Inscribing texts in Byzantium (Oxford, March 18-20)

Byzantine Spring Symposium 2016

Exeter College, Oxford

In spite of the striking abundance of extant primary material—over 4000 Greek texts produced in the period between the sixth and fifteenth centuries —Byzantine Epigraphy remains largely uncharted territory, with a reputation for being elusive and esoteric that obstinately persists. References to inscriptions in our texts show how ubiquitous and deeply engrained the epigraphic habit was in Byzantine society, and underscore the significance of epigraphy as an auxiliary discipline. The SPBS Symposium 2016 has invited specialists in the field to examine diverse epigraphic material in order to trace individual epigraphic habits, and outline overall inscriptional traditions. In addition to the customary format of panel papers and shorter communications, the Symposium will organize a round table, whose participants will lead a debate on the topics presented in the panel papers, and discuss the methodological questions of collection, presentation and interpretation of Byzantine inscriptional material.


Friday, March 18

10:00: Registration, Coffee

11:00: OPENING ADDRESS: Cyril Mango

11:30: PANEL ONE: Collecting and Reading Inscriptions in Byzantium

  • Marc Lauxtermann: Collecting Inscriptions in Byzantium
  • Foteini Spingou:  Reading Inscriptions in Byzantium

13:00: Lunch

14:00: PANEL TWO: Traditions and Transitions

  • Anne McCabe: Traditions and Transitions in Early Byzantine Constantinopolitan Material
  • Sylvain Destephen: The Process of ‘Byzantinization’ in Late Antique Anatolian Epigraphy
  • Sean Leatherbury: Reading, Viewing and Inscribing Faith: Christian Epigraphy in the Early Umayyad Levant

16:00: Tea

16:30: PANEL THREE: Seventh-century Epigraphy Three Ways

  • Ida Toth: Epigraphy and Byzantine Writing Culture
  • Ine Jacobs: Epigraphy and Archaeology
  • Marek Jankowiak: Epigraphy and History

Saturday, March 19

09:00: COMMUNICATIONS 1 (download abstracts for all communications here)

  • Fabian Stroth: Space Oddity: The Sts. Sergios and Bakchos Epigram Read Through its Manufacturing Process
  • Pamela Armstrong: Dipinto Inscriptions on Architectural Ceramics
  • Jim Crow: Lost and Found. Two inscriptions from Eastern Thrace from the District of Karacaköy
  • Paschalis Androudis: Byzantine Inscriptions on the Marble Cornices of the Church of Profitis Ilias in Thessaloniki

10:00: Coffee

10:30: PANEL FOUR: Place, Placement, Paratextuality

  • Andreas Rhoby: Inscriptions and the Byzantine Beholder: The Question of the Perception of Script
  • Niels Gaul: Epigraphic Majuscules and Marginalia: Paratextual ‘Inscriptions’ in Byzantine Manuscripts
  • Brad Hostetler: Towards a Typology for the Placement of Names on Works of Art

12:30: Lunch

13:30: PANEL FIVE: The (In)formality of the Inscribed Word

  • Maria Xenaki: The (In)formality of the Inscribed Word at the Parthenon: Script, Content and Legibility
  • Nicholas Melvani: State, Strategy, and Ideology in Monumental Imperial Inscription
  • Alexandra Vassiliou-Seibt: The Evaluation of the Inscribed Word on Seals

15:30: Tea

16:00: PANEL SIX: The Material Turn

  • Georgios Pallis: The House of Inscriptions. The Epigraphic World of the Middle Byzantine Church and its Significance
  • Ivan Drpic: Short Texts on Small Objects: The Poetics of the Byzantine Enkolpion

17:30-18:30: Reception

18:30-19:30: SPBS Exec meeting

20:00: Dinner

Sunday, March 20


  • Sukanya Raisharma: Reading Early Texts and Codices as Epigraphical Evidence
  • Arkadii Avdokhin: Inscriptions Imagined and Narrated – Textual Evidence for the Perspective of the Viewer on Early Byzantine Epigraphy
  • Antonio Felle: Some Examples of Funerary Non-exposed Writings (Italy and Byzantium between VI and IX centuries)
  • Eileen Rubery: Making and Meaning in the Inscriptions Found in the Frescoes in the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua in the Roman Forum (600-800 AD)
  • Maria Lidova: Word of Image: Textual Frames of Early Byzantine Icons
  • Emmanuel Moutafov: Epigraphy and Art: Corpora of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Monumental Painting in Bulgaria. Is Epigraphy an Auxiliary Discipline?


  • Georgios Deligiannakis: Epigraphy and Early Monasticism
  • Pawel Nowakowski: The Cult of Saints Database as an Instrument of Study for the Cult of Saints in Anatolia
  • Efthymios Rizos: The Emperor and the Great Shrines of the Empire: The Testimony of Inscribed Imperial Pronouncements
  • Mirela Ivanova: Krum’s Triumphal Inscriptions and the Community in Early Medieval Bulgaria (c. 803-14)
  • Archie Dunn: Institutions, Socio-economic Groups, and Urban Change in the Sigillographic Inscriptions of Byzantine Corinth
  • Christos Stavrakos: Epigraphy as a Source for Rare Iconography and the Society of Lakedaimon in the Late Byzantine period

10:30: Coffee and SPBS Annual General Meeting

11:30: ROUND TABLE: SPBS Debate on Byzantine Epigraphy (Chair: Elizabeth Jeffreys)

  • Dennis Feissel
  • Charlotte Roueche
  • Marlia Mango
  • Scott Redford
  • Sophia Kalopissi-Verti
  • Tony Eastmond
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