Category: Publications

Render unto the Sultan: Power, Authority, & the Greek Orthodox Church in the Early Ottoman Centuries

Tom Papademetriou. Render unto the Sultan: Power, Authority, and the Greek Orthodox Church in the Early Ottoman Centuries. Oxford University Press, 2015.

From Oxford University Press

The received wisdom about the nature of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire is that Sultan Mehmed II reestablished the Patriarchate of Constantinople as both a political and a religious authority to govern the post-Byzantine Greek community. However, relations between the Church hierarchy and Turkish masters extend further back in history, and closer scrutiny of these relations reveals that the Church hierarchy in Anatolia had long experience dealing with Turkish emirs by focusing on economic arrangements. Decried as scandalous, these arrangements became the modus vivendi for bishops in the Turkish emirates.

Primarily concerned with the economic arrangements between the Ottoman state and the institution of the Greek Orthodox Church from the mid-fifteenth to the sixteenth century, Render Unto the Sultan argues that the Ottoman state considered the Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical hierarchy primarily as tax farmers (mültezim) for cash income derived from the church's widespread holdings. The Ottoman state granted individuals the right to take their positions as hierarchs in return for yearly payments to the state. Relying on members of the Greek economic elite (archons) to purchase the ecclesiastical tax farm (iltizam), hierarchical positions became subject to the same forces of competition that other Ottoman administrative offices faced. This led to colorful episodes and multiple challenges to ecclesiastical authority throughout Ottoman lands.

Tom Papademetriou demonstrates that minority communities and institutions in the Ottoman Empire, up to now, have been considered either from within the community, or from outside, from the Ottoman perspective. This new approach allows us to consider internal Greek Orthodox communal concerns, but from within the larger Ottoman social and economic context.

Render Unto the Sultan challenges the long established concept of the 'Millet System', the historical model in which the religious leader served both a civil as well as a religious authority. From the Ottoman state's perspective, the hierarchy was there to serve the religious and economic function rather than the political one.

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Cereals of Antiquity and Early Byzantine Times

Maciej Kokoszka, Zofia Rzeznicka. and Krzysztof Jagusiak, eds. Cereals of Antiquity and Early Byzantine Times: Wheat and Barley in Medical Sources (Second to Seventh Centuries). Jagiellonian University Press, 2015.

From Jagiellonian University Press

The present book entitled Cereals of antiquity and early Byzantine times. Wheat and barley in medical sources (second to seventh centuries AD), penned by Maciej Kokoszko, Krzysztof Jagusiak and Zofia Rzeznicka, aims at a detailed analysis of the evolution of dietetic doctrines and an assessment of the value of medical sources for historians of food. In order to achieve the goal, the authors have analysed select medical sources composed between the 2nd and the 7th centuries AD, i.e., treatises published from the moment of canonizing dietetic doctrine by Galen up to the composition of the medical encyclopaedia compiled by Paul of Aegina and the publication of the anonymous work entitled De cibis. Within this timeframe, there appeared a number of works which, following the assumptions of the Hippocratic school, contain a cohesive discourse devoted to the role of food in maintaining and restoring human health, thus allowing us to trace the development of diets during the period in question.In order to conduct their research, the authors have selected a food group, namely cereals and cereal products, starting with common and durum wheat (and including in the research hulled wheats, i.e. einkorn, emmer and spelt) and finishing with barley, since all the above-mentioned crops constituted the basis of diet of the majority of peoples inhabiting the Mediterranean. The researches have shown the history of the said cereals in the area around the Mediterranean Sea, singled out the most important products obtained therefrom, demonstrated their dietetic evaluations as presented in the sources, determined the place of cereals in cuisine and outlined their role in medical procedures.The final result of the analyses proves stability of the dietetic doctrines throughout the researched period, explains intricacies of the conceptual system developed by the medical doctors to describe cereal and other foodstuffs, defines recipes, methods and technologies profited from in food processing and outlines the place of cereal substances (both as independent medicinal agents or as ingredients included in composed medicaments) in popular medical treatment methods.

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The Medieval Islamicate World

Arc-Medieval Press announces a new series The Medieval Islamicate World.

During the medieval period, the Islamicate world encompassed a great arc stretching from al-Andalus to China. Within this arc, Muslims, Jews, and Christians, along with other diverse cultures and belief systems, established  sophisticated and cosmopolitan communities, creating an environment that fostered intellectual, political and social interaction and cultural exchanges. Such connections were key to the vibrancy, achievements, and innovations of this period, resulting in a social reality that was as complex as it was subtle.

This series seeks to explore the intersections among the cultures that comprised the medieval Islamicate world, as well as the impact of specific communities, texts, and events on the development of Islamicate cultures. By considering these relationships and exchanges, we seek to trace the connections that gave rise to the variety and sophistication so characteristic of this era.

Topics and themes that the series intends to consider include
Identity, Religion, and Law; Dress and Social Discourse; Gender and Social Roles; Trade and Cultural Exchange; Art and Architecture; Patrons, Clients, and Slaves; Social Networks and hierarchies; Spaces and Borders; European Encounters with the Islamicate world; Islamicate encounters with the Occidental world; Material cultures; Music, Music Theory and Philosophies of Music; Literature and Poetry; Translation and Linguistics; Sexualities.

