L-ANT/08 - 9 CFU - 1° Semester

Teaching Staff


Learning Objectives

The course aims to deal with the themes of the transformation between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages in the specific context of the Southern Mediterranean; the presence and the close confrontation between the two powers with universal claim, the Byzantine and Islamic empires, implies the need to specifically interpret this process in the transformation from Byzantium to Islam. Within this approach, a specific reading of the early Middle Ages in Sicily is proposed, whose settlement dynamics are strongly conditioned by the ideological, symbolic and strategic role played by the island between the 8th and 10th centuries.

Specifically, the course aims to provide an overview of the archaeological debate on Byzantine and Islamic archaeology by introducing the key concepts for understanding the urban, rural and material culture frameworks between the 6th/7th and 10th centuries. The third module will be devoted to Byzantine and Islamic Sicily with particular reference to the diversification of territorial frameworks and the formation of the frontier, as well as to the role of cities and material culture.

Course Structure

Frontal teaching (36h) and practical exercises (18h) of classification of archaeological material (TMA, drawing, filing) conducted at the depots of the Superintendence BB.CC.AA. of Catania.

Detailed Course Content

A. The Early Medieval Mediterranean: Ports, Trade Networks and transport containers between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

1.Late Antique High Middle Ages: chronological and cultural coordinates.

2. Late antique society and economic transformations: towards a new idea of statehood

3. Geographical and economic space: ports, emporia, wiks

4. Transport containers: the new forms of late antique trade

B. Byzantium and the Mediterranean dimension of the empire

5. Cities between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: social transformations and urban impact; Constantinople the image of an imperial city

6. Rural worlds in the Byzantine Empire: territorial defence and castration

The themata

C. The Islamic world: the construction of a new society

7. Islamic cities: patterns of development and archaeological problems

8. The countryside in the Islamic age

D. Sicily between Byzantium and Islam. For an archaeology of the frontier

9. Sicily: the settlement framework between Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages

10. The formation of the frontier. The Kassar of Castronovo

11. Kastra and madina: the new role of urban centres

12. Material culture in Middle Byzantine and Islamic Sicily: archaeological markers and main ceramic classes; recognition, cataloguing, design of archaeological contexts from urban excavations in Catania.

Textbook Information

Module A (1-4)

A.Augenti, Città e porti dall’Antichità al Medioevo, Roma 2010, pp. 1-105

E. Zanini, Forma delle anfore e forma del commercio tardoantico: spunti per una riflessione, in S. Menchelli, S. Santoro, M. Pasquinucci, G. Guiducci (a cura di), LRCW3, Late Roman Corse Wares Cooking Wares and Amphorae in the Mediterranean I, BAR Int. Ser. 2185, 2010, pp. 139-148

Module B (5-6)

E. Zanini, Introduzione all’archeologia bizantina, Roma 2009, p. 276

Module C (7-8)

M. Milwright, Introduction to Islamic Archaeology Edimburgh 2010, pp. 1-164.

Module D (9-12)

A.Vanoli, La Sicilia musulmana, Bologna 2012, pp. 231.

A.Nef – Prigent, Per una nuova storia dell’altomedioevo siciliano, in Storica 35-36, 2006, pp. 9-63

A. Nef – V. Prigent, Guerroyer pour la Sicile (827-902), in S. Modeo, M.

Congiu, L. Santagati (edd.), La Sicilia del IX secolo tra Bizantini e

Musulmani, Caltanissetta 2012, pp. 13-39.

L.Arcifa, Insularità siciliana e Mediterraneo altomedievale. Dati archeologici e quadri territoriali tra VIII e IX secolo, in Kordula Wolf, K. Herbers (eds), Southern Italy as Contact Area and Border Region during the Early Middle Ages. Religious-Cultural Heterogeneity and Competing Powers in Local, Transregional and Universal Dimension, Beihefte zum Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, 80, Bohlau Verlag, Koln Weimar, Win 2018, pp. 125-148.

L. Arcifa, Trasformazioni urbane nell’altomedioevo siciliano. Uno status quaestionis, in M.C. Parello, M.S. Rizzo (a cura di), Paesaggi urbani tardoantichi. Casi a confronto, Atti delle Giornate Gregoriane VIII Edizione, (Agrigento 29-30 novembre 2014), Bari 2016, pp. 31-40.

L. Arcifa, Contenitori da trasporto nella Sicilia bizantina (VIII-X secolo): produzioni e circolazione , in Archeologia medievale XIV, 2018, pp. 123-148.

L. Arcifa, A. Bagnera, Ceramica islamica a Palermo. La formazione di un orizzonte produttivo, in R. M. Carra Bonacasa, E. Vitale (a cura di), Studi in memoria di Fabiola Ardizzone 3.Ceramica, Quaderni Digitali di Archeologia Postclassica 12, Palermo 2018, pp. 7-60.

V. Sacco, Le ceramiche invetriate di età islamica a Palermo : nuovi dati dalle sequenze del quartiere della Kalsa, in Archeologia Medievale XLIV, 2017, p. 337-366.

V. Sacco, Produzione e circolazione delle anfore palermitane tra la fine del IX e il XII secolo, in Archeologia medievale XIV, 2018, pp.175-192.


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All the books listed in the programs can be consulted in the Library.

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