The Medieval Globe, a new biannual academic journal, explores the modes of communication, materials of exchange, and myriad interconnections among regions, communities, and individuals in an era central to human history.
The Medieval Globe (TMG) is a peer-reviewed journal to be launched in 2014 with a special issue on the Black Death as a global pandemic. It will be published biannually in both print and digital formats. Thematic issues will alternate with volumes of selected articles submitted for consideration on a rolling basis. Future thematic issues might address such topics as: pilgrimage, diasporas, race and racializing technologies, maritime cultures and ports-of-call, piracy and crime, knowledge networks, markets and consumerism, entertainment, spoils and spolia, global localities, comparative cosmographies, sites of translation and acculturation, slavery and social mobility.
Elizabeth A. Fisher. Michael Psellos on Symeon the Metaphrast and on the Miracle at Blachernae: Annotated Translations with Introductions.
A new online publication from the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University.
The Staff Section of Harvard Library’s website highlights a diminutive sixteenth-century Four Gospels in Armenian in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library. The manuscript was transcribed in 1504 by Megerdich.
View the slideshow.
Stefan Deschauer. Die große Arithmetik aus dem Codex Vind. phil. gr. 65. Eine anonyme Algorismusschrift aus der Endzeit des Byzantinischen Reiches. Vienna,Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: 2014.
From Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
The anonymous Cod. Vind. phil. gr. 65 is one of the numerous Greek manuscripts bought by Augerius von Busbeck, a Habsburgian ambassador, in Constantinople in the middle of the 16th century. Since then, the codex has been kept in the Hofbibliothek of Vienna (today Österreichische Nationalbibliothek). Although it constitutes one of the most important mathematical manuscripts from the later Byzantine period, the two first chapters were transcribed by J. L. Heiberg only in the year 1899. In 1963 an expert edition of the so-called Aufgabensammlung (collection of problems), the smaller part of the manuscript, followed by H. Hunger and K. Vogel. A reliable edition of the greater part written by another scribe in the year 1436 and containing arithmetics, algebra, and geometry, is still lacking.
The author presents hereby an edition of the extensive arithmetical text – called “first book” by the scribe – with complete reproduction of the numerous diagrams, philological analyses and indexes, conveniently selected partial translations, and a comprehensive mathematical and historical comment understandable also for readers without profound mathematical background.
As template for the manuscript an unknown trattato d’abbaco has to be supposed because the Italian influences dominate. However, the scribe introduces the decimal position system with the Greek alphabetic numerals completed by a special sign (ɥ) for the empty position (0). In addition decimal fractions and calculation appear here for the first time in Europe, an achievement from the Islamic culture.
Konstantinos Spanoudakis. Nonnus of Panopolis in Context: Poetry and Cultural Milieu in Late Antiquity with a Section on Nonnus and the Modern World. Trends in Classics - Supplementary Volumes 24. De Gruyter, 2014.
From De Gruyter
Nonnus of Panopolis (fifth century CE) composed two poems once thought to be incompatible: the Dionysiaca, a mythological long epic with a marked interest in astrology, the occult, the paradox and not least the beauty of the female body, and a pious and sublime Paraphrase of the Gospel of St John. Little is known about the man, to whom sundry identities have been attached. The longer work has been misrepresented as a degenerate poem or as a mythological handbook. The Christian poem has been neglected or undervalued. Yet, Nonnus accomplished an ambitious plan, in two parts, aiming at representing world-history. This volume consists mainly of the Proceedings of the First International Conference on Nonnus held in Rethymno, Crete in May 2011. With twentyfour essays, an international team of specialists place Nonnus firmly in his time's context. After an authoritative Introduction by Pierre Chuvin, chapters on Nonnus and the literary past, the visual arts, Late Antique paideia, Christianity and his immediate and long-range afterlife (to modern times) offer a wide-ranging and innovative insight into the man and his world. The volume moves on beyond stereotypes to inaugurate a new era of research for Nonnus and Late Antique poetics on the whole.
Jesse Casana. “The Late Roman Landscape of the Northern Levant: A view from Tell Qarqur and the lower Orontes River Valley.” Oxford Journal of Archaeology, volume 33, issue 2 (May 2014): pp. 193–219.
