Publications/Sep 21, 2022

First Issue of Journal of Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies

First Issue of Journal of Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies lead image

Journal of Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies, volume 1, issue 1–2 (September 2022). [Open access]


Premodern ‘Galaktology’: Reading Milk in Ancient and Early Byzantine Medical Treatises
Stavroula Constantinou and Aspasia Skouroumouni-Stavrinou

Extant medical treatises from Greco-Roman antiquity and early Byzantium (second–seventh century CE) repeatedly foreground human milk as a therapeutic and a nutritional agathon (good), but also as a potential cause of malfunctioning and disease. Through a discussion of the juxtaposition of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ milk in the examined treatises, along with an investigation of the milk terminology and rhetoric employed, this article shows that milk’s usefulness was primarily defined not according to its effects on the human body, but in terms of the producer’s moral worth: the lactating woman’s (i.e. biological mother’s or wet nurse’s) ability to meet certain moral standards.

Death at the Door of the Karapet: Gendered Space, Masculinity, the Breastfeeding Mother, and Cultic Competition in Late Antique Tarōn
Alison M. Vacca

This article centres gender as an important analytical category to explore regionally-specific expressions of religiosity that bridge the pre-Christian and Late Antique periods. It relates the story of a sixth-century noblewoman who reportedly entered an exclusively male monastery dedicated to John the Baptist, known in Armenian as the Karapet. Her challenge to the monastery is mapped spatially, where male order separates homosocial, sacred from heterosocial, mundane space, while female disorder threatens to dissolve that divide. Her death at the hand of a heavenly apparition establishes the militant model of the Karapet as intermediary in lieu of the nourishing motif developed about the Virgin Mary throughout the text. This story demonstrates how Late Antique motifs find very different iterations in local contexts. It must be understood in its Tarōnec‘i particularities, drawing on traditions specific to Tarōn to envision Christian cultic competition as continuation from a pre-Christian past.

Malalas’ Chronographia and Islamic Representations of Early Roman History
Abed el-Rahman Tayyara

Situated chronologically within the transition from Late Antiquity to Islam, the article echoes certain facets of the Byzantine-Islamic intellectual dialogues. Geographically, it reflects scholarly activities within the Antiochene sphere of influence. The essay particularly considers the extent to which John Malalas’ Chronographia impacted early Islamic representations of early Roman history in terms of materials, themes, and narrative arrangement. At the centre of this inquiry is the foundation narrative of the city of Rome and the story of Romulus and Remus. An emphasis is placed here on the crucial role that Melkite Arab-Christian historians played in the transmission of these narratives. Syriac intermediaries serve here as essential links in the path of transmission form Malalas to Islamic historical writings. The study, which is a comparative textual analysis of relevant accounts, illuminates certain facets of the Byzantine-Islamic intellectual encounters regarding the conveyance of historical knowledge and the construction of historiographic worldview. The consideration of these transformations offers a distinctive viewpoint for understanding features of the transmission of knowledge beyond the Judeo-Christian or Greco-Syriac milieus.

Early Qurʾānic Scrolls from the Qubbat al-khazna and their links with the Christian Manuscript Tradition of Greek-Byzantine Scrolls
Arianna D’Ottone Rambach

This contribution aims to reconsider some early Qurʾānic parchment scrolls once stored in Damascus Qubbat al-khazna and currently preserved in Istanbul – at the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Their peculiar book form, apart from vague hypothesis, never received a convincing explanation. However, the production of Greek-Byzantine liturgical scrolls in Damascus up to the tenth century offers a meaningful precedent that sheds light on the provenance and the origin of these scrolls. Codicological techniques, bilingual – Greek-Arabic – witnesses and oral performances are some of the elements that link the Christian and Islamic scrolls production in the Syrian area.

Hierotechnicians by Name and their Middle Byzantine Fame
Alexandre M. Roberts

This article examines the names of authors appearing in the front matter of our single most important witness to the Greek Alchemical Corpus, Marcianus graecus 299 (ca. tenth century). The names appear in the table of contents and in a list of authors, both original to the manuscript. The aim is to understand how these authorial attributions would have resonated with readers. What was the portrait of the textual tradition of the Sacred Art that the authorial collectivity implied? The answer, in short: philosophical, imperial, and linked not only with Egypt but also with Persia and the Levant.