Conference Report: Mapping the Sacred in Byzantium

‘Mapping the Sacred in Byzantium: Construction, Experience and Representation’, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University, 20–21 September 2019

The International Byzantine conference, Mapping the Sacred in Byzantium: Construction, Experience and Representation, took place, as scheduled, on September 20–21, 2019 at Newcastle University (School of History, Classics and Archaeology) and was a successful academic event, which fostered research and discussion on the topic of sacred space in Byzantium. The conference programme, a list of abstracts, as well as a selection of photos, are available on the web page of the event.

The conference brought together 20 leading experts (cf. the list of speakers on the web page) in the field of Byzantine studies from leading universities and research institutions across Europe (e.g. University of St Andrews, University of Edinburgh, University of Nottingham, Sorbonne University, Uppsala University Austrian Academy of Sciences) and the United States (University of Notre Dame), in order to explore new ways to think of, and assess, the construction, experience and representation of sacred space in Byzantium, aiming to contribute to research on spatial paradigms and practices. The conference took a deliberate interdisciplinary approach across archaeology, art history, literature, history, and theology in order to promote innovative thinking and innovative insights into the Eastern Mediterranean medieval thought-world.

The conference aimed and managed to foster academic exchange and networking, as well as facilitate future collaborative projects between the participants. Moreover, the proceedings will be gathered in an edited volume, to be submitted for consideration with Cambridge University Press or Edinburgh University Press.

The event was attended by 20 speakers and 15 attendees (non-speaking), as detailed below. The speakers present are affiliated with the following institutions:

from the United Kingdom: University of St Andrews; University of Edinburgh; University of Nottingham; Queen’s University Belfast; and Newcastle University

from abroad: Austrian Academy of Sciences; The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens; National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens; Greek Ministry of Culture; Ca’ Foscari University of Venice; Ghent University; Centre for Advanced Studies, University of Regensburg; RGZM, Leibniz Research Institute for Archaeology, Mainz; Institute for South East European Studies, Bucharest, Romanian Academy; Sorbonne University; Uppsala University; and University of Notre Dame (US).

The total number of attendees (non-speaking) can be been divided as follows:
– attendees from elsewhere in the UK (a total of 11: 6 from Newcastle University; 4 from the University of Edinburgh; 1 from the University of York)
– attendees from Europe (a total of 3: 1 from the Public University of Navarre; 1 from the Austrian Academy of Sciences; and 1 from the Central European University, Budapest)
– attendees from the rest of the world (1, from HSE University, Moscow)

The conference has received excellent feedback in an anonymous online post-event survey on To the question of what they enjoyed most about the event, speakers and attendees pointed out “the relevance of the topic,” “the conference programme, the quality of the papers,” “the opportunity to meet others in the field,” and “the excellent organisation.”
The £500 conference grant received from the SPBS was used to cover travel costs for speakers from abroad. The financial support from the SPBS was gratefully acknowledged during the conference, as well as by including the SPBS logo on the event poster, roller banner, brochure, programme, other event materials (e.g. name tags), as well as the web page of the event. All these materials are available online at: Moreover, the SPBS logo will feature in a highlights video, which will include frames from the conference and several short interviews with speakers. The video will be published on the web page of the event, as well as distributed on social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, where the event was publicized #MappingSacredByzantium).

Dr Mihail Mitrea, MSCA Research Fellow