Voice, Signature, Mask: The Byzantine Author, lecture by Stratis Papaioannou (Brown University and 2014–2015 Whitehead Professor, ASCSA), delivered October 9, 2014
Byzantine literature remains relatively exotic for modern readers, unlike its predecessor, Classical literature, or commensurate aspects of Byzantine culture, such as visual art.This lecture ventures a comprehensive view of Byzantine literature by examining notions and practices of authorship. Though neither classical nor medieval Greek have a single word that corresponds exactly to our “authorship,” Byzantine rhetoric and manuscript book culture reveal an intricate web of meanings for what an author is. Vacillating between authenticity and creative impersonation, Byzantine authors signal modernity.
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The Digital Library of Leimonos Monastery aims at highlighting the written cultural legacy that can be found on the display bookshelves and the cases of Leimonos Library during the five centuries of its operation, from 1526 A.D until today. The library was established within the framework of the program “Elevation and promotion of the cultural wealth of Leimonos Monastery, Lesvos with the use of new technologies”.
The Digital Library is divided, as in its initial prototype, into three parts, the collection of Byzantine and post-Byzantine manuscripts, the Library of prototype book, and the Archive of Greek and Ottoman documents.
This website presents part of Leimonos written wealth, while summary descriptions are also included. Specifically, more than 108 manuscripts are presented and some of the monastery’s old documents and books as well. Our future goal is the constant renewal of the Digital Library not only by enriching descriptions, but also by publishing the monastery’s written wealth with the ultimate aim of highlighting its whole part.
Averil Cameron’s Dialoguing in Late Antiquity (2014) is available online through the Center for Hellenic Studies (Harvard University) Hellenic Studies Series.
The Israel Antiquities Authority has created the National Treasures Online website, which offers a selection of thousands of objects from the collections of the National Treasures. The site, which currently has over 5000 artifacts, is updated continuously, and new hi-resolution images of artifacts and information are added on a regular basis. The site includes photography and information about the collections in the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum.
The John S Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has made available through its electronic library many of the publications in its Museum Cycle as well as many out of series titles.
PDFs of the The History of Cartography published by the University of Chicago Press (1987) are available on the University of Chicago Press website.
Volume 1: Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean
The architectural drawings from Robert Van Nice’s Saint Sophia in Istanbul: An Architectural Survey (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks, 1965–1986) are now available through Harvard University’s Page Delivery Service.
Read about the history of Van Nice’s volume and the decision to make the plates available digitally at DO/CONVERSATIONS.
The Syriac Studies Reference Library (Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University) is a collection of rare and out-of-print titles that are of vital importance for Syriac studies. It is especially rich in early manuscript catalogs, dictionaries, and grammars, and contains many of the indispensable editions of Syriac texts that were produced in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. This collection was scanned from the holdings of the Semitics/ICOR Library of The Catholic University of America.
The Benaki Museum, a film directed by Athina Tsaggari, narrated by Willem Dafoe, and produced by Faliro House productions, is dedicated to the Benaki Museum and its founder.
Dr. Getatchew Haile (Professor Emeritus at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota) reads the opening lines of the Gospel of Luke from an illuminated Ethiopian Gospel Book made about 1480–1520 as part of the Getty’s Medieval Manuscripts Alive series. The manuscript is written in Ge’ez, the official language of various historical kingdoms and courts in Ethiopia. Today it is primarily used in the liturgical services of the Ethiopian Church.
The Travelogues website was created within the broader project of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation to promote Greek culture, and especially Greek literature, on a national and international level. This website aims to make known the graphic materials found in travel accounts of journeys to Greece and the eastern Mediterranean from the 15th century onwards, and thus contribute both to students' education and scientific research. An important part of the editions that constituted the database of the website belongs to the Historical Library of the Foundation, currently under construction.
Travelogues will periodically be updated with material from major libraries in Greece, such as Gennadius Library and Benaki Museum Library. This material, already in process, spans the time from the 15th to the early 20th century. Of approximately 4500 images, 560 have already been incorporated in the website's collections. In the same sense, the bibliography shall be updated with the most recent research contributions. User feedback will be taken into consideration and the pertinent modifications will get reflected.
