AP: Greek monastery manuscripts tell new story of Ottoman rule

Α Decrease font Enlarge font
AP: Greek monastery manuscripts tell new story of Ottoman ruleThe libraries of the self-governed community, established more than 1,000 years ago on northern Greece’s Athos peninsula, are a repository of rare, centuries-old works in several languages including Greek, Russian and Romanian

Associated Press reports from Mount Athos in Greece that a church bell sounds, the staccato thudding of mallet on plank summons monks to afternoon prayers, and deep voices are raised in communal chant. And high in the great tower of Pantokrator Monastery, a metal library door swings open.

There, deep inside the medieval fortified monastery in the Mount Athos monastic Orthodox Christian community, researchers are for the first time tapping a virtually unknown treasure — thousands of Ottoman-era manuscripts that include the oldest of their kind in the world.

The libraries of the self-governed community, established more than 1,000 years ago on northern Greece’s Athos peninsula, are a repository of rare, centuries-old works in several languages including Greek, Russian and Romanian.

Many have been extensively studied, but not the Ottoman Turkish documents, products of an occupying bureaucracy that ruled northern Greece from the late 14th century — well before the Byzantine capital, Constantinople, fell to the Ottomans in 1453 — until the early 20th when the area became Greek again.

Byzantine scholar Jannis Niehoff-Panagiotidis says it’s impossible to understand Mount Athos’ economy and society under Ottoman rule without consulting these documents, which regulated the monks’ dealings with secular authorities.

“Ottoman was the official language of the state,” he told The Associated Press from the library of the Pantokrator Monastery, one of 20 on the heavily wooded peninsula.

Niehoff-Panagiotidis, a professor at the Free University of Berlin, said the oldest of the roughly 25,000 Ottoman works found in the monastic libraries dates to 1374, or 1371. That’s older than any known in the world, he said, adding that in Istanbul, as the Ottomans renamed Constantinople when they made the city their own capital, the oldest archives only go back to the late 15th century.

“The first documents that shed light (on the first period of Ottoman history) are saved here, on Mount Athos,” he said, seated at a table piled with documents and books. Others, the rare ones, are stored in large wooden drawers.

These include highly ornate Sultans’ firmans — or decrees — deeds of ownership and court decisions.

“The overwhelming majority are legal documents,” said Anastasios Nikopoulos, a jurist and scientific collaborator of the Free University of Berlin who’s been working with Niehoff-Panagiotidis on the project for the past few months.

And the manuscripts tell a story at odds with the traditional understanding in Greece of Ottoman depredations in the newly-conquered areas, through the confiscation of the Mount Athos monasteries’ rich real estate holdings. Instead, the new rulers took the community under their wing, preserved its autonomy, and protected it from external interference.

“The Sultans’ firmans we saw in the tower … and the Ottoman state’s court decisions show that the monks’ small democracy was able to gain the respect of all-conquering powers,” Nikopoulos said. “And that is because Mount Athos was seen as a cradle of peace, culture … where peoples and civilizations coexisted peacefully.”

Nikopoulos said that one of the first actions of Murad II, the Ottoman ruler who conquered Thessaloniki — the closest city to Mount Athos — was to draw up a legal document in 1430 protecting the community.

“That says a lot. The Ottoman sultan himself ensured that the administrative system of Mount Athos was preserved and safeguarded,” he said.

Even before that, Niehoff-Panagiotidis added, a sultan issued a mandate laying down strict punishment for intruders after a band of marauding soldiers engaged in minor thieving from one of the monasteries.

“It’s strange that the sultans kept Mount Athos, the last remnant of Byzantium, semi-independent and didn’t touch it,” he said. “They didn’t even keep troops here. At the very most they would have a local representative who probably stayed at (the community’s administrative center, Karyes) and sipped tea.”

Another unexpected revelation, Niehoff-Panagiotidis said, was that for roughly the first two centuries of Ottoman rule no effort was made to impose Islamic law on Mount Athos or nearby parts of northern Greece.

“Mount Athos was something like a continuation of Byzantium,” he said.

The community was first granted self-governance through a decree by Byzantine Emperor Basil II, in 883 AD. Throughout its history, women have been forbidden from entering, a ban that still stands. This rule is called “avaton” and the researchers believe that it concerns every form of external administrative or secular intervention that could affect Mount Athos.

Father Theophilos, a Pantokrator monk who is helping with the research, said the documents show the far-flung influence of Mount Athos.

“Their study also illuminates examples of how people can live with each other, principles that are common to all humanity, the seeds of human rights and respect for them, democracy, and the principles of social coexistence,” he told The Associated Press.

The research project is expected to continue for several months, even years.

“What could emerge in the long term I’ll be able to say when we have cataloged and digitized all the documents,” Niehoff-Panagiotidis said. “Right now, nobody knows what’s hidden here. Perhaps, even older documents.”

