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The Christianization of Island Landscapes in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: New Perspectives from Naxos in the Aegean

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Sam Turner


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To understand the impact of religious change in the landscapes of the early Middle Ages (about A.D. 600–900) is a significant challenge for scholars in many parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. Our knowledge of the structure and experience of sacred space after Late Antiquity is not only restricted by the difficulty of identifying sacred sites, but also by our relatively limited understanding of contemporary settlements and land-use patterns. Across much of the eastern Mediterranean, few documentary sources for daily life survive, and the narrative and hagiographical sources which do exist often suggest desolate landscapes. Previous generations of archaeologists have sometimes accepted this picture uncritically, leading them to assume that island landscapes were depopulated until some time in the Middle Byzantine period. The difficulty of identifying characteristic material remains such as ceramics, and the resulting apparent absence of finds, was taken to confirm the abandonment suggested by the documentary sources. Careful examination of the documentary record and the archaeological evidence yields hints of a more complex history.Recent collaborative fieldwork on Naxos in the Cyclades has begun to unravel previously unsuspected complexities through case-studies in the central parts of the island. Naxos provides exceptional opportunities to explore the nature of Christianization in the Early and Middle Byzantine periods. This paper presents some interim results from research on Naxos through examples which illustrate the Christianization of both rural and urban space between the seventh and the tenth centuries.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Turner S, Crow J

Editor(s): M.Á. Cau Ontiveros and C. Mas Florit

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Change and Resilience: The Occupation of Mediterranean Islands in Late Antiquity

Year: 2019

Pages: 217-234

Print publication date: 01/07/2019

Online publication date: 01/07/2019

Acceptance date: 01/06/2019

Series Title: Joukowsky Institute Publication 9

Publisher: Oxbow Books

Place Published: Oxford, UK


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781789251807