The paper is intended to provide a first regional synthesis on the transformation of rural and urban landscape in early Byzantine Crete, between the mid-4th century up to the Arab conquest in the first quarter of the 9th century. During this period Crete seems to be largely “ignored” by the more important literary sources and the contribution of archaeology is still patchy, with limited excavations in a few urban centres (Knossos, and, mainly, Eleutherna and Gortyn) and more limited surveys in rural contexts. Nevertheless, it seems possible organising the available information into a first comprehensive picture, departing from the great earthquake of AD 365, which seems to mark a turn-point in the urban history of the island. After the earthquake we can see a slow reorganisation of the urban fabric both in Eleutherna and Gortyn during the second half of the 4th and the 5th century. In the 6th century, apparently mainly in the age of Justinian I, it is Gortyn – the provincial capital and the see of the archbishop of Crete – that shows the most marked improvements, with the building of new urban infrastructures (paved street network, aqueduct) and new Christian monuments. Both Eleutherna and Gortyn show a very complex urban picture in the 7th century, marked by continuity of the relevant aspects of urban organisation, changes in the overall level of the “middle class” dwelling houses, “new” urban phenomena (such as extensive intra-urban burials) and some “asynchrony” between different urban areas, even some very close each other. The 8th century marks a progressive crisis of the Cretan cities, leading to a “dissolution” of the urban fabric at the very beginning of the 9th century, even before the Arab conquest of the island. After the Byzantine reconquest of Crete (AD 969), the old urban settlements on the southern coast and in the interior were not reoccupied, and a new network of cities and harbours was organised along the northern coast, in close relationship with the new Aegean “dimension” of the middle-Byzantine Empire.

Zanini, E. (2013). Creta in età protobizantina: un quadro di sintesi regionale. In The Insular System of the Early Byzantine Mediterranean Archaeology and history (pp. 173-189). Oxford : Archaeopress.

Creta in età protobizantina: un quadro di sintesi regionale

ZANINI, ENRICO
2013

Abstract

The paper is intended to provide a first regional synthesis on the transformation of rural and urban landscape in early Byzantine Crete, between the mid-4th century up to the Arab conquest in the first quarter of the 9th century. During this period Crete seems to be largely “ignored” by the more important literary sources and the contribution of archaeology is still patchy, with limited excavations in a few urban centres (Knossos, and, mainly, Eleutherna and Gortyn) and more limited surveys in rural contexts. Nevertheless, it seems possible organising the available information into a first comprehensive picture, departing from the great earthquake of AD 365, which seems to mark a turn-point in the urban history of the island. After the earthquake we can see a slow reorganisation of the urban fabric both in Eleutherna and Gortyn during the second half of the 4th and the 5th century. In the 6th century, apparently mainly in the age of Justinian I, it is Gortyn – the provincial capital and the see of the archbishop of Crete – that shows the most marked improvements, with the building of new urban infrastructures (paved street network, aqueduct) and new Christian monuments. Both Eleutherna and Gortyn show a very complex urban picture in the 7th century, marked by continuity of the relevant aspects of urban organisation, changes in the overall level of the “middle class” dwelling houses, “new” urban phenomena (such as extensive intra-urban burials) and some “asynchrony” between different urban areas, even some very close each other. The 8th century marks a progressive crisis of the Cretan cities, leading to a “dissolution” of the urban fabric at the very beginning of the 9th century, even before the Arab conquest of the island. After the Byzantine reconquest of Crete (AD 969), the old urban settlements on the southern coast and in the interior were not reoccupied, and a new network of cities and harbours was organised along the northern coast, in close relationship with the new Aegean “dimension” of the middle-Byzantine Empire.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11365/44820
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