On November 9 Bilkent University hosted an international workshop, “Sailing to Byzantium: Insular and Coastal Urban Spaces in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean,” which brought together historians and archaeologists from several Turkish and Italian universities. The event was organized by the Bilkent Department of History in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute and with the support of the Italian ambassador to Turkey, Luigi Mattiolo, who, along with Department of History Acting Chair David Thornton, delivered opening remarks.
The workshop focused on the development of the insular world and the coastal realities of the medieval Mediterranean. This was a period that witnessed the transition from the unified Mare Nostrum of the Romans to a “Great Sea” divided among different cultures and religions. Salvatore Cosentino (University of Bologna) explored the vital role of Byzantine islands in the Middle Ages, while Enrico Zanini (University of Siena), Macid Tekinalp (Hacettepe University) and Matthew Harpster (Koç University) presented the recent results of the archaeological missions in Gortyn, Arykanda and Amalfi. Finally, Luca Zavagno, Nathan Liedholm and Scott Kennedy (Bilkent University) analyzed the importance of urban coastal insular sites as well as the role played by their inhabitants, in particular intellectuals such as Bessarion and military commanders such as Çaka Bey, in the political and cultural history of the Mediterranean.