International Workshop
24-25 January 2019

Seminar Rooms 50 and 49
Hollandstraße 11-13, 1st floor
1020 Wien 

How were peoples, ethnic groups and tribes called in different languages in the Early Middle Ages? And how did this semantic field change over time? This workshop is intended to access this controversial (but also under-researched) field from a historical perspective. To what extent is our concept of "ethnic" adequate to the meaning of these terms in this period?

New Publication!

The Bible is the foundational text for the Byzantine Empire. The papers of this volume explore its reception through appropriation, adaptation and interpretation as articulated in all aspects of Byzantine society. Several sessions at the ISBL held in Vienna, 6 to 10 July 2014 on ‘The Reception of the Bible in Greco-Roman Tradition,’ ‘The Bible between Jews and Christians in Byzantium,’ ‘Biblical Scholarship in Byzantium,’ and ‘Biblical Foundations of Byzantine Identity and Culture’ built the basis of this volume.

Various angles shed light on the Byzantine experience of the Bible. The wide range of source materials that inform the contributions to this volume—from manuscripts and military handbooks to lead seals and pilgrim guides— allows insights into a vivid liturgical tradition, which shapes Orthodox Christianity up today. As a thoroughly Christianized society, the Bible had sunk deep into the cultural DNA of Byzantium. The volume shows the multitude of strategies for the engagement with the Biblical text and the manifold ways in which the Bible message was experienced, articulated and brought to life on a daily basis.


2nd Annual Edinburgh International Graduate Byzantine Conference
30th November – 1st December 2018

Appleton Tower, Lecture Theater 2, 
11 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9LE

Reception and appropriation (whether reuse, imitation, or variation) have long been recognised as necessary tools for the interpretation of Byzantine literature, art, architecture and archaeology, while research on innovations is still at a relatively early stage.
The key theme of this conference is dialogue – dialogue between Byzantium and its neighbouring cultures. The conference will explore all three of the fundamental modes of dialogue and discourse (reception, appropriation and innovation) between Byzantium and its neighbours during any time period from the 5th-15th c. Confirmed invited speakers include Professor Claudia Rapp (Vienna), Dr Andrew Marsham (Cambridge), and Father Justin Sinaites (Librarian of St. Catherine’s, Mt. Sinai), in addition to confirmed internal speakers, both Byzantinists and Islamicists.
There will be a small registration fee of £10, and lunch will be provided on both days.We will aim to publish a selection of the papers in a peer-reviewed volume that will bring together the strongest contributions in each area in order to produce an edited volume of high-quality, deep coherence and rich variety. 

The Organising Committee, 
Mathew Barber, Alasdair Grant, Mark Huggins, Matteo Randazzo, Margherita Riso 

New Publication!

András Németh, The Excerpta Constantiniana and the Byzantine Appropriation of the Past, Cambridge University Press 2018, 338pp.


The Excerpta project instigated by the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII turned the enormously rich experience offered by Greek historiography into a body of excerpts distributed across fifty-three distinct thematic collections. In this, the first sustained analysis, András Németh moves from viewing the Excerpta only as a collection of textual fragments to focusing on its dependence from and impact on the surrounding Byzantine culture in the tenth century. He introduces the concept of appropriation and also uses it to study some other key texts created under the Excerpta's influence (De thematibus, De administrando imperio and De ceremoniis). Unlike world chronicles, the Excerpta ignored the chronological dimension of history and fostered the biographical turn in Byzantine historiography. By exploring theoretical questions such as classification and retrieval of historical information and the relationship between knowledge and political power, this book provides powerful new ways for exploring the Excerpta in Byzantine studies and beyond.

  • The first in-depth analysis of the historical excerpts, including many key historians from classical and late antiquity, in the context of their production in Byzantium
  • Proposes a new and coherent interpretative framework of several key works produced at Byzantine Court in the tenth century
  • Tackles theoretical problems beyond Byzantium, such as the understanding of time, history, textual coherence, the practical reading of history and managing information overload

New Book!

