Istanbul, Europe's largest city, became an urban center of exceptional size when it was chosen by Constantine the Great as a new Roman capital city. Named 'Constantinople' after him, the city has been studied through its rich textual sources and surviving buildings, but its archaeology remains relatively little known compared to other great urban centers of the ancient and medieval worlds. Constantinople: Archaeology of a Byzantine Megapolis is a major archaeological assessment of a key period in the development of this historic city. It uses material evidence, contemporary developments in urban archaeology and archaeological theory to explore over a thousand years of the city's development. Moving away from the scholarly emphasis on the monumental core or city defenses, the volume investigates the inter-mural area between the fifth-century land walls and the Constantinian city wall - a zone which encompasses half of the walled area but which has received little archaeological attention. Utilizing data from a variety of sources, including the 'Istanbul Rescue Archaeology Project' created to record material threatened with destruction, the analysis proposes a new model of Byzantine Constantinople. A range of themes are explored including the social, economic and cognitive development, Byzantine perceptions of the city, the consequences of imperial ideology and the impact of 'self-organization' brought about by many minor decisions. Constantinople casts new light on the transformation of an ancient Roman capital to an Orthodox Christian holy city and will be of great importance to archaeologists and historians.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Istanbul Archaeological Project 1997-2004: history, organisation and methods
Chapter 3: The Southern part of the Study Area
Chapter 4: The Northern part of the Study Area
Chapter 5: The Blachernae Palace
Chapter 6: The Church of the Holy Apostles
Chapter 7: Conclusion: the archaeology of a Byzantine megapolis
Ken Dark is Associate Professor in Archaeology and History at the University of Reading, where he was Director of the Research Centre for Late Antique and Byzantine Studies from 2001 until 2016. Between 1997 and 2004 he co-directed the British Museum-funded rescue archaeology program for Istanbul, published in 2013 by Oxbow as Constantinople: archaeology of a Byzantine Megapolis.
If the hard content is slim, it is substantially packaged with sensible and informative generalization, above all in the history of archaeology in Istanbul, and in the explanation of the project’s methodology. These introductory sections are worth reading for their own sake. The book is, as a whole, well written and cites an impressive secondary bibliography.
~Paul Magdalino, Koç University, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
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