Thomas Whittemore (January 2, 1871 – June 8, 1950) was an American scholar and archaeologist who founded the Byzantine Institute of America. His close personal relationship with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and the first president of the Turkish Republic, enabled him to gain permission from the Turkish government to start the preservation of the Hagia Sophia mosaics in 1931.
Thomas Whittemore was born in the Cambridgeport neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts, on January 2, 1871. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Tufts College in 1894. He taught English Composition at Tufts for a year and then studied at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He also taught courses in the fine arts at New York University and Columbia University.
From 1911 until his death Whittemore served as American representative on the Egyptian Exploration Fund.
Whittemore worked in various capacities to provide relief to Russian refugees during World War I and following the Russian Revolution. He spent 8 months in Russia in 1915-16 and reported on conditions there when he returned to New York to organized shipments of supplies. He was a member of the U.S.-based Russian Relief Commission and a committee for war relief organized by Grand Duchess Tatiana Nikolaovna.
In 1930, Whittemore founded the Byzantine Institute of America, whose mission was to "conserve, restore, study, and document" the monuments and artworks of the Byzantine world.In 1931, Whittemore traveled with the Institute to Istanbul with the permission of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to oversee the removal of plaster covering the Byzantine mosaics in Hagia Sophia. Of the radical and sudden transformation of Hagia Sophia from an active mosque to a secular museum in 1931 he wrote: "Santa Sophia was a mosque the day that I talked to him. The next morning, when I went to the mosque, there was a sign on the door written in Ataturk's own hand. It said: 'The museum is closed for repairs'"
In 1934, Harvard University appointed him keeper of Byzantine coins and seals at the Fogg Art Museum for a year.He also accepted a presidential appointment to represent the United States at the Byzantine Conference in Sofia in September of that year.
His work was widely reported in the United States. In 1942, the New York Times noted his return to Istanbul for his "ninth year in uncovering Byzantine mosaics in the St. Sophia Museum".
Beginning in 1948, he sponsored a program for the restoration of the mosaics in the Chora Church in Istanbul.
On June 8, 1950, he suffered a heart attack while visiting the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. He was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Hagia Sophia, officially the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque and formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia, is a Late Antique place of worship in Istanbul. Built in 537 as the patriarchal cathedral of the imperial capital of Constantinople, it was the largest Christian church of the eastern Roman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox Church, except during the Latin Empire from 1204 to 1261, when it became the city's Roman Catholic cathedral. In 1453, after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire, it was converted into a mosque. In 1935 the secular Turkish Republic established it as a museum. In 2020, it re-opened as a mosque.
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire.
The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with a few fragments of the original structure surviving.
Dumbarton Oaks is a historic estate in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It was the residence and garden of Robert Woods Bliss (1875–1962) and his wife Mildred Barnes Bliss (1879–1969).
Hagia Sophia is a museum, formerly Greek Orthodox church which was converted into a mosque in 1584, and located in Trabzon, in the north-eastern part of Turkey. It dates back to the thirteenth century when Trabzon was the capital of the Empire of Trebizond. It is located near the seashore and two miles west of the medieval town's limits. It is one of a few dozen Byzantine sites extant in the area. It has been described as being "regarded as one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture."
Hagia Irene or Hagia Eirene, sometimes known also as Saint Irene, is an Eastern Orthodox church located in the outer courtyard of Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. It is one of the few churches in Istanbul that has not been converted into a mosque, as it was used as an arsenal for storing weapons until the 19th century. The Hagia Irene today operates as a museum and concert hall.
The Kariye Mosque, or the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, is a medieval Greek Orthodox church used as a mosque today in the Edirnekapı neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey. The neighborhood is situated in the western part of the municipality (belediye) of the Fatih district. The Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora was built in the style of Byzantine architecture. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman era, the Christian church was converted into a mosque; it became a museum in 1945, but was turned back into a mosque in 2020 The interior of the building is covered with some of the oldest and finest surviving Byzantine Christian mosaics and frescoes; they were uncovered and restored after the building was secularized and turned into a museum.
The Great Palace of Constantinople, also known as the Sacred Palace, was the large Imperial Byzantine palace complex located in the south-eastern end of the peninsula now known as Old Istanbul, in modern Turkey. It served as the main royal residence of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine emperors until 1081 and was the centre of imperial administration for over 690 years. Only a few remnants and fragments of its foundations have survived into the present day.
Cyril Alexander Mango is a British scholar of the history, art, and architecture of the Byzantine Empire. He is a former King's College London and Oxford professor of Byzantine and Modern Greek Language and Literature. He is the brother of Andrew Mango.
Ernst Kitzinger was a German-American historian of late antique, early medieval, and Byzantine art.
Little Hagia Sophia Mosque, formerly the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, is a former Greek Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, built between 532 and 536, and converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire.
The city today known as Istanbul has been the site of human settlement for approximately three thousand years. The settlement, whose earliest known name is Lygos, was founded by Thracian tribes. It was colonised by the Greeks in the 7th century BC. It fell to the Roman Republic in 196 BC, and was known as Byzantium until 330, when it was renamed Constantinople and made the new capital of the Roman Empire. During late antiquity, the city rose to be the largest of the western world, with a population peaking at close to half a million people. Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine Empire, which ended with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Constantinople then became the capital of the Ottoman Empire.
Pammakaristos Church, also known as the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, is one of the most famous Greek Orthodox Byzantine churches in Istanbul, Turkey. Adapted in 1591 into the Fethiye Mosque, it is today partly a museum, the parekklesion. The edifice serves as one of the most important examples of Constantinople's Palaiologan architecture, and the last pre-Ottoman building to house the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It also has the largest amount of Byzantine mosaics in Istanbul after the Hagia Sophia and Chora Church.
Kalenderhane Mosque is a former Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul, converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. With high probability the church was originally dedicated to the Theotokos Kyriotissa. The building is sometimes referred to as Kalender Haneh Jamissi and St. Mary Diaconissa. This building represents one among the few extant examples of a Byzantine church with domed Greek cross plan.
Maria was the Empress consort of Leo III the Isaurian of the Byzantine Empire.
The Mese was the main thoroughfare of ancient Constantinople. The street was the main scene of Byzantine imperial processions. Its ancient course is largely followed by the modern Divanyolu Avenue.
The Byzantine Institute of America is an organization founded for the preservation of Byzantine art and architecture.
The Church of St. Polyeuctus was an ancient Byzantine church in Constantinople built by the noblewoman Anicia Juliana and dedicated to Saint Polyeuctus. Intended as an assertion of Juliana's own imperial lineage, it was a lavishly decorated building, and the largest church of the city before the construction of the Hagia Sophia. It introduced the large-scale use of Sassanid Persian decorative elements, and may have inaugurated the new architectural type of domed basilica, perfected in the later Hagia Sophia.
Carroll F. Wales was an art restorer and conservator of paintings, icons, frescoes, and murals. He specialized in the conservation of early Christian Byzantine art and worked on restoration projects in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. A fine arts major at Harvard College, he received an art conservation degree from the Fogg Art Museum. Wales graduated in 1949 and went on to restore important mosaics and frescoes at prominent museums and religious sites around the world. In addition to these projects, he became co-proprietor with Constantine Tsaousis of Oliver Brothers, an art restoration firm in Boston, Massachusetts.
Henry Maguire was born in Bath, England in 1943. He is an art historian, specialising in Byzantine art, and Professor Emeritus at Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences in the History of Art Department. Between 1991-1996 he was Director of Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, a research institute of Harvard University.