Geraldine Heng, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages, Cambridge University Press 2018, 493pp.


In The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages, Geraldine Heng questions the common assumption that the concepts of race and racisms only began in the modern era. Examining Europe's encounters with Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans, Mongols, and the Romani ('Gypsies'), from the 12th through 15th centuries, she shows how racial thinking, racial law, racial practices, and racial phenomena existed in medieval Europe before a recognizable vocabulary of race emerged in the West. Analysing sources in a variety of media, including stories, maps, statuary, illustrations, architectural features, history, saints' lives, religious commentary, laws, political and social institutions, and literature, she argues that religion - so much in play again today - enabled the positing of fundamental differences among humans that created strategic essentialisms to mark off human groups and populations for racialized treatment. Her ground-breaking study also shows how race figured in the emergence of homo europaeus and the identity of Western Europe in this time.

·       Covers a wide range of groups in seven chapters, including Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans, Mongols, and Romani; currently, books on premodern race only address Jews, Muslims, and blackness of skin
·       Women, children, and issues of sexuality are represented and discussed in each chapter making this a pertinent resource for feminist and gender studies, as well as race, medieval, and early modern studies
·       A genuinely interdisciplinary work that contains translations for all foreign and premodern languages discussed within the text

New publication!


This book examines the strategies and military tactics of the Byzantines and their enemies in Eastern Anatolia, Syria and in Upper Mesopotamia in the tenth century. This period of conflict is difficult to define: it was too inactive to be called a ‘war’ but too active to be called a ‘cold war’. Nevertheless, it was a ‘war’, even if it lacked the numerous pitched battles or protracted sieges that defined other periods or other operational theatres of war. This study examines the way the Byzantines innovated and adapted their strategies and tactics to those of their enemies in the East, giving a rich picture of tenth-century Byzantine warfare.
  • Examines the major and most important pitched battles of this period and the Byzantine and Arab military manuals which show how armies were organized and deployed in the battlefield
  • Looks at how the Byzantines adapted their strategies and tactics to those of their enemies in the 10th century Anatolia, Syria and Mesopotamia
  • Shows the transmission of military knowledge through the ages by comparing the military treatises of the 10th century with those from the Roman and Ancient Greek periods


18-20 October 2018
Universität Mainz

Conflicts significantly influenced medieval societies. The martial cultures which arose as a result developed not only in opposition to, but also under the influence of other cultures. Cultures of war are here understood as the norms, interpretations, attributions of meaning and reflections on war, as well as the forms and practices of war itself. The goal of this workshop is to analyze Euro-Mediterranean cultures of war and the importance of Byzantium for them in a comparative perspective on the basis of three concrete sets of topics: 

1) Remembering Victory and Defeat
2) Practices of Celebrating Victory and Triumphs
3) The Culture of Dealing with the Vanquished

Coping with victory and defeat in war touches upon questions of the legitimation of authority, for instance in historiography, panegyric, pictorial representations and architecture. The celebration of a triumph, by contrast, represents a means of direct communication between rulers, the army and the populace. In this context thanks is expressed to the army, generals, the ruler or another higher authority, and it is here that the embedding of the martial in each individual culture is expressed. The treatment of prisoners of war and the enemy dead likewise belongs to the frame of inquiry, yet is of greater importance for its praxis, as a similar treatment of one's own captives and possibly exchanges of prisoners would have been expected.

In order to facilitate a fruitful discussion and start a concise transcultural comparison, on the one hand, various regions are to be included, Latin Europe as well as the Slavic world, Byzantium or the Islamic-ruled Middle East. On the other hand, disciplines that principally work with texts as well as those that analyze material culture are to be called upon to produce a scholarly contribution.

A Conference of the Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus Mainz at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Organized by: Johannes Pahlitzsch and Jörg Rogge

New Book!

