Kutlu Akalın
The Formation of New Identities and Changing of the Old Ones in Sixth-Century Constantinople : A Short Look at the ‘Other’ in the Capital, from Anastasius to Tiberius II
For an ancient cosmopolis like Constantinople, it was natural to host a population made up of a variety of people, differing from each other in their languages and religious beliefs, as well as their cultural and educational backgrounds and professional functions. This paper presents a view of the composition of the population of the capital from the turn of the sixth century to the seventh century through selected vignettes of social life which emphasized the “others” and/or “foreigners.” This period has attracted the attention of researchers as a crucial period situated between the ancient world and the medieval period. There have already been many works on the formation of the new religious identities, ethnic definitions, and changing circumstances of the educated classes. Under the rubric of religious identities, the period saw the end of the Arian presence and the beginning of the Miaphysite community. Ethnic identities included such extreme examples as immigrants from North Africa and a large number of Syrians residing in the capital for various reasons. In the cultural sphere, new monastic orders recruited their strength from different provinces and existed side by side with the remnants of the pagan population. These were not mutually exclusive, nicely separate categories. Some ethnic identities came to carry denominational connotations, while certain professionals like doctors and high school teachers were occasionally accused of paganism. A religious label like Miaphysitism came to be associated with Syria and the East. Which were the communities in the capital that the Byzantine writers came to describe as “foreigners” and “others”? And according to what criteria were they labeled as such?
Pamela Armstrong
Ethnicity and Inclusiveness in the Development of Religious Cults: St Christopher the Dog-headed and St George
One of the early Christian church’s most impressive achievements was its appeal to all nations of the then known world, with its unquestioning inclusion of all races and castes. United by a religious culture that was powerful enough to supplant political or ethnic cultural affinities, the heroes of the early church emerged from a wide range of peoples. However, as the church established and settled itself in differing codifications between Europe and the Byzantine world, the cults of some of these heroes developed forms which ignored their “other” cultural origins and gave them a “Byzantine” gloss which has influenced understanding of their cults ever since. This paper surveys the origins of two early Christian saints and traces changes to their cults as their popularity developed. St Christopher the Dog-headed was one of the Marmaritae peoples (North Africans who lived in the region of modern Libya). His iconographic tradition adopted the various elements of his passion so that he is portrayed in Byzantine art with a dog’s head, demonstrating how his ethnic origins developed a zoomorphic concept which, though fabulous, was more acceptable than his “foreignness”. Although depictions of St George killing a dragon are commonly portrayed as part of his cult, this scene did not, in fact, enter into the cycle of his narrative until the seventh century. It is part of the Georgian version of the cult of St George, and this paper examines why it was acceptable to include it in the Byzantine tradition, tracing how his ”Byzantineness” was expressed iconographically.
Suna Çağaptay
Byzantium, Displaced: The Nicaean Empire Revisited
While the Latins occupied Constantinople in 1204-1261 AD, the exiled Laskarid emperors in Nicaea created an imperial structure in Asia Minor and the Aegean islands. On the one hand, they campaigned intensively against Latins, Rum Seljuks, and the Despotate of Epiros, helping create a frontier characterized by competing principalities. On the other hand, thanks to astute diplomacy, itinerant masons and artists, as well as intermarriage, the Nicaean emperors and their subjects made inevitable adaptations, transformations, and changes associated with urban displacement, purportedly distancing their architectural works from Constantinople and other production centers in the East and West.
In previous scholarship, the Empire of Nicaea, under the rulership of the Laskarids, has been regarded as reflecting a regional partition of Byzantium. But the Laskarids were more than a partition. In fact, they created their own brief civilization. This was the case as well with other splinters from Byzantine imperial authority, such as those in Epiros (1205-1479) and Trebizond (1204-1461). The Nicaean emperors promoted commissions in the arts (especially in Nicaea and Latmos) and architecture (in Nicaea, Sardis, Philadelphia, Eğridere, Latmos, Chios and Samos).
I would like to challenge the standard scholarly assumption that each principality, including Nicaea, wanted to simply represent Byzantium. Focusing on the empire of Nicaea, and its distinctive artistic and architectural achievements, I will argue for the presence of a more fluid and mobile frontier, as revealed by the cultural and diplomatic encounters among the Laskarid emperors in Nicaea and the Rum Seljuks, the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, and the Latin Crusaders. In looking at architecture, we can take, for example, the single-block type Nymphaion palace, built in the 1220s in Smyrna, borrowing from Seljuk and Armenian architectural forms or details, or the Panagia Sikelia on Chios, dated to the mid-thirteenth century, with its beautifully rendered façade. We begin here to see indications that this frontier was deeper and more complex than what is suggested by any lines drawn on a map.
