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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 1737: Political and Economic Networks between Byzantium and Its Neighbours

Thursday 6 July 2023, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Mireia Comas, Departament d'Història i Arqueologia, Universitat de Barcelona
Paper 1737-aThe Athenian Economy in the Middle Ages: Establishing a Trading Network between Athenian and Arabic Cultures
(Language: English)
Panagiota Mantouvalou, Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman & Modern Greek Studies, University of Birmingham
Index terms: Archaeology - Artefacts, Byzantine Studies, Economics - Trade, Islamic and Arabic Studies
Paper 1737-bCommercial Networks between the Byzantine Empire and Europe, Including the British Isles
(Language: English)
Elena Ene D-Vasilescu, Faculty of History, University of Oxford
Index terms: Art History - Painting, Byzantine Studies
Paper 1737-cThe Byzantine Oikoumene: A Medieval International Society?
(Language: English)
Ilia Curto Pelle, Department of Classics, Princeton University
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Political Thought, Politics and Diplomacy, Social History

Paper -a:
Until recently it was believed that there was a gap in the history of Athens in the period between the 7th and the 10th centuries. However, recent excavations in Athens have revealed that not only there was human activity in the Agora (marketplace), but also that it extended to a wider trading network in the Aegean. This paper will examine the planning of Athenian industrial communities and the finds from the Aegean, and discuss the relationship between them. Moreover, I will be discussing the Arabic influences on the local Athenian material culture, which is not only visible on monumental art, but also on smaller artefacts.

Paper -b:
In the literature concerning Byzantium usually the historical phenomena are analysed as they took place along the Eastern-Western axis of its territory. What my paper proposes is an alternative to this approach. Because of the need to circulate goods between the Mediterranean and the North Sea, roads were constructed to connect the two, and along these both merchandises (textiles, metal objects, etc.) and cultural items as manuscripts, ivory for book covers, pigments for painting, etc. were transported. The same thoroughfares and points of connection within a large network were used for religious and military purposes. I adduce testimonies to make a strong argument that the division 'North-South' within the Empire was as important as that 'East-West'.

Paper -c:
Like all other empires, the Byzantine Empire was concerned with shaping and qualifying its relationships with other imperial and non-imperial actors in the international system. These relationships were once described by Sir Dimitry Obolensky as expressions of an 'international community', which he called the 'Byzantine Commonwealth'. In international relations literature, the Byzantine Empire is classified as a 'suzerain-state system', which is not conducive to the formation of what IR scholars label 'international societies'. In my paper, I argue that the Commonwealth indeed does fulfil the role of an international society and that this should reset our baseline of expectations of the different behaviours of actors in the international system surrounding Byzantium.