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Short description
Public Lectur Series
July 16-27, 2007


The Birth of Medieval Europe: Interactions of Power Zones and their Cultures in Late Antique and Early Medieval Italy


Department of Medieval Studies

Director of the course:
József Laszlovszky

Director e-mail:

Péter Bokody

Coordinator(s) e-mail:

more information


Andrea Augenti, Department of Conservation of Cultural Heritage (Ravenna), University of Bologna, Italy
Irene Barbiera, University of Padua, History, Italy
Neil Christie, University of Leicester, School of Archeology and Ancient History, UK
Evangelos Chrysos, National Hellenic Research Foundation, Greece
Vasco la Salvia, University of Chieti
József Laszlovszky, Central European University, Department of Medieval Studies, Hungary
Zara Pogossian, American University of Rome
Walter Pohl, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Medieval History Research, Austria
Marianne Sághy, Central European University, Department of Medieval Studies, Hungary

Short description

The fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of medieval power centres was one of the most debated historical issues in the last century. Historical, archaeological, and religious studies were dedicated to this problem, and military, economic, and climatic explanations were put forward to highlight and explain the relatively fast decline of the Western Roman Empire and the emergence of new power centres (Byzantine, Carolingian). The survival of the late antique economic system into the early medieval period is one of the most powerful historical concepts for the explanation of the transitional period, and it has been the most debated historical question of the period since the beginning of the twentieth century. Recently, major monographs have reinterpreted the whole period and the authors have proposed fundamentally new concepts for the explanation of this period. They represent an extremely wide range of modern ideas of reinterpretation and many complex issues concerning the concept of Roman continuity, regional development patterns in early medieval Europe, and a very general concept of “clashes” of cultures. Based on these recent studies and the discussions and debates generated by them, the summer course will focus on these questions in an interdisciplinary approach for scholars.

The course will focus on four major issues, starting from the local-regional context of one of the most important power centres of the period (Ravenna and Rome). Until very recently the main emphasis of research was connected to the artistic monuments of Ravenna (mosaics), but recent studies have started to focus on economic and topographic issues and on their impact on the later Medieval period. Second, the local regional aspect will be incorporated into an Italian panorama of the period, with the main questions centering on the interactions of different power zones and cultural centres. In this part, the interaction of Late Antique (Roman) heritage, its Byzantine transformation, and the emergence of the new power centre will also be discussed in the context of “Barbarian” invasions and the arrival of new ethnic groups (Goths, Lombards, etc.) The third main block of lectures and discussions will focus on the general interpretation of the period from a European-wide perspective, and the new research data derived from the archaeological project in Ravenna will be compared with the general historical debates mentioned in the introduction. Finally, discussion will turn to the afterlife of these places and sites, covering the extent to which this Late Antique archaeological and architectural heritage was reinterpreted, transformed, and re-utilised in the Late Medieval period.

The course is designed for postgraduate students and for scholars with previous knowledge gained in at least one aspects of the course (the Roman period, the early Middle Ages, continuity problems, etc.) The course themes and its program structure have been designed for specialists in ancient history, Late Classical and Early Medieval history, archaeology, art history, and/or church history. Academics in the field of religious studies, Byzantine studies, Italian studies, and European studies are also among the expected applicants for the course. As one important aspect of the course is the interpretation of cultural heritage monuments, specialists in this field working in heritage institutions are also potential participants in the course.

Public Lectur Series

Andrea Augenti
From Roman Italy to Early Medieval Italy – Rome, Tuscany, Ravenna
11.30-13.00, Monday (16/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

Roundtable dedicated to the memory of Riccardo Francovich
(Andrea Augenti, Neil Christie, Irene Barbiera, Vasco la Salvia
and József Laszlovszky)
Interpretation of the Late Antique and Early Medieval Archaeological Material in Italy – New Concepts and Their Impact on the Historical Questions
14.00-15.30, Thursday (19/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

Neil Christie
From Constantine to Charlemagne – As Present Archaeological Studies Interpreting this Question in Italy
11.30-13.00, Friday (20/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

Evangelos Chrysos
The Byzantinists' Look on the Birth of Europe
14.00-15.30, Friday (20/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

Vasco la Salvia
Technology and Culture – The Antique Heritage and the New Influences
11.30-13.00, Monday (23/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

(Neil Christie, Irene Barbiera, Zara Pogossian, Vasco la Salvia and József Laszlovszky)
The Fall of an Empire, Rise of an Empire – Culture and Material Culture
14.00-15.30, Monday (23/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

(Neil Christie, Marianne Sághy, Zara Pogossian and Irene Barbiera)
Fall of an Empire, Rise of an Empire – Art and Culture
11.30-13.00, Tuesday (24/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

Walter Pohl
“Barbarian” Invasions and Their Impact on Early Medieval State Formation – A Comparison with the Italian Situation
9.30-11.00, Wednesday (25/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

(Walter Pohl, Neil Christie, Balázs Nagy, Vasco la Salvia and Irene Barbiera)
Fall of an Empire, Rise of an Empire – Economy and Society
14.00-15.30, Wednesday (25/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

Irene Barbiera
Burial Practices and the Transformation of Late Antique Society
11.30-13.00, Thursday (26/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

József Laszlovszky
The Church of St. Severo in Ravenna and its Afterlife in the Middle Ages
9.30-11.00, Friday (27/7/2007), CEU Nádor 9, FT 409.

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