The Medieval Countryside, colloquium session, 2018 Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, Boston, January 4–7, 2018
The proposed colloquium will examine the contribution of archaeology to our broader understanding of the medieval period in Greece and the Aegean region, especially rural settlements. Since the early 1980s, when large-scale, intensive surveys were undertaken in several areas of Greece, a rich and diverse database of sites and off-site material pertaining to the medieval period has been generated. Thus, for the first time we can approach the rural landscape, habitation and land use, from the perspective of archaeology. Prior to this development, we were constrained by the lack of textual sources, such as tax registers or monastic archives, which are available only for few areas. Archaeological surveys, along with excavations, have expanded our options and provided a more even geographical coverage.
However, the rich databases that have been generated by regional projects have not had significant impact on related fields, such as history, or existing narratives of Byzantium. Prominent publications in the field of Byzantine studies that include archaeological results tend to focus on excavations, with survey contributions rarely mentioned. So, why haven’t survey data been incorporated into broader historical themes involving settlement, land use, social history or cultural identity? Why hasn’t the promise of a broader impact of landscape archaeology projects materialized? What are the obstacles that discourage the engagement of a wider group of scholars with survey data? Is it simply a matter of time, because most survey projects have been slow to disseminate their results? What other issues need to be addressed?
The purpose of this session is to identify obstacles that have limited the impact of this body of archaeological work and propose solutions. The goal is to bring together past and ongoing archaeological projects that focus on the medieval landscape, initiate collaboration, facilitate comparative research, and take steps towards enhancing data sharing and dissemination.
Effie Athanassopoulos on behalf of the AIA Medieval and Post-Medieval Archaeology Interest Group