Read more at thenationalherald.com

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinationsGreek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Gabriel

 

Tornos
  1. 02/12 22:36

    Greek Foreign Minister meets visiting Italian counterpat in Athens

  2. 02/12 22:29

    Greek Prime Minister attends first day of EPP summit meeting in Athens

  3. 02/12 21:32

    Four Greek-American physicians made Archons by Ecumenical Patriarch of Orthodoxy

  4. 02/12 16:26

    Enterprise Greece to organize Greek Pavilion at MIPIM 2023 exhibition

  5. 02/12 00:53

    UNWTO and European Commission share joint vision fro sector's future

  6. 02/12 00:25

    Vegan Fiesta Hellas 2022 in Athens this weekend

  7. 02/12 00:24

    President of Hellenic Republic receives New York mayor Eric Adams

  8. 02/12 00:21

    Athens and New York become twin cities formally

  9. 01/12 22:50

    Finance Minister puts pressure on Greek banks to relieve vulnerable debtors

  10. 01/12 22:28

    Athens and world mayors light Christmas Tree at Syntagma Square

  11. 01/12 18:44

    Mayor Eric Adams in Greece Visit: New York is the Athens of America

  12. 01/12 16:56

    ELSTAT: The Greek unemployment rate dropped to 11.6% in October

  13. 01/12 16:38

    UNWTO chief: Tourism and transport can deliver a better future for Europe

  14. 01/12 16:09

    Greek supermarkets fined for violating 'household basket' legislation

  15. 30/11 23:28

    Warm welcome for Greek Minister of Culture in University of Connecticut

  16. 30/11 23:23

    Minister: Greece a hub for supplying natural gas and green energy

  17. 30/11 23:19

    Headwinds continue to affect international air cargo demand in October

  18. 30/11 20:16

    Three major road and railway projects to be tendered in Greece this year

  19. 30/11 18:10

    Civil marriage licenses available and issued online at my.gov.gr in Greece

  20. 30/11 15:12

    UNWTO and Morocco join forces to support 10,000 tourism MSMES go digital

  21. 30/11 14:50

    Air China announces Shanghai-Athens air connection on December 22

  22. 30/11 14:04

    Ferry between Thessaloniki and Izmir suspends operation until summer 2023

  23. 30/11 13:08

    IATA calls on Denmark and Iceland to revoke planned ATC rate rises

  24. 30/11 11:55

    UNWTO Chief: “We are your voice at global governance level”

  25. 29/11 23:14

    Increasing direct flights from Saudi Arabia to Greece under discussion

  26. 29/11 22:52

    Greek PM says Parthenon Marbles could return but won’t push

  27. 29/11 21:35

    Strict protocols for return of unvaccinated medical staff to work in Greece

  28. 29/11 19:16

    Greek Foreign Minister sends message to mark the Day of the Mediterranean

  29. 29/11 19:01

    Greece prepares for 'Ariel' weather front

  30. 29/11 18:24

    43,914 Covid cases and 118 fatalities in Greece on November 21-27

  31. 29/11 16:49

    FinMin: 2022 a record year for foreign investment in Greece and exports

  32. 29/11 15:40

    Greek PM: After the elections I expect a new “explosion” of investments

  33. 29/11 14:45

    French Αmbassador: Greece plays an important role in stability and security

  34. 29/11 13:29

    Impressive Cretan dance steals the show in front of the Niagara Falls (video)

  35. 29/11 11:15

    Media report: Investing in less popular tourist destinations has paid off for Greece

  36. 29/11 00:06

    First snow of the season falls on Greece's mountains (video)

