The Byzness

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The Byzness, 7 October 2012
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The Romans as viewed by Arabic Authors in the 9th and 10th Centuries AD
The Byzantine Blog has a link to a PDF of this paper that may be of interest to many of you, you can find it at


Belgrade Congress 2016 Update

Following a meeting between the Organizing Committee of the 23rd International Congress of Byzantine Studies Belgrade 2016 and the members of the AIEB Bureau held in Belgrade on 57th September, and drawing upon the proposals and suggestions that were kindly conveyed to us by some national committees, we would like to inform you of the profile and structure of the congress program.


We followed the excellent template developed by organizers of previous international congresses of Byzantine studies. You will note, however, that some changes have been introduced scoping to enable as much scientific discussion as possible.

Information on the profile and structure of the 23rd congress Belgrade 2016



The 23rd International Congress of Byzantine Studies is convoked for 22-27 August 2016 in Belgrade.

Main theme.

The main theme of the congress is: “Byzantium – A World of Changes” / “Byzance  – un monde des changements”.

The motto of the congress is: “Πάντα μὲν γὰρ μεταβάλλεται, ἀπόλλυται δὲ οὐδέν” (Ovid by Planoudes).

Plenary papers.

There will be 6 to 8 session units, each with one main speaker, one or two commentators and discussion.

Papers should be published in advance on the website of the congress.

The main speakers should present a summary of their papers in 15-20` and commentators in 15`, leaving 30` for plenary discussion. The overall duration of a plenary session should be 60-70 min.

Speakers and commentators should be proposed by the Serbian Committee in cooperation with the Bureau and approved at the inter-congress meeting. The national committees will be informed on the proposals before the meeting.

Round tables.

There will be up to 36 round tables with a maximum of 10 participants at each.

The papers should be published in advance at the website of the congress, previously prepared by conveners. 

Conveners should give a general statement on the goal of a RT and on the contents of the papers. The participants shall present summaries in up to 10` each. Then the topic of the RT will be discussed between the participants and the public present. The overall duration of a RT should be up to 2 h.

Themes and conveners should be proposed by national committees and then selected by organizers. It would be welcomed if the proposals followed the main theme of the congress, but they may except from it as well.

There is no prescribed limits regarding the age and experience of proposed conveners. Awelcome profile may be two conveners for a RT: a mature and a younger scholar, or vice versa. The most important criteria for accepting a proposed RT theme will regard its scholarly value and interest for the field of byzantine studies.

Free communications and Posters.

The proposals of the themes with a summary of up to 300 words should be sent to the organizers who will decide on acceptance.

The deadline for sending the proposals for RT by national committees is the end of 2012.

The deadline for sending the proposals for free communications will be announced later.

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Experiencing and Thinking about Borders in the Ancient Mediterranean World
(Université Paris-Sorbonne)

This conference for PhD students and young PhD holders aims to reflect upon the notion of the border, in the broadest sense of the word, and to see how the Ancients perceived it. Such a perspective can be interesting as it allows us to explore various disciplinary areas related to Classics.
It will thus be possible to understand the concept of the border in both a literal and figurative sense:  it can refer to borders beyond human groups – that either isolate them or bring them together – geographical, social, cultural, religious and linguistic, as well as to borders located within such human groups, between communities, genders or origins…
Moreover, it might be profitable to question the differentiation between places or people implied by the notion of the border, inasmuch as such frontiers can be physical or metaphorical. The border indeed acts as an interface, and entails different modes of coexistence.
Here are a few ideas for further reflection – which are by no means exclusive:
1) Defining the border
It could be fruitful to investigate the lexicon referring to the border, and the conceptual and philosophical tools the Ancients used to define it. We will also reflect upon the formal representations of the border in Antiquity, and the criteria involved in its archaeological or historical definition. Such representations and realizations of the border as the horoi and the limes allow us to think about the principles of divisions, barriers or breaking up. Defining the border also implies thinking about the social, political and legal principles that govern it.
2) Respecting or crossing the border?
Considering the border as a limit involves dealing with the issue of whether it is respected or breached. The notion of an hermetic border conflicts with that of a permeable one. The border can be challenged in various ways: acculturation, trade, religious or linguistic interferences which are the sign of influences and mutual exchanges. Finally, through wars, we can question the reality of the border and its representation. The border thus appears as a process resulting from conflicts and exchanges. It is no longer a mere division, it becomes a means of making contact and relating to each other. We can then explore the status of travel  and whether a form of “globalization” was born in Antiquity.
3)  Shaping identities: the border and otherness?
Confronting others results in building a certain number of practices and ways of thinking. The border can thus be seen as a creative process for shaping identities. It will be possible to examine cross-cultural phenomena as well as factors that challenge such a process.
It could also be interesting to compare the areas of cultural or linguistic influence with the regions that are actually linked to a given political entity, to see how the cultural group can prevail over the geographical border. Finally, the notion of the border can also be examined within the human groups: to what extent is it a medium through which identity may be questioned?

