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Chair for Byzantine Studies

Mount Athos with the Monastery of Stavronikita

Mount Athos with the Monastery of Stavronikita
Image Credit: Dr. Manolis Ulbricht (June 2016)

Welcome to Berlin Byzantine Studies


Byzantine Studies as an academic field is committed to the scholarly investigation of the History, Literature, Language(s), Art, and Religion(s) of the Eastern Roman Empire. This part of the Imperium Romanum did not disappear in 476 but survived, as Romania, until 1453, eventually developing its own identity and an eventful history. This Empire survived until its capital Constantinople or Nova Roma Constantinoupolis, formally known as Byzantion, was conquered by the Ottomans; the city is known today as Istanbul, which derives from the Greek “In-the-City”.

This internationally and interdisciplinary oriented field is fully conveyed through both research and teaching, with the emphasis falling on literary criticism. Byzantine Studies in this Institute can be seen as a link between Ancient and Modern Greek studies, although the relationship between the Greek culture of the Middle Ages and the Arabs, Oriental Christians – such as the Armenians, Syrians, and Copts –, Jews, and Orthodox Slavonic peoples, is also a focal point of research and teaching at the Institute. This academic field is only offered at a few universities throughout Germany but it is exclusively the Freie Universität Berlin that provides students the opportunity to become acquainted with all the phases of Greek literature and its spoken history from Antiquity to the present. It is perhaps most accurate to describe Byzantine Studies as a bridging discipline.


Berlin Byzantine Studies pursues a rare avenue of research, namely the relationship of Byzantium to the Near East from Late Antiquity until the Early Modern Period. This not only concerns the relationship with Islam – both in a religious and political sense of the notion of “Islam” –, but also that to Judaism and Oriental Christians. Therefore, sources in Arabic, Syriac, Hebrew, Coptic, Armenian, and Georgian are also treated here. Byzantium is understood as a point of convergence, which concerns the cultural exchange on all levels between the Near East and the emerging West. Musical tradition in particular falls into this category, as it represents a living aspect of Byzantine culture that is still being actively practised today.


It is a singular interest of Berlin Byzantine Studies, in accordance with the future-oriented concept of institutional strategy of the Freie Universität Berlin, to effectively integrate the ongoing research of the chair of Byzantine Studies into the regular curriculum for students. Through this research-orientated teaching, our students and the students of neighboring disciplines will be actively introduced to the questions of ongoing research projects in an interdisciplinary manner.

Therefore, we regularly offer ‘research internships’ that undergraduate students may attend as well as masters students. It is the goal of our efforts to introduce the students as early as possible to the methods and approaches of this future-orientated teaching at one of the best network universities in Germany. Another characteric example of a sustainable combination of research and teaching at Berlin Byzantine Studies is the conceptualization and successful application of the teaching project “Digitalizing Philology – Corpus Coranicum Christianum, which has been prepared in a teacher-student collaboration from the beginning to the moment of the – successful – application. It directly integrates the research into the regular teaching curriculum. On all levels, we represent this interaction between researchers and students!


For more information about our undergraduate program in Byzantine Studies, please visit our page on the platform OSA. For an up-to-date glimpse at the key areas of research at Berlin Byzantine Studies as well as at the courses being offered we invite you to visit our website. On our website you can also find information about our projects and current activities for our students and those who are interested.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Whether it be students or guests – we look forward to meeting you!