Transformations of City and Countryside in the Byzantine Period

International Conference Organized by the Leibniz-WissenschaftsCampus Mainz Byzantium Between the Orient and Occident

The Byzantine Empire lasted more than a thousand years. During this time between the foundation of the new capital of Constantinople in 330 and the fall of Fall Constantinople in 1453, the ancient world was fundamentally transformed and with these transformations the foundations for modern-day Europe were laid. The political, economic, social and cultural processes of change were closely interconnected in multiple ways und frequently affected all levels. Hence transformations can be recognized in many sources, in writings, images, objects and architecture. Archaeology has long sought to determine the social dynamics behind changes in urban and rural life. Landscapes were also subject to processes of transformation in their function as economic spaces and zones of contact between centers.  Changes in landscapes are conditioned above all by the type of settlement and utilization of resources and still reverberate today (for example in the stages of degradation that characterize the vegetation of the Mediterranean today).

The concept of “transformation” or simply “reshaping” contains the elements of what remains, the conservative, the kernel of what continues, as well of what changes, the innovative. In the framework of this conference, we seek to draw attention to this dichotomy and investigate the extent to which change in daily life can be detected by archaeology, history and art history. Who were the agents of transformation and how did they and their environment change? To what extent did the state or its citizens, for example, show themselves to be flexible in handling external and internal pressures of innovation? In what manner and to what extent were the Byzantines able to preserve their identity and the internal cohesion of their empire in the course of these processes of adaptation?

The focus will be on research projects concerned with processes of change or the consequences of transformations in the Byzantine Empire. For this four sections are planned:

  • Spacial Transformation
  • Economic Transformation
  • Processes of Transformation in the World of Faith
  • Bearers of Transformation

Each section begins with an introductory lecture that sets the stage. In a concluding discussion the sections will be brought together and combined into a unified image.

Organization: Dr. Beate Böhlendorf-Arslan in cooperation with Dr. Henriette Kroll, Prof. Dr. Günter Prinzing, Miriam Steinborn M.A., Dr. Robert Schick and Dr. Rainer Schreg

Akropolis with episcopal complex in Caričin Grad (Reconstruktion: Vladan Zdravkovic)

Akropolis with episcopal complex in Caričin Grad (Reconstruktion: Vladan Zdravkovic)

Akropolis with episcopal complex in Caričin Grad (Reconstruktion: Vladan Zdravkovic)

Orchomenos (Skripou), western facade of the Church of the Mother of God with ancient spoils (Foto: T. Weber)

Akropolis with episcopal complex in Caričin Grad (Reconstruktion: Vladan Zdravkovic)

Korfu, Palaiopolis. The church of bishop Iovianos was built above the roman Odeon using older architectural elements in 5th century. In the middleages, the size of the church has been reduced twice. (Foto: B. Fourlas)

16. November 2016
- 18. November 2016

RGZM | Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum
im Kurfürstlichen Schloss
Ernst-Ludwig-Platz 2
55116 Mainz


Museum für Antike Schiffahrt
Neutorstraße 2b
55116 Mainz