Crossroads of East and West: European travelers to Anatolia throughout the 19th century
December 2019



Crossroads of East and West: European travelers to Anatolia throughout the 19th century

For a long time, travelogues and other autobiographical materials have almost exclusively enjoyed the interest of students of literature. Over the past two or three decades, however, the accounts of travelers to Asia Minor and Anatolia, in particular, have become a more popular and increasingly important source for historians in their study of the past of this geographical region. This tendency finds its reflection in the increased number of recent publications and conference contributions based on travel literature. This shift first became more widespread through the study of travelogues written in French, English, and other Western European languages. The focus of a one-day workshop in December 2019 and a number of lectures in the spring of 2020 within our thematic series center on the accounts of travelers from countries to the East, North and South-East of the more “classic” countries through which the more publicly known travelers from Western Europe journeyed. The fascinating and rich personal accounts of European and Turkish travelers introduce the audience to accounts in less-widely used or accessible languages. This series of academic events is jointly organized by the Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul (SRII), the Orient-Institut Istanbul and with the participation of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens.

Ingela Nilsson, Evangelia Balta, Olof Heilo, Richard Wittmann


Fall 2018

1918: Calamity and Aspiration in the Ottoman Empire

The year 1918 stands out as a year of dramatic change in Europe. The end of the First World War entirely redrew the map of its Eastern and Central parts and toppled its last autocratic monarchies; the final death toll and suffering of a war waged with the most modern means of technology and logistics left a generation traumatised and desillusionised; the Spanish flu pandemic added to hunger and poverty brought about by a general breakdown in trade and infrastructure. In the Ottoman Empire, however, the year marked just one stage in a long series of crises that commenced with the Young Turk revolution in 1908 and ended with the foundation of the republic in 1923. The Mudros armistice and subsequent allied occupation of Istanbul in the fall of 1918 changed the field of play, but did not so much alter as accelerate an already ongoing transformation. Amidst both external and internal schemes, crises and interventions, the old capital at the Bosporus found itself at a tipping point: politically, culturally and intellectually. It is the dynamic and uncertainty of the year 1918 in the Ottoman Empire that this series of six lectures is setting out to explore.


October 2017

The Russian Revolution and Turkey

This series of lectures, as shown in the programme, is not aimed at a political assessment of the Russian revolution. They seek to present certain facets of the effect exerted by the Russian Revolution on the Late Ottoman Empire, on its role in the foundation of the Turkish Republic, the impact of fundamental works of Communist theory on the Turkish intelligentsia, and finally to provide an overview of Russian-Turkish interactions during the hundred-year period 1917-2017.



Exile, Political and Economic Migration in the Ottoman Empire
April – May 2017

Academic Coordinators : Evangelia Balta, Johan Martelius, Richard Wittmann

The topic of the cycle of lectures we are launching for the months of April and May 2017 was inspired by modern times. Over the last few years we have seen the largest refugee wave in history. At the same time there has been no decline in the continuous migrant flow and movement towards other countries of individuals as well as of population masses in search of employment, better living conditions, in search of a refuge from political persecution. Neither has the exile of individuals and large groups, forced to leave their homes and begin a new life elsewhere, ceased. The Ottoman Empire took in the persecuted Jews from the Spain of Philip II, gave refuge to foreign leaders who sought the protection of the sultan, but also in various periods of its history it compelled its subjects to relocate for political and geostrategic reasons

By drawing some examples from the history of the Ottoman Empire, chosen from existing availabilities, we attempt to describe and discuss aspects of issues that fall under the title of the lecture cycle ‘Exile, Political and Economic Migration in the Ottoman Empire’. We look forward to the discussion and reflections that will be provoked by the presentations of our fellow speakers. And we as organizers hope that this first cycle will generate another series, or why not, many more cycles, as the topic is wide-ranging and absolutely fascinating.