Moreover, in their new geographical setting away from Constantinople, the Laskarid emperors could not simply represent Byzantium, as previous scholarship has suggested. They were more likely striving to create another Byzantium. In this alternate identity, the Laskarid Byzantines drew from the former Constantinopolitan, as well as from local practices, intertwined with inspiration from the neighboring Rum Seljuks and Cilician Armenians. This was Byzantium within Byzantium. Or perhaps Byzantium’s other Byzantium. Using key works of the Laskarid realm, my talk takes a literal and figurative distancing from Constantinople, as well as a fresh look at related artistic and architectural production. What this discussion will make clear is that, after the Latin occupation in 1204, Byzantium was not the same. Byzantine cultural identity was thus shaped and redirected by the city’s fall and the dispersion of its visual legacy into new geographies.
Antony Eastmond
Byzantine Identity as Other: the View from Georgia
Between 950 and 1050, the relationship between the Byzantine Empire and Georgia was a paradoxical and ambivalent one. On the one hand, Georgia looked to the empire as a center of authority and spiritual truth. Its emperor represented the ultimate earthly authority, ruling with the sanction of Christ, and its church was the dominant Orthodox power and source of theological innovations. Thus, in these decades, we can find a renewed engagement between Georgia and Byzantium, with the Caucasian state willingly assuming a position of deference to the greater power to the West. Georgian rulers accepted Byzantine court titles, and Georgian monks moved to new foundations within the empire, such as the Iviron monastery on Mount Athos, in order to prepare new translations of Greek texts into Georgian. On the other hand, however, the expansionist desires of the Byzantine emperors in this period made the empire an existential threat to rulers in Georgia. After a few decades of alliance, the result of Georgian support for Basil II during the revolt of Bardas Skleros in 979, the two sides fell out, leading to Basil II’s invasion of the Western provinces of Georgia at the start of the eleventh century.
This paper will explore how notions of Byzantine identity were negotiated in Georgia in response to these shifting aspects of Byzantium perceived from outside. It will concentrate on material evidence in the Caucasus as a means of understanding how identities were expressed and perceived.
Lynn Jones
Visual Evidence for the Mutability of Identity in the Middle Byzantine Period
The primary self-identification by members of the military and court aristocracy was, of course, as Byzantine. Public identity as a member of the Empire was linked to social status, rank and title/s, and was given visual expression in art in multiple and often standardized ways: costume, hieratic scale, frontality, and materials used, to name only a few. When did such visual self-identification alter to encompass dynastic claims of non-Byzantine identity? At what point can we see, in works of art, the rejection of one identity and the adoption of another—are there instances where multiple identities are acceptably transmitted and received? I argue that, for some ranks and social classes, identity, as expressed in the visual arts, was fluid.
I will focus on the rock-cut churches of Cappadocia, seeking visual evidence for the rejection, adaption, and/or adoption of identities. Using the rock-cut church of Cavuşin, in Göreme, as a case study, I will examine the facets of the visual expression of imperial identity, and the effects of location—‘centre vs. periphery’—on the successful adaptations of identity. I will also investigate the identities affixed to the dead—arguing that, in the visual arts of Cappadocia, the identity of the dead is more acceptably mutable than that of the living.

Anthony Kaldellis
Byzantium and the Greek Past: Modalities of Distinction and Appropriation
Byzantine civilization represented a complex combination of cultural elements drawn from ancient sources, Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian, as well as contemporary influences, for example from the Arab world. While it changed over time and adjusted to circumstances, this conglomerate was structured in a particular way, with each element playing a different role and assigned a range of possible values. Roman and Christian were valorized as identity-markers, of course, albeit in different existential sites. Judaism and ancient paganism, on the other hand, were appropriated as ideological constructs only to be denied, to define the borders of Orthodoxy. It is no accident that Byzantine thinkers continued to “refute” and attack the Emperor Julian down to the end of the empire, over and over again, long after he had died. Julian represented the historical and philosophical viability of Hellenism and Judaism, and so was an always-present danger. This paper will focus on the modalities taken by the Greek legacy in Byzantine culture. It was defined as external, “from outside” and “beyond the threshold,” and yet was also a perennial insider, always tempting in its otherness. The Byzantines had to cope with a cultural subjectivity that included excluded elements. The Hellenist encounters of the ancient Romans – who accepted Hellenism but only up to the point where it compromised their distinct identity – were a structural homologue, and a possible matrix, of the Byzantines’ curiously mixed engagement with the Greek past.