Bliss-Tyler Correspondence. An annotated transcription of the correspondence between Mildred Barnes Bliss, Robert Woods Bliss, Elisina Tyler, and Elisina Tyler between 1902 and 1952.
Another great resource from Dumbarton Oaks.
Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, the founders of Dumbarton Oaks, and their close friend and art advisor, Royall Tyler, and his wife Elisina maintained an active correspondence between 1902 and 1952. Many of these letters document the formation of the Blisses’ collection of Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, Asian, Islamic, and European art. They also discuss contemporary history, literature and poetry, music, politics, and expatriate life. Various friends and acquaintances, such as Bernard Berenson and Edith Wharton, are referenced throughout the correspondence, as are important world events, such as the First and Second World Wars.
The majority of the extant correspondence was given by Mildred Barnes Bliss to Royall Tyler’s son, William Royall Tyler, sometime before her death in 1969. Tyler, then director of Dumbarton Oaks, and Walter Whitehill began work on a publication of this correspondence in the mid-1970s. But this project was not completed, and all existing materials for the publication became an unrestricted gift of William Royall Tyler to the Harvard University Archives (HUGFP 38.6, boxes 1–5) in 1977 and 1979. Robert S. Nelson (Robert Lehman Professor at Yale University and a former senior fellow at Dumbarton Oaks) and James N. Carder (archivist and House Collection manager at Dumbarton Oaks) returned to this correspondence project in 2008.
Bliss-Tyler Correspondence provides a searchable database of nearly one thousand letters and telegrams preserved at Harvard University Archives. They are grouped into seven sections, each with an introductory essay that establishes the historical and biographical context of the letters.
The Artworks link presents a gallery of the paintings, sculptures, textiles, and ceramics in the Dumbarton Oaks Collections that are discussed by the Blisses and the Tylers. Records for individual artworks include a brief description and acquisition history, a link to the full museum record, and a list of letters that mention the artwork.
A 360 panorama of the Red Monastery created by photographer Matjaz Kacicnik, courtesy of the American Research Center in Egypt, Inc.
Beth Shean After Antiquity, an online exhibition and archive of the materials excavated at Beth Shean by the University of Pennsylvania from 1921–1933, has launched.
Contributors: Megan Boomer, Matthew Chalmers, Victoria Fleck, Joseph Kopta, Robert Ousterhout (project director), James Shackelford, Rebecca Vandewalle, and Arielle Winnik.
For further information about Beth Shean in late antiquity and Penn Museum's excavations, see Penn Museum’s Expedition, volume 55, issue 1.
Source: Joseph R. Kopta, Temple University
Since 2009, The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College London, in collaboration with UCL's Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering and business partner Arius 3D, has been developing a groundbreaking programme for creating 3D images of objects in the Petrie collection.
20 plus objects are available on the beta version of the 3D Petrie Museum website.
Five more Greek manuscripts have been added to Gallica.
The Encyclopedia of Mediterranean Humanism is a new online publication available in French, Arabic, and English.
Humanism is not simply a European phenomenon, product of the Renaissance. On the contrary, humanism, understood as both a philological science and a philosophical outlook, is found in all the cultures of the Mediterranean world, from its origins in Greek antiquity to its efflorescence in Quattrocento Italy and beyond. This postulate, explained in the introduction, is the basis of the Encyclopedia of Mediterranean Humanism. The ambition of this encyclopedia is to elucidate the diverse forms that this humanism has taken on in different contexts: classical Greek, Christian (oriental and Latin, patristic and post-patristic), Arabo-Islamic, Jewish, etc. The Encyclopedia offers, under the guidance of its editorial board, a collection of substantial articles which examine the concepts, themes, representations and notions which permeate the texts produced in these different cultures. It is hence not simply a dictionary with multiple entries on diverse topics, but also a real synthesis which presents the meaning and importance of Mediterranean Humanism by grounding it in history and by emphasizing its convergences, without hiding its divergences.
The Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana has a new website for digitized manuscripts.
CORONA Atlas of the Middle East
CORONA is the codename for the United States’ first photographic spy satellite mission, in operation from 1960-1972. During that time, CORONA satellites took high-resolution images of most of the earth’s surface, with particular emphasis on Soviet bloc countries and other political hotspots in order to monitor military sites and produce maps for the Department of Defense. The more than 800,000 images collected by the CORONA missions remained classified until 1995 when an executive order by President Bill Clinton made them publicly available through the US Geological Survey. Because CORONA images preserve a high-resolution picture of the world as it existed in the 1960s, they constitute a unique resource for researchers and scientists studying environmental change, agriculture, geomorphology, archaeology and other fields.