 The Byzantine emperor Leo VI (886–912), was not a general or even a soldier, like his predecessors, but a scholar, and it was the religious education he gained under the tutelage of the patriarch Photios that was to distinguish him as an unusual ruler. This book analyses Leo's literary output, focusing on his deployment of ideological principles and religious obligations to distinguish the characteristics of the Christian oikoumene from the Islamic caliphate, primarily in his military manual known as the Taktika. It also examines in depth his 113 legislative Novels, with particular attention to their theological prolegomena, showing how the emperor's religious sensibilities find expression in his reshaping of the legal code to bring it into closer accord with Byzantine canon law. Meredith L. D. Riedel argues that the impact of his religious faith transformed Byzantine cultural identity and influenced his successors, establishing the Macedonian dynasty as a 'golden age' in Byzantium.

Book Tip!


Greece Reinvented discusses the transformation of Byzantine Hellenism as the cultural elite of Byzantium, displaced to Italy, constructed it. It explores why and how Byzantine migrants such as Cardinal Bessarion, Ianus Lascaris, and Giovanni Gemisto adopted Greek personas to replace traditional Byzantine claims to the heirship of ancient Rome. In Greece Reinvented, Han Lamers shows that being Greek in the diaspora was both blessing and burden, and explores how these migrants’ newfound ‘Greekness’ enabled them to create distinctive positions for themselves while promoting group cohesion. These Greek personas reflected Latin understandings of who the Greeks ‘really’ were but sometimes also undermined Western paradigms. Greece Reinvented reveals some of the cultural tensions that bubble under the surface of the much-studied transmission of Greek learning from Byzantium to Italy.

International Conference!


Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments
Split, 28-30 September 2018

Programme & Abstracts
The field of Byzantine Studies has recently gained impetus in Croatia from the establishment of the Croatian Society for Byzantine Studies, which aspires to become a cross-disciplinary research hub for experts in manifold disciplines related to Byzantine Studies not only in Croatia but in the region as well. Following the auspicious first steps of bringing Byzantine Studies into the focus of Croatian academia and the research community, the Croatian Society for Byzantine Studies now aims to attract internationally acclaimed researchers of diverse disciplinary backgrounds to a forum that will offer an opportunity to discuss a plethora of research topics and questions bearing on the presence of Byzantium in the Adriatic, and specifically to analyze the profile, genesis and transformation of the region in response to the Byzantine world system. The aim is to present and examine old as well as fresh ideas in an innovative way to provide a more complete and in-depth picture of the political, socio-economic, religious, legal, cultural aspects of Byzantine influence, both direct and indirect, detectable in the Adriatic, and particularly the eastern Adriatic coastal area, with a chronological span from the Age of Justinian I to the final disappearance of all vestiges of Byzantine authority and political sway in the region in the twelfth century.

The conference’s special thematic strands include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
§ defining ‘Byzantium’ and its influence in the Adriatic context
§ (dis)continuity of the Byzantine presence in the Adriatic region
§ Adriobyzantinism, Latin Byzantinism, Slavic Byzantinism
§ overlapping zones of influences: problems of centre, periphery and province
§ comparative studies: Ravenna, Pentapolis, Roman Duchy, Venice, Istria, Greece, Sicily, Sardinia, Apulia, Calabria, Benevento, Marche, etc.
§ Byzantium’s influence on the ethnogeneses in the Adriatic coastal area
§ transmission of texts
§ conversion, Christianization and the Church (the interference of jurisdictional and liturgical influences from Constantinople, Rome, Aquileia/Grado; the network of bishoprics; the Cyrillo-Methodian Mission)
§ Byzantine legal traditions
§ Byzantine traditions in diplomatics, language, anthroponymy, toponymy, hagiography
§ Byzantine traditions in social structures (urban elites, aristocracy, family and society)
§ manifestations of Byzantine authority: public institutions, administrative structures, circulation of Byzantine money, seals
§ Byzantine cultural circles in the Adriatic (Justinianic Age, Macedonian dynasty, etc.)
§ settlements, towns, urban history, spatial organization
§ material culture with Byzantine characteristics and provenance in the Adriatic (archaeology, cemeteries, jewellery, weapons, tools, costumes)
§ the so-called Byzantine limes marittimus in the Adriatic (forts, castra, defence systems)