The Beginnings of Book Printing in the Ottoman Empire: The Role of Printed Books in the Transmission of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Heritage

In Western and Central Europe the beginnings of printing meant important changes in the written culture and circulation of knowledge during the Early Modern era. In contrast, in the Ottoman Empire, manuscripts played a bigger role as a book-medium until the 18th century, especially for Muslim writings. However, printed books also circulated in the Ottoman Empire. They were produced by several printing houses founded among others in Constantinople (Jewish and Greek), Thessaloniki (Jewish), Goražde and Belgrade (Serbian) or imported from the big European centres of printing. It was the task of the Orthodox Church and the monasteries that possessed a high degree of autonomy and transregional contacts to preserve Byzantine written culture.

The research project aims at examining the role of printed books in the circulation of knowledge within the Ottoman Empire, as well as the development of post-Byzantine networks between Orthodox patriarchates, bishoprics and monasteries that expanded far beyond Ottoman frontiers via Poland-Lithuania to Muscovy. Exchange within this region was particularly important in the post-Byzantine world, because of religious, cultural, political and ideological interdependencies that the project will examine from a transottoman perspective. The goal is to study printed books from the Ottoman area from the end of the 15th until the end the 17th century and to compare the forms and contexts of book production by different religious groups. Particular attention will be paid to the subject of the Byzantine heritage in the Ottoman Empire, as well as in Eastern Europe during the Early Modern period.

Supervision: Prof. Johannes Pahlitzsch (Mainz)


DFG SPP Transottomanica: Osteuropäisch-osmanisch-persische Mobilitätsdynamiken


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  • T. Leber, Female Patronage of Book Printing in the Transottoman Context. In: Učenye zapiski NovGU, 5/23 (2020) (i.E.)
  • T. Leber, Early History of Printing in the Ottoman Empire through the Prism of Mobility. In: Diyar (2020) (i.E.)
  • T. Leber / E. Diearauff / D. Dierks / B. Henning / A. Sargsyan (Hg.), Knowledge on the Move in a Transottoman Perspective. Dynamics of Intellectual Exchange from the Fifteenth to the Early Twentieth Century. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2020.


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johannes Pahlitzsch


Taisiya Leber