Dumbarton Oaks Collections Virtual Tour








We would like to invite you to  a virtual handling session of some of Dumbarton Oaks’ collections of Byzantine bronze and ivory, delivered by Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, curator of the Byzantine Collections.

Monday 25 March at 18:00 UK time. Please register in advance here.




XVe Rencontres internationales des jeunes byzantinistes

Byzantium within its margins: Centres, Peripheries and Outlines

The call for papers is available here!

A mountain, a cross, an executioner: everything in the well-known miniature of the Chludov Psalter carries us “outside”. At the gates of the city and on the margins of society, the Crucifixion also recalls, through the memory of Iconoclasm, the shifting outlines of Christian dogma. From the margin where it is seemingly relegated, the image overlooks the text to better mitigate its authority. Yet, in this remarkable mise en abyme, a sense of confusion remains: which of the written word or the image holds centre stage – if there is any?

There is but one step from the margins of the psalter to those of Byzantium. As a quintessential microcosm, the illuminated manuscript invites us to extend this ambivalent notion to the scale of a world. Like the shifting lines of a border, the tension emerging between the text and the miniature likewise surfaces in varied ways across the map: between the capital and its provinces, the Empire and its vassals, the Christian prince and his neighbours.

Thus, some borderlands emerge over time as centres of power in their own right – Serbia and Bulgaria, Epirus and Trebizond – occasionally turning Byzantium itself into a margin. Others, further removed from Constantinople geographically, culturally or spiritually – nevertheless maintain subtle ties with it to better define their own identity, such as Armenia, Sicily, Rus’ and even Ethiopia – all in a way Byzantium(s) beyond Byzantium.

By scaling down the territorial questions of the Empire to urban space, or transposing them onto the space of the church, the same paradigm invites us to retrace their axes and thresholds. City walls and structures, church architecture and decoration, pilgrimage sites and necropoleis constantly reshape and redefine the notion of liminality.

Both the Torture of Christ and the sacrilege of iconoclasm suggest a social norm: heresy, like Calvary, excludes, cuts off and marginalises. Yet the fringes of Byzantine society, which go far beyond contemporary projections, compose a nuanced mosaic whose many elements, often overshadowed – women, criminals, ascetics –, call upon us to rethink the cohesion of the whole.

Monks and monasteries proclaim their marginal status as much as they idealise it: both their location, on the fringes if not within the heart of the city, as well as the social recognition they receive seemingly contradict the reclusion they claim to seek. Exile itself, though bitter, keeps its object surely within the line of sight: the exile is watched when far away, writes back and sometimes returns.

To consider Byzantium, lastly, requires the distant and decentred gaze of foreign eyes. Armenian, Latin and Syriac chroniclers, Arab and Mongol emissaries turned a careful, sometimes cruel eye on the Empire, its culture and rites, which historians would be wrong to ignore. The discipline of Byzantine history itself has long been relegated to the margins of the field, as a necessary but uninteresting transition, with Byzantium variously held as the last jolt of the GrecoRoman world, the exhaustingly long final breath of the Late Roman Empire or the prelude to Ottoman Turkey.

Centres, norms, limits: everything remained to be done for the partisans of an autonomous study of Byzantine culture. Today, the delicate tension between the centre of the world and the margins of the Empire reflects both the advances and the pitfalls faced by academic inquiry. Such are the aims of the XVth Rencontres : to consider Byzantium within its margins, from its margins and as a margin.

Papers may concern the following themes:
• Territorial margins, borders and spaces of transition
• Settlement of margins and population transfers
• The situation of women, children and slaves
• Definitions and transgressions of gender norms
• Disease, disability, infirmity and death
• Religious controversies, heresy, excommunication and anathema
• Monastic communities
• Visible forms of marginality such as dress and foodways
• Byzantium as a margin

Papers, with an expected duration of 20 minutes, may be presented in French or English. Proposals for presentations (250-300 words), as well as a brief biography including the candidate’s affiliation, their current level of study (master, doctoral, post-doctoral) and their area of study should be sent tà
aemb.paris@gmail.com by March 31, 2024, at the latest.

