Sunday Evening Lecture:
James Crow, Byzantine routes and frontiers in the Black Sea region and the hagiographical dossier of St Eugenios
Time: Sunday, November 29, 2020 06:00 PM
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An account of the miracles of St Eugenios, the patron saint of Trebizond (Trabzon), tells how two Byzantine notables met to deliberate on a celebration for the saint’s birthday. One was John Chaldes, Dux of Chaldia, who is identified as ‘the son of the founder of the beautiful and famous monastery of Christ the Saviour at Syrmena’. John is known from seals and other sources to be active in the later 9th century, and my talk follows a number of sources to identify the monastery with the ruins at Buzaluca, 27 km east of Trabzon, close to Araklı on the Black Sea coast. The site was studied nearly 30 years ago and we were able to show that it was not a Roman fort as once thought, but a remarkable monastic settlement with an unusual planned church. But the miracle tales of St Eugenios do not just help us to identify the site, but they present colourful narratives of the hazardous journeys the monks faced following the valley of the Kara Dere, where Buzluca lies, and across the Pontic mountains towards Bayburt, where monastic estates supplied corn for the coast. Despite the anecdotal nature of many of the miracle stories, together with an understanding of the topography and associated remains we can derive a richer image of these borderlands throughout the middle ages.
James Crow is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches and researches late Roman and Byzantine archaeology. He particular areas of interest include the Black Sea and the Aegean where he is concerned with landscape and settlement. He has written extensively on a range of themes from Hadrian’s Wall to Procopius and Dara, and the Byzantine fortifications of Sinop. Current projects include the Water Supply of Constantinople, and the landscape and settlement archaeology of Apalirou, Naxos, as well as publishing earlier excavations and surveys.