In Memoriam: Vera Zalesskaya (1938 – 2023)

V.N. Zalesskaya, Dr. habil., was a leading researcher in The State Hermitage Museum’s Oriental Department and a curator of the collection of Byzantine Applied Art. She worked in the Hermitage for 62 years—from 1961 to 2023—first as a museum guide and then as a full-time postgraduate student. She entered the Oriental Department in 1965 as a researcher and was later a curator of the collection of Byzantine Applied Art (between 1984 and 2023). For several years she also held the post of Head of the Sector of Byzantium and the Near East.

Black and white photo of a woman wearing glasses and a patterned sweater.
Vera Zalesskaya

Vera Nikolaevna Zalesskaya was born on September 17, 1938 in the city of Morshansk, in the Tambov Region of Russia, to accomplished parents. Her father, Nikolai Nikolaevich Zalessky, was a historian and specialist in the history of Ancient Rome. He worked as a professor at Leningrad University. Her mother, Vera Vatslavovna Zalesskaya, was a doctor who worked at the Filatov Hospital in Leningrad.

Vera began her history education in 1956. After graduating from high school in Leningrad, she was accepted by the Faculty of History into Leningrad University where she received fundamental practical knowledge in the archeology of the Middle Ages. While studying there, she participated for four field seasons of work on the Galicia-Volyn architectural and archaeological expedition led by Professor Mikhail Karger.

Vera began her initial work with The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg after graduating from the Department of Art History in June of 1961 with honors granted by the Faculty of History of the Leningrad University (named after A.A. Zhdanov). She was then sent by the Ministry of Culture of the USSR to work in The State Hermitage Museum as a museum guide. In August of that year, she was enrolled as a contractor museum guide in the Hermitage Excursion Department.

After this experience, she was accepted as a full-time postgraduate student at the Oriental Department of The State Hermitage Museum in November 1962, specializing in the history of Byzantium. She successfully completed her postgraduate studies at The State Hermitage Museum in 1965. In May of 1965 she transferred from the Excursion Department to the Oriental Department of the Hermitage as a researcher. (Later, after the death of Alice Bank in 1984, she would become a curator of the collection of Byzantine Applied Art). Between 1962 and 1970, Vera prepared a dissertation titled, “Syrian Artistic Metal of the Byzantine Period and its Historical Significance (to the role of Syria in the applied art of Byzantium).” Vera Zalesskaya was awarded the degree of PhD in history by the decision of the Scholarly Council of the Faculty of History of the Leningrad University on December 10, 1970.

Beyond her PhD training, Dr. Zalesskaya’s career continued with additional advanced education and a number of publications. In 1997 she published a compact monograph, Applied Art of Byzantium of the 4th – 12th Centuries (including 59 pages, with 41 illustrations), which she also defended as a dissertation. She was awarded a Dr. habil. degree in 1998 by the Faculty of History of Moscow State University (which was named after M.V. Lomonosov).

In her career, Vera Zalesskaya was the author of numerous articles on the culture and art of Byzantium that were published in Russian scholarly journals, yearbooks, and collections of articles, as well as in English and French. These include several substantial catalogs published by The State Hermitage Museum. Monuments of Byzantine Applied Arts of the 4th– 7th Centuries: Catalog of the Hermitage Collection (271 pages with illustrations) was published in 2006. In 2011 she published Masterpieces of Byzantine Applied Art: Byzantine Ceramics of the 9th – 15th centuries: Catalog of the Collection (254 pages, including illustrations). Byzantine Artistic Metalwork, Ninth-Fifteenth Centuries: Catalog of the Collection (207 pages, with illustrations) was published in 2021.

From 1991 to 2022 Vera was a scholarly editor and co-editor of The State Hermitage Museum’s Proceedings on Byzantium, titled “Byzantium within the Context of World Culture.” From the 1970s onward she participated in the International Congresses of Byzantine Studies, presenting several papers. As a curator at the Hermitage, she took part in various exhibitions on Byzantine art in the Hermitage and other museums of the USSR/ Russia, as well as in museums of Europe and the USA. She was a co-curator of The Road to Byzantium: Luxury Arts of Antiquity, an exhibition at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, England in 2006.