This paper presents a review and synthesis of archaeological surveys in western Syria and southern Turkey, alongside finds from recent excavations at Tell Qarqur, Syria, revealing regional patterns of late Roman settlement and land use in the lower Orontes River Valley. Survey data show that the late Roman period witnessed a peak in settlement density, with the extension of occupation into previously unoccupied areas and widespread agricultural intensification. Excavations of a typical lowland site at Tell Qarqur reveal an opulent building complex, possibly a church, with a columned hall, elaborate mosaic floor and frescoed interior. Analysis explores the process of agricultural intensification during the late Roman period, the relationship between lowland settlements and the better-known Dead Cities of the limestone massif to the east, and the ultimate abandonment of the settlement system following the seventh century AD.
Averil Cameron, Byzantine Matters, Princeton University Press, 2014.
From Princeton University Press
For many of us, Byzantium remains "byzantine"--obscure, marginal, difficult. Despite the efforts of some recent historians, prejudices still deform popular and scholarly understanding of the Byzantine civilization, often reducing it to a poor relation of Rome and the rest of the classical world. In this book, renowned historian Averil Cameron presents an original and personal view of the challenges and questions facing historians of Byzantium today.
The book explores five major themes, all subjects of controversy. "Absence" asks why Byzantium is routinely passed over, ignored, or relegated to a sphere of its own. "Empire" reinserts Byzantium into modern debates about empire, and discusses the nature of its system and its remarkable longevity. "Hellenism" confronts the question of the "Greekness" of Byzantium, and of the place of Byzantium in modern Greek consciousness. "The Realms of Gold" asks what lessons can be drawn from Byzantine visual art, and "The Very Model of Orthodoxy" challenges existing views of Byzantine Christianity.
Throughout, the book addresses misconceptions about Byzantium, suggests why it is so important to integrate the civilization into wider histories, and lays out why Byzantium should be central to ongoing debates about the relationships between West and East, Christianity and Islam, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, and the ancient and medieval periods. The result is a forthright and compelling call to reconsider the place of Byzantium in Western history and imagination.
Scott Redford, ed. Antioch on the Orontes: Early Explorations in the City of Mosaics. Istanbul, 2014.
From Koç University Press
From the very first moment when their picks and shovels hit the ground in 1932, archaeologists started to expose the remains of an enchanted city hidden under the roads, squares, and gardens of modern Antioch. The olive trees that constitute one of the most important symbols of the city, as they are also depicted in the mosaics of the Roman villas, concealed underneath their roots some of the most impressive works of ancient pictorial art...
Thus came to light one of the most magnificent cities of the Roman Empire. Antioch on the Orontes, Early Explorations in the City of Mosaics narrates the story of the first archaeological expeditions with articles and photographs, and provides news of the most recent archaeological excavations in Antioch.
On the occasion of the British Museum’s soon to open exhibition of Egyptian mummies, Ancient lives, new discoveries (May 22–November 30, 2014), Roberta Mazza, lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Manchester, reflects on the ritual, bodily practice of Christianity in late Antiquity.
Read her Faces&Voices post.
Images of a tattoo discovered on a woman who lived in Sudan c. 700 CE. © The British Museum Trustees via The Telegraph
Cecily J. Hilsdale. Byzantine Art and Diplomacy in an Age of Decline. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
From Cambridge University Press
The Late Byzantine period (1261–1453) is marked by a paradoxical discrepancy between economic weakness and cultural strength. The apparent enigma can be resolved by recognizing that later Byzantine diplomatic strategies, despite or because of diminishing political advantage, relied on an increasingly desirable cultural and artistic heritage. This book reassesses the role of the visual arts in this era by examining the imperial image and the gift as reconceived in the final two centuries of the Byzantine Empire. In particular it traces a series of luxury objects created specifically for diplomatic exchange with such courts as Genoa, Paris and Moscow alongside key examples of imperial imagery and ritual. By questioning how political decline refigured the visual culture of empire, Dr Hilsdale offers a more nuanced and dynamic account of medieval cultural exchange that considers the temporal dimensions of power and the changing fates of empires.
