 'clash of civilizations' that often envisions a polarised world. A. Asa Eger examines the two aspects of this frontier: its physical and ideological ones. By highlighting the archaeological study of the real and material frontier, as well as acknowledging its ideological military and religious implications, he offers a more complex vision of this dividing line than has been traditionally disseminated.

With analysis grounded in archaeological evidence as well the relevant historical texts, Eger brings together a nuanced exploration of this vital element of medieval history.

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Greek and Roman Textiles and Dress: An Interdisciplinary Anthology

Mary Harlow and Marie-Louise Nosch, eds. Greek and Roman Textiles and Dress: An Interdisciplinary Anthology. Oxbow, 2015

From Oxbow

Twenty chapters present the range of current research into the study of textiles and dress in classical antiquity, stressing the need for cross and inter-disciplinarity study in order to gain the fullest picture of surviving material. Issues addressed include: the importance of studying textiles to understand economy and landscape in the past; different types of embellishments of dress from weaving techniques to the (late introduction) of embroidery; the close links between the language of ancient mathematics and weaving; the relationships of iconography to the realities of clothed bodies including a paper on the ground breaking research on the polychromy of ancient statuary; dye recipes and methods of analysis; case studies of garments in Spanish, Viennese and Greek collections which discuss methods of analysis and conservation; analyses of textile tools from across the Mediterranean; discussions of trade and ethnicity to the workshop relations in Roman fulleries. Multiple aspects of the production of textiles and the social meaning of dress are included here to offer the reader an up-to-date account of the state of current research. The volume opens up the range of questions that can now be answered when looking at fragments of textiles and examining written and iconographic images of dressed individuals in a range of media.

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A Cultural History of Aramaic: From the Beginnings to the Advent of Islam

Holger Gzella. A Cultural History of Aramaic: From the Beginnings to the Advent of Islam. Brill, 2015

From Brill

Aramaic is a constant thread running through the various civilizations of the Near East, ancient and modern, from 1000 BCE to the present, and has been the language of small principalities, world empires, and a fair share of the Jewish-Christian tradition. Holger Gzella describes its cultural and linguistic history as a continuous evolution from its beginnings to the advent of Islam. For the first time the individual phases of the language, their socio-historical underpinnings, and the textual sources are discussed comprehensively in light of the latest linguistic and historical research and with ample attention to scribal traditions, multilingualism, and language as a marker of cultural self-awareness. Many new observations on Aramaic are thereby integrated into a coherent historical framework.

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A Companion to Latin Greece

Nickiphoros I. Tsougarakis and Peter Lock, eds. A Companion to Latin Greece. Brill, 2015

From Brill

The conquest of the Byzantine Empire by the armies of the Fourth Crusade resulted in the foundation of several Latin political entities in the lands of Greece. The Companion to Latin Greece offers thematic overviews of the history of the mixed societies that emerged as a result of the conquest.

With dedicated chapters on the art, literature, architecture, numismatics, economy, social and religious organisation and the crusading involvement of these Latin states, the volume offers an introduction to the study of Latin Greece and a sampler of the directions in which the field of research is moving.

Contributors: Nikolaos Chrissis, Charalambos Gasparis, Anastasia Papadia-Lala, Nicholas Coureas, David Jaccoby, Julian Baker, Gill Page, Maria Georgopoulou and Sophia Kalopissi-Verti.

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New Issue of Porphyra

Porphyra, XXII (December 2014)


The First Byzantine Emperor? Leo I, Aspar and Challenges of Power and Romanitas in Fifth-century Byzantium
Michael Edward Stewart

Padri, figli e principi di autorità spirituale: spunti e suggestioni dall’ epistola 88 (28 settembre 865) di Papa Nicola I e Michele III l’ Amorita
Mauro Mormino

Symbiosis: the survival of Greek Christianity in the Norman Kingdom of Sicily
Frank McGough

Sereno di Antiopoli e la cupola di Haghia Sophia a Constantinopli. Nuove ipotesi per le fonti Anthemio e Isidoro
Maria Caroline Campone

“The heavy mode (Echoes Barys) on the fret Arak” Orthodox chant in Istanbul and the various influences during the Ottoman Empire
Oliver Gerlach

Spatial humanities: an agenda for pre-modern research
David Joseph Wrisley

Historical Writing in Byzantium

James Howard-Johnston. Historical Writing in Byzantium. Kieler Felix-Jacoby -Vorlesungen, Bd 1. Heidelberg: Verlag Antike, 2014.

