We are thrilled to fund Konstantinos Politis in his research. So what is the project?
About the project:
The Barakat Trust is delighted to award a grantto Konstantinos Politics for his research into the Islamic heritage of Greece; specifically the Greek city of Chalkida. A continuation of last year’s brilliant project, with a grant from The Barakat Trust, the purpose of this year’s project is to examine a series of Ottoman Turkish documents that contain information on the Islamic monuments during Ottoman-period Chalkida – and amazingly, this year’s project has already confirmed the identity and location of several mosques in Chalkida.
The city of Chalkida in Greece has a storied history. Beginning with tactical importance in ancient times as a controller of sea lanes and naval invasion, it was known during the Ottoman period as Eğriboz. During the mid-seventeenth century, Ottoman traveller and explorer Evliya Çelebi described it as a well-built and spacious urban centre, with approximately 4,000 houses and a population of 16,000-17,000 in distinct Muslim, Christian and Jewish quarters. The municipality was the administrative centre of an Ottoman sub-province (sancaḳ). The city had a flourishing marketplace of some 400 shops as well as numerous remarkable mosques and religious seminaries. It also had a shipyard and a large state-of-the-art strategic fortress, serving the military needs of Ottoman rule. With all this might and splendour, Eğriboz/Chalkida became the de facto capital of the Aegean Sea.
Some of the documents pertain to pious endowments, and these will allow the research to establish the role of Islamic institutions in everyday life of Ottoman Eğriboz/Chalkida, exploring their relationship with certain segments of the population of the city – especially with the marketplace guilds and peasants who were appointed to cultivate the fields owned by these endowments. Other documents will allow the team to determine the role of the fortress and the shipyard in the vibrant economic and social life of the city, while also studying the hinterland through the watchtowers erected across the island of Euboea due to the local shipyard receiving timber from its forests.
The project employs 4-5 recent university graduates as trainees in order to transfer knowledge to the next generation. The public outreach campaign includes lectures and site visits of local school groups, cultural societies and municipalities in the region in order to raise awareness of Islam during the Ottoman period in Greece as a whole, and particularly in the region of Chalkida. Several open field days will be made to teach school children how to identify Islamic monuments and their culture/historical significance in relation to the heritage of their local communities thereby bolstering their identity with the recent past. Towards the end of the five-year project, an exhibition of the finds will be mounted in the local Archaeological Museum of Chalkida.
This is part of the first intensive regional survey in Greece to focus exclusively on the medieval and post-medieval periods.
About the grantee:
Konstantinos D. Politis is an archaeologist educated in Greece, the United States, Belgium and Britain. His early fieldwork was in Greece and Liechtenstein. From 1988 until 2011 he was based at the British Museum which was the principal sponsor of his excavations in Jordan and Oman. He specialises in the early Byzantine and early Islamic periods.
Dr Politis’ most important work was the discovery and subsequent excavation of the Sanctuary of Lot on the south-eastern shore of the Dead Sea, followed by the publication of a major report on that project with the British Museum (2012). He has also published Holy Footprints across the Jordan: A Journey to the Ancient and Religious Sites on the Eastern Side of the Jordan Rift Valley (2010), The World of the Nabataeans (2007) and many scholarly articles.
Dr Politis is chairperson of the Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies and an active member of the Palestine Exploration Fund. He leads excavations of Zoara, modern Safi in Jordan, and at Ra’s al-Hadd in Oman.
Over the past 25 years, Dr Politis has presented many scholarly and popular lectures in Europe, the Near East, Australia and North America. He regularly leads academic tour groups to Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Oman and Greece.