Boğaziçi Byzantine Studies Research Center
The Byzantine Studies Research Center, established in 2015 at Boğaziçi University, is the first Turkish institution attached to a state university that is dedicated to academic research on Byzantine civilization. The Center was founded with the mission of consolidating the place of Istanbul among the world’s leading centers of Byzantine scholarship by fostering education in all fields related to the study of the Byzantine Empire, by supporting the research projects of Byzantinists, and by creating a suitable environment for collective projects involving Turkish and international experts.
The Importance of Byzantine Culture
Byzantine civilization united ancient Greek and Roman cultures with Christianity, while acting as a host and witness to the birth of European and Islamic civilizations. As an entity incorporating various religious and ethnic groups, and continuously enhancing its traditions with innovative solutions, Byzantium presented political, religious, and cultural models for other medieval cultures, and it continues to be a paragon for contemporary multicultural societies faced with the conflict between tradition and modernity. Moreover, considering that medieval Anatolian and Ottoman cultures flourished in former Byzantine territories and merged their indigenous traditions with the Byzantine heritage, both physically and intellectually, Byzantine studies are of crucial importance for a fuller understanding of the medieval Anatolian and Ottoman worlds.
The Significance of Founding the Byzantine Studies Research Center in Istanbul and at Boğaziçi University
It is not only natural that Istanbul is the ideal city to host such a research center because of its unique position as the former seat of the Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman capitals, but it is also necessary to have such a center in Istanbul for the development of Byzantine studies in modern day Turkey, which is a geographical, historical, and cultural inheritor of Byzantium. Istanbul is home to some of the most precious jewels of Byzantine culture and has the potential to attract many researchers. By increasing academic interest and public awareness, the Center will contribute to the conservation of the Byzantine heritage in Istanbul and will help sustain and foster further such positive developments.
Boğaziçi University has traditionally been a leading institution in advancing Byzantine studies in Turkey with its distinct Byzantinist faculty and students specialized in the field. Boğaziçi University’s engagement with Byzantine studies stretches back to the days when Alexander van Millingen, the renowned specialist of Byzantine Constantinople, taught history in Robert College between 1879 and 1915. The University organized in 1999 the first big-scale international Byzantine studies conference in Turkey since the 10th International Congress of Byzantine Studies held in Istanbul in 1955. With the foundation of the Byzantine Studies Research Center in 2015, it continues its leadership in this field.
Currently, the Boğaziçi University History Department welcomes students wishing to specialize in the field of Byzantine studies with two Byzantine historians, one Byzantine art historian, and other faculty members teaching classical Greek, medieval Greek, and Latin. The Department provides students the opportunity to examine Byzantine history and culture with a multilayered and interdisciplinary perspective through the presence of specialists in such related fields as medieval Islam, Seljuk Anatolia, the early Ottoman Empire, and Istanbul in the post-Byzantine era.