Procopius and the language of buildings

Prokop und die Sprache der Bauten

Project description


The Language of Buildings is a three-year joint project sponsored by the DFG which has been running since November 2018, led by Prof. Dr. Gunnar Brands (Halle-Wittenberg) and Prof. Dr. Marietta Horster (Mainz).

Our main cooperation partners are Prof. G. Greatrex (Ottawa), Prof. Dr. M. Meier (Tübingen), Prof. Dr. H. Leppin (Frankfurt), Dr. F. Montinaro (Tübingen), Prof. Dr. R. Pfeilschifter (Würzburg), and Prof. Dr. G. Makris (Münster). We also cooperate institutionally with the Leibniz-ScienceCampus Mainz Byzantium between Orient and Occident, the Malalas project in Tübingen, and the Anecdota project in Würzburg.


De Aedificiis (DA) features in its six books a total of at least 1128 buildings, which Procopius ascribes to the East Roman Emperor Justinian (527-565). read more...

While our database will not be available online for another year, in the meantime we have compiled a bibliography supported by Zotero, an open-access reference software. This bibliography will be constantly updated throughout the duration of this project, so as to be as exhaustive and current as possible.

We are glad if you draw our attention to missing titles:

Imagery and Aesthetics of Cityscapes in Late Antiquity, 12-14 February 2020

Location and date

Faculty of Natural Sciences, Johannes-Gutenberg University Mainz (12 Feb 2020, late afternoon/evening), Leibniz Institute for European History, Mainz (13-14 Feb)


This symposium will be organized within the framework of Procopius and the Language of Buildings, a DFG funded project led jointly by Prof. Dr. Marietta Horster (Mainz) and Prof. Dr. Gunnar Brands (Halle-Wittenberg).
The project bridges traditional chronological and disciplinary divisions to understand 6th-century building activities in the empire, and their literary representation. Marking the halfway point of the project, this symposium focuses on the cities of the empire, as they figure much more prominently in the written record than the countryside. Recent scholarship of the past twenty years has seen the emergence of a more sophisticated vision of late antique urbanism, throwing light on the distinctiveness of Late Antiquity and breaking from a simplistic narrative of decline. We would like to build on this by exploring representations of cityscapes in the literature of the period across all genres and languages, including its relationship to material culture. Here are some of the topics that will be covered: the aesthetics of cityscape representations in literature and art, the evolution of city ideals in relationship with imperial ideology, how competing elites shape the imagery of cityscapes, the role of urban poles in the perception of space.


The full programme will be put online at the end of the year. Guests are welcome to join the event yet should announce their coming at .

Prof. Gunnar Brands
Christian archaeology and history of arts

Prof. Marietta Horster
Greek sanctuaries, cult organisation and economy of cult, Roman administration and organisation of the Empire, Roman provinces: processes of transformation and social interaction, Greek and Latin literary education and the diffusion and tradition of knowledge

Max Ritter 
Economic history,  Byzantine pilgrimage, Byzantine historiography, Roman and Byzantine Paphlagonia

Elodie Turquois
Late Antique and Byzantine literature, literary criticism and literary theory, Ekphrasis and the representation of material culture in literature, technological treatises and their literary status, aesthetics and art criticism in antiquity

Marlena Whiting
Archaeology of the Late Antique and Byzantine Near East, Byzantine Pilgrimage, Travel and travel infrastructure in Late Antiquity, Gender in Late Antiquity

Clemens von Cramon-Taubadel, student assistant
History and linguistics (B.A.)

Julia Krüger-Pfannebecker, student assistant
Digital Methodology in the Humanities and Cultural Sciences (M.A.)