Home » News

Category Archives: News

Georgia Xanthaki-Karamanou, Dionysiac Dialogues: Euripides’ Bacchae, Aeschylus, and Christus Patiens (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2022) by Dimitra Moniou

Georgia Xanthaki-Karamanou’s book, Dionysiac Dialogues: Euripides’ Bacchae, Aeschylus, and Christus Patiens, is a masterful and insightful exploration of the complex and multifaceted world of Dionysus in ancient Greek tragedy. In this meticulously researched work, Xanthaki-Karamanou examines the interplay and the intricate connections between seemingly disparate works: Euripides’ Bacchae, Aeschylus’ fragmentary Dionysiac plays, and the Christian text Christus Patiens. Her analysis unveils the pivotal role of Dionysus and the rich tapestry of religious and cultural dimensions associated with this enigmatic deity in ancient Greek poetry. Besides that, this book delves deep into the rich tapestry of ancient Greek drama and its influence on later religious and philosophical thought.

Xanthaki-Karamanou’s book is divided into two well-structured parts: the reception of Aeschylus’ Dionysiac plays in Bacchae and the refiguration of the latter in the Byzantine drama Christus Patiens. In both sections the common denominator is Euripides’ Bacchae, which is approached as a receiving text in the first unit and as a source text in the second.  After the introduction, where the author presents the aims of her study according to a systematic approach to historical, philological and mythographical data, Xanthaki-Karamanou in the first part refers to the Dionysiac Plays of Aeschylus (the Lycurgeia and the so-called Theban Tetralogy) and Euripides’ Bacchae. In the second part the author refers to two different texts: Bacchae and Christus Patiens, so as to highlight the transplantation of Bacchae into Byzantium, given that Bacchae provides a valuable exemplum for aspects of dramatic technique, plot-patterns, that also exist in a similar way in Christus Patiens. The meticulous research and analysis presented in the book are complemented by four Appendices, a rich and useful Bibliography, and finally the Indices.

Overall, this book offers an illuminating journey through the history and culture of Dionysus, revealing how this god is presented in distinct works and how the pagan play was transformed to bring forward new pillars of thought and innovative values in different cultural and ideological contexts. Xanthaki-Karamanou unravels the intricate web of influences that Dionysus exerts on the characters’ actions and reactions, providing readers with a profound understanding of the god’s role in shaping their destinies. Her analysis goes beyond surface-level comparisons, delving deep into the nuances of each work to reveal their unique perspectives on human nature, religion, and spirituality. She also employs a comprehensive methodological approach, drawing from linguistics, literary criticism, religious studies, and social history, shedding new light on the multifaceted nature of Dionysus as portrayed in these ancient works. It is apparent that Xanthaki-Karamanou’s careful and thorough examination of these texts demonstrates her commitment to rigorous scholarship.

Additionally, Xanthaki-Karamanou meticulously examines the symbolic importance of madness and ecstasy in the context of ancient Greek society, offering fresh interpretations of these themes within the texts. Her scholarship highlights the spiritual dimension of the religious content embedded in these works, making a compelling case for their enduring relevance. It is also noteworthy that through Xanthaki-Karamanou’s expert lens, these themes are not just historical artifacts but mirrors reflecting universal human experiences and enduring questions about faith and the human condition. By providing rich historical and cultural context, she ensures that readers can fully appreciate the significance of these dialogues, even if they are new to the world of ancient literature.

In conclusion, Georgia Xanthaki-Karamanou’s Dionysiac Dialogues: Euripides’ Bacchae, Aeschylus, and Christus Patiens is a magnum opus that elevates our understanding of ancient Greek literature to new heights. Her commendable scholarship, comprehensive methodology, captivating prose, and ability to synthesize diverse perspectives is a testament and breathe life into these ancient dialogues which make this book an essential read for scholars, students of religion, and anyone not only with a passion for thought-provoking literature but also with interest for ancient Greek tragedy, mythology, and religion. This extended review merely scratches the surface of the book’s depth and richness, leaving readers eager to embark on their own transformative journey through the Dionysiac dialogues. It is obvious that this book not only deepens our understanding of these ancient texts but also invites us to engage in timeless questions about the human spirit and the divine. In an era where interdisciplinary research is increasingly valued, Xanthaki-Karamanou’s research stands as a shining example of how a multifaceted approach can illuminate the rich tapestry of ancient literature and culture, making the book a valuable contribution to multiple fields of study.

Dimitra Moniou, Assistant Professor of Byzantine Literature, University of Peloponnese, Kalamata, Greece

Call for Papers Hiperboreea: Vol. 11, No. 1 (June, 2024)

Call for Papers
Vol. 11, No. 1 (June, 2024)

Important Dates:

Publication date: June, 2024
Last date for submission: August 28, 2023

This call is only for articles!

