Mission to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums: Rediscovery of the Genoese Inventory

As a part of the ERC GRAPH-EAST led by Dr Estelle Ingrand-Varenne and acting as a postdoc researcher for the project team, I visited the Istanbul Archaeology Museums for three weeks between January–February 2023, where I had a valuable chance to visit its storages in order to document the Genoese lapidary artifacts and it has eventually become a very fruitful journey. The mission primarily aimed to document two important sets from the museum inventory, being the mural inscriptions that were removed from the Galata Walls, and the tombstones that were brought from the Arab Mosque, formerly the Church of San Domenico.

The Galata suburb of Constantinople / Istanbul, located on the other side of the Golden Horn beyond the main Historical Peninsula part of the city, was a renowned and thriving Genoese colony under the name of Pera between 1267–1453. During this period, the Genoese gradually expanded their trade quarter, which eventually reached an area between the modern Tophane, Karaköy, Azapkapı and Kuledibi neighbourhoods all along the Bosphorus as well as the Golden Horn. The Genoese surrounded this area with walls and towers in different stages, where each significant construction was usually commemorated by a monumental mural slab, having the coats of arms of the Byzantine Empire, the Republic of Genoa, the doge of Genoa and the podesta of Pera. Moreover, inscriptions in Latin accompanied the heraldic devices and provided noteworthy information about the defensive works themselves; by whom and when they were executed. Among the approximately 45 mural slabs that were ever documented from the Genoese period of Galata, fifteen inscribed examples belong to the inventory of the museum today. They were primarily compiled and published by Victor Marie de Launay in the 19th century, in a time when the Galata Walls were started to be demolished for new urban development and the mural slabs were removed to the museum. Later studies of Luigi Tommaso Belgrano and Ettore Rossi not only updated as well as elaborated the information about them but also provided detailed visuals for the first time.

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Rhodes and the Knights Hospitaller – my internship with GRAPH-EAST

As it is rare for Master’s students to get the chance to contribute to research, I was happy to hear about the possibility to do an internship with the team of the ERC project GRAPH-EAST, which they announced during a presentation of their work to first year students of Medieval Studies in Poitiers. I was interested to learn how an international project of this scale is managed and to discover more about medieval epigraphy, a field that I had not yet explored before coming to Poitiers for my ERASMUS studies. Thus, I got in contact with Estelle Ingrand-Varenne and my internship was scheduled for five weeks in May and June 2023. It presented an instructive end to my studies in Poitiers, before returning to my home university in Heidelberg, Germany.

My work was centred around the medieval inscriptions in the Latin alphabet on Rhodes. From 1309 onwards, Rhodes was the main base of the Knights Hospitaller Order, until the island was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. Over the two centuries of their presence, the Knights left many archaeological and epigraphic traces around the town that are still visible today. My task was to register the inscriptions in the HEURIST database of the project, based on the information that I gathered from already published works.

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Les inscriptions d’Orient en France ? Les réserves du Musée de Cluny

Un des objectifs de GRAPH-EAST est de “penser l’épigraphie en mouvement” dans l’espace et le temps. S’il y a bien une écriture que l’on croit naturellement liée à une certaine stabilité, une fixité, voire une immobilité, c’est l’écriture épigraphique, tant par sa pesante matérialité que par la persistance de certains choix d’écriture et de langage. Cette source qui produit sa propre légende d’immutabilité. Pourtant, l’écriture en alphabet latin en Méditerranée orientale est bien une écriture migrante, voyageant au gré des vagues des Occidentaux, des pèlerins, des ordres militaires, ou encore des marchands. Les textes et les supports circulent. Penser le mouvement permet aussi de redonner vie à l’objet épigraphique, dans la longue durée, jusqu’à aujourd’hui, en suivant son parcours, ses multiples changements de statuts et de régimes de valeurs.

Pour donner une idée de ces mouvements, voici la carte des lieux de conservation des inscriptions du Royaume latin de Jérusalem (1099-1291).

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After an Epigraphic Expedition in Turkey and Greece…

Acting as a postdoctoral researcher for the ERC GRAPH-EAST project and its scientific team, I carried out a long field mission during summer 2022 in Turkey and some adjacent island of Greece. After a quite long, exhaustive series of travel arrangements as well as bureaucratic processes for permissions to inaccessible sites, the mission was overall a productive and, in some occasions, even surprisingly novel experience in my opinion. Therefore, I am feeling very glad on behalf of our project. In this case, I would like to share my documentations and discoveries in brief, accompanied by my impressions and research, concerning the Late Medieval Latin epigraphy in Turkey and Greece, also including the sites that I failed this time. My primary aim during the field mission was to document the inscriptions through detailed photography and taking basic measurements of them, which were formerly either omitted or considered superficially in the literature, so that our efforts shall produce new readings and interpretation in the context of epigraphy. The research is actually still ongoing and will be further elaborated during the 2022-2023 academic year.

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Offre de stages de Master

L’ERC GRAPH-EAST propose deux stages pour des étudiants de Master, afin de découvrir l’épigraphie médiévale et d’être au cœur d’un projet de recherche international.

Missions : 

1.       Participer  à l’enrichissement de la plateforme Bible en ses traditions (BEST) développée par l’Ecole biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem (EBAF), en entrant les citations bibliques des inscriptions du projet et d’autres du CIFM;

(pour en savoir plus sur la collaboration entre l’EBAF et le CESCM: https://epimed.hypotheses.org/1535) 

2.       Participer à la gestion de la documentation épigraphique du projet : à l’inscripthèque, sur la plateforme ShareDocs ;

3.       Participer au travail de communication/médiation du projet : augmenter la diffusion sur les réseaux sociaux (twitter, instagram, YouTube) en touchant le public étudiant.

Compétences à acquérir/développer :

  • Compétences en épigraphie médiévale (notamment en participant au webinaire/séminaire d’épigraphie : dates et horaires en ligne à voir : https://epimed.hypotheses.org/2662 ) ;
  • Capacité à travailler avec rigueur, organisation et autonomie ;
  • Capacité à travailler en équipe et dans un contexte interdisciplinaire et international ;
  • Maîtrise de l’anglais.

Modalité d’évaluation :

Sur le travail rendu, tout au long du stage, et en réalisant en fin de stage un article pour le carnet de recherche GRAPH-EAST (https://grapheast.hypotheses.org/ )

Calendrier :

Les stages peuvent étalés sur l’année 2022-2023 ou regroupés sur deux mois, afin d’atteindre les 280h.

Candidature : 

Si vous êtes intéressé, envoyez votre CV accompagné d’une lettre de motivation aux deux contacts suivants:

estelle.ingrand.varenne@univ-poitiers.fr et livie.candusso@univ-poitiers.fr

Pour lire un témoignage de stage, retrouvez le billet d’Amélie : https://grapheast.hypotheses.org/716 

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