Program and Abstracts

Elena Boeck (De Paul University)

The City and its countryside: the fourteenth-fifteenth century representations of Constantinople

Angelo Castrorao Barba (CSIC/EEA Madrid, Granada)

Inland settlement patterns in Western Sicily between the Byzantine and the Islamic period.

Lucia Arcifa (University of Catania)

Inland settlement patterns in Eastern Sicily in Middle-Byzantine period (8 th -9 th c.)

Fabio Pinna (University of Cagliari) & Piergiorgio Spanu (University of Sassari)

From Byzantine to Iudical Sardinia (6 th -13 th ct): settlement patterns and archeology of the borders.

Elisabetta Giorgi (University of Siena)

Water for the city, water for the land: economy and ecology of the water for Gortyn and its chora in the Byzantine period.

Luca Zavagno (Bilkent University)

“The Road not taken”: the rural landscape in the early Medieval Cyprus.

Ufuk Serin (METU)

The Late Antique and Byzantine Countryside in Coastal Caria.






Inland settlement patterns in Western Sicily between the Byzantine and the Islamic period (6 th -11 th c. AD)

Angelo Castrorao Barba (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas – CSIC; Escuela de Estudios Árabes – EEA, Granada)

Following the crisis of the ‘golden age’ of the Roman villas in the 4 th century and the complex events of the 5 th century, between Vandals and Ostrogoths roles, the definition of settlement patterns in Western Sicily from the 30s of the 6 th century (Belisarius’ ‘re- conquest’) to the Norman conquest (late 11 th century) is a crucial point to understand the formation of post-roman landscapes in the Island. Paradigms of continuity and discontinuity are still strong and is not easy (but it is really possible?) to define when ‘Late Roman / Late Antique’ patterns finished and ‘Byzantine’ and then ‘Islamic’ ones started. The main issue revolves around the tendency, or the will, of reading rural dynamics – what about longue durée? – in strict connection to major socio-political events or all-encompassing narratives about the drastic transformation of post-Roman Mediterranean. Following the vision of the (almost) ‘two Sicily’ – approximately at the West and the East of the Platani river – this paper aims to summarize and debate the settlement dynamics in the countryside of Western Sicily between 6 th and 11 th century according to archaeological data from survey and excavations. In particular, the ongoing research at Contrada Castro (Corleone, Palermo) in the Monti Sicani area provides new insights on inland settlements’ practices during the Early Middle Ages. The site, otherwise unknown from the written sources, has revealed an interesting sequence related to the re-occupation of a 6 th -5 th century BC building complex during the Early Middle Ages. At the current state of the research – the most telling evidence for a new occupation of the site between the 7 th -early 8 th century is connected with the burial of two peri-natal individuals. From the second half of the 8 th -9 th century new buildings testify for a further development of this settlement. Lastly, between the 10 th -11 th century the complex undergoes a drastic reshaping following its demise, as the thick layer of building debris shows. In this phase, the entire settlement’s topography changes significantly and all the rebuilt structures feature a new orientation. The archaeological evidence yielded so far illustrates well the informative potential of the site in order to understand and reconstruct the economic trends and human- environment interactions of an early medieval community in the countryside of Western Sicily.


Inland settlement patterns in Eastern Sicily in Middle-Byzantine period (8 th -9 th c.)

Lucia Arcifa (University of Catania)

The intervention will highlight the specific contribution of archaeological research to the reconstruction of the Byzantine countryside in the ninth century, with specific reference to the central eastern part, which remains during the ninth century more closely linked to Constantinople. After the crisis of rural settlement in the 8th century, the countryside of central-eastern Sicily seems to be experiencing a moment of renewed centrality, as evidenced by the numerous testimonies of small and medium sized rural settlements along the main roads. Starting with the excavation of Rocchicella - Mineo, which has been the subject of archaeological research for some years now, it is possible to trace the main characteristics of this phase, which coincides with the initial phase of the conflict between the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world. The renewed centrality of the island and its role in defending Byzantine supremacy in the central Mediterranean are key elements in understanding the reasons for an economic recovery that appears to be strongly supported by the state; military investment, in fact, seems to prolong the prosperity of this part of the island and requires a rethink of the overall interpretation of this phase in a specific way. The approach to the study of the Sicilian High Middle Ages in the past decades has been strongly conditioned by the interpretative lines elaborated for peninsular Italy; it is evident the need to take into account the specific context that is determined in this phase and that inserts the island within economic dynamics of a dirigiste nature.


Water for the city, water for the land: economy and ecology of the water for Gortyn and its chora in the Byzantine period.

