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30th November 2021




Microsoft Teams

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Old talismans of a new city? Istanbul’s antiquities in the Ottoman Books of Wonders

Online talk by Professor Asli Niyazioglu, Associate Professor in Ottoman History

Tuesday 30th November 2021


In sixteenth-century Ottoman cosmographical works, Istanbul is a city of ancient sculptures and columns. At a time when the ruling elite were building a “new” city with monumental mosque-complexes, some among the learned circles were committed to circulating “old” stories about Byzantine monuments in their Books of Wonders. Following Arabic and Byzantine traditions, they presented Istanbul’s ancient monuments as talismans which protected the city, foretold its future, or admonished its denizens. For these writers, Istanbul’s ancient monuments were not insignificant remains of a distant past, as often assumed, but sources of wonder which had enduring messages for their Ottoman audiences. This talk will explore what the sixteenth-century cosmographers wanted their contemporaries to see when looking at these talismans and why they urged their readers, now us, not to overlook the ancient wonders of Ottoman Istanbul.

To attend, please click on the link below shortly before 6pm on 30th November. We are unable to record this particular talk for later viewing.