Ferhan Kırlıdökme Mollaoğlu
Turks in the “History” of Doukas
We have no knowledge about the life of the historian Doukas except for the records he cited in his “History.” The historian Doukas cites that his grandfather Mikhail took sides with Ioannes Kantakouzenos during a civil war in Byzantium in the years 1341-1347 and therefore sought refuge in Isa Bey of Aydinids. Doukas is thought to be born at the beginning of the fifteenth century. He recorded that he was in the service of Giovanni Adorno, the Genoese Podesta of Phocaea, in the year 1421, when Sultan Murad II ascended the throne and wrote the letters Adorno sent to Murad II. Doukas was present at the accession ceremony of the throne of Sultan Mehmed II in 1451 as the ambassador of Domenico Gateluzzi , the Genoese ruler of Lesvos Island. Doukas, who was once again in Edirne in 1452, witnessed the preparations of the Turks for the conquest of Istanbul. He was also accepted before Sultan Mehmed II and Ottoman statesmen many times as the ambassador after the conquest of Istanbul until the estimated date of his death in 1462.
Doukas’ “History” can be defined as the “Byzantine-Turkish/Ottoman” history of the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries. However, Byzantium is not at the center of the narrative in Doukas’ work. It is understood that he was quite distant towards the Palaiologos, who caused the exile of his grandfather Michael. He noted that he did not recognize the last emperor Constantine on the grounds that he was not coronated in the Hagia Sophia, and criticized the policies he followed. He gave detailed coverage to Cuneyd Bey, who rebelled during the reign of Sultans Mehmed I and Murad II, but did not affirm Cuneyd Bey’s course of action to first stir against Aydinid Beys and later against Ottoman sultans.
Doukas, who spoke Latin/Italian and Turkish, as well as Greek, appears as an example which reveals not only the conflicts of the cultures and the worldviews represented by these three languages, but also their interactions with each other. This paper will attempt to demonstrate the approach to the Turks in the work of Doukas that moves in a triangle formed of Byzantines, Turks, and Latins.
Buket Kitapçı Bayrı
Exclusive Rights of the Byzantines to Imperial Christianness: Other and Self in Late Byzantium
Late thirteenth century in Byzantium: petty Turkish-Muslim principalities have been settling in Western Anatolia; political and military structures have disintegrated; the boundaries of homeland (patris) have been shrinking, being infiltered by “Others”, with no conceivability of recovery and extension of its limits through military means; the Latin Church has been pressing hard for the union of the Churches; the Byzantine Church has been struggling for existence in the former Byzantine territories now under Latin and Muslim rule; and yet it is able to cope with the dramatic changes, continues to exercise influence and authority over the Roman œcumene, and competes with the Latin Church over pagan souls. What was the reaction of the Byzantines, the “Chosen Romans,” under these circumstances?
Through the analysis of the neo-martyrdom narratives, in which the plots take place in the former Byzantine territories now under Muslim and Latin rule, this paper aims to discuss the discourse of the Palaiologan Constantinopolitan élite in re-interpreting the parameters of membership in the Roman œcumene. It will be argued that this discourse did not seek to integrate or assimilate the élites of the internal or external “Other” as before, but rather sought to create an impenetrable, impermeable frontier between the exclusive group of self and Other. Not giving up its traditional universal claim but defensively reinterpreting it, the term “Christian” now became the main self-designation, used interchangeably for “Roman,” with a vision of an exclusive group of Christian Romans. The representation of the “Other,” of Latin Christians, of Byzantine Christian-born converts to Islam, and of pagan converts to Byzantine Christianity, as well as the representation of the former Byzantine territories now under the rule of the “Other,” will be discussed towards this end.
