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Research seminar: Byzantium in the North


Compulsory attendance


Admission requirements

Admission to the RMA-programme.


The institutional collapse of the Roman Empire in the West did not necessarily imply the break-up of long distance contacts between North-Western Europe and the Mediterranean and the Byzantine Empire. On the contrary, for a long time the post-Roman world seems to have been held together by an almost global exchange network linking the Indian Ocean with the North Sea and the Baltic. Finds in the north such as Byzantine coins and coin weights, cowry shells from the Indian Ocean, jewellery decorated with garnets from India and Ceylon and papyrus testify to this.

In some regions of central Europe and Scandinavia analyses of objects of Mediterranean and Byzantine origin are made and the material is interpreted in terms of long distance contacts. However, no such research has been carried out in North-Western Europe (The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, the western part of Germany and northern France) yet. When specific attention is paid to this material it will prove to be present in unexpected numbers.

In this research seminar we will start an analysis of a selection of Mediterranean and Byzantine material, such as Byzantine coins and coin weights, amethyst beads, 6th-century garnet brooches, cowry shells and other relevant types of objects. We will include an analysis of their find contexts (types of cemeteries and settlements) and distribution. Reading and analysing up to date literature on exchange in post-Roman and Byzantine times in Europe and the Mediterranean is part of the course, as well as a 2-day visit to the Römisch-Germanisches Zentral Museum in Mainz.

Course objectives

The course will contribute to the qualifications of a Research Master as formulated by the Faculty of Archaeology. See document provided on Blackboard. We will discuss this in the first meeting.
More specifically this course contributes to domains A1 and A2, B1, C2, C3, E1-E8.

The main course objectives are:

  • Developing the ability of critical assessment of current research on this topic;

  • Expansing on the knowledge of material culture of the late Roman and early medieval periods;

  • Developing theoretical knowledge on exchange;

  • Developing the skills of argumentation and reasoning;

  • Developing skills in presentation of research (writing and presentation);

  • Developing team-work skills.

Ects distribution

The course load will be distributed as follows:


Course schedule details can be found in the RMA time schedule.

Mode of instruction

Seminar, in which the results of group members will be presented and discussed. There will also be staff presentations of specific topics.

Assessment method

  • Essay (80%);

  • Participation (20 %).

Assessment deadline

All assessment deadlines (exams, retakes, paper deadlines etc.) can be found in the examination schedule.

Reading list

To be announced.


Register for this course via uSis.
Instructions for registration can be found in the uSis manual.

Contact information

For more information about this course, please contact prof. dr. F.C.W.J. Theuws.