Images of the Past Kavala and its region
Oct-Nov-Dec 2016

Academic Coordinators : Evangelia Balta, Johan Martelius




Institute of Historical Research
Section of Neohellenic Research

Program of Ottoman Studies

Program Director: Evangelia Balta, Director of Research
Instructor: Dimitris Loupis, External Research Fellow (Ottoman Epigraphy Project)

Program Description

The Course of Ottoman Language and Paleography is a seminar organized by the Program of Ottoman Studies. Dimitris Loupis, the course instructor, is a guest fellow of the aforementioned program with research focusing on Ottoman Epigraphy. Evangelia Balta is scientific program manager. The course, which has a time span of eight months (October to May) is financed by the Turkish Cultural Foundation (www.turkishculturalfoundation.org). The teaching of Ottoman language and its paleography is the subject of the seminar, which lasts three years. The course, organized according to the academic calendar, is held once a week for three hours and is planned to last for two semesters of fourteen three-hour classes each. A written examination takes place in the fourteenth class of every semester. The seminar has a target group of university students (undergraduate and postgraduate) and researchers, who are interested in learning Ottoman in order to be able to approach any source of textual character. Prior knowledge of Ottoman or other language that uses the Arabic alphabet or even Modern Turkish is not a prerequisite for registration on Level I.

The increasing interest of historical research in Greece in the study of the Ottoman period necessitates training in approaching sources in the Ottoman language. Therefore the Program of Ottoman Studies took the decision to develop ancillary educational projects, in parallel to its research activities, with the aim of enhancing the study of the Ottoman era.

Visit: http://www.eie.gr


This joint series of lectures organized by Evangelia Balta (Programme of Ottoman Studies, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Athens) and Richard Wittmann (Orient-Institut Istanbul), to be held at the Sismanoglio Megaro during the October 2015 – May 2016 academic year, aims at shedding light on various aspects of the communal past of today’s residents of the Eastern Mediterannean region. This series of lectures is consistent with the research interests of the Orient-Institut Istanbul and the Programme of Ottoman Studies at the National Hellenic Research Foundation. It focuses on a large number of sources that go beyond the standard rules of established history-writing. By taking into account personal and official textual sources, as well as visual and artistic forms of expression, an attempt will be made to throw light on the rifts and continuities that accompanied the profound political reshuffling in this wide – and for centuries, unified – geographical area during the first third of the twentieth century. Indeed, the consequences and impact of the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire continue to be felt even today.

The lectures introduce the work of international researchers from different academic disciplines who study the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of the Eastern Mediterranean region. The lectures discuss how the memory of an Ottoman past is portrayed in an enormously wide range of sources. In addition to drawing on the personal testimonies of the inhabitants and on local literature, the speakers also illustrate how this memory has been expressed in popular music, film, photography and, last but not least, in food. More >




1. Title of Research Programme : Paphos in Ottoman sources
The programme was designed to highlight the more recent past of Paphos, side by side with the glorious age of antiquity and the Roman period. As Paphos has been chosen for Cultural Capital of Europe in 2017, it is more than necessary to present a contribution referring to its history during Ottoman times.

2. Aims
The primary aim of the programme proposed for funding is to create a corpus of Ottoman sources on Paphos. The history of Paphos in Ottoman times is completely unknown, if we exclude patchy information from Western sources and certain demographic and financial data from Ottoman archival documents on the area, in the years immediately following the Tanzimat. Literature testifies to this: studies on Ottoman Paphos are extremely few and far between.
The research proposal has two pillars on which it will be based so as to provide the corresponding products.
 Α. The publication of the census of the town and the area of Paphos immediately following the conquest of the island in 1572.
This is the first Ottoman tax register which reflects the inhabited area, in other words, toponyms and anthroponyms are recorded, as are, indirectly, the economic activities of the inhabitants, through the taxation imposed by the Ottoman ruler. The census reveals the previous situation on the island, during Venetian times, namely portraying the housing network, population figures for the settlements and the economic activities of the inhabitants. Therefore, the continuity of the Christian population and the place it inhabited before and after the Ottoman conquest of the island can be traced. Changes and the continuity in the composition of the Christian population following the dramatic political changes after the conquest can be observed along with whatever these infer (voluntary or compulsory movements, destruction, massacres, persecution, Islamizations).