The conference will be held in-person in Paris on October 4-5, 2024. Participants’ travel costs may be covered by the association if they are unable to receive funding from their institutions. Selected candidates will be asked to register as members of the association

BSA: Byzantine Archaeology and History Course

Byzantine Archaeology and History Course

Justice in Byzantium – 13th to 15th April 2024

In 2024, the Symposium will take place in Canterbury at the University of Kent, for the first time.  The chosen theme is ‘Justice in Byzantium’. This theme will facilitate inter-disciplinary discussion of research and ideas embracing Byzantine history, society, culture, and law. Sessions will be arranged around the themes of ‘Social Justice’; ‘Unwritten Rules’; ‘Criminal Justice’; ‘Revenge’; ‘Civil Law & Justice’; and ‘Divine Justice’.
The main sessions of the conference will be held in the Templeman Lecture Theatre, with a reception and dinner in the Darwin Conference Suite, Darwin College.
Confirmed speakers include Daphne Penna, Dennis Stathakopoulos, Carlos Machado, Arietta Papaconstantinou, Rosemary Morris, Anna Kelley, Lorena Atzeri, Mike Humphreys, Catherine Holmes, Robert Wisniewski, Peter Sarris, Matthijs Wibier, Simon Corcoran, Caroline Humfress, Maroula Perisanidi, Dan Reynolds and Shaun Tougher.
Please keep checking the website periodically: further information will be added in due course, and continuously updated. The complete programme can be found here: Conference Programme.
To register please click here.

Call for Papers | Doctoral Seminar: Projecting Poetry

The TORCH Network Poetry in the Medieval World (University of Oxford) is delighted to introduce “Projecting Poetry”, an initiative designed to promote cross-disciplinary discussion, foster collaboration, and provide a platform for DPhil/PhD students engaged in research across various fields and working on medieval poetry. The goal is to create an opportunity to present ongoing research to a diverse audience of fellow students and seniors.

We invite submissions from DPhil/PhD students at an early stage of their programmes, conducting research in any field and working on poetry in any area and culture of the medieval world (chronological boundaries may be discussed with organisers); any methodological approach is welcome. We especially encourage submissions that aim to explore potential intersections between academic disciplines.

Submission Guidelines

  • Abstract: Please submit a 250-word abstract in English (PDF form) to ugo.mondini@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk, including the (working) research title, name, affiliation, and contact information.
  • Submission Deadline: Abstracts can be submitted any time during the academic year.
  • Extended Descriptions: If accepted, speakers should present a document in English (max. 1,500 words) and a title fifteen days before the seminar, with a more extensive description of their interests, research goals and, if they wish, of the challenges they face. This document will be shared with the seminar participants; therefore, it should be accessible to non-specialists.

Event Structure

  • Sessions will be organised online for non-Oxford students and in hybrid format during term time for Oxford participants.
  • Each speaker will have 20 minutes to present their research; a discussion follows. The event will be conducted in English.

Contact Information

For further information and inquiries, please get in touch with Ugo Mondini at ugo.mondini@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk.

Non-presenting seminar participants

If you want to take part in the seminars, both in person and online, please send an email to Ugo Mondini at ugo.mondini@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk with your name, affiliation, research interests, and contact information.

Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture: Online Lecture: Byzantium as Europe’s Black Mirror

Online Lecture: Byzantium as Europe’s Black Mirror

The Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture is pleased to announce the 2023–2024 edition of its annual lecture with the Harvard University Standing Committee on Medieval Studies.

Friday, February 16, 2024 | 12:00 PM EST | Zoom
Byzantium as Europe’s Black Mirror
Anthony Kaldellis, University of Chicago

In the course of its long self-fashioning, “the West” (later “Europe”) set itself off as a superior alternative to a number of imagined Others, including the infidel world of Islam, the primitive nature of the New World, and even its own regressive past, the Middle Ages. This lecture will explore the unique role that Byzantium played in this process. While it too was identified as the antithesis of an idealized Europe, this was done in a specific way with lasting consequences down to the present. Byzantium was constructed not to be fully an Other, but rather to function as an inversion of the Christian, Roman, and Hellenic ideals that Europe itself aspired to embody even as it appropriated those patrimonies from the eastern empire. It became Europe’s twin evil brother, its internal “Black Mirror.” Once we understand this dynamic, we can chart a new path forward for both scholarly and popular perceptions of the eastern empire that are no longer beholden to western anxieties.

Anthony Kaldellis is a Professor of Classics at the University of Chicago.

