Key subject area: Transformations of urban and rural areas

This thematic focus examines cultural processes of transformation at a regional level by looking at case studies of local societies in Byzantine and neighbouring regions. The slow and gradual dissolution of established systems and traditions, the introduction of new ways of life, or the immigration of foreign groups, yield consequences, both in rural as in urban areas, which penetrate individual household communities, village and city structures. How do urban and rural communities change in the face of changing ecological, religious and political conditions? How do the foundations of cities and de-urbanising processes effect environment and society? What are the implications of these transformation processes for everyday life and material culture?

In this context, the consideration of individual villages and cities, but also of individual household communities, allows for an analysis of the diverse transformation processes of social behaviour. These are manifested, for instance, in the interaction with resources and land use, in infrastructural and settlement changes, and in the composition and usage of material culture. In the context of the present thematic focus, social practices at a local level are thus approached from landscape and settlement archaeological studies as well as studies on the basis of written, pictorial and material sources.

Each of the projects within the thematic focus are conceived of as autonomous, while the project members maintain a sustained exchange in regular work meetings. Further projects will be added in the future. An international conference in Mainz will present and discuss preliminary results of the projects in 2016 and contribute to the concretisation and focalisation of the thematic field. In the medium-term, this focus will deliver data for comparative studies which allow a better recognition and comprehension of regional deviant developments.

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