Constantinople: culture, religion and memory 2013

Constantinople: culture, religion and memory – Friday, March 8 2013 at Radboud University, Nijmegen

av Jesper Blid Kullberg

Four scholars associated with the Nordic Byzantine Network (Ingela Nilsson, Helena Bodin, David Westberg and Jesper Blid Kullberg), attended a workshop on Byzantine Constantinople in Nijmegen on the 8th of March. The Byzantine capitol was scrutinized on the basis of culture, religion, and memory, by means of archaeological evidence, literary accounts, and theoretical perspectives. The workshop was part of an ongoing collaboration between Nijmegen and Uppsala, starting with a conference on ancient, Byzantine and Ottoman fountains in Istanbul last summer (with a forthcoming publication under preparation, edited by Paul Stephenson and Ingela Nilsson).

“Reuse of Roman and Byzantine monuments” was a topic that was discussed by several speakers. Paul Stevenson (Nijmegen), who together with Ingela Nilsson (Uppsala) organized the event, spoke of the Skylla group that was once displayed in the Hippodrome. Jesper Blid Kullberg (Stockholm) spoke of conversions of Roman baths into churches, and Mariette Verhoeven (Nijmegen) described use and reuse of Byzantine monuments during the Crusader era and the Ottoman conquest. Isabel Kimmelfield (Nijmegen) described her doctoral work on the use of Byzantium and Byzantine artefacts in European and American collections from 19th-century to the present.

Memory was surveyed through various perspectives. David Westberg (Uppsala) revisited Symeon Metaphrastes and the memory of the saints, while Ksenia Lobovikova (Nijmegen), spoke of “The fall of Constantinople” in Greek literature. Literary aspects on Constantinopolitan culture were further analysed by Helena Bodin (Stockholm / Uppsala) and Ingela Nilsson, who respectively spoke on “The Theotokos as a metaphorical city in Byzantine hymnography”, and Byzantine literature of 12th-century Constantinople and the case of Theodore Prodromos.

Additional reflections on Byzantine culture of the western Mediterranean were presented by Mabi Angar (Cologne), who spoke of “Head reliquaries from Constantinople and their reception in the West after 1204”. Danielle Donaldson (Nijmegen) presented ‘Byzantine’ votive crowns in Late-Antique churches of the western Mediterranean.

The Swedish participants would like to thank Paul Stephenson and the Radboud University Nijmegen for hosting this inspiring event and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond for their generous financial support. We returned to Sweden with fresh perspectives and many new ideas for future collaboration.

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(Originally published on April 8, 2013)

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