  37. 28/11 23:53

    New ambassadors of Slovenia, Slovakia, and Canada to Athens present credentials

  38. 28/11 22:43

    French ambassador visits Greek port of Alexandroupolis with delegation

  39. 28/11 20:11

    AP report: Greek Prime Minister meets with Britain’s King Charles

  40. 28/11 17:38

    UNWTO and Madrid organize first experts meeting on cultural tourism

  41. 28/11 17:02

    Minister: Greece emerging as key gateway for natural gas in SE Europe

  42. 28/11 12:32

    Greek Tourism Minister in Riyadh for 22nd WTTC

  43. 26/11 23:58

    United Nations World Tourism Organization welcomes 18 new affiliate members

  44. 26/11 23:46

    UNWTO Executive Council: Education, investments keys to transform sector

  45. 25/11 16:06

    Eminent Greek artists, jewelers and more donate items for THI’s online auction

  46. 25/11 15:56

    SNFCC becomes again most magical Christmas destination in Athens

  47. 25/11 12:51

    Tourism Minister: 12th Conference of Selectour in Greece a vote of confidence

  48. 25/11 12:10

    Total subsidy for electricity in Greece during December reaches €435 million

  49. 25/11 11:02

    Council of State: Mandatory vaccination of Greek health workers unconstitutional

  50. 24/11 21:51

    Ermou street of Athens in top 15 most expensive shopping streets in the world

  51. 24/11 21:39

    24th Annual Capital Link Invest in Greece Forum on December 9 in New York

  52. 24/11 21:23

    Italian WWII submarine wreckage discovered off Greek island of Mykonos

  53. 24/11 21:09

    European flights' passengers will be able to use 5G on their mobile phones

  54. 24/11 20:59

    Greece and Australia deal to avoid double taxation boosts economic relations

  55. 24/11 20:47

    94.6% of Greece's pensioners to see hike in pay cheques as of January 1

  56. 24/11 19:33

    Energy Minister: Greece is asking for a 150-200 euro cap on natural gas

  57. 24/11 18:16

    Warply: Over 90,000 consumers have used 'household basket' app in Greece

  58. 24/11 14:47

    Municipality of Athens gets closer to its citizens through Viber app

  59. 23/11 19:33

    HACC offers Thanksgiving wishes and support for children in need

  60. 23/11 19:27

    “Black Friday” hype engulfs consumers across Greece

  61. 23/11 19:02

    Athens road traffic restrictions on Thursday for 7th Authentic Phidippides Run

  62. 23/11 16:49

    New initiative: “Medical Visa” the next step to encourage visits to Greece

  63. 23/11 16:22

    Hellenic Republic President at Cerebral Palsy Greece/Open Door event

  64. 23/11 15:18

    German Ambassador to Athens: Greece has made significant progress in modernisation

  65. 23/11 14:13

    New reductions of up to -18.1% in total cost of 'household basket' in Greece

  66. 23/11 13:38

    Greek FinMin: New chapter for the country and return to European normality

  67. 23/11 12:07

    UNWTO: Global tourism recovery speeds up to reach 65% of pre-pandemic levels

  68. 23/11 11:53

    U.S. Athens Embassy and Thessaloniki Consulate closed on November 24

  69. 22/11 19:43

    FM: Greece to boost relations with Latin America and Caribbean countries

  70. 22/11 19:37

    Greece and Egypt sign MoU on aeronautics, maritime search and rescue

  71. 22/11 19:27

    AP report: Thanksgiving might bring changes in holiday-travel habits

  72. 22/11 19:21

    US-German firm Linde commences hydrogen production in Greece

  73. 22/11 19:18

    53,800 Covid cases and 147 fatalities recorded in Greece on November 14-20

  74. 22/11 18:48

    Cyprus Transport Minister: Tourist arrivals of 2023 may surpass those of 2019

  75. 22/11 17:14

    Vaccination centres in Cyprus will be open on Saturdays, November 26, December 3

  76. 22/11 15:33

    Media: Uncertified Cypriot cheese factories can still export halloumi

  77. 22/11 14:57

    Athens Walking Tours: Guided tours in Athens followed the best forecast scenario in 2022

  78. 22/11 12:11

    Shops will open in Greece on Sunday, 27 November

  79. 22/11 11:41

    Limassol Book Fair aims to fill the gaps in the Cypriot book market

  80. 21/11 20:12

    Lufthansa Airline to hire 20,000 employees in Europe amid strong recovery

  81. 21/11 20:04

    AHI takes part in PSEKA Conference marking somber Cyprus anniversary

  82. 21/11 20:01

    Greek Finance Ministry tables 2023 state budget to Parliament

  83. 21/11 19:56

    UK Ex-Culture Secretary wants Parthenon Marbles returned to Greece

  84. 21/11 19:48

    13.4 billion euros in EU funding greenlighted for Greece's agricultural sector

  85. 21/11 19:28

    The Cretan Lifestyle Conference: Exploring wellness, food and culture

  86. 21/11 18:07

    Biggest ever flight programme from Cyprus by Ryanair in summer 2023 launched

  87. 21/11 12:16

    PHILOXENIA 2022: Greece remains among the top tourism destinations

  88. 21/11 10:53

    Greek PM: Every day we work to make the life of every citizen better

  89. 19/11 19:49

    United Nations World Tourism Organization connects sector and culture in Nigeria

  90. 18/11 15:38

    Event-debate on new tourism season's challenges at Philoxenia 2022

  91. 18/11 15:33

    United States Antiquities Officials train law enforcement in Greece

  92. 18/11 12:27

    Hellenic Air Force Museum opens to the public in Attica on Monday

  93. 18/11 11:42

    Railway connection between Rio and Patras port enters final stage

  94. 18/11 10:46

    Mosaics House in Sparta city showcases Roman mosaics of Europa and Orpheus

  95. 17/11 19:20

    38 Hellenic-American politicians win in the U.S. 2022 mid-term elections

  96. 17/11 19:15

    UNWTO at COP27: Uniting sector around tangible climate action plans

  97. 17/11 18:49

    Lonely Planet: Halkidiki ranks first the travel destinations "to unwind" in 2023

  98. 17/11 18:31

    Athens closes down as Polytechnic march toward US Embassy underway (video)

  99. 17/11 17:59

    Greek PM from Delphi: Protection of world heritage and nature go together

  100. 17/11 16:26

    Tourist arrivals in Cyprus rise 2.3% in October 2022