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The Byzantine Studies Coins and Seals Summer Program

Posted On August 30, 2013 | 15:42 pm | by sarahbo | Permalink

In July, Dumbarton Oaks hosted its Byzantine Coins and Seals Summer Program. Taught by Eric McGeer, Cécile Morrisson, Eurydice Georganteli, and Jonathan Shea, the program brought together students from Finland, Georgia, Greece, Russia and Turkey for daily seminars in analytical methods and application of material evidence to archaeological and historical disciplines. Students took advantage of the thousands of objects in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection to learn methods of identification, reading, and dating, as well as for discussions about the evolution of iconography and the mechanics and techniques of production. Eurydice Georganteli conducted coin sessions for the opening weeks, while Eric McGeer and Jonathan Shea taught the seals seminars and along with Margaret Mullett introduced the students to seals as a source for Byzantine history. In addition, Joel Kalvesmaki provided an introduction to Unicode fonts, and especially the development of a Dumbarton Oaks font for coin and seal inscriptions, Athena Ruby. Meanwhile, Joe Mills demonstrated the methods of high-quality digital photography and image manipulation used in the Dumbarton Oaks online catalogue of Byzantine Seals.

During the last week, students presented their research. Ali Miynat provided insight into the coins and seals of the Danishmendid emirs of central Anatolia, examining the ancient and Byzantine inspiration behind some of their iconographic choices. Angelina Volkoff presented on those members of the Byzantine family of Komnenos who used two surnames on their seals. Ayşe Ercan examined the seals of customs officials at the important Byzantine port of Abydos. Christos Malatras spoke about seals with family names, taking a number of families and tracing their history across the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Maria Papadaki analyzed the seals struck by churches and ecclesiastics in the Peloponnese, using them to begin to build a picture of the distribution of settlements in the region at different times in Byzantine history. Pavla Drapelova presented the irregular bronze coins of Justin I from the Protonotarios collection. Sandro Nikolaishvili examined the coins of the early Georgian rulers, tracing the rise and fall of Byzantine influence on the coinage of the country. Tommi Lankila used coins and seals to begin asking questions about the role of Byzantine Sardinia in the administrative and defense network of the empire.