This paper intends to disseminate the scientific results of a research project held at the University of Athens and they will be incorporated into a relevant broader programme of the Institute of Byzantine Research. The project focuses on the collection of the written sources and the secondary bibliography as well as the location of any information about animals, which is registered into a data base. The ultimate aim of this project is the study of the relationship between man and animals with a view of providing a profound understanding of the interaction between man and the environment in Byzantium.
The Institute for Byzantine Studies of the Hellenic Research Foundation is in the course of organizing on the 6th and 7th June 2008, in Athens, a Symposium on ‘Animals and Environment in Byzantium (c. 7th-12th)’. The paper will present the contributions and the results of the Symposium.
Many and various are the references to the animal kingdom and the products derived from it during Byzantine times. Some of the most significant aspects about animal products in the daily life of Byzantine people refer to nutrition and pharmaceutical manufacturing:
•The dietary instructions in the medical texts are given according to a) the comparative evaluation of the quality of each animal product, b) their seasonal consumption, c) the manner of cooking, d) the nutritional value, e) the healing properties for various illnesses and sensitivities of the human body.
•The diet of Byzantine people was characterized by a wide variety of animal products, greater than in modern times diet.
•Apart from each animal’s dietary value, the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, household items, dressing articles, and other utensils out of various animal parts, was an important parameter of the animals’ value in determining ownership.
•In order to evaluate the information derived from the various sources available, one has to take into consideration what the Byzantine writers had assimilated from the classic writers (Hippocrates, Galenus) and any other intercultural data derived from the Arabs, the Egyptians, the Indians etc. concerning animal food products, medicines and remedies.