Proposed Colloquium Session for the 2015 Archaeological Institute of America Annual Meeting, New Orleans, January 8–11, 2015
Sponsored by: AIA Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology Interest Group and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University
Organizers: Rebecca Ingram and Michael Jones, Institute of Nautical Archaeology
Maritime activity played a vital role in the political and economic success of the Byzantine Empire. Recent fieldwork, both on land and underwater, offers a tantalizing glimpse into the complexity of the Byzantine maritime world. The 58,000 m2 rescue excavation of the Theodosian Harbor in the heart of Istanbul, begun in 2004, is perhaps the most significant of these new discoveries, yielding the remains of 37 Byzantine shipwrecks and tens of thousands of artifacts related to maritime trade, shipbuilding technology, and daily life in Constantinople from the late 4th to the early 11th century. However, because the Yenikapı finds are from the hub of a vast maritime network, they cannot be understood in isolation. Along with the finds from Yenikapı, results from recent studies involving shipwrecks, surveys and excavations of harbor sites, and studies of long-distance trade goods are poised to make a significant contribution to our understanding of Byzantine trade, society, and culture. In order to examine this new data within the proper overall context of late antique and Byzantine archaeology, this colloquium session, co-sponsored by the AIA Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology Interest Group and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, will present new discoveries from a range of sites concerning maritime activity in this period. This session aims to bring together archaeologists who focus on topics such as ship construction, harbors, metrology, coastal settlement, and maritime trade goods in the Byzantine world. By seeking greater integration between research from terrestrial and nautical archaeological sites, this session will provide an appropriate venue for the dissemination of recent finds and will shed new light on our understanding of the Byzantine Empire and its neighbors.