André J. Veldmeijer and Salima Ikram. Catalogue of the Footwear in the Coptic Museum (Cairo). Sidestone Press, forthcoming.
From Sidestone Press
This catalogue presents the ancient Egyptian footwear in the collection of the Coptic Museum in Cairo. The catalogue contains detailed descriptions and measurements, photographs and drawings. Each description of a footwear category is followed by short discussions, addressing topics such as typology and dating. In addition a fairly large corpus of comparative material is presented as well, none of which has been published before. The present work will form an important resource for future study.
This catalogue is one of the results of the Nuffic Tailor Made Training for the curators of the Coptic Museum in Cairo, jointly organized by the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo and the American University in Cairo in close collaboration with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Coptic Museum Authorities and the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs.
Arnold E. Franklin, Roxani Eleni Margariti, Marina Rustow, and Uriel Simonsohn eds. Jews, Christians and Muslims in Medieval and Early Modern Times. A Festschrift in Honor of Mark R. Cohen. Christians and Jews in Muslim Societies, volume 2. Brill, 2014.
This volume brings together articles on the cultural, religious, social and commercial interactions among Jews, Christians and Muslims in the medieval and early modern periods. Written by leading scholars in Jewish studies, Islamic studies, medieval history and social and economic history, the contributions to this volume reflect the profound influence on these fields of the volume’s honoree, Professor Mark R. Cohen.
Anne Boud’Hors and Catherine Louis, eds. Études coptes XII. Quatorzième journée d’études (Rome, 11-13 juin 2009). De Boccard, 2013.
Maximilian Lau, Caterina Franchi, and Morgan Di Rodi, eds. Landscapes of Power. Selected Papers from the XV Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference. Byzantine and Neohellenic Studies, volume 10. Peter Lang, 2014.
From Peter Lang
This volume contains selected papers from the XV International Graduate Conference, highlighting the latest scholarship from a new generation of Late Antique and Byzantine scholars from around the world. The theme of the conference explored the interaction between power and the natural and human environments of Byzantium, an interaction that is an essential part of the empire’s legacy. This legacy has come down to us through buildings, literature, history and more, and has proved enduring enough to intrigue and fascinate scholars centuries after the fall of Constantinople. From religion and trade at the end of Antiquity, imperial propaganda and diplomacy at the end of the first millennium, to culture and conquest under the Komnenian and Palaeologan dynasties – this volume demonstrates the length and breadth of the forays being made by young academics into the still often undiscovered country of the Late Antique and Byzantine world.
Aziz Al-Azmeh. The Emergence of Islam in Late Antiquity: Allah and His People. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
From Cambridge University Press
Based on epigraphic and other material evidence as well as more traditional literary sources and critical review of the extensive relevant scholarship, this book presents a comprehensive and innovative reconstruction of the rise of Islam as a religion and imperial polity. It reassesses the development of the imperial monotheism of the New Rome, and considers the history of the Arabs as an integral part of Late Antiquity, including Arab ethnogenesis and the emergence of what was to become Muslim monotheism, comparable with the emergence of other monotheisms from polytheistic systems. Topics discussed include the emergence and development of the Muhammadan polity and its new cultic deity and associated ritual, the constitution of the Muslim canon, and the development of early Islam as an imperial religion. Intended principally for scholars of Late Antiquity, Islamic studies and the history of religions, the book opens up many novel directions for future research.
In 1914, Father Raphael Kögel OSB published a paper in the Reports of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in which he explained how ultra-violet radiation from an electric arc or a mercury vapour lamp could be used to excite fluorescence in parchment, but the fluorescence would be blocked (quenched) where the ink had originally been.
Read more about Father Kögel and early attempts at reading palimpsests at the British Library’s Collection Care blog.
Kathleen Maxwell. Between Constantinople and Rome: An Illuminated Byzantine Gospel Book (Paris gr. 54) and the Union of Churches. Ashgate, 2014.
