Workshop: From Oriens Christianus to the Islamic Near East: Theological, Historical and Cultural Cross-pollination in the Eastern Mediterranean of Late Antiquity

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Date: 7th – 8th December, 2017

Venue: Freie Universität Berlin, Topoi Building Dahlem, Hittorfstraße 18, D-14195 Berlin

Admission: Free and open to all interested specialists and Ph.D. students



We are delighted to announce a forthcoming International Workshop: ‘From Oriens Christianus to the Islamic Near East: Theological, Historical and Cultural Cross-pollination in the Eastern Mediterranean of Late Antiquity’. The workshop seeks to shed new light on the crossroads at which the Late Antique world of the Eastern Mediterranean heralded diverse exchanges between Oriental Christendom, Byzantine culture and the Islamic world. Furthermore, how these exchanges impacted the development of diverse regions, cultures, languages, and religions.

The workshop will provide an inter-disciplinary overview of the various perspectives emerging from the Christian Oriental, Byzantine, Early Islamic and Archaeological approaches to this area of research. The key objective of the workshop is to explore the possibilities of a unified and holistic approach to understanding the “Sattelzeit” (R. Koselleck)  i.e. the period between 500 and 750 CE. While the scope of the workshop has been intentionally left broad, the papers will primarily focus on the following areas:

  • The role of Eastern/Oriental Christians in the relationship(s) formed between the Islamic Caliphate and the Byzantine Empire.
  • Scripture and Arts as a medium of interchange between Christians and Muslims.
  • The historical narratives and administrative reality of the expansion of the Islamic Empire.

The workshop will take place on 7th – 8th December, 2017 at Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin) and is the collaborative effort of the Chair of Byzantine Studies (FU Berlin), Radboud University, and Gorgias Press.

We hope that the workshop will encourage fruitful discussions about the state-of-the-art of the field and highlight potential areas for future inquiry. We further expect the workshop to provide a platform for both established researchers in the field and early-career academics (including advanced Ph.D. students). The workshop proceedings will be published in an edited volume by Gorgias Press. 

For further information about the workshop, please contact Manolis Ulbricht:


Manolis Ulbricht, Berlin Byzantine Studies (Freie Universität Berlin)
Adam Walker, Radboud University / Gorgias Press



Workshop Programme



Session 1

13:30 – Introductory Note

Mr Manolis Ulbricht, Freie Universität Berlin

13:45 – Early Shiʿism as a Late Antique Religiosity: Some Preliminary Remarks

Dr Ahab Bdaiwi, Leiden University

14:10 – The Practice of Empire: The View from Khurāsān

Mr Ahmad Khan, Universität Hamburg

14:30 – Discussion

15:00 – Tea Break


Session 2

15:15 –The Sophistication of Arguments in Theodore Abū Qurra’s Dialogues with Muslims

Professor Dr Reinhold F. Glei, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

15:40 –Theology as History in the Heresiology of John of Damascus

Professor Dr Peter Schadler, Dickinson College

16:00 – Discussion

16:30 – Conference Edited Volume (Discussion of formalities)

16:45 – Tea Break


17:00 - Keynote

Professor Dr Johannes Niehoff-Panagiotidis,

Chair of Byzantine Studies at the Institute for Greek and Latin Philology, Freie Universität Berlin






Session 3

09:00 – Confronting Ambiguity: Scripture and the Emergence of Self-Definition Under Early Islam

Professor Dr Aaron Hughes, University of Rochester

09:25 – A Tale of Two Conquests: A Local Historian’s View of Islamic Conquest and
Byzantine Reconquest Along the Northern Mesopotamian Frontier

Dr Harry Munt, University of York

09:50 – The Tabūk Expedition Revisited

Mr Adam Walker, Radboud University

10:10 – Discussion

10:40 – Tea Break


Session 4

10:55 – The End of Muʿāwiyah’s Reign and that of the Whole World: Retrospective Overview of John Bar Penkāyē

Ms Yulia Furman, Russian State University for the Humanities

11:20 – Who Wrote the last Greek Documents in Islamic Egypt?

Dr Lajos Berkes, Heidelberg University

11:40 – Discussion


12:00 – Concluding Remarks

Mr Manolis Ulbricht, Freie Universität Berlin