Maja Kominko
Men, Monsters and Barbarians: The Concept of Monstrous Races in Byzantium
The arrival of Christianity did not cause major upheavals in the classical conception of physical geography, as Christians capably adapted notions of classical geography to those derived from Biblical descriptions. It did, nevertheless, necessitate revisions to ethnography: a professed universalism of the new religion meant that the cornerstone of classical ethnography-the contrast between the civilized society and the wild, uncivilized barbarian-could no longer stand. Moreover, Christian belief in the unity of the human race, originating from Adam and redeemed by Christ, meant that the existence of the most peripheral races, often presented in antiquity as monstrous, posed a problem. Christian authors made efforts to bring the heritage of classical ethnography in line with the authority of the Bible. Nevertheless, in discussing alien nations, both human and monstrous, they continued to employ classical rhetoric, and interpret any departure from the norm of physical appearance as morally suspicious. This paper briefly traces themes of classical ethnography, transformed and reused by Christian authors. I focus in particular on the continuity of rhetorical tools employed to designate and denigrate “the other” barbarian as monstrous, pagan, and even demonic. Finally, I explore how habitats of these borderline human, or even inhuman aliens, continued to serve as liminal regions encompassing the oikoumene and inhabited by the descendants of Adam.
Nicholas de Lange
The Jewish Other
The Jewish minority was a distinctive presence in the Byzantine urban and rural landscapes. It had very old roots–Judaism was established long before Christianity in the Greek world–and was recognized as an entity in the legal codes.
This paper aims to explore some key questions arising from this distinctive presence: What are the features of the Byzantine Jews that distinguished them from Byzantine Christians and non-Byzantine Jews? How did the Jews themselves understand their distinctive identity? Did they see themselves in any way as ‘Byzantines’? How did others (the State, the Church, the Christian in the street) regard the Jews in their midst?
These may seem like simple questions, but they do not have simple answers. The Jewish community was not homogeneous; in fact, it was deeply divided not just into religious sects, but into native and foreign Jews, for example, and, after 1204, into Byzantine, Venetian and Genoese Jews. Yet the Jewish community shared certain common elements, including the Greek language, while using Hebrew for scholarly and religious purposes. The attachment to Greek meant that there was no linguistic barrier between Jews and non-Jews.
Christian attitudes towards the Jews were also complex. The Church recognized its own Jewish roots and considered itself the true people of Israel. There was thus a profound affinity, as well as an inherent conflict, between Christians and Jews. Anti-Jewish slogans enter Christian prayer and preaching, as evidenced by many examples of discriminatory legislation and animosity. Yet was there also scope for commercial or cultural cooperation, or even friendship?
Henry Maguire
The Other Within: The Culture Represented by Medieval Byzantine Pottery
Middle and Late Byzantine glazed pottery represented a level of Byzantine culture that was popular, largely sub-literary, and little mentioned by Byzantine texts. This substratum did not exist in total isolation, but borrowed features from more dominant levels of culture, particularly that of the court, while giving back little in return. Insofar as it received attention from Byzantine (primarily ecclesiastical) writers, the cultural level represented by ceramics was considered alien and inimical to the values of both church and state.
The culture of mediaeval Byzantine pottery has several distinguishing characteristics. First, there was an avoidance of explicitly Christian figures and motifs; even crosses are relatively rare. In this respect, Byzantine pottery of the post-iconoclastic period differed from Early Byzantine ceramics, where crosses, Christian symbols, sacred figures, and even, in the earlier centuries, Old and New Testament scenes were commonly found. Second, the medieval ceramics, unlike such higher status objects as silverware and ivory and bone boxes, also avoided mythological representations, with the exception of animal hybrids, among them sphinxes, sirens, and centaurs. Third, a great deal of generally propitious and apotropaic imagery occurred on the medieval vessels, including noxious creatures of various kinds, animal combats, and a wide variety of magical signs of the type explicitly condemned by church writers. On the other hand, pottery borrowed from courtly culture the feasting cycle that featured on high-status silverware, comprising hunting scenes, entertainers, and hybrids. We can also discover an occasional surfacing of the base culture represented by pottery into sophisticated literary and artistic products associated with ecclesiastical and courtly elites, in spite of their avowed distance from the worldview represented by popular culture.
Margaret Mullett
Literary Spolia and the Christos Paschon: Shaping the Identity of Twelfth-century Literati
The Byzantine tragedy Christos Paschon, known for fifty years to date from the twelfth century, is at first sight a fine example of the Byzantine rhetorical identity of the literati as “guardians of Orthodoxy” Three acts, or three plays in a trilogy, present Passion, Entombment, and Resurrection of Christ, with a predominant role given to the Theotokos. At closer sight, the text is built up through a cento of Euripidean lines and half-lines, which lead the Theotokos, shockingly, to voice lines spoken in the original play by Medea, by Agave in the Bacchae, Phaidra in Hippolytos, and the Muse in Rhesos. In this paper the implications for Byzantine identity when set against the Euripidean Other are explored.