Advance registration required at https://maryjahariscenter.org/events/byzantium-as-europes-black-mirror

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Harvard University Standing Committee on Medieval Studies.

Contact Brandie Ratliff (mjcbac@hchc.edu), Director, Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture with any questions.

30th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA 2024) – CALL FOR PAPERS FOR SESSION #559




The peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean are often compared on the basis of their geographical origin, whether Eastern or Western. Especially for the period between the 5th and 10th centuries, this comparison is mainly based on political distinctions and often ignores material aspects. But are identities around the mare nostrum really based on political boundaries, or should we seek regional specificities using different interpretative media? In particular, the distinction between the Western and Eastern Mediterranean appears to be particularly marked in the scholarly debate and attempts to bring together evidence from these “two worlds” are rare and not systematic.

The questions that arise then are: can we still speak of a single Mediterranean during Late Antiquity and Early Medieval times? Are East and West following completely different trajectories? Is it possible to compare their respective historical processes and material cultures? Or can some common features be identified, despite regional particularisms? Is trade global or does it mutate according to political factors affecting local identities? To this sense, different forms of resilience and adaptation and the potential development of one or more transitional cultures are fundamental interpretative keys.

In this Call for Papers, we invite scholars and archaeologists to bridge the scholarly division between East and West and present research focusing on material evidence from the 5th until the 10th century AD from all around the Mediterranean.

Organised by:

Nicolò PINI (Université Libre de Bruxelles, CReA-Patrimoine, FNRS), Alessandro CARABIA (University of Birmingham), Julie MARCHAND (Royal Museums of Art and History, CRaA-Patrimoine, Université Libre de Bruxelles)

Papers must be submitted by February 8th: https://submissions.e-a-a.org/eaa2024/

Historical Expertise Needed for Board Game Project “Echoes of Emperors”

On behalf of Volcaban Studio, a budding game company based in Belgium.

We are currently working on a project titled Echoes of Emperors and are in search of an expert in in Byzantine history with insights into military tactics, cultural aspects, and the way of life during that time.

Echoes of Emperors is a board game where players can choose to play as one of four civilizations to build their empire and defeat opponents. Each civilization comes with its own deck of cards, and one of our primary objectives is to ensure historical accuracy in these decks to offer players insights into medieval history.

The specific deck we would appreciate the assistance of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies with is the Byzantine deck set in the period of Emperor Basill II. To review these cards, we would like to arrange a brief 30-60 minute video call where we can go over all the cards and fact-check the flavor text.

Call for Articles in English, German or Italian Ein Südtiroler zwischen dem Peloponnes und Trapezunt. Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer (1790-1861), ed. by Aglaia Blioumi and John Butcher, Mimesis Verlag (“Acta Maiensia”), late 2024.

 Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer is widely considered the most significant German-language Byzantine scholar of the first half of the Nineteenth century. His Geschichte des Kaiserthums von Trapezunt (1827), the first to make use of Michael Panaretos’ chronicle, was the only general history of the empire of Trebizond available prior to Miller (1926) and, more recently, Karpov (2007) and Savvides (2009). His groundbreaking Geschichte der Halbinsel Morea während des Mittelalters (1830-1836), drawing on Constantine Porphyrogenitus, the Chronicle of Morea, Laonikos Chalkokondyles and a host of other sources, set out the thesis that the modern-day inhabitants of the Peloponnese descended from Hellenized Slavic and Albanian immigrants, thereby transforming the writer and historian from South Tyrol into one of the most controversial European intellectuals of his age. Fallmerayer is also noteworthy for his Fragmente aus dem Orient (1845), a detailed description of a journey lasting two years from Regensburg to Trebizond and on to Lamia: the two volumes, penned in a vivacious prose that garnered the praise of major writers such as Friedrich Hebbel, contain memorable portrayals of Trebizond, Mount Athos, Thessaloniki, Larissa and other localities within the Ottoman Empire. 

Following a successful conference held at the Academy of German-Italian Studies in Meran / Merano (South Tyrol) on 11-12 November 2022, a volume of studies is currently being edited by Aglaia Blioumi (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens) and John Butcher (Academy of German-Italian Studies). Ein Südtiroler zwischen dem Peloponnes und Trapezunt. Jakob Philipp Fallmerayer (1790-1861) will be published by Mimesis Verlag (https://www.mimesisverlag.de/) in the book series “Acta Maiensia”. The volume is due to appear before the end of 2024. Essays may be written in English, German or Italian. 

