The Archaeology of Byzantine Italy: A Synthesis of Recent Research


  • Neil J. Christie Institute of Archaeology



Byzantine, Italy, trade, Roman


The Justinianic conquest of Africa, Italy and Spain (AD 533 - 554) has often been regarded as a notable assertion of Byzantine rule over the former Western Roman provinces. Historical discussions have tended to exaggerate greatly the contributions of the Byzantines in the West, presuming extensive restorative activity and the instilling of new life through Eastern immigrants and improved East-West trade contacts. Recent historical studies have broken away from this rosy image and greatly played down the Byzantine role. Archaeological interest in the post-Roman centuries in Italy in particular and in the Mediterranean trade systems has produced a vital source of physical data with which to assess the period AD 400-1000 and thus the contributions of the Byzantines. The image now changes to one of progressive decay and of notable social transformation only partially conditioned by East Roman rule.

Author Biography

Neil J. Christie, Institute of Archaeology

Neil Christie is a holder of a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Archaeology, Oxford, carrying out research primarily on the Lombards. He completed his PhD on 'Settlement and Defence in Byzantine and Longobard Northern and Central Italy' at the Department of Archaeology, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1985. After a scholarship in Italian Studies at the British School at Rome, he prepared for publication an excavation report of Santa Cornelia (BSR excavation 1960-64). As Sir James Knott Fellow (Newcastle Upon Tyne 1987-89) he carried out research on Later Roman Italy. Research interests include church archaeology, frontier studies and Britain AD 400-1000.



How to Cite

Christie, N. J. (1989). The Archaeology of Byzantine Italy: A Synthesis of Recent Research. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 2(2), 249–293.