This is a study of the artistic and political context that led to the production of a truly exceptional Byzantine illustrated manuscript. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, codex grec 54 is one of the most ambitious and complex manuscripts produced during the Byzantine era. This thirteenth-century Greek and Latin Gospel book features full-page evangelist portraits, an extensive narrative cycle, and unique polychromatic texts. However, it has never been the subject of a comprehensive study and the circumstances of its commission are unknown. In this book Kathleen Maxwell addresses the following questions: what circumstances led to the creation of Paris 54? Who commissioned it and for what purpose? How was a deluxe manuscript such as this produced? Why was it left unfinished? How does it relate to other Byzantine illustrated Gospel books?
Paris 54’s innovations are a testament to the extraordinary circumstances of its commission. Maxwell’s multi-disciplinary approach includes codicological and paleographical evidence together with New Testament textual criticism, artistic and historical analysis. She concludes that Paris 54 was never intended to copy any other manuscript. Rather, it was designed to eclipse its contemporaries and to physically embody a new relationship between Constantinople and the Latin West, as envisioned by its patron. Analysis of Paris 54’s texts and miniature cycle indicates that it was created at the behest of a Byzantine emperor as a gift to a pope, in conjunction with imperial efforts to unify the Latin and Orthodox churches. As such, Paris 54 is a unique witness to early Palaeologan attempts to achieve church union with Rome.
Zeitschrift für antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity, volume 17, issue 2 (Dec 2013).
Origenes alt und neu: Die Psalmenhomilien in der neuentdeckten Münchner Handschrift
New Ethiopic Documents for the History of Christian Egypt
Alessandro Bausi and Alberto Camplani
Eine Sache der Familie?
The dispositio of the Gospel of Judas
Once More on Mani’s Epistles and Manichaean Letter-Writing
Apollinaris, Basil and Gregory of Nyssa
The Presentation and Reception of Basil’s Homiliae in hexaemeron in Gregory’s In hexaemeron
David C. DeMarco
Read Kate Cooper’s comments on Thecla’s Roman catacomb and the role of women in the early church on her blog KATEANTIQUITY.
Fourth-century Roman Noblewoman, from the Catacomb of Thecla, Rome, Via Silvio d’Amico. Image: Salt + Light
Miriam Frenkel. “Medieval Alexandria – Life in a Port City.” Al Masaq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean, volume 6, no. 1 (January 2014): pp. 5-35.
The article presents an overview description of medieval Alexandria, based on the integration of archaeological finds, Muslim historiography, and medieval travelogues, with Geniza documents. It begins with a short outline of Alexandria's geographical location, then provides a depiction of its environs and its infrastructure, especially emphasising the water system and the port. The description then moves from the city's outer circle to its inner areas and discusses the various quarters and neighbourhoods, the commercial centres, and the industrial zones, finally focusing on the buildings, both public and private. It concludes with a short discussion of the way in which Alexandria was viewed by local Muslims and by European visitors. On the basis of this overall description, it is suggested that we should perceive medieval Alexandria in terms of a gateway city that underwent significant reorientation but succeeded in retaining its special status as such.
Parekbolai. An Electronic Journal for Byzantine Literature, volume 4 (2014).
Resorting to Rare Sources of Antiquity: Nikephoros Basilakes and the Popularity of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives in Twelfth-Century Byzantium
Marinos and the Purpose of Prior Analytics II
Europe and China: Studies on Feudal Society [Chinese] (Beijing, 2013). ISBN978-5097-4731-5.
Two papers in the volume cover Byzantine topics. Zhi-qiang Chen )Nankai University) explores the question of Feudalism or the Feudal system in Byzantium, and Xu-shan Zhang (Tsinghua University) discusses the legend of the jewels of Byzantium in books and records of the Han dynasty.
Sebastian Brock, Oriental Institute, Oxford, discusses the discovery of an old folio reused as an endpaper on hmmlorientalia, a blog from the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library.
Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies, volume 17.1 (Winter 2014).
