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From Byzantium’s East to Iran’s West: Economic Change and the Rise of Cities in Medieval Asia Minor, 1000–1400

Polina Ivanova, Harvard University, Tyler Fellow 2016–2018

The first year of my fellowship was split between Dumbarton Oaks, where I worked on the Online Catalogue of Byzantine Seals, and research in Greece and Turkey. Having completed my institutional project, I turned to dissertation research. My dissertation studies the history of migration and the changing human geography in medieval Asia Minor on the eve of and following the Seljuk and Mongol conquests. My research in Greece entailed studying an oral history archive—a collection of testimonies by refugees from Asia Minor who arrived in Greece after the Greek-Turkish population exchange of 1922–1924. I used these testimonies as a guide for finding abandoned sites of Byzantine settlements and shrines in Asia Minor. My fieldwork in Turkey allowed me to establish that oral history provides invaluable clues for settlement history. Apart from visiting relevant villages myself, I collaborated with Turkish archaeologists to correlate findings of archaeological surveys with oral history data. In the second year of the fellowship I concentrated on Armenian sources, studying oral history sources, colophons of medieval manuscripts, and rare traces of Armenian material culture in Asia Minor. In addition to dissertation research, I wrote two journal articles and two chapters for a collected volume.