Research Area A


Research Area B


Research Area C


Research Area D




Byzantine Civilization

The thematic of Byzantine Civilisation integrates programs and projects that are in progress and executed independently or through co-operative research projects and broader actions funded by National and European resources. Topics extend across a number of research areas of Byzantine Civilisation and cover research fields addressing current challenges related to the study of written sources, works of art and archeological evidence.


Anastasia Yangaki, Research Director
Stylianos Lampakis, Research Director
Maria Leontsini, Senior Researcher
Gerasimos Merianos, Senior Researcher
Dr Niki Tsironi, Functional Researcher A


Philological and Historical Commentary on the “Historical Relations” of George Pachymeris

Georgios Pachymeris (app. 1242-1308) is one of the most prolific Byzantine scholars. His work includes comments on philosophical texts (mainly Aristotle and Plato), rhetorical studies and treatises, poetical texts, an extensive Tetrabiblos, and of course the Historical Relations, an exhaustive historiographical narrative of the reign of Michael VIII Palaiologus (1258-1282) and part of the reign of Andronikos II (1282-1307).
This historiographical work has attracted the interest of the research community, especially after the completion of the new edition of A. Failler in the series Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae. Many of the issues raised therein (prosopographical, chronological, etc.) have been thoroughly studied in recent years. There is an immediate need for a reconsideration and presentation of the results of scholarly research and this is the aim of the present project.
More specifically, the program’s scope entails the compilation of a detailed historical and literary commentary in the historiographical text of Georgios Pachymeris, starting from the critical edition of A. Failler on the basis of the abundant bibliography on the topic.
While a considerable number of companion volumes with detailed commentaries have been written about the major historiographers of the ancient Greek literature, respective commentaries on the historiographical works of the Byzantine literature are very few (see for example: the Commentary on de administrando imperio [1962], Zorzi’s book for Choniates [2008], J. Haldon's book on Leon VI;s Tactica [2014]).
A companion volume / commentary along these lines will be presented as a result of this research.



Stylianos Lampakis, Research Director (Scientific Director)


Byzantine Art and Archaeology. Thematic Channel on Εuropeana

The IHR/NHRF was an associated partner in Project: “Byzantine Art and Archeology. Thematic Channel on Europeana, CEF Telecom-Call Europeana (CEF-TC-2016-3)”, launched and coordinated by the University of Bologna, Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna (, 1st September 2017 to 28th February 2019).

The project has provided a significant amount of cultural and artistic content about Byzantine history and culture to Europeana Digital Library, supported by the European Union fund, Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The partners involved in the project are: the University of Bologna, Department of History and Cultures (DISCI, UNIBO, Project Coordinator), the Ionian University Department of Audio and Visual Arts (IU-AVARTS), the School of History and Archaeology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTH), the Institute of Art Studies of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS - IAS), the Open University of Cyprus (OUC), the Museo d’Arte della città di Ravenna and the International Centre for Documentation of Mosaics (MAR-CIDM).

The IHR/NHRF team was involved in the preparing the data directory for the thematic fields, the content control and the accompanying narratives (metadata) and the compilation of the timeline; also collaborated for the dissemination of the project’s results to scientific and educational institutions. The consortiums’ workshops were held in Bologna (Kick-off Meeting, October 31, 2017, DISCI), in Athens (Intermediate Meeting, July 24th, 2018, National Hellenic Research Foundation), and in Bologna (Byzart Final Meeting and Exhibition (Culture Hall, Museum of the City of Bologna, February 15, 2019,



Maria Leontsini, Senior Researcher
Stylianos Lampakis, Research Director

Other members

External Research Associate:
Vasiliki Zorba, PhD in Archeology



Alchemy in Byzantium

The Project aims at examining, for the first time in a systematic way, the phenomenon of alchemy throughout the Byzantine period, attempting to highlight its important aspects but also the often-ignored contribution of Byzantium to the history of alchemy. Emphasis is placed on both the theoretical and practical nature of alchemy. Regarding the latter, the Project studies alchemy’s relationship with material culture, various artisanal fields, as well as imitation and counterfeiting techniques and the economy in general. To implement its activities, the Project has developed collaborations in Greece and abroad.



The Project was established in 2016 in order to investigate aspects of alchemy in Byzantium, within the framework of the Program “Everyday and Social Life in Byzantium”. Since then it has developed an extensive network of collaborations with various scientific institutions, as well as academics and researchers from Greece and abroad. In 2018, “Alchemy in Byzantium” developed into an independent project.



