The fifth event in Sidestreets’ “Conversations on Culture” series in Kyrenia will be a presentation by Dr. Luca Zavagno, entitled “A Mosaic of Cities: Urbanism in the Byzantine Empire from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages.”
There has been a long and heated debate among medievalists as to what happened to the classical Greco-Roman idea of the city or polis during the exciting and rapid changes that took place between late antiquity and the Byzantine period: did cities survive or did they physically collapse as social and economic conditions changed? This presentation takes a unique and different approach, looking at the real problems confronting Byzantine cities, especially Constantinople, which served as a capital of the empire and as the ‘eye of the universe of cities’ that were scattered across the whole Byzantine empire, and the city of Salamis in Cyprus. These multifunctional cities developed in dramatically different ways in different regions as a result of the social, economic, cultural, administrative, religious and political roles they played; and the changing ideologies and spatial patterns of the Byzantine cities provide an unusual perspective from which we can see the cities of our own time in a new light.
The event (presentation and full Sunday luncheon) is scheduled for Sunday, 25 October at 12:00, at Onar Village in Kyrenia. The cost of admission is 30 TL, and seats should be reserved in advance at Sidestreets, Tel: 229-3070.
“A Mosaic of Cities: Urbanism in the Byzantine Empire from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages”
Luca Zavagno was born in Venice, where he received his B.A. degree in History from the University Ca’Foscari; he completed his Ph.D. studies at the University of Birmingham on the society, culture, economics and politics of Byzantine cities. His main area of research is Byzantine urbanism in Anatolia, Greece, Italy, Syria and Palestine from the end of the Roman empire through the early Middle Ages; and his work provides an important lens for understanding this period in and beyond the Mediterranean basin.
Zavagno is the author of Cities in Transition: Urbanism in Byzantium Between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (British Archaeological Reports-International Series, 2009), a book which explores the impact of important historical events on urban settlements in the Pontus (Amastris), Italy (Naples), western Anatolia (Ephesus), and Greece (Gortyn and Athens) during this period. His work dramatically reveals how cities did not simply shrink or become self-enclosed and isolated, but were transformed administratively, defensively, and economically as the Byzantine empire changed.
Zavagno is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Eastern Mediterranean University, where he is currently doing research on Cyprus in the Byzantine period, in its role as a major strategic and commercial hub along the eastern Mediterranean sea routes, its administrative and exchange links with Constantinople, and its relation to Syria and Palestine, where Byzantine power succumbed to the expansion of Islam.