In regions like the Middle East, CORONA imagery is particularly important for archaeology because urban development, agricultural intensification, and reservoir construction over the past several decades have obscured or destroyed countless archaeological sites and other ancient features such as roads and canals. These sites are often clearly visible on CORONA imagery, enabling researchers to map sites that have been lost and to discover many that have never before been documented. However, the unique imaging geometry of the CORONA satellite cameras, which produced long, narrow film strips, makes correcting spatial distortions in the images very challenging and has therefore limited their use by researchers.
Thanks to grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies, the University of Arkansas’ Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies (CAST) has developed methods for efficient orthorectification of CORONA imagery and now provides free public access to our imagery database for non-commercial use. Images can be viewed online and full resolution images can be downloaded in NITF format.
Read Dan Vergano’s National Geographic article on the use of Cold War satellite photos in archaeology, "Cold War Spy-Satellite Images Unveil Lost Cities."
New Byzantine texts, including works by Michael Attaliates and John VI Kantakouzenos, were added in the recent Thesaurus Linguae Graecae update.
List of new texts.
The Greek Font Society was founded in 1992 by the late Michael S. Macrakis (1924-2001) as a non-profit organization with the expressed aim of contributing to the research of Greek typography. The GFS has designed a growing list of Greek polytonic fonts which include various historical revivals and new designs with respect to typographic tradition.
Fonts are available for download on the GFS website.
In 1996 during the construction of a highway between Lod and Tel Aviv, a series of mosaic floors were uncovered. The mosaics were first excavated in 1996 by the Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Miriam Avissar. In 2009, a gift from Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation enabled the IAA to conserve the mosaic and establish the Shelby White and Leon Levy Lod Mosaic Archaeological Center.
Have a look at the Lod Mosaic website for great in-situ and conservation photos.
Nubian Monasteries is a website dedicated to Byzantine Nubia and Nubian monasteries. The website was created and is maintained by Dr. Artur Obluski, Research Associate, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.
The Syriac Gazetteer is a geographical reference work of Syriaca.org for places relevant to Syriac studies. “Places relevant to Syriac Studies” include places named in Syriac texts, places interesting to historians who work on Syriac texts, and places where scholarship on Syriac is being produced. There are no temporal or spatial boundaries for the geographic database, which collects places relevant to any period of history useful for Syriac studies, from places mentioned in the Peshitta version of Genesis to places founded recently, and from ancient Edessa to Mongol-era outposts in China and diaspora communities in the United States of America.
Mapping the Jewish Communities of the Byzantine Empire
The aim of the project is to map the Jewish presence in the Byzantine empire using GIS (Geographical Information Systems).
All information (published and unpublished) about the Jewish communities will be gathered and collated. The data will be incorporated in a GIS which will be made freely available to the general public on the world-wide-web. Researchers and members of the public will be able to create maps according to their own specifications.
Chronologically, the project will begin in 650. This is soon after the Arab conquest of Egypt, Palestine and Syria when these regions, with their substantial Jewish populations, were permanently separated from the Byzantine empire. The end-date is fixed by the arrival in the region of large numbers of Jewish immigrants from Spain in 1492.
Geographically, the core areas of Asia Minor, the southern Balkans and the adjacent islands including Crete and Cyprus will be included for the entirety of the period, Byzantine Italy however, will only be covered down to the Norman conquest. Some smaller territories that were only briefly under Byzantine rule may be excluded.
Syriaca.org: The Syriac Reference Portal invites scholars interested in promoting Syriac studies to join as collaborators in the creation of a new online reference work for the study of Syriac authors, literature, and manuscripts.
We are pleased to announce that an international team of scholars has begun work on a new online reference resource for the study of Syriac authors, texts, manuscripts, and historical research. The Syriac Reference Portal is designed to meet the needs of a variety of academic users ranging from specialists in Syriac and related fields to students and the general public.