Book reviews are now collected for Vol. 11, No. 2 (December, 2024)

Hiperboreea is the official biannual journal of the Balkan History Association. It publishes articles in the field of History, written in English and occasionally French, and book reviews, or evaluations of scholarly conferences. Our focus is the study of Southeastern Europe, broadly defined as the states situated in the Balkan region. Without limiting its scope to a specific historical period or approach, the journal covers a wide range of topics, such as Cultural History, Political History, Military History, Social History, Economic History, and Archaeology, and encourages work on any historical period and with a multidisciplinary approach.

Hiperboreea is published by the Pennsylvania State University Press. All manuscripts should be prepared according to the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition and submitted through the platform Editorial Manager (Submission Guidelines). The editors will inform authors of the decision on their manuscripts within a few weeks from submission. All articles submitted to our journal are reviewed following a double blind peer-review, which means that the reviewer’s and author’s identities are concealed from each other throughout the review process. Our editorial policy requires at least two reviewers per issue, although it is customary that many more reviewers cooperate on individual articles. Members of the Balkan History Association will receive printed and electronic copies by virtue of their membership. For non-member subscription prices, please check this link. All electronic issues are available on Scholarly Publishing Collective managed by Duke University Press.

Hiperboreea is one of the few Romanian journals that have built a solid presence in the online environment, being indexed in the following international databases and libraries: Web of Science ESCIScopus, EBSCO, CEEOL, Persée, ERIH PLUSProQuest, Index Copernicus, WorldCatJ-Gate, Regesta Imperii, Columbia International Affairs Online, International Medieval BibliographyInternational Bibliography of Humanism and the Renaissance, Bibliographical Information Base in Patristics, Modern Language Association International Bibliography, etc.

For further details, please email mihaidragnea2018@gmail.com

Sharing this call for papers would be welcomed and highly appreciated.

Looking forward to receive your submission!

Mihai Dragnea, Editor
President of the Balkan History Association

Alexios G. C. Savvides, Byzantino-Russica: Six-and-a-half centuries of Byzantine-Russian relations (Thessaloniki: K. & M. Ant. Stamoulis Publications, 2018) by Iakovos Menelaou

Alexios Savvides’ Byzantino-Russica: Six-and-a-half centuries of Byzantine-Russian relations covers precisely what the title suggests, and is divided into two segments.

The first part comprises the following sections: the introduction; the Christianisation of the Russians and its importance; The Primary Chronicle or Russian Primary letopis as a source; a chronology of Byzantine-Russian relations; invasions and trade relations before, during and after the Russian Christianisation; the ideology of the “Third Rome” and the Byzantine heritage in Russia; research perspectives on the theory of the “Third Rome”; studies of international bibliography on Byzantine-Russian relations; the study of Russian culture and civilisation in Greece today; Greek translations of works of Russian Byzantinology and their importance. The first part also includes an appendix with the names “Rus,” “Russians,” and “Russia” and a concise chronology covering the years 838/839-1589.        

The second part includes: the introduction; a detailed analysis of research and bibliography on Byzantine-Russian relations and Medieval Russian history; a chronology; and an appendix with the representation of Byzantine-Russian relations in secondary education.

On pages 25-28, the author explains the importance of the Russian Christianisation for World History. Based on current research, the Christianisation of the Russians took place between 987 and 989. The marriage of Grand Prince Vladimir the Great with Anna Porphyrogenita, and Vladimir’s and his people’s Christening are two critical events. However, according to the author, current evidence does not clarify the chronological distance between these occurences. Another important event which needs to be taken into consideration, as the author explains, is the arrival of the Varangians who helped the Emperor Basil II Bulgaroktonos to face the uprisings. Again, current research does not shed light on which event preceded the other. As regards the disagreement on the actual year of the Christianisation, the author explains that scholars of Slavology point to the year 988 or 987, while Byzantinists refer to 988/989 or 989.

On pages 29-31, the author provides some background information on how Vladimir helped the Byzantine Emperor Basil to defeat the revolts, and how the former applied pressure to Basil to keep the agreement.  

On pages 31-32, there is important information about Vladimir’s actions after his Christianisation to impose the new religion on his people. Vladimir accepted the administrative power of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople over the newly established Russian Church. The author cites Dimitri Obolensky and Zinaida Vladimirovna Udaltsova, who also explain that Russia built its culture and new identity on the Byzantine tradition. On page 33, the author cites Enno Franzius, who claims that Byzantine civilisation contributed to the creation of the Russian nation.

The use of the Russian language in Orthodox life is another landmark. On pages 33-34, Savvides refers to Levčenko: the connection of Orthodoxy with the Slavic language meant that the Byzantine Church established the foundations of a Russian spirituality. In an era when the Roman Catholic Church persisted in the use of Latin, the Byzantines allowed the Russians to introduce Christian teaching through the Slavic language. The Byzantine Empire implemented an effective system of foreign policy and church policy, promoting Orthodoxy. 

On pages 37-44, the author explains the importance of The Primary Chronicle, as primary material for the Christianisation of the Russians. Russians’ turn to Christianity changed the whole of Russian History, in a similar fashion to the case of Boris I of Bulgaria and his people.

