From Paspates to Sillogos: ‘Heritagization’ of Byzantine Remnants in situ.

By Firuzan Melike Sumertas
Submitted to Session P4888 (Who Protects What! Actors of Conservation from Late Ottoman Empire to Republican Turkey, 2017 Annual Meeting
Anatolia; Ottoman Empire;
19th-21st Centuries;
LCD Projector without Audio;
Being established in 1861, effective until 1922 and accompanied with an annual journal, the Greek Literary Society (Sillogos) was almost the most enduring and productive society of Ottoman intellectual milieu. Although it was founded by a small group of Ottoman-Greek intellectuals, mostly doctors, the Sillogos very quickly drove the attention of many intellectuals, either from different communities of Istanbul, (Muslim, Armenian etc.) or of European origin. Formed as a “literary society”, major aim of the Sillogos was to enhance studies on Greek language and to empower the education of Greek youth within the Ottoman Empire. Yet, in accordance with their focus on the sustainability of the Greek culture as an integral part of their identity, members of the Sillogos also conducted extensive research on the architectural and archaeological remnants of the Greek past within the Ottoman lands, from Antiquity to Byzantine periods, a significant part of which was on Istanbul.

Among many members of Sillogos, a doctor named Alexandros Paspates, had a significant position. He was a prominent doctor who had been the head of Bal?kl? Greek Hospital in Istanbul, but at the same time he was an antiquarian historian who also had conducted extensive in situ research on Byzantine era buildings. He presented the outcomes of his work at monthly meetings of Sillogos and published them within its journal. One such work was his research on the Land Walls of Istanbul which he had started when he still was working at Bal?kl?. This research also had invoked a significant interest among the members of Sillogos which had resulted in the initiation of a map making project around the turn of 1870s, the end product of which was an extensive documentation of the Land Walls. It was also published within Sillogos’s journal. Following this project, Paspates also published his research on the Land Walls together with an extensive study of Byzantine Churches and Palaces was published as a book entitled as “Byzantine Studies”.

Within this background, this paper will focus on Sillogos and Paspates, and their role on the ‘heritagization’ of the Byzantine remnants in Istanbul. Through cases of Land Walls, the Great Palace excavation and several other churches it will focus on the transformative role of these works for the appropriation of them as “Heritage”. It will underline the impact of them both on the succeeding literature and praxis on those remnants.