Elisabetta Giorgi (University of Siena)

The state of preservation of the Early-Byzantine water system in Gortyn (Crete) is the starting point for trying to analyze the significance of the availability of a large quantity of water both with respect to the city and to the surrounding countryside. In this context the construction of an aqueduct can be read as an economic operation aimed at directing towards the city a large quantity of water; this water flow appears to be out of scale in comparison to the real needs of the population, but it could be instead necessary for the cultivation of otherwise arid land. Water management therefore appears to be a key element to analyze not only the relationship between water and the city, but also in relation to the agricultural productivity of a territory. The management of the water system is in fact closely linked to the increase in the productive potential of the lands surrounding Gortyn, from which the city obtains the necessary to feed the population and also an archaeologically visible economic surplus. In the absence of archaeological and historical data on the Gortynian chora, the water system and some aspects connected to it (flow rate, daily availability, consumption) can be a lens for framing new perspectives about the agricultural productivity of the land, the amount of people who could be supported with it and the economic potential of the city in the Byzantine period. This analysis model can be applied to reconstruct the relationship between the city and the countryside in two different scenarios related to the 6th and 7th centuries. The transition between these two centuries represents a fundamental turning point in the history of Gortyn, because it coincides with some urban transformations that will deeply affect the destiny of the city and its relationship with the surrounding chora.


The Late Antique and Byzantine Countryside in Coastal Caria

Ufuk Serin (Middle East Technical University)

This paper, part of a larger, long-term project entitled the ‘Archaeological Survey of the Gulf of Mandalya’, aims to offer some observations and thoughts on the Late Antique and Byzantine countryside in coastal Caria, drawing on nine years of fieldwork (2003- 2011) in the Mandalya survey-area within the wider context of Byzantine Caria. In Antiquity, the Gulf of Mandalya was largely included in the territorium of Iasos (modern Kıyıkışlacık) situated in a sheltered position on a small peninsula in the same gulf, between Miletus and Halicarnassus, in the modern Turkish province of Muğla. The indented coast of Caria offers many natural harbors, which, together with its regional location at the crossroads of the main shipping routes from Constantinople to the Eastern Mediterranean and those to Europe, explain its rich legacy of Late Antique and Byzantine settlements and other archaeological remains. The archaeological evidence concerning the Late Antique and Byzantine periods in the survey-area also confirms such legacy, including the remains of Late Antique ‘villages’, churches and chapels across the countryside, small provincial bath buildings, together with the ruins of a range of identified (fortifications, fountains, cisterns, necropolises) and unidentified buildings and building groups. These discoveries are complemented by evidence from surface finds, particularly architectural elements and pottery, helping to place these sites chronologically. The present research thus investigates the types of buildings, sites and settlements identified in the survey-area, their positioning and distribution in the territory and possible factors influencing this distribution. It also attempts to explore the relationships connecting settlement areas and their influence on the surrounding countryside, together with their links with the contemporary major urban centre in the area, the ancient city of Iasos. Doing this requires focusing on the identification and interpretation of different types of rural settlements in terms of land use and management, together with the economic activities and types of production that supported the survival of these settlements from Antiquity through to Late Antique and Byzantine (and modern) times. The archaeological investigation in the Gulf of Mandalya has dispelled the previously accepted image of the lasian territorium as ‘barren’. The discovery of a variety of rural sites in association with cisterns, wells, and necropolises, rural churches, isolated farms, agricultural terraces, and the remains of numerous other structures distributed across the countryside, confirms the prosperity of the urban territorium, with intensive agricultural activity, and prolific rural settlements in this part of Caria. The decline of material evidence from the 7th century onwards is no definite indication that this territory was not inhabited in later Byzantine times. Archaeological evidence, such as circular cisterns, especially those located along the coast, and fragments of glazed pottery, suggests a continuity of occupation in the latter years of the Byzantine period.


From Byzantine to Iudical Sardinia (6 th -13 th ct): settlement patterns and archeology of the borders

Fabio Pinna (University of Cagliari) & Piergiorgio Spanu (University of Sassari)

By reconsidering old evidence on the territorial organization in the Roman period as well as the results of recent archaeological excavations, this paper aims to analyze the changes of  settlement patterns in Sardinia; this in a period spanning from the Byzantine era (6th century) to the formation of the four Iudicates (which appeared in their final form in the second half of the 11th century). In fact, in the last part of the latter period, Sardinia seemed to be divided into sixty districts.

The overarching theme of different and administratively varied areas characterized the whole history of Sardinia; this stems from the peculiar geo-morphological conformation of the island which influenced its historical and socio-political trajectories. In this light, this paper will focus on the strategies for land management in a region dominated by large estates; this - together with a reconsideration of the diverse settlement patterns and the possible osmotic relationship between city and countryside- could lead to reassess the traditional interpretative scheme which juxtaposes coastal and inland sites and interprets the so-called Sardinian “Barbariae” as lands with no urban life (and even considers the Medieval settlement strategy as a replica of those belonging to the Nuragic period).

With all this in mind, this paper will try to shed a new light on the archaeology of the frontiers of Iudical Sardinia: the quadripartition could indeed provide us with some useful hints concerning the main characters of a settlement pattern harkening back to the previous centuries and therefore examined in a sort of longue durée.




