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Urban and Rural Settlement in Anatolia and the Levant, 500–1000 AD: New Evidence from Archaeology

Byzantine Symposium, April 22–24, 2005, Symposiarchs: Clive Foss, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., Johannes Koder, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria / University of Vienna, Austria

This topic was designed to provide a comprehensive survey of current knowledge of these crucial areas in the Eastern Mediterranean during a period of profound transformation: in Asia Minor, from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages; in the Levant from Byzantium to Islam. Hopefully, the subject illuminated history from a variety of viewpoints, crossing traditional boundaries between history and archaeology and between Byzantine and Islamic studies.

Sessions were devoted to all kinds of human settlement during this period, ranging from the large metropolitan cities of the late Roman Empire to villages of the early Middle Ages, as well as fortresses and monasteries. Archaeology received particular attention, since it is the main source for potential understanding of these topics. The talks, therefore, were largely be based on the results of recent excavations and surveys, though without neglecting the evidence derived from the narrative or documentary historical record.

Questions of methodology were stressed, both in an introductory session and in the individual papers, so that the audience could understand what kind of information may now be derived from a range of techniques, and how it may be integrated with the more traditional sources. It was hoped that the sum of the individual topics both reflected the advances that have been made in recent years, and helped towards an understanding of major historical questions in the Fall of Rome, the rise of Islam and the survival of Byzantium.

On the Thursday preceding the opening of the symposium, at 5:30 P.M., Prof. Cyril Mango of Exeter College, Oxford University, delivered a keynote lecture open to all. His topic was, Byzantine Asia Minor and Syria: From Art Historical Monuments to Archaeological Settlement.

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