First Online Edinburgh Byzantine Book Festival

The Edinburgh Byzantine Book Festival is the first of its kind as a way to learn about recently published books on any area of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies (AD ca.300–ca.1500), including literature, history, archaeology, and material culture. The Festival is an online event, allowing attendees from all over the world to join in. The aim is to hold it every two years in order to promote a wider understanding and awareness of Byzantine scholarship in a spirit of collegiality. It is also intended to encourage future collaborations and networking among the various presenters and attendees, especially in these strange times of the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, it will also inspire similar events in other research fields in the future.

The 1st Online Edinburgh Byzantine Book Festival includes volumes published in 2019 and 2020, and forthcoming books with an estimated publication date no later than June 2021. It features monographs published in English, French, Georgian, German, Modern Greek, Italian, and Romanian.

The programme is now available online.

*FREE* WEBINAR VIA Blackboard Collaborate

Register online now at:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/136623981005/

Job: Director of Byzantine Studies, Dumbarton Oaks

Deadline: 15 January 2021

Dumbarton Oaks is a leading research center in Byzantine Studies, with a library that is a point of reference for the field, joined to world-renowned museum and archival collections.
The Director of Byzantine Studies will be someone deeply committed to the field and its future. As a dynamic leader, the Director of Byzantine Studies reports to the Director of Dumbarton Oaks and has two main areas of responsibility. He/She works with the Senior Fellows to develop the annual program of symposia, colloquia, lectures and innovative new projects. Equally important, the Director of Byzantine Studies is charged with greeting and forming a cohort of residential fellows and scholars, providing structure for presentations and discussions of their work as well as collegial informal gatherings. In the broader scholarly world, the Director of Byzantine Studies promotes the vitality of the field through outreach and regular communication with relevant Byzantine societies and academic programs in the United States and internationally, and fosters exchanges with closely connected fields.

For full particulars and details of application process, see the attached PDF.

Call for Contributions: Soul and Body Diseases, Remedies and Healing in Jewish, Christian and Muslim literature

Abstract deadline: 1 February 2021

Chapter deadline: 31 December 2021

Topics devoted to historical science must, without a doubt, always take into account the realities of the present. In this sense, in the context of a global pandemic, a re-evaluation of the sources and a look through the respective lenses of the vast historical literature associated with the world’s three largest monotheistic religions are justified in order to answer the following questions: What did previous generations and individuals learn about illnesses? What did people of different religious or confessional backgrounds believe about diseases of the soul and the body? And what psychological and/or social effects did their convictions have in terms of remedies?

For full information, see the PDF linked below:

Soul and Body Diseases, Remedies and Healing in Jewish, Christian and Muslim literature

SPBS Autumn Lecture 2020

NB: This lecture is open to all. It will be preceded by the Society’s Annual General Meeting at 16:30, held via Zoom and open to all members of the Society. If you also wish to attend the AGM, please email the Secretary, Dr Tim Greenwood (twg3@st-andrews.ac.uk) and he will supply the necessary link.

Seminar Series: Byzantium at Ankara

Starts 15 October. Also by Zoom.

Byzantium at Ankara is happy to announce its new Seminar Series scheduled for the Fall Semester 2020/21.

The series will open on Thursday 15 October 2020 (h. 18.00 Istanbul Time) with a talk by Dr. Philipp Niewöhner (Georg August Universität Göttingen) entitled “The grave of Saint Nicholas.”

The full roster of speakers (including Prof. Judith Herrin, Dr. Ioanna Christoforaki and Dr. Tolga B. Uyar among the others) can be found at https://www.byzantiumatankara.net/program.

PN-GraveOfSaintNicholas

For registration and info please write to byzantiumatankara@hotmail.com.

Location of the International Congress of Byzantine Studies 2022

News from the AIEB:

The deadline for submission of votes from national committees to decide on the new location of the postponed Congress of 2021 (originally in Istanbul) has now passed, and the final results are as follows:

In favour of Cyprus (Nicosia and other locations): 14 votes

In favour of Italy (Venice and Padua): 22 votes

Abstention: 1 vote

The next international Congres of Byzantine Studies will take place in Venice and Padua in August 2022. The International Bureau will now begin liaising with our Turkish and our Italian colleagues to assist the process which, as you may all imagine, will require the establishment of a new Congress website as well as some revised deadlines and other arrangements. We will keep you all fully informed about the next steps.

