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Category: Publication Reviews

Gift Giving and the ‘Embedded’ Economy in the Ancient World

There is no doubt that anybody interested in the overall question of exchange in the ancient world – be it in the context of the monetary system or that of symbolic gift- giving only – should consult this anthology.

Filippo Carlà and Maja Gori, eds. Gift Giving and the 'Embedded' Economy in the Ancient World. Akademiekonferenzen, 17. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2014.

From Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Anders Klostergaard Petersen, University of Aarhus

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Don’t Blame Him. Peter Brown on Constantine

Few rulers have set in motion developments of such momentous consequence as the emperor Constantine, with his conversion to Christianity in 312 and subsequent halting of the persecution of Christians, ratified a year later in the Edict of Milan. Over the 17 centuries since then, theologians, historians and even novelists, including Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, have claimed that a change for the worse in the quality of Christianity (the kind of change an earlier age would have ascribed to supra-natural agents like the Devil or the Antichrist) can be personified in this rather flashy Roman emperor. Even those of less apocalyptic temperament, faced by almost any legacy of the late antique world of which they disapprove – anti-Semitism, the secular power of the church, the rise of intolerance, the spirit of the Crusades – blame it on Constantine.

David Potter. Constantine the Emperor. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Peter Brown reviews Constantine the Emperor in London Review of Books, volume 37, no. 8 (23 April 2015).

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Liturgical Subjects: Christian Ritual, Biblical Narrative, & the Formation of the Self in Byzantium

This book will be required reading for anyone interested in Byzantine Christianity and is an important addition to the broader conversation about the self in Christian Studies.

Derek Krueger. Liturgical Subjects: Christian Ritual, Biblical Narrative, and the Formation of the Self in Byzantium. Divinations: rereading late ancient religion. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.

From Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by George E. Demacopoulos, Fordham University

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A Rural Economy in Transition: Asia Minor from Late Antiquity into the Early Middle Ages

There are many signs on the horizon that Byzantine history and archaeology are moving speedily in novel and fascinating directions, opening room for new and essential debates in a field not always characterized by innovation. The book at hand certainly holds a place as one of these exciting signs.

Adam Izdebski. A Rural Economy in Transition: Asia Minor from Late Antiquity into the Early Middle Ages. Journal of Juristic Papyrology supplement, 18. Warszawa: Raphael Taubenschlag Foundation, 2013.

From Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Nikos Tsivikis, Institute for Mediterranean Studies, Rethymno 

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The Emperor Theophilos and the East, 829–842

The volume is a tour de force in its integrated provision of a vast amount of relevant source material and detailed analysis of it.

Juan Signes Codoñer. The Emperor Theophilos and the East, 829–842: Court and Frontier in Byzantium during the Last Phase of Iconoclasm. Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies, 13. Farnham; Burlington, VT: Ashgate Variorum, 2014.

From Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Denis Sullivan, University of Maryland College Park

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Papyrological Texts in Honor of Roger S. Bagnall

…amongst these pieces of 'everyday writing' there is something for almost every Egyptian historian, philologist, papyrologist, and indeed scholar of the ancient Mediterranean world.

Rodney Ast, Hélène Cuvigny, Todd M. Hickey, Julia Lougovaya (ed.), Papyrological Texts in Honor of Roger S. Bagnall. American Studies in Papyrology, 53. Durham, NC: American Society of Papyrologists, 2013.

From Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Jennifer Cromwell, Macquarie University

Liquid & Multiple: Individuals & Identities in the Thirteenth-century Aegean

Guillaume Saint-Guillain and Dionysios Ch Stathakopoulos, eds. Liquid & Multiple: Individuals & Identities in the Thirteenth-century Aegean. Monographies (Centre de recherche d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance), 35. Paris: Association des amis du Centre d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance, 2012.

Review by Marina Koumanoudi, National Hellenic Research Foundation, in Mediterranean Historical Review 29, no. 1 (2014): pp. 94–97.

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Cultural Brokers at Mediterranean Courts in the Middle Ages

These few remarks have certainly not done justice to the rich spectrum presented here. The term 'cultural broker' proves to be highly productive, forcing us to revisit many of our traditional perspectives toward the ordinary relations among representatives of many different cultures, religions, languages, and political systems in the wider world of the Mediterranean.

