The Research Project
In the European part of Turkey, about half way between Istanbul and Edirne, lies the provincial town of Vize (Bizye). As an outpost of Constantinople on the Balkan peninsula and the source of a key water supply, in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period Vize was of upmost strategic and military importance and correspondingly is often mentioned in historical sources as an episcopal see, a refuge, a pilgrimage destination as well as a Byzantine military base. Several architectural monuments from Late Antiquity, the Byzantine and Ottoman periods, for the most part located in and around the town’s acropolis, served to illustrate Vize’s military and economic significance at the time. There are also several former church and secular buildings within the fortification walls, which are thought to have been built as early as the 6th century.
Despite the presence of numerous architectural remnants of great cultural-historical significance in the Acropolis of Vize, an extensive investigation and documentation of the upper part of the town had never been undertaken. In 2003, as part of a collaborative project between the Istanbul satellite of the German Archaeological Institute and Columbia University in New York, archaeologists Prof. Franz Alto Bauer and Prof. Holger Klein began the task of conducting an archaeological examination of the Hagia Sophia, which scholars had hitherto barely touched upon.
The focal point of the research project, which has been receiving support from the Gerda Henkel Foundation since 2010 and is headed by Prof. Franz Alto Bauer and Prof. Holger Klein, is to conduct a topographic survey of the Acropolis of Vize. Within the area surrounded by the Late Ancient town walls there are countless architectural remnants from Late Antiquity, the Byzantine and Ottoman periods that until now have remained entirely undocumented. The planned survey promises to provide a great deal of new knowledge, on not only the history of the town as a Medieval settlement but also the genesis and historical development of its still relatively unexplored fortifications, as well as the “position” of the Hagia Sophia within Vize’s town structure. And so, a thorough archaeological survey will most likely provide us with a much more coherent picture of the settlement, which will in turn tell us more about the town structure in Vize during the Byzantine period and moreover promises further insights into this little-researched era between the 7th and 9th centuries.
Prof. Dr. Franz Alto BauerLocation
Prof. Dr. Holger Klein