Gerasimos Merianos, Senior Researcher (Project Coordinator)

Other members

External Collaborators

  • Vangelis Koutalis, University of Ioannina
  • Shannon Steiner, Visiting Assistant Professor, Binghamton University, New York



The Virgin beyond borders


Research on the Marian cult, which has greatly gained ground in the past two decades is essentially based on Greek sources and evidence deriving from the capital of the Empire. This research project, in availing itself of records deriving from the marginal areas of the Empire (mainly Syria and Egypt), aims to bring little-known aspects of Marian devotion to bear on the general discussion. Furthermore, it aims to explore aspects of the cult of the Virgin that have not been sufficiently researched and also record –and thereby salvage for posterity– surviving traditions of Marian devotion.



The project was initiated in 2017 at the Institute for Historical Research of the NHRF by Niki Tsironis, its scientific director and research coordinator in collaboration with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies of Simon Fraser University (Vancouver) under the scientific supervision of Dr Sabrina Higgins, Professor in Hellenic Studies and Archaeology in SFU, in 2017.

This study of the development of the cult of the Virgin and its associated traditions in the context of the Eastern Mediterranean will proceed to a comparative examination of the sources. The collection and study of the aforementioned material is organized in chronological order: records dating from the early, middle and late Byzantine period followed by the post-Byzantine era down to contemporary material encountered in local cults of the Virgin.

In the context of the project we study material brought to light in archaeological excavations in Egypt and Syria, but also textual evidence from Greek, Syriac, Coptic sources relevant to the Marian cult during the Late Antique and Byzantine period. The members of the project contribute towards the development of an open access database.

The functionality of the digital application will grant researchers access to material available only in situ in the area of the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East, as well as to records kept in public and private collections. In the first phase of the project priority is given to photographic material from the excavations of churches dedicated to the Virgin in Egypt, woodcarvings, metalwork, epigraphs, as well as minor arts from the specific areas.

The project involves three distinct assignments:

  1. Digital Mary Project. A Digital Platform of Marian Records
    The platform will incorporate records deriving from history of art, archaeology and architecture, as well as textual records in Greek, Syriac and Coptic. The database was designed and adapted to the needs of the project by the research team of the Digital Humanities Innovation Laboratory of Simon Fraser University in cooperation with the scientific team of the NHRF.

  2. Aspects of Marian Devotion
    This section includes the study by Sabrina Higgins (Professor of Aegean and Mediterranean Societies and Cultures) into the early forms of Marian devotion. Dr Higgins has been awarded a $32,598 Insight Development Grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for her work “The Early Cult of the Virgin and the Hegemony of the Text”. In her essay, Professor Higgins questions the primacy of the text over the material culture artefacts, and supports an eighth century turning point for the development of Marian devotion.

    The same section will also encompass the work of Dr Niki Tsironis on the Study of the Lament of the Virgin Mary, in her capacity as adjunct Professor of Byzantine Studies at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Centre for Hellenic Studies, Simon Fraser University. The study explores the background traditions of the Eastern Mediterranean that were incorporated into the Lament of the Virgin Mary during the Byzantine era.

    The two studies will be independently published as monographs (2021 and 2022).

  3. Local Cults of the Virgin
    Aspects of Marian cult survived during the Post-Byzantine Period and are still to be encountered to a certain extent in rural areas of Greece and the Balkans. Modern survivals are linked to historical traditions and the accompanying rituals and provide valuable material for the study of Marian cult. The surviving material is recorded in written form (manuscripts, books, pamphlets, cards etc.), as well as in photographic records, voice and video recordings of the past few decades and will be examined in cooperation with social anthropologists, folklorists and musicologists.   



Niki Tsironis, Project Coordinator
Functional Researcher, Grade A, NHRF

Other members
Sabrina Higgins, SNF/CHS Simon Fraser University (Scientific Supervisor)

Maria Sardi, art historian SOAS (Project Manager)
Aurora Camaño
Aleksander Jovanovic
Meghan Light
Paige Tuttosi
Rebecca Dowson, Digital Scholarship Librarian, Simon Fraser University
Veronique Magnes, Simon Fraser University



Performance in Late Antiquity and Byzantium


The project focuses on the identification of elements of orality and performance in the Late Antique, Byzantine and post-Byzantine period. The research team consists of scholars from different fields aiming to establish a methodology that will enable the project to approach through the perspective of performance texts and rituals of Greek tradition.

The theory of orality, first introduced by Homerists Milman Parry and Albert Lord, was further expanded by Gregory Nagy of Harvard University. Up until now, it has been studied primarily in terms of literary works of the middle Byzantine period (Theodore Prodromos’ poems, Manganeios Prodromos’ poems, Digenis Akrites etc.) by Michael and Elizabeth Jeffreys. The last few years have seen several studies by Margaret Mullett, Emmanuel Bourbouhakis, Przemysław Marciniak and Stratis Papaioannou examining various aspects of the relationship between rhetoric and performance.



