Historian and Philologist
Assistant Professor of History
University of California, Berkeley
Published September 28, 2004
Maria Mavroudi is a philologist who uses her skills as a language detective to reveal a new understanding of the linguistic and cultural exchanges between medieval Byzantium and its Islamic Middle Eastern neighbors. Most scholarship on Greco-Arabic interaction has focused on the “one-way” transmission of classical Greek thought into the Islamic world. Through her meticulous analysis of The Oneiroticon of Achmet, the most significant medieval Byzantine treatise on dream interpretation (a proto-science of the time akin to astrology, astronomy, and alchemy), Mavroudi traces intellectual currents flowing from the Arabic world into Byzantine culture and society. She shows that the Oneiroticon is a Christianized adaptation of medieval Arabic texts, which, in turn, are based on the classical Greek Oneiroticon of Artemidoros (second century A.D.). The implications of her work are profound; her research on this text provides clear evidence that significant importation of Arabic learning into Byzantium occurred and that Greek-Arabic bilingualism developed to facilitate such exchanges between two otherwise antagonistic cultures. Mavroudi's more recent work examines a broad range of texts, showing the pervasive impact of Byzantine-Arab exchanges, and continues to fill in crucial gaps in the history of knowledge shared throughout the Mediterranean world’s dominant civilizations.
Maria Mavroudi received a B.A. (1990) from the University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and an M.A. (1992) and a Ph.D. (1998) from Harvard University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in Byzantine studies at Dumbarton Oaks (2000–2001) and held the Hannah Seeger Davis Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship in Hellenic Studies at Princeton University (2001–2002). She is the author of A Byzantine Book on Dream Interpretation: The Oneiroticon of Achmet and Its Arabic Sources (2002). Since 2002, Mavroudi has been an assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley.
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