Neo-Aramaic Garshuni: Observations Based on Manuscripts
Emanuela Braida, University of Toronto
Greek and Latin in Syriac Script
Sebastian P. Brock, University of Oxford
A Kurdish Garshuni Poem by David of Barazne (19th Century)
Mustafa Dehqan, Independent Scholar, Iran
Alessandro Mengozzi, University of Turin, Italy
Armenian Garshuni: An Overview of the Known Material
Hidemi Takahashi, University of Tokyo
Recent Books on Syriac Topics
Sebastian P. Brock, University of Oxford
Grigory Kessel, Philipps-Universität Marburg
Bibliography of Syriac and Christian Arabic Studies in Russian, 2013
Grigory Kessel, Philipps-Universität Marburg
Nikolai N. Seleznyov Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies, Russian State University for the Humanities
Naʿama Pat-El, Studies in the Historical Syntax of Aramaic
Holger Gzella, Leiden University
Giovanni Lenzi, ed., Afraate, Le esposizioni
Ilaria L.E. Ramelli, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan; Graduate School of Theology, SHMS, Thomas Aquinas University (Angelicum)
Eliyahu Lizorkin, Aphrahat's Demonstrations: A Conversation with the Jews of Mesopotamia
Adam Lehto, University of Toronto
Stephan A. Kaufman, Jacob of Sarug's Homilies on Elijah
Robert A. Kitchen, Knox-Metropolitan United Church, Regina, Saskatchewan
Sohail H. Hashmi, ed., Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges
Sandra Toenies Keating, Providence College
Averil Cameron and Robert Hoyland, eds., Doctrine and Debate in the East Christian World, 300-1500
J. Edward Walters, Princeton Theological Seminary
Samuel Noble and Alexander Treiger, eds. The Orthodox Church in the Arab World 700-1700. An Anthology of Sources. Northern Illinois University Press, 2014.
From Northern Illinois University Press
Arabic was among the first languages in which the Gospel was preached. The Book of Acts mentions Arabs as being present at the first Pentecost in Jerusalem, where they heard the Christian message in their native tongue. Christian literature in Arabic is at least 1,300 years old, the oldest surviving texts dating from the 8th century. Pre-modern Arab Christian literature embraces such diverse genres as Arabic translations of the Bible and the Church Fathers, biblical commentaries, lives of the saints, theological and polemical treatises, devotional poetry, philosophy, medicine, and history. Yet in the Western historiography of Christianity, the Arab Christian Middle East is treated only peripherally, if at all.
The first of its kind, this anthology makes accessible in English representative selections from major Arab Christian works written between the 8th and 18th centuries. The translations are idiomatic while preserving the character of the original. The popular assumption is that in the wake of the Islamic conquests, Christianity abandoned the Middle East to flourish elsewhere, leaving its original heartland devoid of an indigenous Christian presence. Until now, several of these important texts have remained unpublished or unavailable in English. Translated by leading scholars, these texts represent the major genres of Orthodox literature in Arabic. Noble and Treiger provide an introduction that helps form a comprehensive history of Christians within the Muslim world. The collection marks an important contribution to the history of medieval Christianity and the history of the medieval Near East.
E.G. Papaefthymiou and I.P. Touratsoglou. HOLOCOTINON - Studies in Byzantine Numismatics and Sigillography. In Memory of Petros Protonotarios. Athens: Hellenic Numismatic Society, 2013.
The British Library’s Cotton MS Titus C XV contains leaves from the so-called Codex Purpureus Petropolitanus, a cut border from the Breviary of Margaret of York, and a piece of papyrus dating from the late 6th or early 7th century. Another great post from the British Library’s Medieval manuscripts blog.
Detail of a papyrus fragment surrounded by a border from the Breviary of Margaret of York, Cotton MS Titus C XV, f. 1r. © The British Library
Nikolaos G. Chrissis and Mike Carr, eds. Contact and Conflict in Frankish Greece and the Aegean, 1204–1453. Crusade, Religion and Trade between Latins, Greeks and Turks. Ashgate, 2014.
The conquest of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade shattered irreversibly the political and cultural unity of the Byzantine world in the Greek peninsula, the Aegean and western Asia Minor. Between the disintegration of the Byzantine Empire after 1204 and the consolidation of Ottoman power in the fifteenth century, the area was a complex political, ethnic and religious mosaic, made up of Frankish lordships, Italian colonies, Turkish beyliks, as well as a number of states that professed to be the continuators of the Byzantine imperial tradition.
