Landscape approaches to the Byzantine world are still uncommon these days despite the increasing integration of regional approaches into ancient and medieval studies generally. It is gratifying, then, to see that another work dedicated to the subject of Byzantine landscapes will be out in print this month. Sharon Gerstel’s book looks delightful in its combination of different sources of evidence and its abundant illustrations: churches of Attica, the Peloponnese, Crete, and Aegean islands; archaeological survey data from the Pylos region; and the local memory through ethnographic work in Greek villages. Here are some of the details:
Gerstel, Sharon E. J. Rural Lives and Landscapes in Late Byzantium: Art, Archaeology, and Ethnography. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Table of Contents:
1. The landscape of the village
2. Communication and the village church
3. The village woman
4. Village men, village labor
5. In the service of the church
6. The body and the soul.
“This is the first book to examine the late Byzantine peasantry through written, archaeological, ethnographic, and painted sources. Investigations of the infrastructure and setting of the medieval village guide the reader into the consideration of specific populations. The village becomes a micro-society, with its own social and economic hierarchies. In addition to studying agricultural workers, mothers, and priests, lesser-known individuals, such as the miller and witch, are revealed through written and painted sources. Placed at the center of a new scholarly landscape, the study of the medieval villager engages a broad spectrum of theorists, including economic historians creating predictive models for agrarian economies, ethnoarchaeologists addressing historical continuities and disjunctions, and scholars examining power and female agency.”
Limited excerpts of texts and images are available via Google Books.