On July 29, 2023, Dr. Vera Zalesskaya passed away after a brief illness. She is remembered by colleagues for her 62 years as a generous curator at the Hermitage and for her archaeological work at the medieval site at Chersonesos.

In memoriam: Robert G. Ousterhout

It is with sorrow that we mark the passing of Robert G. Ousterhout (January 16, 1950–April 23, 2023).  Bob, as he was universally known, was an esteemed, prolific scholar, a generous mentor, an invaluable colleague, and a beloved friend.

Bob was a strong supporter of BSANA, serving multiple terms on the Governing Board, and was a constant presence at the annual conference, which he twice hosted. He had long associations with Dumbarton Oaks, where he was both a Junior and Senior Scholar, and was twice a symposiarch for the annual Symposium. He was also closely affiliated with ANAMED, serving on the first Advisory Board, and organizing the “Cappadocia in Context” summer program, where students learned in the field, from the master himself. He was an ally for imperiled monuments, serving as a consultant for many international entities, including UNESCO and the WMF.

Bob taught at the University of Oregon, the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and the University of Pennsylvania until his retirement in 2017. He is the author, or co-author, of more than 20 books, as well as countless articles, reviews, op-eds, blog posts, and videos. His impact on the field of Byzantine Studies was recognized by the Medieval Academy of America in 2021, with the Haskins Medal.

Bob lived a big life. Whether (allegedly) organizing a water ballet in the Dumbarton Oaks pool while a Junior Fellow, hosting and feeding class after class of students at his home, organizing impromptu dance parties at conferences, or throwing baby showers, Bob celebrated life.  He was funny, insightful, and always generous with his time and influence. He will be missed.

We send our deepest condolences to his family.


For a complete listing of Bob’s publications, see his Emeritus Faculty page at the University of Pennsylvania.

For further remembrances:

ANAMED

Dumbarton Oaks

Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies

Penn History of Art

In memoriam: John W. Nesbitt, PhD

In memoriam: John W. Nesbitt, PhD

June 12, 1939 – February 11, 2023

With heavy hearts, the Dumbarton Oaks research and learning community is sad to announce the passing of John W. Nesbitt, PhD. John first came to Dumbarton Oaks as a junior fellow in 1968 and joined the regular staff in 1973, first as Research Fellow—later Research Associate—with responsibility for the collection of seals. Until his retirement in 2009, John worked to catalogue and publish the collection, resulting in the first six volumes in the Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art (volumes 1–3 with Nicolas Oikonomides, volumes 4–5 with Oikonomides and Eric McGeer). After retirement, John remained involved with Dumbarton Oaks, continuing to advise and mentor scholars interested in Byzantine seals, as he had for over three decades. His generosity and well-judged advice will be deeply missed.

To learn more about John, please visit his obituary.

Information in commemoration of Hans Belting

Information in commemoration of Hans Belting, via A. Kartsonis.

For the obituary of Hans Belting (1935-2023) by Michael Diers posted by ArtHist.net

See: https://arthist.net/archive/38397

For the HANS BELTING LIBRARY at the the Center for Early Medieval Studies, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, as well as for HANS BELTING’s  most complete bibliography to date:

https://www.earlymedievalstudies.com/EN/knihovna.html

https://www.archinform.net/arch/59518.htm

http://bildevidenz.de/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Bibliography-_Belting-2022.pdf

YouTube.com has also posted entries in the name of Hans Belting

 

In memoriam: Hans Belting

We share the news that Hans Belting passed away after a long illness.

A record of Dr. Belting’s life has been published online:
https://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/kunst-und-architektur/zum-tod-des-kunsthistorikers-hans-belting-18597633.html

In Memorium: Dr. Marios Philippides

In Memorium: Dr. Marios Philippides

Via Teresa Ramsby, University of Massachusetts Amherst

I am writing to inform your organization of the sad news that Dr. Marios Philippides, Emeritus Professor of Classics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where he taught for thirty-nine years, passed away on December 27, 2022. Professor Philippides was a highly accomplished scholar and a legendary teacher. His research, including the 2011 study, The Siege and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453: Historiography, Topography, and Military Studies, earned him distinction from many, international entities. His colleagues and legions of students will miss and fondly remember him for his commitment to the discipline, his research, his fascinating lectures, and his sense of humor. Professor Philippides served on the board and as Vice President of BSANA in the years 2000-2004.

