Anthony Eastmond on Shifting Identities and New Approaches East of Byzantium
On April 13, Anthony Eastmond, A.G. Leventis Reader in the History of Byzantine Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art and an expert on the arts of Georgia and Armenia, delivered the inaugural lecture for East of Byzantium, a partnership between the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Chair of Armenian Art at Tufts University and the Mary Jaharis Center. Professor Eastmond reflected on changing scholarly approaches to the lands east of Byzantium since the 1980 Dumbarton Oaks Symposium, East of Byzantium: Syria and Armenia in the Formative Period, the changing availability of material for the study of the region and its accessibility to western scholars, and the changing politics in the region.
In response, Anthony Kaldellis, Professor of Classics at The Ohio State University, who has written extensively on Byzantine history, literature, and culture, offered comments on the middle ground between Byzantium and the East. Professor Kaldellis argued that a complete and accurate history of the Byzantine empire cannot be written without considering the political dynamics beyond its frontiers. He identified the lack of critical English editions of primary sources dealing with Byzantium in the east, sources such as the chronicle of Yaḥyā of Antioch, as a significant hurdle in the writing of this comprehensive history and urged investment in this foundational scholarship.
On April 14, Professors Eastmond and Kaldellis led the Studying East of Byzantium workshop. Fourteen graduate and undergraduate students from Boston University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, and Tufts University explored major trends and challenges in the study of the Christian East.