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Mittelalter | Interdisziplinäre Forschung und Rezeptionsgeschichte.

Petition against the conversion of the Hagia Sophia in Trabzon into a mosque

Dear Colleagues,

Please sign this petition against the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque:

For the non-Turkish speakers, please fill in your

–          Name

–          Surname

–          Email

–          City

–          (optional) reason why this is important for you

You are asked to tick the boxes for:

–          Whether you would like your signature to be displayed on change.org

–          Whether you would like to receive more information about this and similar topics (in Turkish)

For more information, see

A recent article:


An article from Hürriyet Daily News, 5 February 2013:

Hagia Sophia Museum, in Istanbul, was first dedicated as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in 360 AD. The historical Hagia Sophia in Trabzon will soon be opened up for prayers, according to the Foundations Directorate Head Adnan Ertem, while a parliamentary commission is also considering an application to reopen Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum for prayers. Ertem said five of the seven Hagia Sophias nationwide were currently functioning as mosques, but two were still inactive, adding that the Culture Minister was the “occupying force” in the decision to reopen Trabzon’s mosque. “We have won the court case regarding the situation,” Ertem said. “We are planning to open the place for prayers again after the necessary processes are completed.” Ertem refrained from commenting on whether or not the same situation could be said about Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. “The Hagia Sofia Mosque in Istanbul is a mosque, and will remain one forever,” Ertem said. “However, we are not the authority [to open the mosque to prayers]. We can only voice the state of it, and the fact that it is accepted as a mosque by everyone, but we cannot decide on it.” Three citizens living in the northwestern province of Kocaeli recently applied to a parliamentary commission with a request to change the status of Hagia Sophia, attaching a survey of 400 people favoring the active use of the mosque. The application has been taken under consideration by Parliament’s Petition Commission, with several online petitions also lending support, Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday. The commission will be asking for the opinions of the related institutions on the issue. The Hagia Sophia Museum was first dedicated as an Orthodox patriarchal basilica in 360 A.D. Until the year of 1453 it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople. Following the city’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire, the building was converted into a mosque in 1453 and remained so until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years. It was reopened by the republican authorities in 1935 as a museum.

See full article here.

See also another article on the topic.

Thank you.

Visiting Academic at Birmingham

Dr Nikos Kontogiannis (M.Phil.A – Birmingham, Ph.D – Athens) has joined us as Visiting Academic for three months (May to July), with an award from the British School at Athens. He is Assistant Director of the 23rd Ephoreia (Inspectorate) of Byzantine Antiquities, Greece, where Archie Dunn collaborates with him in research. He is an expert on the Byzantine and Crusader/medieval archaeology of Greece. While based here he is preparing for publication hoards of high-status western medieval objects discovered in Greece (parts of which are held by the Ashmolean and British Museums). He looks forward to participating in the life of the IAA and has offered to present a seminar.

Opening of the Deir al-Surian Library and Conservation Centre,
Wadi el Natrun, Egypt

On Sunday 19 May, 2013, the Monastery of the Syrians (referred to thereafter as Deir al-Surian) will open its doors to guests attending the opening of the new state-of-the-art library.  The event will be held under the patronage of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark; His Grace Bishop Mattaos, Abbot of Deir al-Surian; and The Levantine Foundation.

The new library, partially funded by the Foundation, has been built within the tenth century walls of the sixth century Coptic monastery to house the priceless collection of ancient Christian Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopic, and Arabic manuscripts, many of which date back to the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries A.D. The Levantine Foundation is strongly committed to the preservation and recording of these important manuscripts.

The purpose-built library will provide world class storage for the collection and facilities for all aspects of book conservation, including education and training which will enable unrivalled state-of-the-art care for the library’s precious collection. The building is equipped with an advanced temperature and humidity control system for long term preservation, a conservation laboratory, and public access areas such as reading rooms for visiting scholars. Biannual conservation field campaigns organised by The Levantine Foundation will give British, European, and Egyptian conservators unique professional development opportunities to acquire broader capability and ‘extended professionalism’ characterised by independent judgment, involvement in a community of practice, and the demonstration of practical or intellectual leadership.

