Asia Minor in the Long Sixth Century: Current Research and Future Directions

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Ine Jacobs, Hugh Elton
Oxbow Books, Oct 18, 2018 - History - 256 pages
Asia Minor is considered to have been a fairly prosperous region in Late Antiquity. It was rarely disturbed by external invasions and remained largely untouched by the continuous Roman-Persian conflict until very late in the period, was apparently well connected to the flourishing Mediterranean economy and, as the region closest to Constantinople, is assumed to have played an important part in the provisioning of the imperial capital and the imperial armies. When exactly this prosperity came to an end – the late sixth century, the early, middle or even later seventh century – remains a matter of debate. Likewise, the impact of factors such as the dust veil event of 536, the impact of the bubonic plague that made its first appearance in AD 541/542, the costs and consequences of Justinian’s wars, the Persian attacks of the early seventh century and, eventually the Arab incursions of around the middle of the seventh century, remains controversial.

The more general living conditions in both cities and countryside have long been neglected. The majority of the population, however, did not live in urban but in rural contexts. Yet the countryside only found its proper place in regional overviews in the last two decades, thanks to an increasing number of regional surveys in combination with a more refined pottery chronology. Our growing understanding of networks of villages and hamlets is very likely to influence the appreciation of the last decades of Late Antiquity drastically. Indeed, it would seem that the sixth century in particular is characterized not only by a ruralization of cities, but also by the extension and flourishing of villages in Asia Minor, the Roman Near East, and Egypt.

This volume's series of themes include the physical development of large and small settlements, their financial situation, and the proportion of public and private investment. Imperial, provincial, and local initiatives in city and countryside are compared and the main motivations examined, including civic or personal pride, military incentives, and religious stimuli. The evidence presented will be used to form opinions on the impact of the plague on living circumstances in the sixth century and to evaluate the significance of the Justinianic period.


A change of appearance Urban housing inAsia Minor during the sixth century
Paganmythological statuary in sixthcenturyAsia Minor
Sixthcentury Asia Minor through the lens ofhagiography ecclesiastical power and institutionsin city and countryside
Studying Asia Minor in the sixth centuryMethodological considerations for aneconomic analysis
Forgotten borderlands Northeastern AsiaMinor in the sixth century and its potential forfrontier studies
The countryside in southern Asia Minor in thelong sixth century
The cities of southern Asia Minor inthe sixth century
Aspects of sixthcentury urbanism inwestern Asia Minor
Constantinople in the long sixth century
Industrial agriculture intensifi cation and collapsein Sinope and its territory during the late Romanearly Byzantine periods
Aphrodisias in the long sixth century
The glorious sixth century in Assos The unknownprosperity of a provincial city in western Asia Minor

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About the author (2018)

Ine Jacobs is an Associate Professor of Byzantine Archaeology and Visual Culture at Oxford University. Her research focusses on the development of the Eastern Mediterranean in late antique and Byzantine times. Her DPhil looked into the how and why of late antique and Early Byzantine urban development and representation. In a first postdoctoral fellowship, she investigated the reciprocal relations between the drastic political and religious changes taking place in the Theodosian period on the one hand and the economic developments and general prosperity in the eastern Mediterranean on the other. Since then she has been focussing ever more on the influence of Christianity on contemporary society. She is examining how the augmenting power of bishops over their congregations is expressed in the urban fabric as well as how ordinary people experienced their Christianity.She was a member of the Sagalassos team (Turkey) between 2003 and 2014 and director of the British Archaeological Project at Grumentum (Italy) between 2012 and 2015. Currently, she participates in the excavations at Aphrodisias (Turkey) and co-direct the Kostoperska Karpa Regional Archaeological Project (FYROM).

Hugh Elton is Professor of Ancient History & Classics at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, specializing in Roman and Late Roman political and military history and the regions of Cilicia and Isauria in southern Turkey.

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