B.Yelda Olcay Uçkan – Seçkin Evcim
The 'Other' Beliefs in Byzantine Phrygia and Their Reflections in Cave Architecture
Because of its location at the crossroads of Anatolia and its incorporation of different cultures and beliefs, the region of Phrygia attracted many foreign communities of Anatolia.Among those communities are the Phrygians who gave their name to the region. The Phrygians, who gathered and grew stronger in Central Anatolia in the ninth century BC, founded an eigth century kingdom whose capital was Gordion and whose cult center was Midaio. Another European community, the Galatians, settled in the area in the third century BC. The Romanization process of the region started in the second century BC. Although the impact of Rome became visible in terms of administration and urbanization, Phrygian culture and beliefs, first defined by the Phrygians but also influenced by the Galatians, survived in this period to the extent that the cult of Cybele (Magna Mater) penetrated the center of Rome. Though the spread of Christianity in the region dates back to the first century AD due to the travels of Paul, we confront real evidence of Christian influence (especially associated with the Montanism sect, with roots in the cult of Cybele) by the third century. In the early Byzantine period, Montanists were monitored closely by the state and were tried to be eliminated as an unwanted group. Available evidence shows that the believers continued to exist until the eighth-ninth centuries and eventually mixed with Paulicians and Athinganoi. The Paulicians and Athinganoi are also Christian sects, like Montanists, that found a place for themselves in Phrygia after also being marginalized and tried to be eliminated.
Although there is abundant information about these groups in relation to their presence in the region of Phyrigia in the Byzantine period, there is no information about their cultural and artistic structure. However, rock architecture (especially as it concerns elements that do not seem to be “Byzantine” in the Byzantine period) may have features related to the diverse belief structures of the region. This paper will introduce and evaluate examples of such material cultural heritage that can be related to minorities in Phrygia during the Byzantine period.
Arietta Papaconstantinou
The Rhetoric of Civilization vs Savagery in Byzantine Accounts of the Desert and its Inhabitants
Mark Twain once ridiculed the “white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages”. A recurring theme in Western literature since at least Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, the critique of European self-perception as the most “civilized” part of the world was systematized and theorized by twentieth-century anthropologists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss and Mary Douglas. These approaches, further refined over the years, have shown how cultures develop sets of binary oppositions in order to define themselves by distinguishing themselves from others around them, and to classify their own way as “civilized”, “rational”, or simply “right”, and that of the others as “savage”, “irrational”, or "wrong".
The way the Byzantines, like the Romans before them, spoke of the desert and its various inhabitants lends itself very well to an analysis along those terms; oppositions such as settled vs nomadic, knowledge vs ignorance, clear language vs barbarism, etc., appear regularly in texts discussing the Berbers or the Arabs. To a large extent, however, this is true for all ‘Others’. In this paper, I would like to explore what made the inhabitants of the desert specific, and why. Most deserts were not within the empire, but rather formed a frontier. The ones that were entirely Byzantine were very early on also construed as liminal spaces, through the rhetoric of asceticism and anachoresis. Why did Byzantine culture create desert space as ambivalent? How was the perception of desert spaces expressed, and how did it correlate with the perception of their inhabitants? Were different deserts understood differently, and why? What was the role of political and economic activities in shaping those perceptions?
I will concentrate on the period during which the Empire included some deserts and bordered others, namely from the fourth to the mid-seventh centuries, but will also examine later texts to chart the evolution of earlier ideas: did they become fossilized, or were they re-oriented in line with the evolving context?
Glenn Peers
Hellenism’s Instrumental Identity in Fourteenth-Century Trebizond
Books naturally provide imaginative, object worlds through words and pictures. A book has the ability to transport readers/viewers to places and identities not fully possible or known before that book began its work. In media theory (especially Friedrich Kittler, Gramophon, Film,Typewriter, Berlin, 1986), the object book is not a passive receptacle for the thoughts, personality, or consciousness, even, of a writer or reader; rather, it is the instrument by which persons become inscription surfaces on which we are led to ways to act, think, believe.
