The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium
3 volumes, List of Maps (vol. 1), List of Genealogical Tables (vol. 1), Abbreviations(all volumes), Illustrations, charts
If people are familiar with Byzantine history at all, it is probably with names such as Constantine, Belisarios, Theodora and Helena and with the movement of the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople (Istanbul) in the third century. However, these individuals and events date from the early years of a period that ran from roughly the third century AD until the 14th century. Looking at this dictionary corrects that impression. It offers coverage of many topics ranging from historical, cultural, religious, linguistic, artistic and literary. The dictionary does not limit its geographic scope to the area near Constantinople, but also covers the Middle East and contains a great deal of information on the crusades and crusaders and various rulers of Jerusalem. Next to each of the entries is its Greek name and there are suggestions for further reading given after each entry.
This set of books will give any reader a quick entry into the fascinating world of Byzantine, which was neither European nor Arab, but combined elements of both. Illustrating the wide nature of topics covered by this book are pages 278-280 which have entries covering literature (Romance of Belisarios), material culture (Bells), architecture (Bell Tower) and clothing (Belts). Among the interesting people found in the book is Saint Symeon the Stylite who founded a movement where monks spent time ranging from months to years standing on a platform removed from the world in all types of weather, often surrounded by crowds of pilgrims.