You Can’t Write that Here! Mapping Religious and Secular Graffiti in Aphrodisias c. 300-700 CE
Presented by Rachel Helen Banes (University of Birmingham)

The Whitting Room, Arts Building (R436), University of Birmingham
17:15, February 13th 2019


GEM- Data lost forever” or “surprises in store”? Gleaning the records of past excavations at the Episcopal Basilica of Dion’.

Data lost forever” or “surprises in store”? Gleaning the records of past excavations at the Episcopal Basilica of Dion’.

Presented by Kyriakos Fragkoulis

The Whitting Room (Arts 436), University of Birmingham

5:15 PM 23rd May 2018

More than one and a half century of archaeological survey work carried out in Greece has led to the identification of hundreds of early Christian churches, with the overwhelming majority being three-aisled basilicas, a sizeable proportion of which has been completely or partially excavated. But despite this impressive body of evidence, the number of relevant publications surely does not reflect the scale of fieldwork undertaken over all these years. Whilst Christian Archaeology or rather the archaeology of churches was for decades the focal point of the research on Late Antiquity in Greece, it has long been limited to an increasingly isolated positionMainly due to the anachronistic art-historical methodology that was applied in most cases to investigate them, the early Christian basilicas of Greece and in particular those excavated long ago (i.e. the majority of the known examples) are largely being ignored by modern scholarship or regarded as obsolete. However, we clearly cannot dismiss churches as archaeological evidence purely on the basis of the way in which they have been examined in the past. 
Through a number of examples taken from the excavation of the Episcopal Basilica of Dion in Northern Greece, the key one being that of a triconch building annexed to the church, we will attempt to illustrate the notion that our most substantial data sets for Late Antique Greece, the early Christian basilicas, still have much to offer to the archaeological research of the period. Our focus will be on a new interpretation of the function of the triconch, which gives a new turn to the issue of the overall shape and organization of the episcopal complex of Dion and will hopefully make a contribution to the study of the episcopal residences in Greece.

The “Greek” popes: the last hope for a Byzantine Rome

The “Greek” popes: the last hope for a Byzantine Rome

Presented by Giandomenico Ferrazza (Università degli studi Roma Tre)

The Whitting Room (Arts 436), University of Birmingham

5:15 PM 16th May 2018

Between the late 7th and the early 8th Centuries eleven bishops of Rome were “Greeks”, Greek-speakers born in Sicily or in the eastern regions of the Mediterranean world. Many historians labelled those years as the «Byzantine captivity» of the papacy, assuming that “Greek” popes necessarily were imposed by a Byzantine Emperor. On the contrary, others argued that «Greek popes did not matter» (Thomas Noble), because the city of Rome was politically already Byzantine and culturally Greek, point of arrival of a considerable migration of Easterners who simply rose through the ranks of the Roman ecclesiastical hierarchy, gradually and without conflict.
In opposition to these oversimplifying interpretations, I will present an overview of the first 30 years of this period (678-715), trying to show that the “Greek” popes were neither puppets of the Byzantine Emperor nor mere representatives of the Roman clergy, but members of a specific powerful group who successfully managed to maintain the power in the city of Rome for many years. In addition, I will try to show how their “Greekness” did matter, and how it shaped the cultural, political and ideological history of the papacy.

GEM: Performing Michael Attaleiates’ History: A Dramatic Reading of an Eleventh-Century Byzantine Historical Account’

Performing Michael Attaleiates’ History: A Dramatic Reading of an Eleventh-Century Byzantine Historical Account’

Presented by Francisco Lopez-Santos Kornberger

The Whitting Room (Arts 436), University of Birmingham

5:15 PM 9th May 2018

The History of Michael Attaleiates is one of the main eleventh-century Byzantine historical accounts. The narrative analyses events from the period 1034-1080 CE, including a first-hand account of Manzikert, the loss of Anatolia, and the years immediately preceding Alexios Komnenos’ ascension to the throne. It is very likely that the History was partially intended to be read aloud at court, functioning as a digression on the empire’s recent past.
In opposition to recent scholarly work, I approach Attaleiates’ account as a combination of separate moralising stories that lead to the climatic confrontation between the heroic Nikephoros Botaneiates and the tyrant Michael VII Doukas. The History conveys a message of hope in difficult times, also arguing for the protection of the Roman values and institutions.
For this week’s GEM, I will present a synthesis of the History and perform it, underlining the elements that, to my view, were more significant for the narrator’s construction of the historical past.

GEM- The Byzantine Parthenon

The Byzantine Parthenon

Presented by Penny Mantouvalou

The Whitting Room (Arts 436), University of Birmingham

5:30 PM 2nd May 2018

 A marble temple now standing in ruins, situated on top of the Athenian Akropolis, is regarded as the symbol of Greek culture. Visitors from all over the world gather here every year to see what remains of a classical, Ancient Greek monument and learn more about its history.

Today the Parthenon is known as the classical icon, a work of art, which combines excellent architecture in design, scale and originality, as well as a rich sculptural multilayered figurative decoration, which includes a large group of mythological scenes. It has been an inspiration not only to other contemporary temples but also to modern buildings in the West. Nevertheless, the Parthenon adopted other functions and names in the course of history, serving as a Byzantine church and later after 1204 as a Latin one. During the Ottoman period, it was used as a mosque.

 Athens was part of a Byzantine province, which was Christianized following the example of the rest of the empire. As it would be expected the Parthenon’s nature and function changed as well and adapted. The building embraced in time Byzantine culture and Christianity. However, what makes this case unique is the great pagan tradition this temple had, and how this was mixed with the new features.