On pages 45-56, Savvides analyses the chronological framework. He explains that Byzantine-Russian relations precede the Christianisation of the Russians by several years. One can detect the first encounters between the two nations, during the years of the Emperor Theophilos and in particular in 838/839-840-842. During these years one can see the first appearance of Russians in Asia Minor and the Black Sea. Also, in the summer of 860 Rus’ fighters appeared for the first time in Constantinople. Soon after, the Byzantines would start their missionary work with Saints Cyril and Methodius. The author refers to the administrative divisions of thémata as an important measure for the protection of the empire’s borders, and the contribution of the Khazars during the great Russian attack of 860. The author aptly asserts that a comprehensive table of Byzantine-Russian relations should include earlier stages of Christianisation, prior to the official event. However, this is a topic which needs further examination and research. The author also discusses the role of the Patriarch Photios and his missionary work.

The ideology of the “Third Rome” is discussed on pages 79-88, with references to the views of other prominent scholars. As the author aptly notes, this ideology of a “Third Rome” developed after the siege and fall of Constantinople in 1453. Two important primary sources are Nestor Iskander’s Tale on the Taking of Tsargrad and the Russian Narrative on the Siege of Constantinople. The author juxtaposes effectively different views on how far Moscow was a continuation of the Byzantine Empire, giving the reader the opportunity to read them with a critical eye.

On pages 89-94, Savvides deals with the limitations of the theory of a “Third Rome”, and again, juxtaposes views by different scholars on the adoption or rejection of this theory. Especially important is, perhaps, Meyendorff’s view that even after the fall of Constantinople, the Grand Prince of Moscow did not claim to be the successor of the Byzantine Emperor.

On pages 103-106, the author refers to the contribution of university departments and other centres in Greece which focus on Russian studies, Balkanology and Slavology. These are: the Department of the Russian Language, Philology and Slavology at the Philosophical School of the University of Athens; the Hellenic Association for Slavic Studies (Thessalonica); the Department of Language, Philology and Culture of the Black Sea Countries at Democritus University; the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies at the University of Macedonia; the Greek Committee for South-East European Studies; and the Institute for Balkan Studies, supported by the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs.         

On pages 269-275, the author gives information about the different textbooks used in History for Secondary Education. The analysis is rather critical of the Greek education system, as according to the author most of these textbooks do not provide sufficient material for study on themes relevant to Byzantine-Russian relations.                                                      

Overall, Alexios Savvides’ book is a comprehensive study which meets its goals. This is a book for academics and specialists in Byzantine and Medieval Studies and for undergraduate and postgraduate students of Medieval History. It is also a very important source for researchers in general and for those who have a personal interest in history.

Iakovos Menelaou, PhD, Balkan History Association

Simon MacLean, ed. and trans., History and Politics in Late Carolingian and Ottonian Europe. The Chronicle of Regino of Prüm and Adalbert of Magdeburg (Manchester: MUP, 2009) by David Kalhous

The Chronicle of Regino of Prüm is one of the key sources for the history of the late Carolingian empire (c. 900). Written from the perspective of Lotharingia and one of the most important Carolingian family monasteries, it provides us with unique insight into the history of the decline of the Carolingians and their realm. The chronicle maintained its popularity throughout the tenth century, when it was continued by Adalbert, later first archbishop of Magdeburg. Relatively rich manuscript transmission of the text confirms its popularity as well. Among other texts, it was also used by Cosmas of Prague at the beginning of the twelfth century as a model for his chronicle, or became a basis of continuation, which is also part of the translation. The importance of the text supported the need for its English translation, which has now been provided by Simon MacLean, renowned scholar in Carolingian studies, and author of a monograph about Charles III. The volume appears in a well-known and useful Manchester series of translations predominantly focused on medieval narrative sources.

The translation includes an extensive introduction of Regino´s life and work, which also places his story and texts into the context of the late Carolingian culture and politics. Regino is introduced not just as a historian, but also active participant in the politics of Lotharingia, being abbot of the important and rich Carolingian monastery Prüm from influential local aristocratic family with links to the Carolingian dynasty. His position, personal and institutional, impacted his fall – as he was indirectly involved in politics, he became a victim of power struggles among the aristocratic kindreds after the death of king Zventibold of Lotharingia and was pushed from his office and replaced by Richar. He later found refuge with archbishop Ratbod of Trier, who installed Regino as an abbot in the monastery of St.-Martin in Trier. Regino wasn’t an author of just one book – during his Prüm abbacy, he organized surveys of extensive monastic estates that still provide us with much valuable information about estate management during the Carolingian era. He also penned a treatise on music, De harmonica institutione, and compiled for his patron, archbishop Ratbod an introduction to the contemporary canon law De synodalibus causis. All of his texts, including the chronicle, were, according to MacLean, intended to improve Regino´s position in contemporary power networks and the chronicle was written as a guide for young Louis IV, the heir to the throne, as well as for his advisors. Through a series of short cautionary and exemplary narratives, mostly related to princes, the chronicle provided Louis IV with examples of good and bad behavior. The chronicle reveals a well-identifiable set of characteristics of an ideal ruler in Regino´s perspective. It also presents Magyars, perceived as an immediate threat in his time, as beatable enemies, and thus provides the intended audience with an optimistic perspective.

