The Afterlife of the Classical Stoa: Investigating the Transition from Classical to Medieval through the Study of Byzantine Stoa Reuse
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractChanging circumstances during Late Antiquity and the Early Byzantine Period (4th-9th centuries A.D.) required Byzantine communities to make deliberate adjustments in order to survive, endure, and ultimately flourish again during the Middle Byzantine Period (10th-12th centuries). The role these communities had in decision-making can easily be overlooked, leaving instead hapless victims of insurmountable external pressures such as imperial manipulation, economic recession, Christian acculturation, or a general sense of inexorable decline. Although factors such as these played a role as each community deliberated on a complex and unique set of local concerns, the ultimate decisions each community made should not be assumed but rather investigated on the basis of both textual and archaeological evidence. The stoa is particularly well-suited for the study of reuse and therefore valuable for understanding the adaptive strategies implemented by Byzantine individuals and communities during the transition period from antiquity to the medieval period. The stoa was one of the most ubiquitous buildings of the Greco-Roman city and was highly adaptable for reuse, whether by incorporation into large structures such as churches or fortifications, or by subdivision into smaller units for uses such as housing, storage, or commercial activities. The stoa was commonly found not only in urban contexts, particularly in agorai and fora, but also at many extraurban sanctuaries. By compiling data on the reuse of stoas throughout the Byzantine Empire during the 4th - 10th centuries, four patterns of reuse can be identified: residential, economic, ecclesiastical, and defensive. Abandonment, or a lack of reuse, is a fifth pattern. These patterns of reuse provide insight into the lives of Byzantines outside of the imperial and ecclesiastic elites and inform the excavation of post-classical phases of stoas.
Degree ProgramGraduate College