Each paper will be allocated 30 minutes. The languages chosen for the conference are French and English.
Abstracts of about 200 words, as well as a C.V., should be sent by 30th November 2012 to the following address:

The conference will take place on 28th-29th June 2013 at INHA (Institut National de l’Histoire de l’Art de Paris-Sorbonne).

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Llewelyn Morgan: The Buddhas of Bamiyan

Wednesday 10th October at 7pm at Blackwells – Not Byzantine as such but Blackwell were kind enough to email the society and it may be of interest to many of you.
‘The ‘other’ decimated twin Wonders of the World and the tragic country of Afghanistan.’

“The Buddhas of Bamiyan” relates the remarkable history of Bamiyan’s statues of the Buddha, destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001. Hewn out of the solid rock face, the statues represented both the historical and universal aspects of the Buddha. Carved in the sixth century AD, they were massive, 55m and 38m tall respectively, and took weeks to bring down. Their story is incredibly compelling, and moves from their creation at a time when Greek culture proved a great influence on Buddhism, to their role in the lead up to the destruction of the Twin Towers in the same year.

This book about the Buddhas is also the tale of Bamiyan itself, and the extraordinary Hazara people who live there and have played a pivotal role in the history of that region of Afghanistan. It is rare that a historical account of an exceptional monument could also be of such urgent contemporary relevance. There is something for everyone here, including (but not limited to), Buddhists, Classicists, and those interested in the military, history of the Raj and Islamic history.

The author, Llewelyn Morgan, teaches Classics at Oxford where he is a Fellow of Brasenose College. He has been to Afghanistan several times and has written a number of pieces on the country, ancient and modern.

Join us for an evening reception, where Morgan will be discussing the book and signing copies.

Tickets cost £3 and can be obtained by telephoning or visiting the Customer Service Department, Second Floor, Blackwell Bookshop, Oxford. 01865 333623.


Two Upcoming Lectures at Bryn Mawr College
Their content may be of interest to many of you working in the same field if you cant take the flight over there.

Thursday, October 11, 5:00pm, Carpenter B21, Bryn Mawr College

Meadows of Delight: Metaphor and Denial in Byzantine and Western Medieval Art
Henry Maguire, Professor Emeritus of Art History, John Hopkins University

After the eighth century, motifs from nature, such as animals and plants, were more prominently displayed in Western churches than in those of the Byzantines, sometimes even appearing in the principal apses, in direct imitation of early Christian models.  In Byzantium, there was a rich literary tradition of verbal and written metaphors drawn from nature, especially addressed to the Virgin, but the art of Byzantine churches often excluded all reference to nature from holy images.   This presentation explores the root causes of this division between Eastern and Western art, which is to be found in contrasting attitudes toward the sacred image.  In Byzantium, a fear of venerating nature lingered after Iconoclasm, while in the West, animals and plants lost much of their association with idolatry, becoming, instead, a language for understanding the divine.

Reception immediately following the lecture, London Room, Thomas Hall
Sponsored by the University Seminars Program of the Onassis Foundation (USA), The Center for Visual Culture and the Department of History of Art, Bryn Mawr College

Wednesday, November 14, 2012, 12:30pm, Thomas 110

Towards a New Conception of Crusader Art: Reflections on the Sainte-Chapelle, the Morgan Library Book of Kings, and the Capetian Court
Daniel H. Weiss, President, Lafayette College and President-elect, Haverford College

Sponsored by the Center for Visual Culture, Bryn Mawr College

All events are free and open to the public

For more information, please go to: and
Or contact the Center for Visual Culture, Bryn Mawr College, 610-526-5984

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Fellowship at the Koc University Research Center for Anatolian Civilisations
Application Deadline: December 15th 2012

Full details to be found here.

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