MacLean discusses the date of compilation of the chronicle. According to him, it was finished in 908. As it names king Zventibold dead, it must have been written after 900. MacLean is convinced that its compilation is related to the compilation of De synodalibus causis (906). In several manuscripts, it is possible to track authorial changes primarily related to Regino´s deposition.

Although the chronicle is usually labeled as a “world chronicle,” MacLean stresses its specifics within the genre that were not among the most popular in the Carolingian era – there are only four world chronicles written in that time following completely different goals. It is also just one of the two in its genre before 950, which begins with the birth of Jesus Christ instead of with the Creation of the world. Therefore, it is not framed either by the six ages of St. Augustine, or Isidore of Sevilla, nor by four empires. Its scope exceeds local horizons – there is no specific focus on Trier or Prüm in the chronicle, but their heroes are Franks and Carolingians and the rise and fall of their kingdom is placed in a wider context. Instead of world chronicles, Regino found inspiration in the Annales regni Francorum, and some of his main sources were Bede, Paul the Deacon, Pompeius Trogus, and Justin. Another rich source of information was the monastic memory.

Lastly, MacLean also provides the reader with an interesting insight into Regino´s methodology and sources. Regino weighted the witnesses, but he allegedly differentiated between the information gained through his own experience and mediated information. Whether it was mediated orally, or through a written record was in his eyes of no importance. Some of the stories he took over were evidently recorded in the monastery, and some of them were transmitted through the extensive networks related to the vast monastic estates with several enclaves in relatively distant regions, such as Brittany. An important source here was most probably the survey of monastic estates finalized during Regino´s abbacy.

His continuator, archbishop Adalbert of Magdeburg, also belonged to the top echelon of the contemporary elites. He started his career in St.-Maximin, Trier, acted as a missionary bishop in Rus´ and as an abbot of prestigious monastery in Wissenbourg before being installed in the newly established Magdeburg metropolitan seat. He decided to continue Regino´s chronicle after three generations, during his Wissembourg abbacy (966-8). The notes inserted into Regino´s text and related to Trier especially establish Adalbert’s authorship. Though, his focus is – like in Liutprand´s Antapodosis, or in Widukind´s Gesta –  on the Ottonian dynasty – and his continuation is the story of translatio imperii ad Saxones.

The translation is based on the standard edition published by F. Kurze in MGH (1890), although Maclean is aware of its flaws. He agrees with W.R. Schleidgen, who thoroughly analyzed Regino´s chronicle´s manuscript transmission, and found that the inaccurate reconstruction of the stemma did not affect the qualities of the editions except the record to AD 892 and the list of martyrs in Book I. Maclean finds inspiring Schleidgen´s conclusion that the spread of the manuscripts should be read based on a geographical key and that the chronicle was transmitted through the networks of the monastery Gorze and its famous reform movement.

For the translation of the chronicle, Maclean decided to prefer proximity to the original over fluidity. Nevertheless, his translation is readable. Taking in consideration a well-arranged foot-notes apparatus, History and Politics in Late Carolingian and Ottonian Europe provides the reader with a detailed, but user-friendly introduction to Regino´s life and work, and the translation is of very good quality and can be used as a starting point for anyone interested in late Carolingian historiography and politics.

David Kalhous, PhD, Associate professor, Department of Auxiliary Historical Sciences and Archive Studies, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic

Alexios G. C. Savvides, Bosphorus/Bosporos (Boghaz-içi) from Byzantine to Latin and Ottoman Times (4th-15th centuries). Constantinople Viewed from the North-East Water Currents… (Athens: Herodotus, 2020) by Susan Sorek

This work explores in depth the story of the Bosphorus straits area, its history, geography, and topography, in remarkable detail. The area which encompasses the Black Sea with the Sea of Mamarra, was an area that commanded the crossing of two great trades routes in history. It marked the divide between Europe and Asia and is the narrowest navigable channel in the world. It was of strategic as well as economic importance from antique times until the present, and of necessity became a focal point for aggression and conquest from many disparate nations in its long history. The decisive factor was the geographical and strategic position of Constantinople lying in the northern apex of the triangle which included the rich coastline of the eastern Mediterranean.

The first 41 pages deal with relevant quotations, bibliographical and cartographical notes, abbreviations used, and the forward. Here Savvides sets out his agenda which is to concentrate on the history, geography, and topographical context of the Bosphorus.

The work commences with an outline of the Byzantine period, tracing the political and economic role of the area in the Roman and Byzantine world, where Constantinople became a focal point at the heart of the straits. Byzantium, the imperial city may be compared to that of an irregular triangle which occupied the strategic point along the straits, thereby making it a focus for many raids and invasions.