The project has started in 2016 with the compilation of bibliography and working meetings, in which all contributors presented the relevant to the topic bibliography of their respective fields.
The aim of the project is the investigation of the main elements of orality and performance in written and visual records, as well as in rituals and performances that derive from archetypical models.
Since the beginning of the program monthly meetings are organized with the participation of the members of the research team, while another three public seminars on memory and performance were held in 2017 and 2018. The program also organized an international conference in cooperation with the Ioannou Centre of the University of Oxford.

The activities of the Project have been funded by the Centre for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University, the American College of Greece and by the Ioannou Centre of the University of Oxford.



Niki Tsironis, Functional Researcher A
Stylianos Lambakis, Research Director
Maria Leontsini, Senior Researcher

Other members

External Collaborators
Maria Athanassopoulou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
George Calophonos, External Collaborator, IHR
Theofili Kampianaki, University of Birmingham
Korinna Lateli, University of Athens / Princeton University
Evgenia Mavrommati, New York University
Eirini Panou, Hellenic Open University
Stratis Papaioannou, University of Crete
Ioannis Petropoulos, Democritus University of Thrace / University of Padova
Maria Sardi, SOAS
Katia Savrami, University of Patras
Dionysis Skliris, University of Athens
Stavroula Solomou, University of Athens
Kostas Theologou, National Technical University of Athens
Nikoletta Trahoulia, American College of Greece



The Book in Byzantium: Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Bookbinding


The research project focuses on the art and technique of bookbinding in the context of the wider Greek world, as well as on the cover of books as repositories of historical information. It also examines the Greek terminology of bookbinding in view of arriving at a consistent and adequate proposal for the description of the cover of the book and its decoration, one that is responsive to the needs of historians, conservators and craftsmen. Finally, the project aims at promoting the material aspect of the book through field research, exhibitions and publications.



The project was launched in 2002 on the initiative of the Institute of Byzantine Research (subsequently, Institute for Historical Research) of the National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF), in collaboration with the Byzantine and Christian Museum and the Hellenic Society for Bookbinding.

Three exhibitions on the history of bookbinding were organized in 2002 and 2003. In 2005, an international conference was held at the NHRF with the support of the Ministry of Culture. The proceedings of the conference were published in 2004, incorporated into the project entitled: “Vyzantiou Katoptron, [Mirror of Byzantium]: Sources and Studies on the Byzantine World” as part of the “Excellence at Research Institutions - General Secretariat of Research and Technology, Hellas”.  Between 2005 and 2010, the project was funded by the Peripheral Executive Plan of the Prefecture of Attica, for its contribution to productive industries, specifically, for its collateral results applicable to modern-day craft binding.

The research team thereby formed worked systematically between 2006 and 2010.
The results of the project found application in lifelong education schemes, in the educational programme that formed part of the three associated exhibitions on the History of Bookbinding, as well as in the context of the European programme Marie Curie (Researchers’ Night 2007, 2018, 2019) that promoted research and its connection with society.

Collateral material from this project was also presented in the educational programmes implemented by the Aikaterini Laskaridi Foundation (2017–2020) and was also employed in related programmes at schools of Eastern Attica and (in collaboration with the Kaleidoskopeion publications), at the Psychiko Arsakeio school, while more than thirty guided tours for school and university students were realized at the Byzantine Museum exhibition between September 2012 and March 2013.

Between 2010 and 2012, the project formed part of the EU-funded Studite programme with the participation of related organizations from six European countries, coordinated by the Centre du Conservation du Livre (Arles). In this context, expert field trips to French, Italian and Greek libraries were organized. 

In 2018, the Institute of Historical Research organized a series of educational events entitled “The Book as Text and Object”, curated by Niki Tsironis, Zisis Melissakis and Stelios Lampakis. Finally, the project formed part of the ANAVATHMIS programme of the Institute for Historical Research, for which it produced two databases, one for the terminology of bookbinding and another on the pictorial representations of books in Byzantine and Post-Byzantine art.

For the same project a collection of papers on bookbinding has been issued under the title The Sight of Books: From the Codex to Digital Documentation (see publications), while another volume on the book as text and aesthetic object is in press by the Association Pierre Belon, Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, under the title Le livre comme texte et objet sensoriel.



Dr Niki Tsironi, Research Coordinator,
Functional Researcher A, NHRF

Dr Zisis Melissakis, Senior Researcher NHRF
Dr Eugenia Drakopoulou, Research Director NHRF
Nikos Melvani, External Collaborator NHRF
Christoforos Kontonikolis, PhD candidate, University of Athens (2018–2019)



Aspects of Material Culture in Byzantium

As part of this program, aspects of the Byzantine material culture are being explored. Interest focuses on archaeological evidence. Emphasis is given to the study of ceramics and metalware. Issues of know-how, interaction and dissemination of practices, use of objects and commercial relations are explored. For the needs of the program, co-operation has been developed with the competent Ephorates of Antiquities of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, with Universities and scientific companies.






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