Obituary: George Leonard Huxley 1932-2022

George Leonard Huxley 1932-2022
George Huxley, who died on 30 November 2022, was an influential figure in British Byzantine Studies. But twice in his career he held US positions and was significantly influential in both. A member of the Huxley family of intellectuals, he was born in Leicester and studied classics at Magdalen College Oxford; at that time he was mostly interested in Linear B and used to dash off to London to talk to Michael Ventris. After a prize fellowship at All Souls in 1956 he was appointed Assistant Director of the British School at Athens, where he worked on early Greek history. But after that in 1958-59 and 1961-62 he was visiting lecturer at Harvard, where he became interested in the history of science and in Anthemios of Tralles. He also taught Alice-Mary Talbot at Radcliffe; he was her tutor in her junior year.
 
In 1962 he became professor of Greek at Queen’s University Belfast, where he stayed until 1983. He taught mainstream classical set books but worked always on the edge, moving from his preclassical interests to develop postclassical concerns, with Digenes Akrites and Iconoclasm.  He brought Irish Hellenists together twice a year in Dundalk, as the Hibernian Hellenists, soon to have Byzantinist speakers. By 1974 he had decided that what Queen’s needed was Byzantine Studies and set up a course to teach it, which eventually grew into a full range of degrees, graduate students, research projects, colloquia, a text series and the Institute of Byzantine Studies. George began all this. And he inspired generations of Belfast Byzantinists.
 
After he retired from Queen’s, in1986 he became director of the Gennadius Library at the American School in Athens, building up the library, restoring to it lost books, and participating in successful fund-raising for its endowment. Using the library’s rich collections he gave Byzantine lectures and seminars on Greek lyric poetry and organised exhibitions on Morosini’s bombardment of the Acropolis and on Ireland and the Hellenic Tradition.
 
George loved Ireland, learning Irish and participating fully in the Civil Rights movement, almost as much as he loved Greece, where he continued to excavate with Nicholas Coldstream at the Minoan site at Kastri on the island of Kythera after he had moved to Belfast. After retirement from Belfast he settled in Oxfordshire with Davina, whom he had met at Knossos and married in 1957, but he taught at Maynooth and held an Honorary Professorship at Trinity. He was very active in the Royal Irish Academy and endowed student prizes in various Irish universities. In 2018, at age 86, “intensely upset about Brexit”, George was the oldest of 3000 people who were granted Irish citizenship. He was also an honorary citizen of Kythera. But his contribution to Byzantine Studies is perhaps more important than either his philhellenism or his devotion to Ireland. 
 
Davina died in 2020; George is survived by their three daughters Harriet, Sophie and Corinna. A funeral mass will be held on December 14th at 11am at St. Kenelm’s, Church Enstone, Oxfordshire.

Obituary: Ross Iain Thomas

Colleagues will be saddened to learn that Ross Iain Thomas passed away unexpectedly on 14 November 2022 following surgery.

Ross was a stalwart archaeologist specialising in ancient maritime networks and technologies, with a BA from Durham University and a PhD from the University of Southampton. A leading specialist in Roman Eastern Mediterranean and Red Sea port communities, he also published widely on the Hellenistic and Nubian worlds, having undertaken fieldwork on land in the UK, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and the UAE, and under water in Israel and Egypt. He led fieldwork at several sites, including as Co-Director of the Red Sea Wrecks Survey (2010-2011) and Director of the British Museum Naukratis Fieldwork Project (2012-present).

