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The Prosopography of the Middle-Byzantine Period

Logo PmbZWhat is a prosopography?
A prosopography is a biographical dictionary of all persons of a specified period, a defined geographical area and/or an otherwise specifically defined group such as e. g. a special social group. It reports all the information on such persons that is contained in the different sources (such as chronicles, letters, saints' lives, legal documents as well as other texts like inscriptions and seals) and lists the respective sources.

The Prosopography of the Middle-Byzantine Period

The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of sciences and humanities project "Prosopographie der mittelbyzantinischen Zeit (= PmbZ)" (Prosopography of the Middle-Byzantine Period) aims at creating such a biographical dictionary for all people who between 641 and 1025 lived in the Byzantine Empire or were in contact with the Empire and are mentioned in the sources of that period. The individual articles offer the reader a summary of a person's biography (where possible) and state all sources pertaining to this person.
For technical reasons, the period covered by the PmbZ was divided into two sections ("Abteilungen"): the first running from 641 to 867, the second from 867 to 1025. The first section (641-867) has already been published in seven volumes and comprises about 11,500 articles on individuals (rarely groups) in alphabetical order. The second section (867-1025) is currently being compiled and will probably encompass about 8.000 items (but with an amount of data similar to that of the first section, as people in this later period tend to be more extensively documented in the sources).

What can prosopographies be used for?

Hagia SophiaThe PmbZ does not only record information on the better known individuals at the top of the social pyramid such as emperors, patriarchs, high officials and military commanders, but on all people mentioned in the sources, i. e. also on peasants, soldiers, ordinary monks (albeit these have a much smaller chance than those belonging to the higher strata of society to be included in the annals of history and therefore are not represented in the PmbZ in true proportion to their numbers). This comprehensive character of the PmbZ allows the reader to study questions of social structure, of the development of state and church institutions or offices and of many other subjects. A prerequisite for such studies are good indices which enable the reader of the PmbZ to quickly find all the articles which could relate to his/her research interest. Of course, the print edition of the first section of the PmbZ (641-871) offers (in the seventh and last volume) the traditional indices a reader might expect.

Prosopography in the digital era

Skylitzes Krönung Michael ITraditional book indices, however, fall short of the possibilities of electronic indices and databases, which allow for combined searches. If e. g. you wanted to look up all biographical articles on monastics in a specific geographical area (say: Bithynia) in the printed indices, you would have to compare all the index entries under "Bithynien" in the geographical index and "Monachos" as well as "Hegumenos" as well as ... in the index "Titel/Berufe" in order to find matches - a very time-consuming process! More comfortable search tools are highly desirable, especially for works of reference like the PmbZ.

We are here presenting a new electronic index to the first section of the PmbZ. Due to the copyright of our publishers (de Gruyter) we are not entitled to let you view the complete articles as they can be found in the book publication, but you are nevertheless given full search options for all the indices as well as for the complete texts of the articles and you can combine searches in various ways. The results which you will be given will contain the complete information of all the indices, whereas of the main text only the first 200 signs of the biographical summary (or 200 signs of the context of the term you searched for) will be shown to you. This information will allow you to assess, whether the result is what you were looking for. You can then use the number ("Personenkennziffer") and the name to look up your results in the printed publication of the PmbZ or - if the volumes are not available to you - to dispatch a copy order to a library.

"Project of the Month"

The "TELOTA-Project of the Month" has transformed all the prosopographical data of the first section of the PmbZ from the original database format into an internet compatible XML-structure, which offers new electronic search options.

Website of the PmbZ

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