Union Académique Internationale

Tabula Imperii Byzantini

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Project n°87, adopted in 2015

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 gazetteer. 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. Thirteen volumes have been published since 1976, two volumes – TIB 11 (Peter Soustal, “Macedonia, Southern Part”) and 16 (Mihailo Popović, “Macedonia, Northern Part”) – will be published until 2022, 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. A homepage of the TIB has been established and is regularly updated (http://tib.oeaw.ac.at/). The sub-project "Digital Tabula Imperii Byzantini (Dig-TIB)" (https://tib.oeaw.ac.at/index.php?seite=digtib) has created 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. Moreover, in all lists you may access the pdf files of the respective TIB volume by clicking on the page number, which is tagged to respective page in the pdf of the volume. Due to copyright regulations of the Austrian Academy of Sciences these functions are available for the TIB volumes 1-7, 12 and 13. A new line of development is state of the art Geocommunication of current TIB content and results. Therefore, the TIB Balkans (Mihailo St. Popović) is creating, developing and upkeeping the online atlas "Maps of Power: Historical Atlas of Places, Borderzones and Migration Dynamics in Byzantium" (https://data1.geo.univie.ac.at/projects/tibapp) since 2019.

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. A "best practice" has been created for the slides of the TIB via the TIB sub-project "Die digitale Tabula Imperii Byzantini (Dig-TIB) als Beitrag zum Weltkulturerbe" (2018-2020). For the time being, 7,172 slides of the TIB volumes 5 ("Cilicia and Isauria", Friedrich Hild; 4,981 slides), 12 ("Eastern Thrace (Eurōpē)", Andreas Külzer; 1,252 slides) and 16 ("Macedonia, Northern Part", Mihailo St. Popović; 939 slides) have been scanned and embedded with the respective metadata in the open-source software CollectiveAccess. You may access this data via: https://catalogue.tib.oeaw.ac.at/

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