Scholars of Byzantine history and culture, of the Ottoman Empire, of Nineteenth-century Greece, of German-language literature and any other persons interested in contributing an essay are warmly invited to contact Dr John Butcher (johncbutcher@hotmail.com), including a title of the article they are proposing, an abstract (5-10 lines) and a succinct curriculum vitae. 

The definitive version of essays accepted for publication must be submitted to the editors by 1 July 2024. A stylesheet will be provided. 

26th International Graduate Conference of the Oxford University Byzantine Society

Transgression in Late Antiquity and Byzantium

26th International Graduate Conference of the Oxford University Byzantine Society, 24th-25th February 2024, Oxford

We are pleased to announce the call for papers for the 26th Annual Oxford University Byzantine Society International Graduate Conference on the 24th – 25th February, 2024. Papers are invited to approach the theme of ‘Transgression’ within the Late Antique and Byzantine world (very broadly defined). For the call for papers, and for details on how to submit an abstract for consideration for the conference, please see below.

The Late Antique and Byzantine world was a medley of various modes of transgression: orthodoxy and heresy; borders and breakthroughs; laws and outlaws; taxes and tax evaders; praise and polemic; sacred and profane; idealism and pragmatism; rule and riot. Whether amidst the ‘purple’, the pulpits, or the populace, transgression formed an almost unavoidable aspect of daily life for individuals across the empire and its neighbouring regions. The framework of ‘Transgression’ then is very widely applicable, with novel and imaginative approaches to the notion being strongly encouraged. In tandem with seeking as broad a range of relevant papers as possible within Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, some suggestions by the Oxford University Byzantine Society for how this topic might be treated include:

  • The Literary – deviance from established genres, styles or tropes; bold exploration of new artistic territory; penned subversiveness against higher authorities (whether discreetly or openly broadcasted); dissemination of literature beyond expected limits.
  • The Political – usurpers, revolts, breakaway regions, court intrigue, plots and coups; contravention of aristocratic or political hierarchies and their expectations; royal ceremonial and its changes, or imperial self-promotion and propaganda seeking to rupture or distort the truth.
  • The Geopolitical – stepping beyond or breaking through boundaries and borders, including invasions, expeditions, trade (whether in commodities or ideas), movements of peoples and tribes, or even the establishment of settlements and colonies.
  • The Religious and Spiritual – ‘Heresy’, sectarianism, paganism, esotericism, magic, and more; and, in reverse, all discussion of ‘Orthodoxy’, which so defined itself in opposition to that which it considered transgressive; monastic orders and practices (anchoritic and coenobitic) and their associated canons, themselves intertwined and explicative of what was deemed prohibited; holy fools and other individuals perceived as deviant from typical holy men.
  • The Social and Sartorial – gender-based expectations in public and private; the contravention (or enforcement) of status or class boundaries; proscribed or vagrant habits of dress, jewellery, fabrics, etc.
  • The Linguistic – transmission of language elements across regional borders or cultures, including loan words, dialectic and stylistic influences, as well as other topics concerning lingual crossover and interaction.
  • The Artistic and Architectural – the practice of spolia; the spread and mix of architectural styles from differing regions and cultures; cross-confessionalism evident from the layout or architecture of religious edifices; variant depictions of Christ and other holy figures; iconoclasm.
  • The Legal – whether it be examination of imperial law codes and their effectiveness or more localised disputes testified to by preserved papyri, all discussion concerning legal affairs naturally involves assessing transgressive behaviour and how it was viewed and handled.
  • It could even be that your paper’s relevance to ‘Transgression’ consists in its breaking out from scholarly consensus in a notable way!


Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words, with a short academic biography written in the third person, to the Oxford University Byzantine Society at byzantine.society@gmail.com by Monday 27th November 2023. Papers should be twenty minutes in length and may be delivered in English or French. As with previous conferences, selected papers will be published in an edited volume, peer-reviewed by specialists in the field. Submissions should aim to be as close to the theme as possible in their abstract and paper, especially if they wish to be considered for inclusion in the edited volume. Nevertheless, all submissions are warmly invited.

The conference will have a hybrid format, with papers delivered at the Oxford University History Faculty and livestreamed for a remote audience. Accepted speakers should expect to participate in person.