This paper attempts to follow some of the implications of this argument in an illustrated manuscript, a typikon commissioned by Prokopios Chantzanes and painted by John Argyros in 1346 for the monastery of St. Evgenios in Trebizond. Now at Vatopedi on Mt Athos (ms 320/954), the manuscript has been superficially studied several times (most notably by Josef Strzygowski in Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft [1890]), and scholars have noted its Italian parallels. The manuscript has not yet been subjected to this theoretical probing that attempts to position the manuscript in this wider network of Western and Anatolian claims to Trebizond’s past and future.
In the first place, the book as technology is a significant means of definition of self against Other. A typikon illustrated with classicizing vignettes of the months of the year sets time for that Byzantine/Trapezuntine reader, and marks time as a revolving series from the past (zodiac, classicisms) and into the future (prescriptive actions represented and verbally articulated). In the second, the geographic range of the manuscript expands beyond deep Hellenism to include Palestinian forbearers (Sts. Sabas and John of Damascus are shown full-page on 9b) and the saintly hero of Trebizond (St. Evgenios on 315b). The inclusion of a no-longer-legible donor on this last page also demonstrates how the book inscribed its meanings onto bodies of readers. The book here establishes a world within reach of the past, which is made present and immediate; it also contracts space so that Holy Land monasticism imbricates contemporary practice; and in these ways, it determines performance of users on all levels. These illustrations and texts produce unity of time and place so that Hellenism pre-establishes itself as perfect and exclusive identity, and it leaves no space for an Other outside that Byzantine Christianity.
Brigitte Pitarakis
Jewelers, Coppersmiths, and Clientele: Between Byzantium and Islam
Metalworking, among the most popular crafts in Byzantium and the contemporary Islamic world, belongs to a long-standing tradition nurtured by access to a rich network of mines in Anatolia and Mesopotamia. In both cultures, skilled craftsmen developed techniques for the manufacture of exquisite objects reflecting the tastes of their respective clienteles. In conjunction with producing wares to accompany the rituals and practices of the Christian faith, Byzantine craftsmen also developed a wide production for daily life devoid of religious markings. Such objects, nonetheless, signified some sort of status.
Cross-cultural exchanges between Byzantium and Muslim-controlled lands from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries have been the subject of considerable scholarly debate in the past few years. Such investigations have led to the theory that a common taste prevailed in the medieval Mediterranean, and that it was fostered through diplomatic gifts and the development of trade. The presence of Arab jewelers and coppersmiths in the Byzantine Empire is another factor in the debate.
The shared use of shapes, techniques, and similar repertory of ornamental patterns in Byzantium and the Islamic world emerged as a phenomenon of the mobility of objects and craftsmen, shifts in political borders through Byzantine-Arab wars, and knowledge transfers in the sciences (i.e., medicine, pharmacology, astronomy). This often makes the accurate attribution of provenance for individual museum pieces elusive.
This paper highlights some of the distinctive types characteristic of Byzantine jewelry and copper production from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries, offering a glimpse into the Constantinopolitan market from the perspective of both supplier and consumer. It also focuses on features simultaneously popular in Byzantine and Islamic areas, particularly in regard to gold jewelry with filigree and granulated ornament.
Johannes Preiser-Kapeller
Mental Mapping and the Organization of Space by the Late Byzantine Church
Based on the rich evidence of the charters issued by the Patriarchate and Synod of Constantinople and collected in the so-called “Register of the Patriarchate“ (for the period 1315-1402) as well as in additional documents, I will analyze the organization and imagination of geographical space from the perspective of the central institutions of the Byzantine Church. For this purpose, I will make use of concepts of “mental mapping“ as developed since the 1970s, in combination with modern digital tools of geo-visualization. Thereby, dynamic images of attempts (both successful and futile) of the late Byzantine Church to maintain or adapt its spatial framework in the face of rapidly changing political, religious, ethnic and economic environments in various regions of its still considerable sphere of jurisdiction from Russia to the Aegean and from the Western Balkans to Eastern Anatolia will be created. This will contribute to a better understanding of the relative resilience of the Byzantine Church against the background of the highly fragmented former imperial sphere of Byzantium during the thirteenth-fifteenth centuries and its incipient re-integration into the new Ottoman Empire.
