Cyprus between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages
Research on early medieval Cyprus has focused on the late antique "golden age" (late fourth/early fifth to seventh century) and the so-called Byzantine "Reconquista" (post-AD 965) while overlooking the intervening period. This phase was characterized, supposedly, by the division of the political sovereignty between the Umayyads and the Byzantines, bringing about the social and demographic dislocation of the population of the island. This book proposes a different story of continuities and slow transformations in the fate of Cyprus between the late sixth and the early ninth centuries.
Analysis of new archaeological evidence shows signs of a continuing link to Constantinople. Moreover, together with a reassessment of the literary evidence, archaeology and material culture help us to reappraise the impact of Arab naval raids and contextualize the confrontational episodes throughout the ebb and flow of Eastern Mediterranean history: the political influence of the Caliphate looked stronger in the second half of the seventh century, the administrative and ecclesiastical influence of the Byzantine empire was held sway from the beginning of the eighth to the twelfth century. Whereas the island retained sound commercial ties with the Umayyad Levant in the seventh and eighth centuries, at the same time politically and economically it remained part of the Byzantine sphere. This belies the idea of Cyprus as an independent province only loosely tied to Constantinople and allows us to draw a different picture of the cultural identities, political practices and hierarchy of wealth and power in Cyprus during the passage from Late Antiquity to the early Middle Ages.
- 2017 Luca Zavagno
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