However, although the straits economic importance throughout the Middle Ages has been significantly stressed the Bosphorean role in the transport of food supplies from the north had diminished even before Byzantine Constantinople was selected as the Roman Empire’s new centre of gravity. It was the commencement of eleven and half centuries of Byzantine rule, which was plagued by various incursions including the first raids by the Visigoths in the 3rd/4th centuries and the Muslim invasion of the 7th century. This would be followed by a series of other incursions including the threat from Russia. Eleven and a half centuries of Byzantine rule saw a multitude of incursions, from 10th century onwards Venice, the newly emerging economic centre received concessions in Byzantium and from 12th/13th centuries the Genoese received commercial concessions also. The straits were busy with a variety of different trading countries and so, naturally encouraged more raiding. Maritime trade had opened up considerably because of favourable treaties. However, the area also played a highly symbolic and ideological role as the epicentre of eastern Christianity in the late Roman and Byzantine period.

This was a turbulent period, with power changing hands a multitude of times. Savvides takes us through the period step by step in a concise, yet clear manner and it becomes obvious of the importance of the Straits in the making of the historical context of the period.

Finally in 1253 Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, the Latin Empire of Baldwin II had exiled Constantinople on the other side of the Bosphorus, after the Crusader invasions of the 11th/12th centuries. Chapter 3 deals with the Ottoman conquest. As the scholar K.M Setton said that this was an inevitability, which brought about the end of an era. In 1452 Ottoman fortresses were built on either side of the straits along the narrowest part of the channel, a channel that had first been ‘conquered’ by the Persian ruler Darius by use of a bridge of boats, almost two thousand years earlier. The Ottomans used the strategic importance of the Bosphorus to expand their regional ambitions and to wrest control of the entire Black Sea area, which they regarded as an Ottoman Lake, as they took control of the two straits. The local inhabitants were extremely alarmed and regarded this invasion which they associated with the advent of the coming of the anti-Christ, and many tried to leave, it was a time of huge disruption. The final chapter 4 is the epilogue which reviews the importance of the straits during the Ottoman empire.

The final part of the work contains the summary, with maps and index. The maps give an added benefit to understanding the changes that occurred throughout the period and in total the work comprises 217 pages.

This is an outstanding book, which clearly shows the importance of the Bosphorus straits throughout history, and a chronicle of it as an economic metropolis which laid the firm foundation of Constantinople. Savvides sets out his agenda clearly at the start and follows it through in a detailed, yet highly readable manner. He manages to explain with clarity some of the more complicated periods of history, for example the period of Heraclius I and II in the 7th century. Always at the heart of the discussion is the role of the Bosphorus in dictating historical events.

 The work fills an especially important niche in the research of this significant area throughout history which still resonates in modern times.

Susan Sorek, PhD, Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford

Luca Zavagno, The Byzantine City from Heraclius to the Fourth Crusade, 610–1204. Urban Life after Antiquity (Cham: Palgrave, 2021) by Alexandru Madgearu

Over the last two decades, the old conception of the Classical civilization’s decline in the Mediterranean area has become more and more replaced with a different vision that could be summarized as “The Transformation of the Roman World” (which is the title of a series of books that produced substantial contributions to the study of the period between 3rd and 7th centuries). Luca Zavagno, who has already published in the past decade some preliminary studies on the topic at hand, presents us with another work that fits within the existing paradigm of Classical studies, as applied to the evolution of urban life in the eastern part of the Mediterranean.

In the first chapter (“The Byzantine City: A Symphony in Three Movements”) the author lays out the methodological framework for the study of the different transformations of the landscape and functions and structure of the Byzantine cities in Asia Minor, in the islands and in continental Greece. He insists on the definition of the “Byzantine city” as a multifunctional settlement, whose evolution was influenced by the dynamic relations between its social composition and the urban structures. For instance, it was observed that the urban functions were often dispersed in different places (in Epirus, the bishoprics were located in settlements with a hybrid character, between rural and urban). The fluctuating use of the public and private functions of the urban space traced by the archaeological research in different cities attests to the survival of urban life, and contradicts the idea of the constant crisis which would have followed the beginning of the 7th century.

The second chapter (“The Historiography of Byzantine City: Interpretations, Methodology, and Sources”) is a detailed survey of the debates on the fate of urban life between 7th and 13th centuries in the Mediterranean space. The now prevailing opinion contradicts the idea of a decline specific to that period, by including it in a larger perspective of a longue durée of adaptations determined by interactions between the central and local administration, the Church, the hinterland of the cities and the macro-economy of the whole Mediterranean area, in which the Byzantine cities were interconnected. The development from one type of urbanism (Roman) to another one (the early Byzantine) was shaped by the exchange systems of the entire Mediterranean scale, in the same way as the Italian merchant city-states. This process was not a decline, but a transformation, evidenced by the archaeological research which attests to the development of the artisanal and commercial activities in cities like Corinth, Thebes, Monembasia or Athens.

