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  Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 13:00 p.m.

Relics of St John the Baptist in the Topkapı Sarayı

Faculty Tower, Room #409


Ralph Cleminson

University of Portsmouth

The Topkapı Sarayı in Istanbul possesses relics of the Head and Right Hand of John the Baptist, now displayed amongst other artefacts from the Sultan's Treasury. The two relics have separate histories, and appear to have become associated only in the Treasury at a comparatively recent date. Both have had an extremely eventful past, and though both were previously associated with Constantinople, they have traveled separately through Asia Minor, the Greek Islands, Mount Athos, and Wallachia, and have been associated with such prominent figures in Balkan history as the Carica Mara and Neagoe Basarab. They have also become the focus of a considerable amount of narrative text, both historical and fictional. In the lecture we shall attempt to distinguish between the two, and in pursuing both the relics and their associated texts across the ages, draw what lessons we can for Thistorical method.

Ralph Cleminson is Professor of Slavonic Studies at the University of Portsmouth, and Recurrent Visiting Professor in the Department of Mediaeval Studies at the CEU. He has a long-standing interest in cyrillic palaeography and codicology, most recently in the description of the Slavonic cyrillic codices of the National Széchényi Library. He is also active in the field of textual criticism and the application of new technology to mediaeval studies.

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