This volume brings together western medievalists, Byzantinists and Ottomanists, combining recent research in the relevant fields in order to provide a holistic interpretation of this world of extreme fragmentation. Eight stimulating papers explore various factors that defined contact and conflict between Orthodox Greeks, Catholic Latins and Muslim Turks, highlighting common themes that run through this period and evaluating the changes that occurred over time. Particular emphasis is given on the crusades and the way they affected interaction in the area. Although the impact of the crusades on Byzantine history leading up to 1204 has been extensively examined in the past, there has been little research on the way crusading was implemented in Greece and the Aegean after that point. Far from being limited to crusading per se, however, the papers put it into its wider context and examine other aspects of contact, such as trade, interfaith relations, and geographical exploration.
Nicholas Melvani. Late Byzantine Sculpture. Studies in the Visual Cultures of the Middle Ages (SVCMA 6). Brepols Publishers, 2013.
This book provides a detailed description and interpretation of multiple aspects of sculpture from late Byzantine monuments. Although individual monuments of the late Byzantine period have been exhaustively published and analyzed, the role of their sculptural decoration is usually overlooked. Whereas architectural features and, especially, wall paintings are treated in full detail, sculpture is approached as a mere decorative art which complements the overall appearance of a building. However, careful examination of late Byzantine sculptures found in situ or through excavation, as well as research into museum collections, reveals that late Byzantine sculptors had reached a very high degree of artistic accomplishment and that their creations should be treated as works of art of the highest quality. Moreover, by interpreting each work, even those of a purely decorative nature, according to the space it occupied, by deciphering what is depicted (including religious themes and political symbols), as well as by taking into account the wider context within which sculpture was produced during the period under investigation, one can extract invaluable information concerning the artistic climate and the social circumstances which led to the development of late Byzantine sculpture.
The Plague of Justinian is estimated to have killed between 30 and 50 million people. Researchers isolated DNA fragments from the teeth of two plague victims buried in Bavaria. Using these fragments, they reconstructed the genome of the oldest Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for the plague, and compared it to a database of genomes of more than a hundred contemporary strains. Results show that the strain responsible for the sixth-century outbreak was an evolutionary 'dead-end' and distinct from strains involved later in the Black Death and other plague pandemics that would follow.
Read the article at The Lancet Infectious Diseases.
Ben Russell. The Economics of the Roman Stone Trade. Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy. Oxford University Press, 2013.
From Oxford University Press
The use of stone in vast quantities is a ubiquitous and defining feature of the material culture of the Roman world. In this volume, Russell provides a new and wide-ranging examination of the production, distribution, and use of carved stone objects throughout the Roman world, including how enormous quantities of high-quality white and polychrome marbles were moved all around the Mediterranean to meet the demand for exotic material.
The long-distance supply of materials for artistic and architectural production, not to mention the trade in finished objects like statues and sarcophagi, is one of the most remarkable features of the Roman world. Despite this, it has never received much attention in mainstream economic studies. Focusing on the market for stone and its supply, the administration, distribution, and chronology of quarrying, and the practicalities of stone transport, Russell offers a detailed assessment of the Roman stone trade and how the relationship between producer and customer functioned even over considerable distances.
Some thoughts on George Gemistos Plethon, his family and his students. See the post at Diana Gililand Wright's Surprised by Time.
Holograph manuscript of George Gemistos Plethon, Marciana, Venice
Diogenes, issue (January 2014).
Diogenes is a new online journal from GEM - Gate to the Eastern Mediterranean, Student Society for the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham.
Our view of the Byzantine city is consequently limited to discrete churches devoid of context, which present at best a distilled essence of the city’s historic greatness. For most of us, Constantinople seems more a concept than a reality. We have lots of isolated monuments, and even more broken bits, but we lack the big picture – so in a form of synecdoche, we know the city through its parts.
Read from from Robert Ousterhout in Cornucopia.
Porphyra XX (December 2013) is now online.