Geographical Scope
From al-Andalus, across the Mediterranean and Middle East, to the Punjab and beyond into China and Mongolia

Chronological Scope
7th-15th centuries CE (1st-9th centuries AH)

Call for Contributions
The Medieval Islamicate World is currently seeking academic monographs, including those based on doctoral research, and contributions for forthcoming edited volumes gender, sexuality, and identity as produced in various genres of medieval Islamicate texts.

Editorial Contact
E. T. Dailey

Source: H-Mideast-Medieval

Maritime Humanities, 1400–1800: Cultures of the Sea

Ashgate Publishings announces a new series Maritime Humanities, 1400–1800: Cultures of the Sea.

Early modern oceans not only provided temperate climates, resources, and opportunities for commercial exchange, they also played a central role in cultural life. This period of history was marked by increased exploration, travel, and trade, and early modern seascapes were cultural spaces and contact zones, where connections and circulations occurred outside established centres of control and the dictates of individual national histories. Likewise coastlines, rivers, and ports were all key sites for commercial and cultural exchange.

Interdisciplinary in its approach, Maritime Humanities 1400-1800: Cultures of the Sea welcomes books from across the full range of humanities subjects, and invites submissions that conceptually engage with issues of globalization, post-colonialism, eco-criticism, environmentalism, and the histories of science and technology. The series puts maritime humanities at the centre of a transnational historiographical scholarship that seeks to transform traditional land-based histories of states and nations by focusing on the cultural meanings of the early modern ocean.

Series editors: Claire Jowitt, University of Southampton, UK, and John McAleer, University of Southampton, UK

Viewing Inscriptions in the Late Antique and Medieval World

Antony Eastmond, ed. Viewing Inscriptions in the Late Antique and Medieval World. Cambridge University Press, 2015

From Cambridge University Press

Inscriptions convey meaning not just by their contents but also by other means, such as choice of script, location, scale, spatial organisation, letterform, legibility and clarity. The essays in this book consider these visual qualities of inscriptions, ranging across the Mediterranean and the Near East from Spain to Iran and beyond, including Norman Sicily, Islamic North Africa, Byzantium, medieval Italy, Georgia and Armenia. While most essays focus on Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, they also look back at Achaemenid Iran and forward to Mughal India. Topics discussed include real and pseudo-writing, multilingual inscriptions, graffiti, writing disguised as images and images disguised as words. From public texts set up on mountainsides or on church and madrasa walls to intimate craftsmen's signatures, barely visible on the undersides of precious objects, the inscriptions discussed in this volume reveal their meanings as textual and visual devices.


Introduction: viewing inscriptions
Antony Eastmond

Text, image, memory, and performance: epigraphic practices in Persia and the ancient Iranian world
Matthew P. Canepa

Prayers on site: the materiality of devotional graffiti and the production of early Christian sacred space
Ann Marie Yasin

Erasure and memory: Aghlabid and Fatimid inscriptions in North Africa
Jonathan Bloom

Textual icons: viewing inscriptions in medieval Georgia
Antony Eastmond

Pseudo-Arabic 'inscriptions' and the pilgrim's path at Hosios Loukas
Alicia Walker

Arabic inscriptions in the Cappella Palatina: performativity, audience, legibility, and illegibility
Jeremy Johns

Intercession and succession, enlightenment and reflection: the inscriptional and decorative program of the Qaratay Madrasa, Konya
Scott Redford

Remembering Fernando: multilingualism in medieval Iberia
Tom Nickson

Displaying the word: words as visual signs in the Armenian architectural decoration of the monastery of Noravank (fourteenth century)
Ioanna Rapti

Written in stone: civic memory and monumental writing in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo in Genoa
Stefania Gerevini

Place, space, and style: craftsmen's signatures in medieval Islamic art
Sheila S. Blair

Afterword: re-viewing inscriptions
Antony Eastmond

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When Christians First Met Muslims

Michael Philip Penn. When Christians First Met Muslims: A Sourcebook of the Earliest Syriac Writings on Islam. University of California Press, 2015.

From University of California Press

The first Christians to meet Muslims were not Latin-speaking Christians from the western Mediterranean or Greek-speaking Christians from Constantinople but rather Christians from northern Mesopotamia who spoke the Aramaic dialect of Syriac. Living under Muslim rule from the seventh century to the present, Syriac Christians wrote the first and most extensive accounts of Islam, describing a complicated set of religious and cultural exchanges not reducible to the solely antagonistic.

Through its critical introductions and new translations of this invaluable historical material, When Christians First Met Muslims allows scholars, students, and the general public to explore the earliest interactions between what eventually became the world’s two largest religions, shedding new light on Islamic history and Christian-Muslim relations.

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The Greek Correspondence of Bartolomeo Minio Volume II: Dispacci from Candia

Diana G. Wright and John R. Melville-Jones. The Greek Correspondence of Bartolomeo Minio Volume II: Dispacci from Candia (1500-1502). Unipress, 2015.

From Diana Wright via BYZANS-L

This volume contains 61 letters Minio wrote as Captain of Crete, responsible for the defense of the island, and for supplying food and materiel for the Venetian fleet. These letters begin with the fall of Methoni, give information about the Venetian-Ottoman war, shipping, falcons, spies, Cretan fortifications, the French & Spanish fleets, Ottoman pirates, and problems of famine and ship supplies. Minio is 20 years older than he was in Nauplion with a great many life-&-death experiences behind him, and is increasingly intolerant of Venetian bureaucracy. In Nauplion he was the sole administrator: in Candia he has to work in concert with a Doge and others. This does not always go well.

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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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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