A particular problem is the significance of the names applied to the Byzantine cities, such as polis and kastron. The presence of bishoprics was defining for a polis even if the settlement was in decline, while kastron (used after the 7th century) was specific to any fortified administrative or military center. The presence of a bishop or of churches with relics of patron saints enabled the resilience and development of urban life. They gave spiritual protection to the cities whose strong walls, built in many cases with recycled stones, and not always erected in response to attacks, attest to the need for security for the new kind of urban community. Some data about city life was provided by hagiographies, but the progress of the archaeological research offers now a different view than that proposed by Aleksander Kazhdan in 1954, namely of the decline and revival of the cities in the framework of a feudal system.

The decreasing number of coins is not a testament to collapse, but a lesser need for cash in the new type of settlements and for the new type of military organization, as was demonstrated by Michael Hendy. On the contrary, the study of Byzantine pottery production reveals a flourishing economy, integrated in the Mediterranean space, which contradicts the catastrophic vision supported, for instance, by Clive Foss. Currently, extensive excavations and the refining of ceramics studies are providing a better understanding of the Early Byzantine urban economy. The survival of urban life was enabled by the coastal position which gave to those cities the opportunities to belong to what could be called a Byzantine koine. The development of the urban centers was also stimulated by the presence of the archontes, the local aristocrats, who founded churches, monasteries and other buildings. Their need for various goods determined the growth of trade and artisanal activities in the cities. The Italian city states had a certain influence in this evolution.

In Chapter 3 (“Urbanism in the Byzantine Heartland and the Coastal/Insular koine”),the evolution of urban life in three regions, Anatolia, the Aegean heartland, and the islands or other littoral places, is discussed according to the available literary sources and archaeological excavations. In Anatolia, one of the best researched cities is Amorium, whose importance as theme residence increased after the middle of the 7th century in relation to the needs of defense against Arab attacks. The upper part of the city, soon rebuilt after the siege of 838, remained an important military and economic center until the expansion of the Seljuqs.

Another city from Anatolia, Ancyra, also illustrates the resilience of urban life after the grave Arab attack of 838, while at Amastris the development benefitted from shipping connections. Other Anatolian cities that preserved a high level of urban life were Nicaea, Ephesos and Attaleia. In the Aegean heartland, Thessalonike is impressive for its strong fortification system (several times repaired after earthquakes), but also for the flourishing economic life ensured by the harbor and by the influx of pilgrims. The prosperity increased when peaceful relations were established with the northern Bulgarian neighbors, for whom this city was a marketplace.

Second to Thessalonike in importance, Corinth was a terrestrial and maritime crossroad as well, whose prosperity was preserved during the early and middle Byzantine period, especially as a production center. On a lesser level, Athens and Thebes resisted as administrative and ecclesiastic centers, where the manufacturing activity is documented by the literary sources and archaeological discoveries.

A special case is Monembasia, founded in the 7th century as a refuge place. Its position ensured an important place on the maritime route between west and east, with commercial and military significance. The last section of the chapter presents several cities from the islands of Crete (Gortyn, Eleutherna), Cyprus (Salamis), Sicily (Syracuse, Catania, Palermo) and Sardinia (Cagliari), as well as from the Dalmatian coast (Butrint, Dyrrachium) and Crimea (Cherson). They belonged to what the author calls the “koine of the other sea”, a fragmented periphery of the Byzantine space, which remained more or less under the domination of the empire. The fragmentation of the maritime routes after the 7th century and the frequent Arab raids affected somewhat the economic life of these cities ruled by archontes or by strategoi, but the urban features survived, including artisanal activity (pottery, metal working, constructions).

The general conclusions (chapter 4) summarizes the considerations in regard to the resilience of urban life evidenced by archaeological research even for the worst period of the Byzantine Empire (7th-9th centuries). The reason for the survival of the artisanal and building activity was the presence of the secular and ecclesiastic elites in these cities.

As a general statement, it could be concluded that Luca Zavagno’s book provides a comprehensive critical overview of the research conducted on early Byzantine urban life, as can be seen from the large bibliographies annexed to each chapter. It is obvious that the author was able to manage a large amount of data from differrent regions of the Byzantine area and use them to demonstrate his approach to the problem of the continuity of urban life.  

Alexandru Madgearu, PhD, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Defence Studies and Military History in Bucharest, Romania

František Šístek (ed.), Imagining Bosnian Muslims in Central Europe: Representations, Transfers and Exchanges (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2021) by Stojanka Lužija

Imagining Bosnian Muslims in Central Europe. Representations, Transfers and Exchanges is a result of a project led by Fratišek Šístek and Peter Hladký. According to the editors, the purpose of the book is to point out “contacts, transfers and exchanges between people of Central Europe and Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, and also to monitor the development of the national identity of Bosnian Muslims. Therefore, the book can be divided into two parts. The first part follows past Central European relation towards Muslims. The second part deals with the period after the World War II, аnd it covers a wider range of topics from the official recognition of the national identity of Bosnian Muslims to contemporary perceptions of their identity in the diaspora.