 Βa. The publication of the 1831 population census.
The census of the kaza of Paphos in 1831 includes the following registers:
  1. ΝFS.defteri no. 3751 which records the Muslim population
  2. ΝFS.defteri no. 3752 which records those belonging to the category gayr-i muslim, i.e. the non-Muslim inhabitants.
The male population of the town and the villages in Paphos is recorded. The value of the source is all too clear.
 Bb. ML. VRD. TMT. 16155. This is a Temettuat Defteri in which below the name of each settlement, the movable and immovable assets of the households living there are recorded. The census includes natural persons as well as the assets of churches and Muslim institutions in the settlements. A list is drawn up of fields, vineyards, fruit trees and olive trees, livestock, beehives, mills, presses, threshing-floors, oil-presses, fences, pens, offices, carding-machines, shops, storerooms, tavernas, inns, etc.
The Temettuat Defterleri are a valuable source for studying the economy and the society of a place. They illustrate the economic status of the inhabitants, indirectly presenting social stratification. Secondly they show the distribution of wealth among the two ethno-religious communities, Muslim and Christian.

The volume published by the Prime Ministry Ottoman Archive in 2000, includes aggregated data from the Nüfus Defterleri, and data from the Temettuat Defterleri (TC Βaşbakanlık Devlet Arşivleri Genel Müdürlüğü, Osmanlı Arşivi Daire Başkanlığı, Osmanlı İdaresinde Kıbrıs (Nufusu – Arazi Dağılımı – Türk Vakıfları), Ankara 2000). The aggregated numbers per settlement are given. In our edition we present the data as it appears in the Ottoman document.



Straight from the field to the market, the kitchen, the table…

The lectures trace the web of economic and cultural relations associated with food. They present the role of basic Mediterranean products (wheat, oil, wine) in the economy, in the political arena and culture of everyday life in space and time, in the Balkans and Asia Minor from antiquity to the late Ottoman years.

Experts discuss issues concerning the handling and distribution of staple food products in the Eastern Mediterranean through market systems controlled by state mechanisms. They comment on the methods used by the central government in an attempt to avert explosive, social situations by making sure cities are supplied and the prices of basic products regulated, just as they speak about prohibitions imposed by religions. They present professions and traditional technologies, the industrial heritage, and they look at the dietary and culinary habits of the peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean through the ages.

An interdisciplinary discussion on food and the taste preferences of societies beyond national borders. A multilevel approach to diet as an element of culture.


The Consulate General of Greece in Istanbul, in collaboration with the National Hellenic Research Institute (Ottoman Studies Programme) organized at Sismanoglio Megaro a series of speeches on

Languages and scripts of Muslim and non-Muslim subjects
in the Ottoman Empire

Experts spoke about Karamanlidika, Armeno-Turkish and Judeo-Turkish texts written by Turkish-speaking subjects of the Ottoman Empire in Greek, Armenian and Hebrew scripts. Ethnic groups, who differed with regard to religion or dogma, spoke and wrote in the dominant language of the State, employing their own scripts, i.e. the scripts of the books of their religious tradition. Speeches were made about the Grecophone literature of the Turco-Cretans and the Turco-Yanniotes, the majority of whose texts, primarily a product of traditional oral composition, were written in Arabic script. Lastly one paper was dedicated to Ladino, the language of the Sephardic Jews in Turkey. The series of speeches at the Sismanoglio Megaro aims at presenting aspects of the cultural diversity of the multilingual, multiethnic and multicultural Ottoman Empire, at shedding light through the cultural production on the individuals who were the creators and the consumers of such culture, at discussing the ideological processes hidden behind the collective conduct and attitudes of these ethno-religious communities in the Empire.

All speeches were uploaded to the Bodossaki Foundation’s digital platform “BLOD” (Bodossaki Lectures On Demand).