From Verlag Antike

James Howard-Johnston, one of the best experts on East Roman-Byzantine historiography, gives and explains in the study submitted here, the revised and expanded Kiel Felix Jacoby Lecture of 2012, his view of the foundations, evolutionary conditions, historical contexts and characteristics as well as the reception of Byzantine historical texts from their beginnings to the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Based on most recent historical and literary research, to which he himself has contributed considerably, the author is able to elucidate the diversity and uniqueness, but also the similarities and (internal) dependencies of the Byzantine historical tradition.

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Networks of Learning: Perspectives on Scholars in Byzantine East and Latin West, c. 1000–1200

Sita Steckel, Niels Gaul, Michael Grünbart, eds. Networks of Learning: Perspectives on Scholars in Byzantine East and Latin West, c. 1000–1200. Byzantinistische Studien und Texte, Bd 6. Münster; Berlin; Wien; Zürich; London: Lit Verlag, 2014.

From Lit Verlag

Cultures of learning and practices of education in the Middle Ages are drawing renewed attention, and recent approaches are questioning the traditional boundaries of institutional and intellectual history. The volume assembles contributions on both Byzantine and Latin learned culture, and aims to locate medieval scholars in their religious and political contexts instead of studying them in a framework of 'schools'. Eleven contributions on eastern and western scholars offer complementary perspectives on scholars and their work, discussing the symbolic and discursive construction of religious and intellectual authority, practices of networking and adaptations of knowledge formations.

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New Issue of Estudios bizantinos

Estudios bizantinos, 2 (2014)


El incensario bizantino “de Almería”. Consideraciones acerca de la importación de bronces “coptos” en la Hispania meridional durante la Antigüedad Tardía
Jaime Vizcaíno Sánchez
This paper studies an incense burner (thuribulum) preserved at the Museo Arqueológico Nacional of Madrid (MAN). This bronze censer joined the collection in the sixties of the 20th century, being its archaeological context unknown. The spanish archaeologist M. Almagro Gorbea published a complete study of this object, suggesting that it might have been discovered in the western part of Andalusia, probably in Almería, and proposing its Coptic origin (6th-7th centuries). The contribution explores the origin, date and cultural adscription of this important element of the Christian church furnishing (instrumenta liturgica or utensilia ecclesiae, following the texts). Moreover, it compares and contrasts the Madrid censer and other similar objects produced in Early Byzantium. It also analyses its liturgical function and reviews some methodological aspects regarding its role as archaeological prototype. It finally highlights the need to discuss further wrong certainties built up according to frequent uncritical repetitions.

El monasterio de Apa Sabino en Antinópolis: su organización administrativa interna
María Jesús Albarrán Martínez
The Monastery of Apa Sabinos, situated in Antinopolis, in Middle Egypt, offers a bilingual archive containing more than thirty Greek and Coptic papyri, mostly unpublished. The study of these papyri as a whole sheds light on various aspects of the administrative apparatus of this monastic centre, from the end of the 5th up to the 7th century AD. This article focuses on the administrative internal organization of the monastery, based on a hierarchy leaded by the superior, seconded by one or several assistants and a steward. Over the time, an increasingly diversified documentation reveals that the monastery developed an ever more complex administrative structure and acquired a legal personality.

