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Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium

The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium (often abbreviated to ODB) is a three volume book by the Oxford University Press. It contains comprehensive information in English on topics relating to the Byzantine Empire. It was edited by the late Dr. Alexander Kazhdan, one of the foremost authorities on Byzantium of the 20th century, and was first published in 1991. Dr. Kazhdan was a professor at Princeton University who became a Senior Research Associate at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC before his death. He contributed to many of the articles in the Dictionary always signing his initials A.K. at the end of the article to indicate his contribution.


The dictionary is available in printed and e-reference text versions from Oxford's Digital Reference Shelf. It covers the main historical events of Byzantium, as well as important social and religious events. It also includes biographies of eminent political and literary personalities and describes in detail religious, social, cultural, legal and political topics. Cultural topics include music, theology and the arts. Other topics covered include warfare, demography, education, agriculture, commerce, science, philosophy, and medicine providing a comprehensive picture of the complex and advanced political and social structures of Byzantine society.

The Byzantine Empire with its centre located at its capital Constantinople was one of the most influential and powerful states of its time. Byzantium's civilization with its combination of classical and religious thought influenced the political and cultural evolution of Italy, Eastern Europe, and Russia. India, China, and the Scandinavian countries also felt the influence of the Byzantine culture. With over 200 illustrations, tables, and maps, the dictionary provides a reference for anyone interested in studying and researching the Byzantine civilization.


The ODB has won numerous awards including:

  • 1991 - Reference Reviews Awards: Best Specialist Reference Work.
  • 1991 - R R Hawkins Award: Most outstanding professional reference or scholarly work; the preceding was awarded by the professional and scholarly publishing division of the Association of American Publishers.

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