Ross joined the Museum in 2011 as a Project Curator on the Naukratis Project, before becoming a Curator of Roman Collections in 2016. He was committed to public and professional service. Ross was a keen supporter of students, especially those from less privileged backgrounds, organising annual Museum placements. He also served on the boards of several grant-giving bodies and as a trustee of the Palestine Exploration Fund, the Roman Society and, most recently, the Brading Roman Villa, on the Isle of Wight, a site perched above the family home where he grew up, and which was an inspiration for his future career. He was hugely talented and widely respected.

He was just 44 years old and is survived by his two children, 7 and 4, his wife, parents and brother. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.

Further information on memorial arrangements and the family’s wishes concerning contact will be made available when possible.

A Just Giving page has been set up to support the family: https://gofund.me/2e75d723

Professor Melek Delilbasi (1947-2022)

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing away of our  distinguished colleague Professor Melek Delilbaşı, president of the Turkish National Committee, on 26 September 2022. Her untimely death is a great loss for Turkish and international Byzantine studies.

Nevra Necipoglu
Secretary General, Turkish National Committee for Byzantine Studies

Athanasios Papageorgiou

It is with great sadness that the Byzantinist Society of Cyprus is announcing the death of Dr. Athanasios Papageorgiou, Director Emeritus of the Department of Antiquities and honorary member of our Society. Dr Papageorgiou was the Honorary President of the First Annual Conference on Byzantine and Medieval Studies (13-15 January 2017).

Athanasios Papageorgiou served his beloved homeland of Cyprus with virtue and passion. He was appointed Ephor of Ancient Monuments in 1962 at the Department of Antiquities of the newly established Republic of Cyprus. His previous Theological studies in Athens and graduate work in Paris, next to André Grabar και Paul Lemerle, equipped him with the scholarly breadth and skills in the study of Byzantine History and Art.

He worked with dedication and persistence to conserve and promote the monuments of Cyprus, while he focused with great care on the study of the Byzantine Heritage of the island. His contribution is vast and diverse; it cannot be assessed in one announcement. Indicatively, we mention the excavation of the basilicas at Agia Triada at Yialousa, Limeniotissa and Chrysopolitissa in Paphos, the basilica at the foothills of the Amathus acropolis. He also excavated the earlier phases of churches like Agios Spyridon in Tremethousha, Agios Heraklidios in Politiko, Agios Kyprianos in Menoiko and restored collapsed parts of buildings like the Virgin Apsinthiotissa on the Pentadaktylos. He led the conservation of Byzantine churches like the katholikon of the monastery of the Apostle Barnabas near Famagusta and the church of Agia Athanasia in Rizokarpaso and restored and uncovered the wall paintings in numerous other sites like at Agia Solomoni at Koma tou Yialou, Agios Antonios at Kelia and at Agia Paraskevi in Yeroskepou.

He played a chief role in the establishment of the Byzantine Museum of the Archbishop Makarios III Cultural Foundation in Nicosia and the Byzantine Museum of Paphos. After 1974, he made major contributions towards informing the international scientific and academic community about the destruction and looting of Cypriot Cultural Heritage, being the result of the Turkish invasion. He participated as an expert in numerous legal battles aiming at the return of stolen cultural treasures to Cyprus.

Athanasios Papageorgiou published over one hundred articles and studies on the history, the archaeology and the art of Cyprus. Among them, are his important monographs on the ICONS OF CYPRUS, the volume HOLY METROPOLIS OF PAPHOS, HISTORY AND ART, and his momentous work CHRISTIAN ART IN THE TURKISH-OCCUPIED PART OF CYPRUS. (http://www.byzantinistsociety.org.cy/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Athanasios_Papageorgiou_Publications.pdf).

Without any doubt, his scientific and scholarly work can only be described as immense and irreplaceable. He stood out for his humility, his direct and uncompromising character and importantly his strict adherence to principles and ethical values which guided him throughout his life. Moreover, he was generous and always available to help his younger peers and students with prudent advice and the depth of his knowledge. Athanasios Papageorgiou will remain ever present through his work, his publications and more importantly through his deep love and sincere concern for his cherished Cyprus.

The Byzantinist Society of Cyprus expresses its sincere and deep condolences to his children, grandchildren, and all other members of Dr. Papageorgiou’s family.

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