Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Studies Symposium: "Processions: Urban Ritual in Byzantium and Neighboring Lands," April 12–13, 2019



Byzantine Studies Symposium, Leslie Brubaker and Nancy Ševčenko, Symposiarchs

Military, civic, and religious processions were hallmarks of the ancient and medieval world; they continued into the Renaissance and, indeed, continue to this day. Yet the Byzantine procession has not yet been subjected to any synthetic, historicizing, contextualizing, or comparative examination.

Understanding processions is critical for our appreciation of how urban space worked and was manipulated in the Middle Ages. For the 2019 Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Symposium, speakers will examine texts, artifacts, and images in order to develop a new understanding of medieval urban life across multiple social registers. For example, records of processions show us what kinds of public behavior were acceptable, and when, and where. Studying processions introduces us to new protagonists as well, for processions involve audiences as well as participants, and groups hitherto virtually invisible, such as the team of people who prepared for the event by decorating the streets, will be brought to light. The Byzantine commitment to processions is striking in terms of the resources and time allocated: there were as many as two processions a week in Constantinople, many involving the patriarch and the emperor. In the Latin West, the Crusader States, and in the Fatimid, Ottoman, and Muscovite worlds, by comparison, processions occurred far less frequently: the procession was significantly more important to the Byzantines than to their neighbors and successors. The comparative study of Byzantine processions to be offered by the speakers at the symposium will reveal how the Byzantines operated in a complex global network defined by local contexts, how the Byzantines positioned themselves within this network, and the nature of the Byzantine legacy to the Islamic, Catholic, and Orthodox inheritors of their culture.

Image: Trier, Cathedral Treasury, ivory panel, ca 800 (?): Imperial procession with relic


  • Nathanael Andrade, “Controlling Material and Semiotic Landscapes: Processions in Late Antiquity”
  • Christine Angelidi, “Sparkling creations, threads of tradition. Marian processions in medieval Constantinople”
  • Leslie Brubaker, “Bridging the gap: processions in early medieval Constantinople”
  • Michael Featherstone, “Public Processions in Middle Byzantine Constantinople”
  • Georgia Frank, “The Things They Carried: Religious Processions in Early Byzantium”
  • Michael Flier, “Changing times, divergent destinies: Processional Imagery in the Age of the Tsar”
  • Niels Gaul, “Processions in the late Byzantine world”
  • Çiğdem Kafescioğlu, “Guild processions in Istanbul: claiming public space in the early modern city”
  • James Norrie, “11th–12th century processions in Milan and Rome – urban conflict or civic integration?”
  • Paula Sanders, “Negotiating power in the Islamic Mediterranean: Urban Processions in Egypt, North Africa, and Iberia”
  • Sebastian Salvadó/M. Cecilia Gaposchkin, “The Latin Processions in Jerusalem”
  • Alexandra Vukovich, “Princely Processions and Peregrinations Itinerant Rulership in Early Rus”



  • When

  • Friday, April 12, 2019 - Saturday, April 13, 2019
    8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    Eastern Time

  • Where

  • Dumbarton Oaks Music Room
    1703 32nd Street, NW
    Washington, District of Columbia 20007

Outlook Outlook
iCal iCal
Google Google
Yahoo! Yahoo!