Elizabeth Sobczynski, founder and CEO of The Levantine Foundation comments on the new library:

This is the most exciting moment since the inception of the organisation in 2002. For the past ten years it has been my dream to safely house this unique collection, to ensure its survival for future generations, and with modern technology, make it accessible to the world of scholarship. Now that my dream has been fulfilled, I look forward to working with the collection and training Egyptian conservators on how to best preserve their cultural heritage for future generations.

The library will be opened by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, and the event will be attended by His Grace Bishop Mattaos; Sir Derek Plumbly, President of The Levantine Foundation; CEO Elizabeth Sobczynski; Dr Khalil Nougaim, Executive Director of The Levantine Foundation in Egypt; many distinguished heads of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and other eminent guests.

For further information about the Opening of the Deir al-Surian Library and Conservation Centre please contact:

Hana Salama: hana.salama@gmail.com (London)

Elizabeth Sobczynski: es.aicp@btinternet.com (London)

Nevene Sami: nsami@cf-holding.com (Cairo)

Or visit the Levantine Foundation website: www.thelevantinefoundation.org

Also see http://www.oasiscenter.eu/it/node/9607


New website

We would like to inform you about the newly created website “ByzIDeo” by the research team of the FWF-project “The ideology of the lower strata in Byzantium” at the Viennese Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.

We invite you to make use of this website in order to promote scholarly cooperation and interaction.

For more information, see http://byzideo.blogspot.co.at/


Zombies of Byzantium

The dead have been alive for centuries!

It’s the 8th century A.D., and the Byzantine Empire has got problems. A ruthless schemer has just overthrown the emperor and taken the crown for himself. The Saracen army is attacking Constantinople. Only one thing could make these problems look petty by comparison: an invasion of undead, flesh-eating zombies.

One young monk has witnessed the horror of the zombies and lived to tell the tale. When the new emperor hears of the danger, he hatches a wild plan. He puts the young monk in charge of creating an army of zombies to defeat the invaders. But it’s not that easy to control the living dead…



New database: «Artefacts and Raw Materials in Byzantine Archival Documents / Objets et matériaux dans les documents d’archives byzantins»

We are pleased to inform you that the database «Artefacts and Raw Materials in Byzantine Archival Documents / Objets et matériaux dans les documents d’archives byzantins» is  now accessible online at http://www.unifr.ch/go/apb . On this page Byzantine Resources, click Typika. In this database are collected all the terms related to artefacts and raw materials encountered in published Byzantine archival documents. Each occurrence of a particular term is accorded an individual record. This record as a rule contains a brief discussion explaining the particularities of the specific use of the term. In addition, each term is also the subject of a synthesis record, where a general commentary on the term can be found, often accompanied by relevant bibliographical references. This is still very much a work-in-progress and the database needs to be completed and improved. We would, therefore, invite and welcome suggestions and corrections, especially from colleagues with expertise in the various areas covered by the database. Instructions on how to use the database (howto.pdf) as well as a «Help» menu are accessible at the database’s home page. A contact address (typika@unifr.ch) may be used for reporting problems regarding the operation of the database and for submitting comments and questions. To cite the database: Ludovic Bender, Maria Parani, Brigitte Pitarakis, Jean-Michel Spieser, Aude Vuilloud, Artefacts and Raw Materials in Byzantine Archival Documents / Objets et matériaux dans les documents d’archives byzantins, URL: http://www.unifr.ch/go/typika

Proposed abbreviation: «ByzAD».L. Bender, M. Parani, B. Pitarakis, J.-M. Spieser, A. Vuilloud


Captions and a petition from Thessaloniki

Petition  for the preservation of great antiquities found in the dig for a Metro station. I attach a small text on that, with some photos, please circulate them to anyone might be interested. We also have a petition on the matter, I copy the link, please, if you agree, sign it and forward it other interested individuals. http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Breaking_the_heart_of_Thessaloniki_through_time_Save_citys_byzantine_center_the_citys_memory_and_identity/?cBAIgeb



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