Byzantine days in Uppsala

Isabel Kimmelfield, Albrecht Berger, Cecile Morrisson, Paul Magdalino and Ragnar Hedlund

Isabel Kimmelfield, Albrecht Berger, Cecile Morrisson, Paul Magdalino and Ragnar Hedlund

A series of Byzantine events took place in Uppsala on 15-17 October, in collaboration between Greek and Byzantine Studies, Uppsala University, the Uppsala Coin Cabinet, Museum Gustavianum and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study.

Cécile Morrisson held a lecture in the Money talks series on 15 October under the title ”Physics, Eeconomics and Byzantine monetary history”. Offering an overview of the progress of nondestructive methods of analysis in the last decades, Cécile showed how technical advances have helped us better understand how the Byzantines used coins. In combination with econmonic theory, they offer an image of Byzantine very much aware of economic relations and mastering elaborate metallurgical processes.

Cécile also generously took time during her stay to look through the collection of Byzantine coins at Uppsala University Coin Cabinet and helped with identifying a number of Byzantine coins, above all from the late Byzantine age (see image below).

Paul Magdalino held the eleventh lecture in the memory of Lennart Ryden on 16 October, organized by the Swedish committee for Byzantine Studies and hosted by the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study. The lecture was entitled ”The Apostolic Tradition in Constantinople” and presented a combination of textual and material evidence that suggests a much stronger presence of an Apostolic tradition than is usually assumed. The lecture will be published in the Scandinavian Journal for Byzantine and Moder Greek Studies 2 (2016).

On Saturday 17 October, Museum Gustavianum hosted a day devoted to Constantinople, with lectures by Paul Magdalino, Albrecht Berger, Cécile Morrisson and Isabel Kimmelfield, moderated by AnnaLinden Weller and Ragnar Hedlund. The audience was offered a wide range of perspectives, starting with Paul Magdalino’s “Constantine and his city”. As indicated by his title, Paul presented Constantinople as seen from the angle of Constantine the Great and focused on questions regarding the founder’s intentions and the later development of the city. Albrecht Berger showed a different side of the city in his survey of legends and folklore: “Magical Constantinople: statues, legends, and the end of time”. Such information is found for instance in the so-called Patria of Constantinople, now available in an English translation by Albrecht and published in the DOML series ( Cécile Morrisson, in her “Auro, argento, aere perennius: text and image on Byzantine Coins”, discussed the Byzantine coin as a means to preserve memory and impress the environment, present and future. Seen from that angle, the coin is a story-preserving and story-creating device, keeping legends alive across time and space. In the final lecture, Isabel Kimmelfield took us out of the centre and into the surroundings of the city in her “Defining Constantinople’s suburbs through travel and geography”. Isabel’s presentation illustrated the importance of taking into consideration not only the central streets and monuments of Constantine’s city, but also the peripheral perspective.

The most important impression of the day was perhaps that our knowledge and understanding of Constantinople is still growing, not only thanks to archaeology but also by means of new approaches and fresh perspectives.

Cecile Morrisson at the coin cabinet

Cecile Morrisson at the coin cabinet


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