Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University has founded a new Byzantine Studies Practice and Research Center to contribute scholarship on the Byzantine Empire and operate as a platform for this field of study.As the first center established in a state university, the center will shed light on the history of Anatolia during the Middle Ages, the Balkans, Istanbul and the Ottoman Empire with projects on Byzantine history, culture and archaeology.
The center is managed by Nevra Necipoğlu, a lecturer in Byzantine history at Boğaziçi University. It aims to bring the academic studies on the Byzantine Empire to an international level. Necipoğlu said that Turkey is one of the heirs of the Byzantine Empire in terms of culture, history and geography, and stressed there are a number of similar centers around the world focusing on the history of the Byzantines. “The lack of an academic center on the Byzantine Empire in Istanbul, which was the capital of the empire for 11 centuries, is a big void. This is the main reason for its establishment,” she said. Necipoğlu added that Boğaziçi University has conducted studies on Byzantine history for many years. “The history of our academic studies dates back to the Robert College days when Alexander van Millingen – one of the important Byzantine experts on the history of Byzantium – worked here from 1879 to 1915,” she said. In 1999, Boğaziçi University hosted a conference on the Byzantine Empire, which drew reputable experts from around the world. Necipoğlu said the conference was a turning point, as it highlighted that prejudices toward the history of Byzantium exist. Necipoğlu said the conference was an important event that challenged such prejudices, at least at the academic level. “Boğaziçi University is the ideal place to have a center like this with its students and experts contributing to the history of Byzantium in Turkey,” she concluded.