Ioanna Rapti
Art from another Byzantium: The Sculptural Decoration of the Monastic Church of Bghno Noravank
At the crossroads of East and West, in the province of ‘’Siwnik,’’ close to the actual Armenian-Iranian border, the monastery of Bghno Noravank stands isolated from the mainstream monuments and is seldom remembered as the putative origin of the tenth century Ejmiacin Gospels. With its sixth century Byzantine ivory covers and four sixth century illuminations, this sumptuous manuscript was indeed treasured there in the twelfth century. The church, dated approximately near the year 1000, was unfortunately heavily restored during the Soviet period, but preserves abundant sculptural decoration, unparalleled in Byzantine and Armenian art. With very few exceptions, such as the Holy Cross of Aght’amar, figural reliefs are rather alien in contemporary Armenian religious decoration. Unlike the famous Palatine church, the figural decoration occurs on rectangular panels, whose original location remains unknown. The format and the thickness of the slabs differ, however, from the undecorated blocks of the building, raising the question of their original setting and function of these carved icons. The typological and stylistic otherness of the reliefs at Bghno Noravank may at some point explain the little interest paid to this monument. This paper will focus on this decorative ensemble and attempt its interpretation. It shall also consider its relation to the late antique tradition and contemporary trends in Byzantium and beyond. The archaic or conservative repertory and iconography of Bghno Noravank’s sculpture raises the fundamental issues of survival or revival of early medieval traditions and the dynamics of artistic developments at the edge of the Byzantine world.
Scott Redford
The Biography of a Building: Seljuk Emir Mubarizeddin Ertokuş & the Atabey Medrese

The Atabey Medrese was built by Seljuk emir Mubarizeddin Ertokuş in 1224 in Atabey, ancient Agrai, near Isparta, a scant two decades after the region was conquered by the Seljuks from the Byzantines. Ertokuş himself was a slave emir likely of Christian origin, and again likely from this region, given his patronage of it, and his long-term appointment as governor of nearby Antalya, according to Seljuk chronicler Ibn Bibi, because he knew the languages of the region.

In accordance with the theme of this conference, this paper aims to examine the relationship between this building and its patron: seeing it as a way to incorporate “the other,” that is to say the Byzantine Christian past of this emir, by the select incorporation of Byzantine spolia in different ways in key parts of the building.
Rustam Shukurov
The Byzantine concepts of Iran: an elusive subject

When a modern scholar tries to visualise mentally the content of the research subject “Byzantium and Iran”, first, the turbulent and colourful events of interrelations between the Byzantium and Sasanian Iran inevitably cross his mind. The topic “Byzantium and Iran” predominantly is linked in our minds with the late Roman and early Byzantine times from the third century AD through the reign of the emperor Herakleios in 610-41. For the times after the Muslim invasion and the establishment of the Caliphate in the former lands of the defeated Sasanian empire, we usually describe the interrelations of Byzantium with the Orient as those with the Arabs and later with different Turkic nations. Iran, thus, has completely vanished from the pages of the subsequent history of Byzantium being replaced by the Arabs and the Turks. Here we approach a certain paradox: although, Iranian culture did not cease to exist at all and, in the ninth-tenth centuries, entered the period of bloom, however, it seems that Iran and Neo-Persian civilization was as if neglected in middle and late Byzantine literature. However, this impression is not correct. In the present paper an attempt will be made to reconstruct the Byzantine geographical, ethnic, and linguistic concepts of Iran from the ninth century onwards.

Dion C. Smythe
Images on the Borders: Seeing the Byzantine ‘Other’ in Digenes Akritas and the Madrid Skylitzes
Building on my work on the Byzantine construction of the ‘’Other’’ (and therefore of themselves) on grounds of ethnicity, gender, religion, and taxis in middle-Byzantine, high-level Atticising Greek historiography, using Psellos, Komnene and Choniates to model the approach, in this paper I develop the theme further by examining the “thought experiment” provided by Digenes Akritas. This much-contested text—not only in its manuscript tradition but also in its geographical and temporal location —provides an illuminating case study on how the elite of the middle Byzantine centuries (though there are additional questions over the elite meant here) wished to portray their interactions with the ethnic and geographic “Other” across the border. It soon becomes apparent, however, that this consideration of the “Other” (the Emir and his sons, but also, interestingly, his wife and the mother of ‘the girl’, not to mention Maximo) tells us more about the idealized, imagined former existence of the Byzantine border-lords than it does about the Muslim population over the border. Another vexed and vexing manuscript is the Madrid Skylitzes. Closer as ‘history’ to my original work, I intend to use the interplay between the images of the manuscript with the text (specifically when dealing with Muslim characters in the eleventh and twelfth centuries) to serve as a foil for the imagined ‘reality’ of Digenes. Both texts are removed from their location: one to Constantinople, the other to Sicily. Nevertheless, they inform how we see the Byzantine image of themselves and the ”Other."