Marc Von der Höh, Nikolas Jaspert, and Jenny Rahel Oesterle, eds. Cultural Brokers at Mediterranean Courts in the Middle Ages. Mittelmeerstudien, 1. Paderborn and Munich: Wilhelm Fink / Ferdinand Schöningh, 2013.

From The Medieval Review (TMR). Review by Albrecht Classen, University of Arizona

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Codex Hagiographiques du Louvre sur Papyrus (P.Louvre Hag)

Capronʼs meticulous descriptions, cautious conclusions, masterly reconstructions, and methodologically superb treatment of P.Louvre Hag. are a fine paradigm for others to follow.

Laurent Capron. Codex Hagiographiques du Louvre sur Papyrus (P.Louvre Hag). Papyrologica Parisina 2. Paris: Presses de lʼuniversité Paris-Sorbonne, 2013.

From Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Thomas J. Kraus, University of Zurich

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Western Perspectives on the Mediterranean

Collectively, these six essays reveal vividly that the communication routes of the early medieval Mediterranean carried not only commodities, objects of devotion, and travelers themselves, but intangible cultural products as well. While the impact of various objects of cultural transfer could vary significantly, their adoption reveals how the peoples of the early medieval west still recognized themselves as constituents of a wider Mediterranean world.

Andreas Fischer and Ian Wood, eds. Western Perspectives on the Mediterranean: Cultural Transfer in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, 400–800 AD. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.

From Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Gregory Halfond, Framingham State University

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Travellers, Merchants and Settlers in the Eastern Mediterranean, 11th–14th Centuries

…he author’s layered categorisations explore Westerners’ interactions with the local social, cultural, economic, and political environment(s). Such a framework helps to open up room for more nuanced understandings of the Eastern Mediterranean between the 11th century and the 14th century.

David Jacoby. Travellers, Merchants and Settlers in the Eastern Mediterranean, 11th–14th Centuries. Ashgate, 2014.

From Reviews in History. Review by Wei-sheng Lin, University of Birmingham

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The Economics of the Roman Stone Trade

The approach taken is archaeological, with Russell offering a reassessment of old data and careful examination of new data. This allows him to skilfully marshal an impressive range of evidence to make his case, resulting in a useful and important book, with a clear and consistent, yet nuanced, argument throughout.

Ben Russell. The Economics of the Roman Stone Trade. Oxford studies on the Roman economy. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

From the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMRC). Review by Claire Holleran, The University of Exeter

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Accounts of Medieval Constantinople: The Patria

Thus the Patria, which do not stint on commentary, are fleshed out, offering a much more expansive account at a much later date. Berger's translation now makes both this city and its interpretation available to a new audience.

Albrecht Berger. Accounts of Medieval Constantinople: The Patria. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, 24. Cambridge, MA; London: Harvard University Press, 2013.

From the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Sarah Bassett, Indiana University

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Antiche stelle a Bisanzio: il codice Vaticano greco 1087

This handsomely and carefully produced paperback volume contributes significantly to the study of Vat. gr. 1087 and shows how much information and knowledge the analysis of all aspects of a manuscript can supply to different fields of study.

Fabio Guidetti and Anna Santoni, eds. Antiche stelle a Bisanzio: il codice Vaticano greco 1087. Seminari e convegni, 32. Pisa: Edizioni della Normale, 2013.

From the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Renate Burri, University of Berne

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Constantine Porphyrogennetos, The Book of Ceremonies

The complexities of the Book of Ceremonies notwithstanding, there can be no doubt that Moffatt and Tall have filled a major gap in the resources available to English-speaking scholars who may wish to consult this important compilation.

Ann Moffatt and Maxeme Tall. Constantine Porphyrogennetos, The Book of Ceremonies. 2 vols. Byzantina Australiensia 18. Canberra: Australian Association for Byzantine Studies, 2012. 

From The Medieval Review (TMR). Review by Ian Mladjov, Bowling Green State University

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The Christian Topography of Kosmas Indikopleustes: Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, plut. 9.

This publication provides a broad and thorough introduction to an unusual and interesting work. The quality of the essays, descriptions, and reproductions is high….The editor and his team are to be congratulated for providing such a comprehensive and reasonable introduction to this manuscript.

Jeffrey C. Anderson, ed. The Christian Topography of Kosmas Indikopleustes: Firenze, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, plut. 9.28. The Map of the Universe Redrawn in the Sixth Century. Folia picta: manoscritti miniati medievali, 3. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2013.

From the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR). Review by Charles Barber, Princeton University

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