Byzantium at King's
Byzantium at King’s College London
Scholars at King’s College London have studied and taught about the Byzantine world and its culture for at least 150 years. This interest emerged long before the subject became popular, emerging partly from the College’s establishment upon foundation, of the teaching of classics, and also its commitment to church history; it is reflected in George Gilbert Scott’s design for the College Chapel, designed in 1859 to give “the character of an ancient basilica” and decorated in a neo-Byzantine style (see the history of the chapel). The greatest impetus, however, came from the appointment as Principal in 1913 of Ronald Montagu Burrows (see Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, for which you can use your public library subscription or Wikipedia), who had excavated in Greece and had developed an interest in the longue durée of Greek culture.
It was Burrows whose enthusiasm enabled the establishment of the Koraes Chair, as an explicit commitment to the history of post-classical Greece. A series of distinguished Byzantinists have been holders of the Chair: F. H. Marshall (1926-1943); Romilly H. Jenkins (see ODNB; 1946-1960); Cyril Mango (1963-1968); Donald Nicol (1970-1988); and Roderick Beaton (1988-2018). More recently the chair of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies was held by Averil Cameron, Judith Herrin and Charlotte Roueché. King’s College has for many years been one of the very few UK institutions where students can pursue a full range of courses on Byzantine topics at undergraduate and master’s levels, as well as undertake PhD work. As a consequence of its long history the library holdings are extremely rich, and the archives hold many important materials.
Dochiariou Monastery, Mount Athos. Watercolour by Donald Nicol, 1950 (King’s College London Archives)
Professor Gonda Van Steen
Dr Tassos Papacostas
Koraes Professor of Modern Greek & Byzantine History, Language and Literature
Currently working on the postwar and Cold War adoptions of Greek children to the USA.
Please see other research interests and other information on Professor Van Steen's staff profile.
Dr Ioannis Papadogiannakis
Lecturer in Byzantine Material Culture
Currently working on aspects of the architectural production of Venetian Cyprus, on the fate of the island's cities in the Byzantine period, and on medieval pilgrimage and its physical setting.
Please see other research interests and other information on Dr Papacostas' staff profile.
Dr Dionysios Stathakopoulos
Lecturer in Patristics
Currently working on the definition of belief and identities in the eastern Mediterranean (6-8 c. AD) based on the ERC research project Debidem (see below under Research Projects).
Please see other research interests and other information on Dr Papadogiannakis' staff profile.
Senior Lecturer in Byzantine Studies
Currently working on wealth and its uses in the late Byzantine empire (1261-1453), particularly investments in afterlife management strategies such as charity and the cult of remembrance.
Please see other research interests and other information on Dr Stathakopoulos' staff profile.
Emeritus Professor Roderick Beaton
Koraes Professor of Modern Greek & Byzantine History, Language and Literature
Currently working on Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation, a story which begins with the break-up of the Byzantine empire after the 4th Crusade of 1204.
Please see other research interests and other information on Professor Beaton's staff profile.
Professor Judith Herrin
Professor Charlotte Roueché
Senior Research Fellow
Currently working on the history of Ravenna.
Please see other research interests and other information on Professor Herrin's research profile.
Senior Research Fellow in Digital Hellenic Studies
Currently working on the online publication of Greek and Latin inscriptions from Libya.
Please see other research interests and other information on Professor Roueché's research profile.
We regularly host Byzantinists from all over the world. In the last few years visitors have included:
Sophia Fellow (2011-2014)
Now Research Fellow at the University Cà Foscari, Venice.
Prosopography of the Byzantine World (1025-1150)
Current Research Projects
The most long-standing and best known Byzantine research project at KCL is PBW, the Prosopography of the Byzantine World (1025-1150): the first edition appeared in 2006, the most recent in 2016. See http://pbw2016.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/
The sister project, PBE, Prosopography of the Byzantine Empire (641-867), has recently been reissued online: see http://www.pbe.kcl.ac.uk/.
Defining Belief and Identities in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Role of Interreligious Debate and Interaction
Heritage Gazetteer of Cyprus
Debidem, Defining Belief and Identities in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Role of Interreligious Debate and Interaction: this ERC funded project (2010-2016), led by Ioannis Papadogiannakis, seeks to recover the processes by which religious beliefs and identities were defined through inter-religious interaction and debate in the religious culture of a broader social base in the eastern Mediterranean (6-8th centuries AD) through examination of a neglected, unconventional corpus of medieval Greek, Syriac and Arabic literature of debate and disputation (consisting of collections of questions and answers, dialogues among others).
These sources help us to understand the kinds of perplexities that were being raised in Christian communities of the eastern Mediterranean as they negotiated a lively and contentious religious and social landscape.
Heritage Gazetteer of Libya
HGC, Heritage Gazetteer of Cyprus, was a collaborative project (2014-2016) between Tassos Papacostas, Stuart Dunn and Charlotte Roueché, working with colleagues in Cyprus to build an interactive gazetteer for use by those working on the heritage of Cyprus.
The companion project, Inventory of Byzantine Churches on Cyprus, by Tassos Papacostas, was published in summer 2015.
Ancient Inscriptions of the Northern Black Sea project
HGL, Heritage Gazetteer of Libya, a project which was modelled on the Cyprus Gazetteer, has been developed in partnership with the Society for the Promotion of Libyan Studies; it was made public in autumn 2016, and is developing as a hub for information about heritage in a threatened area. This is part of a larger project to publish Graeco-Roman materials from ancient Libya and to support heritage conservation.
IOSPE, the Ancient Inscriptions of the Northern Black Sea project, is publishing the ancient and medieval inscriptions of the area online: the first collection, of the Byzantine inscriptions, was published in 2015; two further collections, from Tyras and Chersonesos, were published in 2017.
A regular seminar on Late Antique and Byzantine topics is held throughout the academic year, and is open to all: see the current programme
The annual Runciman lecture is given on the first Thursday in February; although honouring a great Byzantinist, it is not always on a Byzantine topic.
Studying Byzantium at King's
At BA level the Department of Classics offers a degree in Classical and Modern Greek Studies that includes the study of Byzantium.
All other Classics undergraduate degrees include optional modules in Byzantine studies, which can also be taken by students from other departments and programmes.
At graduate level Classics offers a Graduate Diploma in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, and the intercollegiate MA in Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, both available as full-time or part-time options and taught in conjunction with UCL and Royal Holloway.
As with the undergraduate degrees, all Classics MA programmes also include optional Byzantine modules.
For doctoral research, the standard route is to apply for an MPhil/PhD in Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies (students are initially registered for the MPhil, and are expected to upgrade to PhD status following their first year).