Project 2011–2014

During the four-year period (January 2011–December 2014), the associates of the Institute for Byzantine Studies, together with colleagues from abroad, will be carrying out their research within the project Tradition, innovation and identity in the Byzantine world (project leader Lj. Maksimović).

The project Tradition, innovation and identity in the Byzantine world is of a multi-disciplinary character, with a theoretical and empirical basis, the latter being related to field research concerning both historical monuments and geographical locations. It is focused on four inter-connected historical phenomena, which are of significance both for Byzantium and for the world of the Balkan region under its influence – Serbia and, in some aspects, Bulgaria.

1) State and society – In this project, research is focused on the development of the state and church institutions in Byzantium, Serbia and Bulgaria in the Byzantine period and during the first centuries of the Ottoman empire.

2) Every-day life. – The aforesaid research work provides opportunities for considering the position of the individual and the local community, as well as the examination of different concepts of time and space in medieval society, not only in Byzantium, but also in the Slavic states in the Balkans.

3) Sources of special importance. – The publication and translation of written sources (texts and inscriptions): the writings of Archbishop Demetrios Chomatenos, documents from Mount Athos, donors’ inscriptions from the 12th-15th century.

4) Ideological, religious, philosophical and historical aspects of the said phenomena – which concerns the examination of the cognitive, spiritual and, in a broader sense, cultural superstructure which contributed to the spreading of Byzantine phenomena in the Slavic world.  

The important aspect of the project is dedicated to the Archbishopric of Ohrid  in the Byzantine and post-Byzantine period (1018 – 1767). Church, political, social and cultural relations within the territory of the Archbishopric of Ohrid, with a special focus on the relations between the lay and spiritual concepts of society, are to be covered through interdisciplinary research by the associates. In close connection with the aforementioned problems is the examination of the role Mount Athos played as an intermediary in cultural and social relations, as well as in the church organization between the Greeks and the Slavs in Byzantine and post-Byzantine (Ottoman) world.

Project archive

а) Wall Painting and Inscriptions of the XIVth and XVth Centuries

Project leader: Gojko Subotić

Milica Grković 
Ida Tot                  
Irena Špadijer    
Bojan Miljković

The topic of research were wall paintings of the Byzantine style, depicting sacral and lay themes, in the territory of medieval Serbia during the last centuries of its existence. The paintings are accompanied by inscriptions, of which the texts with a historical content are especially important, primarily donors' inscriptions that provide information about the founders, the time of the construction of the buildings and the creation of their decorations, the representatives of secular and spiritual authority, and sometimes even about the master craftsmen (builders and painters), the social situation, holdings, etc. Many issues regarding the character and history of monuments can only be explained by a parallel consideration of, on the one side, the visual presentations (with especially interesting portraits of endowers, rulers, noblemen, church dignitaries and donors from various layers of society) and of reliable sources, which contain epigraphic material that directly attests them. Within the project it was continued wtih publishing of inscriptions with historical content, the first volume of which (with material from the XIIth and the XIIIth century) was brought to completion in the previous project period.

b) The Byzantine World Undergoing Changes (Xth-XIIth Centuries)

Project leader: Ljubomir Maksimović
(†) Ninoslava Radošević
Bojana Krsmanović
Dejan Dželebdžić
Vlada Stanković

The topic of the project was the time (Xth-XIIth centuries) of major changes in the appearance and functioning of the Byzantine "model." Research  took place in several directions:

(a) The development of state administration in the XIth and in the XIIth century, especially in the context of the personnel structure. The focus was on the processes of growing complexity in its structure, militarisation and privatisation of institutions, marked by the discrepancy in the system's theoretical organisation and palliative solutions, and the final transfer of the mechanism of authority into the hands of the aristocracy. All the research was based on Byzantine historiographic works, officials' seals and the correspondence of dignitaries.

(b) The ideological aspect of the observed phenomena was also taken into consideration, especially the issue of relations between the public and private spheres in the functioning of the state and the specific parts of the state mechanism. This bears special importance in relations between Byzantium, on the one, and Serbia and Bulgaria on the other side.

(c) The mentioned circumstances are reflected in the cultural physiognomy of the epoch. Research in this direction was possible by examining the said literary and historical types of sources, primarily the historiographic works of the XIth and the epistolographic works of the XIth and the XIIth century. The results of the project consisted of studies about: (a) changes in the state administration and in relations between political theory and practice, (b) the nature of relations between Serbia and the Byzantium, and (c) the character of sources for researching these issues.

c) The Final Century of Byzantium and Serbia

Project leader: Radivoj Radić

(†) Ninoslava Radošević
Mirjana Živojinović              
(†) Sima Ćirković              
Srdjan Pirivatrić         
Aleksandar Popović              
Maja Nikolić              

The topic of the project was the final century of the existence of both Byzantium and Serbia before their fall to the Ottoman Empire. The project envisaged research into the multilateral and diversified ties between the two states. This project, which was closely connected with the international project of the institutes of Byzantine Studies in Belgrade and Athens, was conducted in three directions:

a) The primary target of research were the writings of Byzantine authors about Serbia in that time. These were mainly authors who wrote after the fall of Byzantium. This matter is especially interesting since it was at that time that Byzantine writers abandoned their age old attitude of scorn for the southern Slavic nations and, faced with a common Turkish enemy, began to perceive them in a different way.

b) Some papers were dedicated to certain aspects of life in Byzantium and in Serbia. On the other hand, it was considered how the Serbian authors of the XVth century viewed the Byzantine Empire.

c) Separate research was devoted to the study and publishing of the Acts of the Hilandar Monastery - namely documents dating back to the second half of the XIVth and to the XVth century.

The main purpose of the project was the publication of volume VII of Byzantine Sources for the History of the Yugoslav Nations, which is one of the most important tasks of the Institute of Byzantine Studies in the years to come.