“The Road not taken”: the rural landscape in the early Medieval Cyprus.

Luca Zavagno (Bilkent University)

This paper focuses on the island of Cyprus and, in particular, it will try to re-assess the traditional historiographical interpretation of the fate of local rural settlements and population in the passage from Late Antiquity to the early Middle Ages (i.e. between the late sixth to the early ninth century). Indeed, we cannot simply take for granted that at the time under scrutiny Cyprus was overwhelmed by Arab incursions turning the island into a no man’s land, severing commercial and shipping routes, bringing to an end any economic, social and cultural form of life in the countryside, causing massive depopulation and abandonment of prosperous rural villages along the coasts in favor of hastily built and fortified (often seasonal) hilltop settlements. This is a narrative heavily influenced by the current political divide characterizing the island of Cyprus rather than an objective assessment of the available evidence (material and documentary). In the light of the latter remark, this paper will compare the results of some of the surveys conducted in the last few decades in the territory of the Republic of Cyprus (like ) with the preliminary results of a recent extensive rural survey conducted in the plain of Galinoporni- Kaleburnu on the Karpas-Karpaz peninsula. This to answer to the famous question brought about by Marcus Rautmann (where the Cypriot farmers had gone?) [1] and to propose a picture of the Cypriot landscape as characterized by the early medieval resilience of the varied range of rural settlements (farms, hamlets and villages) dating back to previous centuries and by the lack of any catastrophic occupational gaps after the mid-seventh century. On the one hand, this approach could indeed to countermand the metanarratives advocating for a political partition of the island ante litteram or a condominium between the Byzantines and the Umayyads leading to a politically almost “independent” and fully orthodox island [2] ; on the other, it should also help to compare Cyprus with other (insular and not) regions of the Mediterranean like the hinterland of Sagalassos, Beotia in Greece, the Balearics and Sicily. Indeed, recent research on the part scholars like Vanhaverbeke, Vroom, Molinari and Vionis (among the others) has clearly proved that although number of sites decreased and defended villages provided shelter to local population, the rural landscape in these regions was far than empty with evidence of substantial production of domestic wares, long-distance transport, changes in land-use methods (permanent occupation associated to a more pastoral way of living) and economic links with other areas of the eastern (and western) Mediterranean [3] .


1 - Murray Mcclellan & Marcus Rautman, “Where have all farmers gone? The Cypriot countryside in the seventh to tenth centuries”, Paul Wallace, Visitors, Immigrants and Invaders in Cyprus, Albany, 1995; also Marcus Rautman, “Valley and Village in Late Roman Cyprus”, William Bowden, Mark Machado and Luke Lavan, Recent Research on Late Antique Countryside. Leiden 2004, pp. 187-218 and Marcus Rautman, “The villages of Byzantine Cyprus”, in Jacques Lefort, Cécile Morrisson and Jean-Pierre Sodini, Les villages dans l’empire byzantine. Paris 2005, pp. 453-63.
2 - See for instance the recent contributions of Jannic Durand and D. Giovannoni, Chypre entre Byzance et l’Occident (IVe-XIVe siècle), Paris 2013 or D. Metcalf, “The North-South Divide in Byzantine Cyprus. Some evidence from Lead Seals and Coins”, in Charles Stewart- Thomas Davis-Anne Marie Wyle-Carr, Cyprus and the Balance of Empires: Art and Archaeology from Justinian I to the Coeur de Lion, Nicosia 2014, pp. 29-38
3 - Hannalore Vanhaverbeke, “What Happened after the seventh century A.D.? A different perspective on Post-Roman rural Anatolia”, Tasha Vorderstrasse-Jacob Roodenberg, Archaeology of the Countryside in Medieval Anatolia, Archaeology of the Countryside in Medieval Anatolia, Leiden 2009, pp. 185ff.; Athanasios Vionis, “Considering a Rural and Household Archaeology of the Byzantine Aegean. The Ceramic Spectrum”, Joan Blintiff & Marta Caroscio, Pottery and Social Dynamics in the Mediterranean and Beyond in the Medieval and Post-Medieval Times, Oxford 2013; Joanita, Vroom, After antiquity. Ceramics and Society in the Aegean from the 7 th to the 20 th century. A case study from Beotia, Central Greece, Leiden 2003; Alessandra Molinari, “ Sicily between the 5 th and the 10 th century: villae, villages, towns and beyond. Stability, expansion or recession ”, in Demetrios Michailides, Philippe Pergola, Enrico Zanini , The Insular System in the Byzantine Mediterranean, Oxford 2014, pp. 97-115; Martin Cau Ontiveros- Caroline Mas Florit, “The early Byzantine period in the Balearics”, in Demetrios Michailides, Philippe Pergola, Enrico Zanini , The Insular System in the Byzantine Mediterranean, Oxford 2014, pp. 31-45.