Specifically, the Syriac Reference Portal will bring together in an information hub the following resources:
- an ontology or classification system for Syriac studies
- a multi-lingual authority file for standardizing references to Syriac authors, texts, and place names
- an online encyclopedia
- a gazetteer of maps and geographic information related to Syriac studies
- a classified bibliography
The above resources will be available in the first generation of the Portal. In later development, we will open these resources up for collaborative augmentation and annotation by scholars around the globe. In subsequent rounds of development, we will continue adding to the hub by linking additional digital content to the hub – for example, the electronic journal of Syriac studies, Hugoye, and the electronic corpus of Syriac literature being prepared at Brigham Young University. We will also add new tools such as a prosopographical component and, ultimately, the long-desired goal of a union catalogue for Syriac manuscripts.
The Rock Inscriptions Project (Sinai Peninsula). This site presents the data gathered by the Rock Inscription and Graffiti Project at the Institute of Asian and African Studies.
These photographs were assembled before the reversion of the Sinai Peninsula to Egyptian sovereignty in 1982. The collection is designed to make available images of inscriptions, rock drawings, Beduin markings and other epigraphs and to organize them including descriptions, coordinates, and locations. In order to facilitate research into the human traffic in the Wilderness of Sinai, inscriptions in major published corpora have been included. To the material from Sinai, we have added epigraphs from the Christian Holy Places and also from the Negev desert. The collection does not claim to be exhaustive in any way.
The images belong to the Rock Inscriptions and Graffiti project. High resolution images for study and eventual publication will be made available to scholars on request.
The British Library has added the Codex Sinaiticus to its growing list of Greek manuscripts available online. Further information and images at the BL’s Medieval manuscripts blog.
See selections of digitized manuscripts from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France at Paleofrafia Greca.
Manar al-Athar Online Photo Archive
The Manar al-Athar open-access website, based at the University of Oxford, aims to provide high resolution, searchable images for teaching, research, and publication. These images of archaeological sites, with buildings and art, will cover the areas of the former Roman empire which later came under Islamic rule, such as Syro-Palestine/the Levant, Arabia, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain. The chronological range is from Alexander the Great (i.e., from about 300 BC), through the Islamic period, to the present.
It has strong coverage of Late Antique sites in Syro-Palestine which have undergone conversion from paganism to Christianity, and sometimes, in turn, to Islam. Other Late Antique strengths include mosaics (of Jordan, Syria, Antioch, and Tunisia), synagogues, and Umayyad buildings and art. More images are being loaded regularly at present to build up this coverage.
Images are freely downloadable for use in academic and educational publications simply by acknowledging the source.
The AWMC announces the release of a series of geographically accurate, publicly accessible map tiles, suitable for use in nearly any web mapping application or GIS software suite.
Offering the first (and at the time of this writing, only) geographically accurate base map of the ancient world, the AWMC tiles conform to the broad periodization presented in the Barrington Atlas, with different selectable water levels for the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Antique Periods. The base tiles are culturally agnostic, allowing them to be used to represent the physical environment of nearly any ancient society in the Mediterranean world.
Read more about the tiles.
The Getty joins the Metropolitan Museum of Art, LACMA, and other museums in providing open access to many publications in its archive. The Getty Publications Virtual Library makes available 250 publications. They are free to read online and to download. Read James Cuno's comments.
Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine (IIP), an open-access epigraphic database directed by Professor Michael Satlow of Brown University.
The goal of the project is to digitize the approximately 15,000 published inscriptions from Israel/Palestine, over a broad temporal range, from the Persian Period to the Islamic Conquest (i.e. 500 BCE–640 CE); approximately 1,500 inscriptions have already been entered. Multiple languages are included: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Latin. One can search the database in any of these languages, or their English translations (the project’s own); by content (e.g., “synagogue” or “church” for inscriptions in synagogues or churches); or by accompanying figures (e.g. cross). Similarly, one can browse by place, date, inscription genre, physical medium, language (including multiple languages such as Aramaic and Greek), and, finally, religion (Jewish, Christian, Pagan, but currently no Samaritan). This powerful tool allows for tracking various expressions (e.g., “one God”), and more generally, epigraphic practices, across the communities of Israel/Palestine.
The Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies (SPBS) has a new website.
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma's website on Santa Maria Antiqua has great animation of the fresco stratigraphy.