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Byzantine Photograph Collections

The Byzantine Photograph Collections include approximately 80,000 black and white print photographs, negatives, slides, and color transparencies of Byzantine art, architecture, and archaeology from the fourth through the fifteenth century. The emphasis is on materials from Byzantium and neighboring cultures: Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Slovenia, Romania, Russia, Armenia, and Georgia, as well as Greece, Syria, Israel, and Egypt. There is also a limited number of Russian, Crusader, and post-Byzantine works. You may browse the general collections either by Medium or Site.

In addition to the photographs in the general collections, ICFA is the repository for approximately 100,000 negatives, slides, and color transparencies, documenting the fieldwork of Dumbarton Oaks, the Byzantine Institute, and a number of scholars, including Margaret Alexander, Richard Anderson, Cyril Mango, Thomas Mathews, Ihor Ševčenko, and Robert Van Nice. Also, the Byzantine Institute produced several films between 1930 and the 1950s, documenting fieldwork at monuments such as Hagia Sophia and Kariye Camii in Istanbul and St. Anthony's Monastery in Egypt.

There are also a number of special collections that focus on specific media within Byzantine art, including textiles, silver, and illuminated manuscripts. There is also a general census of Byzantine art in private and museum collections throughout North America, which was begun under the auspices of Mildred and Robert Bliss, the founders of Dumbarton Oaks. In addition, there are photograph collections compiled by noteworthy scholars such as Franklin M. Biebel (mosaics), Arthur Kingsley Porter (architecture and manuscripts), Kurt Weitzmann (manuscripts), and Donald Drew Egbert and Andrew S. Keck (travel photography). Finally, there are two collections that specifically focus on architecture and architectural decoration in Istanbul: Nicholas V. Artamonoff and William Earl Betsch.

General Collections


The Black and White Photograph Collection is arranged by medium, then by country, and city. Monuments are arranged by country, then city, and site. Portable arts are organized by medium, then country, and museum collection. The collection comprises photographs donated by scholars or acquired from various museums.


Black & White Mounted Collection


Click on a section below to consult the relevant finding aid. Researchers interested in textiles, silver, mosaics, and manuscripts should also consult the special collections.



      The Site Books consist of black and white photographs in binders arranged by site. The photographs are primarily contact prints made from negatives produced through the fieldwork of Dumbarton Oaks and the Byzantine Institute. The contact prints serve as the visual reference to the negative collection.


      Special Collections

      Census of Objects of Early Christian and Byzantine Art in North American Collections

      The collection, begun in 1936 by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss to provide visual and documentary reference material for the study of objects in their art collection, contains over 11,000 mounted black-and-white photographic prints filed by medium, stylistic and chronological characteristics, and region of origin. The collection was updated in the 1970s and in the mid 1980s. Documentation sheets for each object are located in loose-leaf notebooks and are filed alphabetically by city of present location, collection, and accession number.

      Census of Byzantine Textiles in North American Collections

      Part of the Byzantine Object Census, this sub-collection consists of 2,500 black-and-white photographs of Byzantine textiles located in museums in the United States and Canada. Brought together in the 1950s, the collection is organized alphabetically by the city and museum, and includes a card file documenting each object.

      Corpus of Early Christian and Byzantine Silver

      Completed in 1986, the Silver Corpus is a collection of photographs containing 3,500 black-and-white images of approximately 1,500 Byzantine silver vessels and utensils produced between 300 and 1453 AD. The Corpus includes all known (c. 1985) silver vessels and utensils produced for liturgical and domestic use within the geographical boundaries of the Roman and Byzantine empires. Silver vessels from Western Europe through the seventh century and Veneto-Byzantine silver are included; Sassanian silver, coins, jewelry, armor, icon frames, settings, and ingots are excluded. Photographs are arranged by geographic location and institution. Additional indices include a reference card file for each object in the Corpus arranged by object type and hoard components. This collection can also be found within the Black and White Photograph Collection under metalwork. PDF version of finding aid.

      Illuminated Manuscript Photographs Study Collection

      This collection consists of over 10,000 black and white photographs of manuscript pages and illuminations. Assembled in the 1950s, the photographs are arranged by city, library collection, and then manuscript and folio number. PDF version of finding aid.

      Franklin M. Biebel Photograph Albums of Mosaics

      This collection consists of thirty-one albums assembled by Franklin M. Biebel around 1955. The albums include photographs, plans, and documentary information on floor mosaics from Byzantium and the West.

      Arthur Kingsley Porter Photographs of Architecture and Manuscripts

      This collection consists of photographs of Byzantine and Medieval architecture, wall paintings, and sculpture from Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, and Turkey as well as photographs of manuscripts and other objects from Italy and Greece. The photographs are arranged by country, city, site, or monument. They duplicate a portion of the Arthur Kingsley Porter Photograph Collection at the Fine Arts Library at Harvard University.

      Kurt Weitzmann Photographs of Manuscripts

      The collection consists of photographs of Greek manuscripts, Latin manuscripts, and ancient book illuminations compiled by Kurt Weitzmann, member of the Princeton University faculty of the Department of Art and Archaeology and the Institute for Advanced Studies (1935-1993). The collection of nearly 17,000 black-and-white photographs duplicates the Kurt Weitzmann Archive at Princeton University. PDF version of finding aid.

      Donald Drew Egbert and Andrew S. Keck Photograph Albums

      These three (3) photograph albums record a trip to Europe and the Middle East taken by Egbert and Keck in 1937. Arriving in Portugal in February and departing from Italy in July, their itinerary included cities, monuments, and archaeological sites in Greece, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and Croatia. 

      Nicholas V. Artamonoff Photographs of Istanbul and Turkey

      Artamonoff was an amateur photographer who documented Byzantine monuments in Istanbul and five archaeological sites in Western Turkey (Ephesus, Hierapolis, Laodicea on the Lycus, Pergamum, Priene) from 1935 to 1945. This collection have been digitized and featured in an online exhibit. Related photographs may be found in the Smithsonian Institution's Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives as part of the Myron Bement Smith Collection.

      William Earl Betsch Photographs of Architectural Capitals in Istanbul

      Betsch created this collection in the summer of 1970 as part of the research for his doctoral thesis: “The History, Production and Distribution of the Late Antique Capital in Constantinople.” The negatives contain images of architectural features located throughout Istanbul, including the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, Hagia Sophia, and various cisterns.

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      • Image Collections and Fieldwork Archives
      • Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
      • 1703 32nd Street, NW Washington, DC 20007
      • Tel. 202.339.6972
      • Fax 202.625.0279
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      Please identify the desired item by browsing our digital, photographic or archival collections. Note the location of the image(s), as well as any negative number(s). Then, fill out a photo order form. Get more details about rights and reproductions on How to Request Images.