Hagia Sophia/Ayasofya

Professor Judith Herrin, one of our Executive committee members had the following piece published in the Washington Post on Wednesday; you can read it below:

Converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque is an act of cultural cleansing

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is famous for saying, “If we lose Istanbul, we lose Turkey.” Last year, he lost the city’s municipal elections. Today, he is trying to reverse his sliding popularity by backing a religious fundamentalism that threatens Turkey’s minorities, the country’s secular character and Istanbul’s historic role as a tolerant metropolis where Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths coexisted for centuries.

On Friday, Erdogan’s shortsighted, cynical campaign struck at the very heart of world culture and Istanbul’s essential character. At his instigation, Turkey’s highest administrative court issued a scandalously dangerous and bigoted decision: Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO world heritage site in Istanbul and a global symbol of world history and multicultural representation, should convert from a museum back to a mosque.

By serving as a museum, Hagia Sophia, a vast, 1,500-year-old structure that previously served as a church and then a mosque, represented the essence of Istanbul, a place where world-changing empires and religions conflicted and intersected but whose monuments and artifacts can be enjoyed by all. Friday’s ruling marks a symbolic end to this legacy of tolerance.

Hagia Sophia’s history contains the city’s history. It is a Byzantine church that has dominated the skyline of Istanbul, formerly Constantinople, for the city’s entire history. When the Ottomans conquered the city in 1453, it became a mosque. In 1935, Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey, made it a museum, and Hagia Sophia was opened to all as a cultural and scientific site. It became a tremendous tourist attraction. Visitors marvel at not only its structure but also the layers of history it embodies.

Constantinople was founded in 330 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Constantine I. He selected an amazing site overlooking the Bosporus with strategic control of the Black Sea. In his “New” Rome, he built an imperial capital that outstripped “Old” Rome.

His son constructed the first church dedicated to “Hagia Sophia,” Holy Wisdom. It served as the cathedral, where the patriarch conducted services attended by the emperor and empress as well as the local population.

As the city expanded, so did the church. In 537, Emperor Justinian, whose rule stretched from Italy to Sinai, dedicated the present structure as an expression of might and piety. It has an enormous dome, 102 feet in diameter, at a height of 184 feet. For nearly 1,000 years, it was the highest and largest in the world.

Decorated in contrasting colored marbles brought from all parts of the Mediterranean, the entire interior surface of Hagia Sophia glowed with golden and silver mosaics that reflected the light flooding in through its many windows.

Justinian’s original church had one internal decoration: a monumental, glittering cross in the dome, now removed. In the late ninth century, figural mosaics were added: the Virgin and Child in the main apse, with the archangels Michael and Gabriel on either side. Later rulers, including the Empress Zoe, commemorated themselves with beautiful gold mosaic portraits and Christian icons.

The great church established the standard. When the Arabs broke out of the deserts to proclaim the faith of Islam, they modeled their first mosques on the Christian domes pioneered by the Byzantines. So when the Turkish Sultan Mehmet II breached the triple walls and rode into Constantinople in May 1453, he could order the symbol of the city, Hagia Sophia, to be transformed into a mosque rather than destroying it.

Under Islamic law, the figural mosaics were either removed or plastered over, a huge loss and a warning of what might happen again. Indeed, while Turkish officials on Friday promised the mosaics won’t be removed, on Monday they announced that they will be covered by curtains or lasers during Muslim prayers.

To turn the unrivaled building back into a place of worship threatens open access to a magnificent structure and the building’s invaluable mosaic decorations. By restricting access to Istanbul’s greatest historical legacy, Erdogan assaults the cosmopolitan traditions that make the city and Turkey itself a crossroads for the world. It is an act of cultural cleansing.

This is a decision of a beleaguered autocrat — the most dangerous — motivated by a desire to punish Istanbul’s inhabitants, who voted decisively against him, and by a desire to consolidate his position by stirring sectarian animosity between his pious followers and those attached to secular traditions.

Hagia Sophia belongs to the world. Its fate is not just a matter, as Erdogan defensively insists, of Turkish sovereignty.