IMC 2020: Sessions

Session 319: Early Byzantine Cities and Their Many Borders

Monday 6 July 2020, 16.30-18.00

Organiser:Elodie Turquois, DFG-Projekt 'Prokop und die Sprache der Bauten' Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Moderator/Chair:Conor Whately, Department of Classics, University of Winnipeg, Manitoba
Respondent:Conor Whately, Department of Classics, University of Winnipeg, Manitoba
Paper 319-aNatural Landscapes and the Built Environment: Material and Literary Borders in Procopius of Caesarea's Buildings
(Language: English)
Elodie Turquois, DFG-Projekt 'Prokop und die Sprache der Bauten' Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Greek, Technology
Paper 319-bFrom Periphery to Centre: Walls, Barriers, and Borderlands in the Early Byzantine Empire, 500-750
(Language: English)
Alexander Sarantis, Department of History & Welsh History, Aberystwyth University
Index terms: Archaeology - Sites, Byzantine Studies, Economics - Rural, Military History
Paper 319-cMelting Borders: Constantinople's Past and Present in Malalas's Chronicle
(Language: English)
Olivier Gengler, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften / Forschungsprojekt 'Philologisch-historischer Kommentar zur Chronik des Johannes Malalas' Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Greek, Mentalities
Abstract

The Early Byzantine period was a time of great cultural, socio-economic, and political change, and this is particularly striking in the transformation of the urban landscape across the eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire. In the 6th to 7th centuries, this state was a dynamic, multi-cultural entity experiencing significance political and cultural pressures, from within and without. For this reason, the perception, description and conceptualization, as well as the physical reality of borders, barriers and urban spaces were equally transitioning, at the turning point between Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The papers in this session will examine this topic across a range of material and disciplines, combining both
textual and physical evidence. The first paper (Turquois) examines the way Procopius of Caesarea, a 6th-century historian of the reign of Justinian, depicts the Byzantine oikoumene both in terms of its topography and the impact of imperial building projects on the landscape. There is not only a play on the level between nature and technology, but also a constant parallel between the emperor as builder and the author’s own rhetorical construct. Sarantis will explore the archaeological and textual evidence for the evolution of fortifications, both surrounding and separating the internal areas of settlements, as well as protecting or creating new natural barriers, cordoning off and at the same time dominating provincial landscapes vulnerable to external invasion. In 6th-c. borderland regions, these new patterns of fortification and urbanism were accompanied by the increasing domination of provincial frontier society by military men and the church at the expense of older secular classically educated elites. In his paper, Gengler investigates the re-configuration of Constantinople’s distant past in the Chronographia attributed to John Malalas, the earliest known example of proto-byzantine universal chronicle. This work written in its original form during the reign of Justinian (527-565 AD) constructs, through its teleological retelling of Greek myths, the foundation of Rome or Constantine’s story, a new past for the new capital of the Justinianic Empire.