Monuments of forgotten empire Trebizond on show
ISTANBULRelegated to a comparative footnote in history, the empire of Trebizond will get some of its due in a new exhibition at Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED) that is presenting monuments from the Byzantine-era empire.
“Byzantium’s Other Empire: Trebizond,” which opened in the last week of June, particularly focuses on the 13th-century church of Hagia Sophia in Trabzon, the best preserved monument in the city, which is famed for its unusual architecture, unique sculptural decorations and extraordinary Byzantine wall paintings.
Curated by Professor Dr. Antony Eastmond, dean of the Courtauld Institute-University of London, the exhibition draws extensively on the photography and drawing archives of David and June Winfield.
The Winfields restored the church from 1959 to 1963 in a project masterminded by David Talbot Rice, and the exhibition also includes Talbot Rice’s photographs from 1929, as well as those of other early scholars who visited Trabzon, notably French scholar Gabriel Millet in 1893 and Russia’s Fyodor Uspenskii in 1917. Between them, the scholars recorded the city, its palaces, churches and monasteries. Their archives provide glimpses of a lost empire and of the city of Trabzon which has been transformed in the decades since their visits. The exhibition also includes a 3D model of Hagia Sophia in 1/72 scale. Further, the first book ever published on Trabzon, “Byzantine Painting at Trabzon” and two rare books are on display.
Greatest surviving Byzantine monument
Hagia Sophia in Trabzon is considered to be the greatest surviving imperial Byzantine monument of the 13th century in Turkey. It offers a glimpse into both the later stages of the empire and a unique artistic style which combined elements from Byzantium with the Turkish and Caucasian societies present elsewhere in Anatolia at the time. The Courtauld Institute and ANAMED have collaborated to display these remarkable records collected over the last 115 years that bring this lost empire back to life. The exhibition, which is accompanied by a scholarly book entitled “Byzantium’s Other Empire: Trebizond,” will be open until Sept. 18.