L'immagine della città di Roma nel mondo arabo-islamico: tradizione del classico e periferie della memoria
Giuseppe Mandalà
The Rome of the Arabs is, in part, the result of a literary misunderstanding, a city imagined as real but in fact imaginary; such a representation did not come from the “wilder imaginations” of the Arabs, nor from a philological misunderstanding, that is, a presumed Arabic confluence of the names of the two great capitals – Rome and Constantinople – whose names and representations always remain, in any case, entirely distinct and separate. Arabic Rome is a real city that buried its historical, topographical and cultural meaning with a single idea, the renovatio or rather translatio Romae, in other words, the political ideology that wanted Constantinople as the New, and sometimes only, Rome. The present study analyses the use of the lemma “Rome” in the Awḍaḥ al-masālik ilà ma‘rifat al-buldān wa-l-mamālik (The clearer itinerary for the understanding of places and countries), a geographical dictionary compiled by Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Būrsawī, better known as Ibn Sibāhī-zāde (m. 997 H./1589 A.D.). The analysis of this later description allows for unknown details to be retreived and moreover permits one to see how, in the specific field of Arabo-Islamic geography, the authority of tradition is passed down through the centuries, prevailing over every possible direct knowledge.

Tres piezas bizantinas con funciones apotropaicas conservadas en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional: dos enkolpia y un “sello” bivalvo inédito
Sergio Vidal Álvarez
This paper focuses on two byzantine enkolpia and an unpublished byzantine “seal” from the Numismatics Department of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional, Madrid. Both enkolpia (n.º inv. 61742 and 1973/84/1-3) and the bivalbe “seal” (n.º inv. 55152) seem to have been produced in Constantinople and Eastern Anatolia in the Macedonian period. All of them show interesting Greek inscriptions and in the case of the enkolpia the usual representations of the Crucifixion.

Byzantium and the First Crusade: Three Avenues of Approach
Jonathan Harris
A recurring theme in the historiography of the First Crusade is that of the Byzantine emperor asking Pope Urban to send a small contingent against the Turks and receiving instead vast armies over which he had no control. The crusade was thus completely unexpected and the emperor played no part in its genesis. Recent work has challenged that thesis and further approaches have emerged. A second theory argues that this was a novel departure in foreign policy. The emperor was in fact deeply involved in the origins of the First Crusade and played a leading role in shaping its ideals and goals. The third approach is more modest in scope: it argues that he was certainly involved but this was no unprecedented innovation, simply the extension of a tried and tested response to crisis. This response involved seeking outside allies, providing them with a financial incentive and even bringing a spiritual element into the agreement. It was the use of the last of these standard tactics that was to lead to misunderstandings between the Byzantine emperor and the crusaders.

Anna Komnene and her Sources for Military Affairs in the Alexiad
Kyle Sinclair
With the intensive focus on military affairs in the Alexiad provoking contentious theories and much debate, this article investigates more closely the sources of information available to Anna Komnene for her coverage of war during the reign of Alexios Komnenos. Though Anna discloses more about her sources than most Byzantine historians, it is argued that some of these claims, particularly those regarding her own capacity to witness events and converse with veteran participants, are somewhat disingenuous, intended to illustrate her adherence to traditional modes of inquiry and thus gain credence for her history. Without discounting the contribution of oral traditions of storytelling to the Alexiad, the study favours the growing consensus that Anna was more reliant on written material, especially campaign dispatches and military memoirs.

‘A living portrait of Cato’: Self-fashioning and the classical past in John Tzetzes’ Chiliads
Sophia Xenophontos
The aim of this article is to examine the creative ways in which John Tzetzes (c.1110 – after 1160) uses the figure of Cato the Elder within his Chiliads. In appropriating Cato’s care for his son’s education to his own pedagogical relationship with his father, Tzetzes departs significantly from Plutarch’s original (Life of Cato Maior). This recreation leads him, as I argue, to engage with notions of Hellenism in twelfth-century Byzantium, to uncover his anxieties stemming from the oppressive feeling of poverty, and to castigate current social conditions that irritated him, for instance the corruption of the ecclesiastical establishment. I additionally cast light on Tzetzes’ scholarly inventiveness; that is manifested in the way he infuses his own self-portrait with Cato’s qualities in an attempt to exonerate it from public censure.