Günder Varinlioğlu
Imagine There is No (Is)Land: Conceptualizing Byzantine Islands in Southern Asia Minor
The Byzantines conceptualized the islands (νῆσοι) and continents/lands (ἤπειροι) as two distinct and opposing entities. Islands were separated from the land by a fearsome maritime space at the mercy of both natural (e.g. winds and currents) and human (e.g. pirates) obstacles. Even when they were located not far away from the land, hence shared the same geography, islands were conceived as another space integrated into the world of the sea. Thus, they were considered non-conventional and exotic places, seemingly at the edge of the inhabited world. In other words, being a micro-cosmos, almost a country in themselves, they represented the Other place in the Byzantine geographical imagination. Despite their continuous and frequent use as connectors in the maritime navigation based on cabotage, islands were imagined outside the realm of the geography familiar to the Byzantine mode of life. The myths, stories, and sanctity conferred upon them reinforced the notion that islands and insular ways of life represented the Other. This paper explores the perception of islands in Byzantine geographical imagination in the context of the archaeological evidence for the occupation and inhabitation of islands along the coasts of Asia Minor. The island landscapes of Cilicia/Isauria are presented as a case study to compare and contrast how Byzantines interacted with the islands versus how they imagined them.
Alicia Walker
Courtly Objects, Courtly Identities: Middle Byzantine Luxury Arts and the Material Culture of Elite Leisure
Numerous middle Byzantine works of art in a variety of media—such as metal, ivory, enamel, and textile—were not produced for use in personal devotion or the liturgy, but were instead incorporated into social practices of elite leisure culture, including dining and self-adornment. This paper asks what aspects of Byzantine identity are reflected in these non-religious objects, as well as how these works of art helped to shape and sustain extra-religious traditions within Byzantine cultural identity. Special attention is paid to the continuing (and evolving) role of classical traditions in middle Byzantine elite culture, as well as the negotiation of classical traditions with cosmopolitan cultural forces that were new to the court in the ninth to twelfth centuries.
Sercan Yandım Aydın
Marginalizing the Traditional Religious Orders, Cults, and Beliefs in the Early Patristic Era: Asceticism in Phrygia and Lycaonia
This paper aims to present the religious Other/Ethnic within the Byzantine Empire during the early Patristic era (i.e. ca. 100 CE-eighth century). It will also explore the perceptions of the different religious orders and Byzantines’ close encounter with such groups, sects, cults, and belief systems. In doing so, the ascetic movements in Phrygia and Lycaonia will be introduced as they embody and illustrate the process of marginalization of the indigenous and/or traditional religious movements within the Byzantine borders.
Special emphasis will be given to the Montanists, and Montanism of Phrygian lands, as well as to the beliefs and practices of the Encratites and Apotactites of rural Lycaonia. The paper will also discuss the polemical treatise of Bishop Amphilochius of Iconium–the so-called fourth Cappadocian–, which seems to be written in the second half of the fourth century. In addition, the Cappadocian town Sannabadae (Zanapa until the 1960s and the present day Halkapınar/Ambarderesi) will be discussed in order to map out these ascetic, mostly rural communities. Consequently, the process and tools of turning the traditional into the Other and/or Marginal will be explored.
Koray Durak
Finding Syria and Syrians in the Literature of the Middle Byzantine Period
The terms Syria and Syrian in Byzantine Greek have been interpreted differently by modern scholars, and currently there is no scholarly consensus on the meanings of these terms. Some scholars understand Συρία to refer to the geographical area that corresponds to Greater Syria or the totality of Syria and Iraq, while others take the term to represent the whole Muslim world. Likewise, modern historians translate Σύροι in the Book of the Eparch generally as “Syrian”. What did Syria then represent for the Byzantines? The present study is an attempt to identify the meaning of the term Syria, Coele Syria and Syrian in Byzantine writing from the eighth to the eleventh centuries. The frequent appearance of the terms in question during the Middle Byzantine Period makes such a toponymic study a useful endeavor. Indeed, it becomes a necessity when one realizes that there is no modern work focusing on the meaning of the term Syria in Byzantine studies.