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Tabula Imperii Byzantini

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Research on Historical Geography of the Byzantine Empire at the Austrian Academy of Sciences is conducted by the Tabula Imperii Byzantini (TIB).

This project, which already had a long and distinguished history, was accepted by the Union Académique Internationale in Brussels in 2015. The TIB carries out systematic research in the historical geography of the Byzantine Empire, from the early fourth to the mid-15th century. For the relevant regions, it thus offers a chronological continuation of the related project of the TIR (Tabula Imperii Romani, UAI Project 6a).

The aim of the TIB is to create a historical atlas of the Byzantine area from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern period. Individual regions are represented on maps on a scale of 1 : 800,000. Separate accompanying volumes present the results of further research in each region, including characteristic monuments, in the form of a gazeteer. Each volume contains detailed introductory chapters on geography and climate, borders and territorial designations, history, administrative history, church history and monasticism, traffic routes, economy and demographic developments. Twelve volumes have been published since 1976, three volumes – TIB 11 (Peter Soustal, “Macedonia, Southern Part”), 13 (Klaus Belke, “Bithynia and Hellespontos”) and 16 (Mihailo Popović, “Macedonia, Northern Part”) – will be published in 2019-2021, three more volumes are in preparation (see Fig. 1).

Each volume is based on extensive research which entails the analysis of written sources, inscriptions, seals etc., historical travel literature and maps, traditional place-names, reports of excavations and surveys. This is augmented by systematic field research in order to verify, modify or complete the information of the sources. Since the late 1990s, new methods have been added: studies of palaeo-climate and settlement theories (for example the modified "Central Place Theory"), as well as the regular use of the "Global Positioning System" (GPS) during field missions and surveys. Digital Humanities in the form of Historical Geographical Information Systems (HGIS) further contribute to the analysis and interpretation of the research data.

Recent initiatives in the field of Digital Humanities at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and related developments in Byzantine Studies have encouraged the TIB to step up its efforts in order

a. to provide a platform for the adequate presentation and sustainable usage of data from existing and future TIB volumes. The homepage of the TIB is a step in this direction and at the same time work in progress (http://tib.oeaw.ac.at/). In this manner, the sub-project "Digital Tabula Imperii Byzantini (DIGTIB)" (http://tib.oeaw.ac.at/index.php?seite=digitib) aims to create an online alphabetical gazetteer based on all published TIB volumes by extracting the indices of places and by listing the specific pages of documented toponyms within the respective volumes. This can serve, at a later stage, as the basis for the creation of Unique Digital Identifiers for the relevant historical locations, as a precondition for enhanced online searchability across multiple international projects.

b. to document the significant losses and damages to historical monuments in the regions of the former Byzantine Empire by digitising all color (slides) and monochrome pictures, taken by the researchers of the TIB since 1965, in order to preserve the conservation status of these buildings in the 20th century. As a first step, the digital record is archived at the Austrian Academy of Sciences and available for consultation by the international community upon request.

Moreover, the TIB is taking a leadership role in the Commission for the Historical Geography and Spatial Analysis of Byzantium (http://aiebnet.gr/commissions/#1486389731376-856a14a2-3995) of the Association Internationale des Etudes Byzantines (AIEB). This has the aim to observe the ongoing scholarly developments in the fields of the Historical Geography and Spatial Analysis of Byzantium, to compare ongoing projects and to address relevant methodological questions. This Commission of the AIEB also serves as the international platform where the TIB engages in active collaboration and consultation with related projects that are carried out in other countries.

List of Committees

Austrian Committee
POPOVIC MihailoProject leaderAustrian Academy of Sciences
KÜLZER Andreas Project leaderAustrian Academy of Sciences
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