Theses Doctoral

The Mangana Quarter in Byzantine Constantinople (843–1453 C.E.): Reinterpreting an Architectural Complex in Sarayburnu/ Istanbul Through Archaeology

Ercan, Ayse

This dissertation offers a critical examination of the Mangana Quarter in Byzantine Constantinople, which was renowned for the Mangana Complex consisting of an imperial monastery and a palace commissioned by Constantine IX Monomachos (reigned 1042–1055), through an archaeological perspective. The Quarter was situated on the eastern slopes of the Acropolis of Byzantion and today is concealed by the gardens of the Topkapı Palace in Sarayburnu. The area remains one of the least-explored urban districts in Istanbul, thus a void in current scholarship on the historical topography and archaeology of Byzantine Constantinople. To this date, the only large-scale archaeological fieldwork in the area was conducted by Robert Demangel and Ernest Mamboury between 1921 and 1923. However, the findings of this excavation have been found problematic, especially with respect to the identifications, architectural chronology and functions with regard to the architectural complexes of the Mangana Quarter, such as the Hodegon monastery, the Mangana Gate and the Church of Christ the Savior.

This dissertation revisits the textual and archaeological evidence on the Mangana Quarter and resituates it within a broader historical context of the urbanism of the acropolis and city of Constantinople. In doing so, it offers a fresh perspective about the Byzantine monuments of Sarayburnu drawing on new archaeological evidence. As such, the dissertation presents the first comprehensive analysis of the Mangana Complex and its place within the monastic and palatial architecture of the Middle Byzantine period. Archaeology is given a particular emphasis, and new discoveries from Sarayburnu are examined with the sight of deconstructing the Byzantine-period building complexes of the Mangana Quarter.

The dissertation reaches three main conclusions that offer new insights into the archaeology of Byzantine Constantinople, as well as the history of Byzantine archaeology in Turkey. First, through a thorough analysis of Ottoman Turkish, French and Turkish archival documents, the dissertation yields significant insights about the history of the previous fieldwork in Sarayburnu both conducted by the French Army during the occupation of Istanbul after World War I -a period entirely overlooked in previous scholarship- and by the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

Secondly, the new archaeological evidence from the Mangana Complex, analyzed for the first time in this dissertation, challenges previously held architectural chronologies and interpretations, and suggests alternative locations particularly for the Mangana Palace and the Mangana katholikon. Lastly, on the basis of this critical reading of the archaeology of the Mangana Complex, the dissertation reconsiders the architectural history of the church of St. George Tropaiophoros and its alleged pivotal role in manifesting cross-cultural interactions between the Caucassian and Byzantine lands.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Klein, Holger A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 13, 2022