De Oriente a Occidente. La leyenda bizantina de la Passio Imaginis en el siglo XV en la Corona de Aragón
Carlos Espí Forcén
The Passio Imaginis legend played an important role during the II Council of Nicaea in 787 to defend the miraculous status of images against iconoclasts. The conclusions of Nicaea were rejected by pope Hadrian I and by the intellectuals of the Carolingian court. Nonetheless, by the 12th century the work of John of Damascus was translated in Western Europe and Christian images gradually assumed the theory of transitus, i. e. an image could be invaded by its prototype and behave like if it were the person depicted on it. The assumption of this concept caused a renewed interest in the Passio Imaginis legend and it was therefore represented on some 15th-century altarpieces in the Crown of Aragon. On the one hand, it helped to reinforce the status of the crucifix as a container of the real presence of Jesus similarly to the Eucharist; but, on the other hand, it had fatal consequences for the communities of conversos in 15th century Spain.

La Geografía de Tolomeo en un impreso anotado por Nicolás Múrmuris propiedad de Diego Hurtado de Mendoza
Paula Caballero Sánchez
Among other volumes of the same work, the Spanish humanist Diego Hurtado de Mendoza possessed the editio princeps of Ptolemy’s Geography, printed in Basilea by Froben (1533) and now preserved with the rest of his library at the Real Biblioteca del Monasterio de El Escorial with the signature 117.VII.19. This printed book is singular for containing many scholia and corrections on the text added by Nikolaos Murmuris, a Greek scribe that copied completely or partially twelve manuscripts for Mendoza between 1451 and 1453. The analysis and the collatio of the scholia and the corrections added by Murmuris to the printed volume have allowed to identify its source: a Vatican codex (Vat. gr. 176) containing the commentary composed by Nikephoros Gregoras and Isaak Argyros on Ptolemy’s Geography.

Cyrenaican Church Floor Mosaics of the Justinianic Period: Decoration or Meaning?

Norman D. Cowell. "Cyrenaican Church Floor Mosaics of the Justinianic Period: Decoration or Meaning?" Libyan Studies 45 (November 2014): pp. 85–96.


The well-preserved church floor mosaics of the Justinianic period discovered at Qasr Libya have been dismissed as a haphazard collection of motifs, most of which are purely decorative. The author presents arguments to question this statement and carries out a re-examination to see if a symbolic programme can be recovered from them. In this task two principal sources of imagery are drawn on; bible passages and, in view of the wide variety of fauna represented, the stories in early bestiaries where the alleged behaviour of animals is given a theological interpretation. This analysis was extended to cover a selection of other church floor mosaics of similar age. In each case it has been found possible to construct a coherent programme of symbolism and to link this to rites which would have been celebrated in those locations.

Traces of Tarhuntas: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Interaction with Hittite Monuments

Felipe Rojas and Valeria Sergueenkova. “Traces of Tarhuntas: Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Interaction with Hittite Monuments.” Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 27 no. 2 (2014).


This article examines what people in Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Anatolia thought about and did with Hittite and Neo-Hittite rock-cut reliefs and inscriptions. It brings together archaeological and textual evidence that demonstrates the intensity, variety, and sophistication of interactions with Bronze and Iron Age material remains between the classical and early Byzantine periods. It also calls attention to the ways in which indigenous inhabitants and foreign visitors alike used such remains to construct or verify narratives about local and universal history. The evidence analyzed here should be of interest to those studying social memory as well as cross-cultural interaction within and beyond the Mediterranean.

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for Byzantine Arts and Culture

Founded in 2010 through a generous gift from the Jaharis Family Foundation, the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is dedicated to the promotion and advancement of knowledge about the rich heritage of Byzantine art and culture.

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