The Programme

I Serie
Gerci Rum isek de Rumca bilmez Türkçe söyleriz
Ne Türkçe yazar okuruz ne de Rumca söyleriz

November 28, 2013, 19.00 h
Evangelia Balta : The Karamanlis and Karamanlidika publications
Şehnaz Şişmanoglu-Şimşek : The Master of Karamanlidika Literature, Evangelinos Misailidis
Evangelia Achladi : A Collection of Karamanlidika Books. The Bequest of Father Sakkulidis at the Sismanoglio Megaro

II Serie
Armeno-Turkish publications

January 23, 2014, 19.00 h
Murat Cankara : Ermeniçe Hurûf, Türkiyyü’l İbare: A Brief Overview of Writing Turkish using the Armenian Script
Puzant Akbaş : The position of Armeno-Turkish in Armenian literature
Sabri Koz : Armeno-Turkish in Turkish publications

III Serie
Stihoplakia of the Turco-Yanniotes and the mandinades of the Turco-Cretans. Grecophone aljamiado literature

March 26, 2014 19.00 h
Filiz Yenişehirlioğlu : The Romeika of the Turco-Yanniotes
Yorgos Dedes : Heirloom manuscripts: The Romeika manuscripts in Arabic script of the Turks of Yanya (Ioannina) and Girit (Crete). Grecophone aljamiado literature.

IV Serie
Judeo-Turkish and Ladino literature

May 12, 2014 19.00 h
Karen Gerson Sarhon : The Ladino Database Project Results as insight into the current situation of Judeo-Spanish in Turkey
Laurent Mignon : Is there a Judeo-Turkish Literature?



Kouklia (Palaipaphos) in 19th century Ottoman Censuses

The primary aim of the programme is to contribute to the creation of a corpus of Ottoman sources on 19th century Cyprus. The kaza of Kouklia, that is Palaipaphos, along with the kazas of Paphos and Chrysochous, make up the southwest part of Cyprus. The composition of the villages within the kaza of Kouklia varies throughout the 19th century, as proved by the archival material we are publishing. The kaza of Kouklia, small in size, as defined by its villages, occupies geographically the inner section of the kaza of Paphos, surrounded on all sides by Paphiot villages.

The book to be published in 2015 will be a volume of Ottoman sources collected from the Başbakanlık Osmalı Arşivi (Istanbul), the National Archives (Kyrenia) and the Archives of the Archdiocese of Cyprus (Nicosia). They record the Christian and Muslim populations of the villages in the region during the 19th century. Male inhabitants are indicated by name, along with their age, profession, physical characteristics and assets. It is valuable historical material which sheds light on the history of the two communities on the island and contributes to the history of Cyprus during Ottoman times.
Apart from the contribution to be made by this publication, it must be pointed out here that it is of particular importance to academic ethics in the countries of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. Our partnership, Evangelia Balta, Mustafa Oğuz and Ali E. Özkul, wishes to show and emphasize that it is the duty of historians interested in the history of their land to work together to produce knowledge, bypassing any political rigidities, thus proving that science obeys only the rules of Science.




Temettuat Defteri #16153 (ML.VRD.TMT. # 16153)

The study of the towns of Larnaca and Scala during the Ottoman period would form part of a wider research project, having as its object of study the urban network of the towns of Cyprus from the 16th to the 19th century. The main reason for the choice of Larnaca is the fact that, especially during the latter part of the Ottoman period, this town was the most important port and commercial centre of the island, as well as the seat of the Consulates and the residence of the wealthiest European merchants.
Among the topics that this research project proposes to study would be the economic, social, architectural and demographic development of the town in the three centuries of Ottoman rule, its position in the urban network of Cyprus, as well as its intellectual life and education. In order to investigate the history of Larnaca during this period, Ottoman, Greek, as well as European archival sources will be used, to be found in state, ecclesiastical and consular archives, located in Cyprus and abroad, in countries like Turkey, Bulgaria and Italy. This will be done in conjunction with an exhaustive study of the existing bibliography and published sources.
Τhe end-product of this research project would be the publication of a collective volume of original studies on the history of Larnaca during this period, as well as the preparation of a model source database. This project will operate in collaboration with the National Hellenic Research Foundation of Greece.
It is expected that this research project will constitute a major contribution to the study of the history of Cyprus in the Ottoman period, since it will be based on previously unknown and unpublished archival material, and it will fill a major gap in the historiography of island, which is lacking in scholarly studies and monographs on its urban history during the Ottoman period.