An imperial town in a time of transition. Life, environment, and decline of early Byzantine Caričin Grad

Jago Jonathan Birk, Ivan Bugarski, Sabine Fiedler, Vujadin Ivanišević, Henriette Kroll, Nemanja Marković, Anna Reuter, Constanze Röhl, Rainer Schreg, Aleksandar Stamenković, Sonja Stamenković, Miriam Steinborn

Abstract


The site of Caričin Grad in south-eastern Serbia – currently listed on UNESCO’s tentative list – has been the subject of archaeological investigations for more than 100 years. For the last decades it has been the focus of a joint project of the Archaeological Institute in Belgrade and the École Française de Rome. A reconstruction of the economic, environmental and social history of the city is the main objective of a cooperative project started in 2014 with the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz.
The remains of the early Byzantine complex of Caričin Grad show the features of a city built in the classical, Hellenistic-Roman tradition, combined with ecclesiastical Christian architecture. Based on the comparison of Byzantine text sources with the settlement’s topography and its architecture, Caričin Grad is supposed to be identical to Iustiniana Prima, a city newly founded by the Emperor Justinian as the region’s episcopal and administrative centre.
With the period of occupation covering a mere 90 years, from circa AD 530 to circa AD 615, the site allows a rare archaeological “snapshot” of a short period of very intensive use, which furthermore remained undisturbed from later encroachments. Due to these circumstances, Caričin Grad offers the unique opportunity to analyse a city at the turn of the Late Antique era to the Early Medieval epoch and the complex issues associated with periods of cultural transition.
Based on the perspective of human ecology and social sciences, the project will establish new approaches and investigate the concept of “city” during periods of cultural transition by using methods of archaeozoology, archaeobotany, geoarchaeology, soil science and GIS.
The main topic addressed within this context, “Households, consumption and everyday life” will deal with single domestic units concerning methods of production, consumption and activity zones regarding comestible goods. This perspective on the town and its consumption will be complemented by a viewpoint on the surrounding landscape focussing on its resources and agrarian production.

Keywords


Urban Archaeology, Household Archaeology, Ecological Archaeology, Environmental Archaeology, Late Antiquity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/lac.2014.4

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Copyright (c) 2016 Jago Jonathan Birk, Ivan Bugarski, Sabine Fiedler, Vujadin Ivanišević, Henriette Kroll, Nemanja Marković, Anna Reuter, Constanze Röhl, Rainer Schreg, Aleksandar Stamenković, Sonja Stamenković, Miriam Steinborn

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LAC 2014 proceedings - ISBN 978-90-825296-0-9 - is an open access initiative supported by the University Library, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.