Aside from the Introduction and Conclusion the book is comprised of thirteen chapters. Beginning with the introduction, “The Turkish Threat’ and Early Modern Central Europe: Czech Reflections,” authors Ladislav Hladký and Petr Stehlík explore the change in perception of the Turkish threat in the “Lands of the Bohemian Crown”. Their section consists of two thematic units. In the first unit, the authors examine the financial and military contribution to the “Lands of the Bohemian Crown” in the Habsburg defense against the Turks. While in the second part they point to the transformation of the “Turkish threat” in the period between the 16th and 18th centuries. The authors conclude that over time, the Czech struggle with the Turks was regarded in the collective memory as a relic of some ancient heroic past.

The next chapter, “The Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina between Millet and Nation,” by Božidar Jezernik, follows the development of national identity among Bosnian Muslims through the different periods and reigns, from the Ottoman era through the Austro-Hungary to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The author points out the overlap of religious and national identity and also discusses the pressure on Muslims to accept “Serbian or Croatian national identity.” Jezernik also made a mistake stating that 1453 was the year of publication for the Ahdname to the Franciscans, instead 1463 (43 pp).

In the third chapter, “Ambivalent Perceptions: Austria-Hungary, Bosnian Muslims and the Occupation Campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1878)” Martin Gabriel writes about the perceptions of public opinion in Austro-Hungary expressed through newspapers, but also in memoirs from the participants in the occupation. For example, as the Muslims were presented as “savages” (pp. 68), it was a response to the armed resistance to the occupation, but also had a foothold in the collective memory of the Austro-Ottoman wars of earlier times.

Clemens Ruthner’s chapter,Sleeping Beauty’s Awakening: Habsburg Colonialism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1878-1918,” considers the extent to which the colonial paradigm is applicable to the example of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The author’s dilemma is how to evaluate 40 years of Austro-Hungarian administrations, whether “in terms of civilizational mission or within the paradigm of European colonialism”? (pp. 80). He concludes that the Austro-Hungarian administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina can be characterized as “Quasi colonialism” (pp. 86).

In his chapter, “The Portrayal of Muslims in the Austro-Hungarians  Primary School Textbooks for Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Oliver Pejić emphasizes Interconfessional education as an important lever of Austro-Hungary’s self-proclaimed civilizing mission. Accorded to the administration, textbooks were supposed to play a double role, in the creation of the collective identity of Bosnian Muslims, and also in the emergence of loyal subjects to the monarchy.

In the following chapter, “Towards Secularity: Autonomy and Modernization of Bosnian Islamic Institutions under Austro-Hungarian Administration,” Zora Hesová focuses on the formation of autonomous Bosnian Islamic institutions whose foundations were laid during the Austro-Hungarian administration and whose heritage is still visible in the modern era. The formation of an Islamic religious community independent of Istanbul was a necessity in political terms as well. She emphasizes the importance of the 1909 Statute, concluding that Austro-Hungary “had a direct” and “formative and long-lasting influence on the character of Bosnian Islamic institutions and practices” (pp. 118).

In “Under the Slavic Crescent: Representations of Bosnian Muslims in Czech Literature, Travelogues and Memoirs 1878-1918,”František Šístek, quotes authors who examined modernization in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as some even fantasized that Muslims would accept Catholicism – a “fantasy” that at the beginning of the 20th century gradually faded. The author concludes that in the period from the 1870s to 1918, there was a visible trend of positive representation and humanization of Muslims in Czech texts.

Author Charles Sabatos, in his chapter, “Divided Identities in the Bosnian Narratives of Vjenceslav Novak and Rebecca West,”compares Novak’s short story Maca (1881) and West’s travelogue in terms of different perceptions about Muslim identity. While Novak claims that Bosnian Muslims are not Turks and that they are Croatian brothers of Islamic faith, West claims that Bosnian Muslims are actually Serbs.

After World World II, Austro-nostalgia was revived. Bojan Baškar explores it in the example of Vera Stein Erlich as he discusses her private and public life, emphasizing her feelings of nostalgia for the Austro-Hungarian times. Regarding Muslims, Stein puts forward a bold theory, claiming that the culture and life of Bosnian Muslims was in fact a version of a larger oriental style and she placed the homeland in medieval Muslim Spain (pp. 162). In essence, the theory is incorrect, but according to Baškar, these are Stein’s attempts to connect Bosnia with her favorite area – Mexico (pp. 165).

Marija Mandić, in “The Serbian Proverb Poturica gori od Turčina (A Turk-Convert Is Worse Than a Turk): Stigmatizer and Figure of Speech,” relates the origin of the Proverb to the process of Islamization during the Ottoman Empire. According to the author, Proverb is used in the literal sense, but also in the figurative one. Its purpose is stigmatizing the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, but also the converts.

In the next chapter, “From Brothers to Others? Changing Images of Bosnian Muslims in (Post) -Yugoslav Slovenia,” Alenka Bartulović researches the perception about Bosnians and partly Bosnian Muslims in Slovenian society from the 1980s onward. She points out that Bosnians were first assumed as semi-rural and primitive people, and then Islamophobia and Balkanism emerged. Bartulović asserts that in the early 1990s Islam was set up as the most visible marker and the most obvious sign of the ethnic difference between Bosniaks and Slovenes.

Finally, the works of Aldina Čemernica and Merima Šehagićexplore the position of Bosnian Muslims in Germany. Čemernica deals with the issue of identity in the “Bosnian, European, Berliner” triangle among young Muslims of Bosnian descent (pp. 222). She claims that religion is a significant cohesion factor among Bosnian Muslims. On the same trail is Šehagić’s chapter about the attitude of Western society towards Bosnian Muslims. She concludes that they are understood as representatives of the European form of Islam, are considered white, and consequently they are accepted.

Ultimately, this book represents a significant venture in the study and development of the national identity of Bosnian Muslims, of the past relation between Central Europe and Austro-Hungary with Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as today’s Western perception toward them.

Stojanka Lužija, PhD, senior teaching assistant at the University of Banja Luka, Faculty of Philosophy, History Department.

Welcoming our newest Editorial Board members

Hiperboreea welcomes Ali Yaycıoğlu as a new Editorial Board member!

Ali Yaycıoğlu is Associate Professor of Ottoman and Middle East History at Stanford University and the Director of Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies. He deals with the history of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. His research centers on economic, political and legal institutions and practices as well as social and cultural life in southeastern Europe and the Middle East during the Ottoman Empire. Ali Yaycıoğlu also has a research agenda on how people imagined, represented and recorded property, territory, and nature in early periods. He is the supervisor of a digital history project, Mapping Ottoman Epirus, housed in Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA).

Welcoming our newest Advisory Board and Editorial Board members

Hiperboreea welcome Stelu Şerban, Donald Dyer, Alexandru Madgearu and Dušan Mlacović as a new Advisory Board and Editorial Board members!

Stelu Şerban is associate research fellow at the Institute for South East Europe Studies in Bucharest, Romanian Academy. Stelu’s research interests are related to anthropology, political sciences, social and environmental history in various interdisciplinary perspectives. He is member of the editorial board of Mnogoobrazie v edinstvoto (Sofia), and member of the Advisory Board of the International Association for Southeast European Anthropology.

Donald L. Dyer is Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs, College of Liberal Arts of the University of Mississippi (USA), and Distinguished Professor of Modern Languages. He is the Editor of Balkanistica, the journal of the Southeast European Studies Association, and the book series Romance Monographs, published by the Department of Modern Languages of the University of Mississippi. He is also a member of the Scientific Board of the Balkan History Association. His research and teaching interests include Balkan Slavic and Balkan Romance, Romanian, Russian and Bulgarian languages in Moldova, and language contacts in South-Eastern Europe.

Alexandru Madgearu is researcher at the Institute for Political Studies of Defence and Military History, Bucharest, Romania. He has published books and studies on the late ancient and early medieval history of Romania and South-Eastern Europe, including Byzantine Military Organization on the Danube, 10th-12th Centuries (Brill, 2013) and The Asanids: The Political and Military History of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1280) (Brill, 2013).

Dušan Mlacović is assistant professor at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia), Faculty of arts, Department of History. He deals with Slovene medieval history and social and economic history of the east Adriatic coast and Hinterland in the Middle Ages. In 2008, he published the monograph Plemstvo i otok: pad i uspon rapskoga plemstva [Nobility and the Island: The fall and rise of Rab’s nobility] (Slovenian ed. 2008; Italian ed. 2012). Since 2017 he is assistant to the editor-in-chief of Zgodovinski časopis (Historical Review), and since 2012 a member of the editorial board of Povijesni prilozi.

Welcoming our newest Advisory Board and Editorial Board members

Hiperboreea welcome Maxim Makartsev and Andrei Gandila
as a new Advisory Board and Editorial Board members!
Maxim Makartsev is a research fellow at the Institute for Slavistics (Carl von Ossietzky University in Oldenburg) and a senior research fellow at the Institute for Slavic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences. He specializes in comparative grammar of Balkan languages and Slavic-non-Slavic language contacts in the Balkans, especially in Albania. 
Andrei Gandila received his B.A. and M.A. in Roman history and archaeology from the University of Bucharest. In 2007 he embarked on his American adventure after entering the doctoral program at the University of Florida where he specialized in the history and archaeology of Late Antiquity. He received his doctoral degree in 2013 after spending one year in Washington D.C., as a Junior Fellow in Byzantine studies at Dumbarton Oaks. Currently he is an Associate Professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (History Department), USA.

Current Issue: Vol. 10, No. 1 (2023)

03-16 EBSCOhost 3

SCImago Journal & Country Rank