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The archaeology of monasticism; landscape, politics and social organisation in late antique Syria

Hull, Daniel (2006) The archaeology of monasticism; landscape, politics and social organisation in late antique Syria. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis reassesses the role played by monasticism in the social, economic and political changes of Late Antiquity in the eastern Mediterranean. In particular, it takes the Roman province of Syria as its primary arena, and argues that monasteries were more active in effecting social change in this region from the fourth to the seventh .centuries than has been previously supposed. In arguing for such a role, a theoretical deco~struction of the nature of archaeological research in Syria is carried out, and the reasons why the material culture of that region has been consistently left out of wider intellectual debates are demonstrated. Instead of monastic institutions being regarded as essentially separate from broader changes affecting the :nay rural society was organised, a more varied, dynamic model is proposed. Running contrary to many general commentaries on the late empire, which assert that the eastern Mediterranean maintained a consistent and successful taxation base, it is argued instead that more complex, localised methods of socio-economic control can be recognised archaeologically. Instead of there being a lack of social transformation until the seventh or eighth centuries in the eastern Mediterranean, it can be suggested that some areas in fact witnessed a shift from a predominantly tax-based economy to one where tribute was given to rural institutions as early as the fifth century. By examining both the internal morphology of monastic sites as well as their broader relationship with topography and surrounding settlement patterns, a case can be made that monasteries were at the forefront of this shift. A landscape approach is adopted in order to scrutinise this model, using an archaeological data set from the limestone massif of northwest Syria. Three specific case studies are then used to contextualise these broad conclusions. This thesis brings together information from a number of previous surveys in the. region throughout the twentieth century, with results obtained through my own fieldwork undertaken in 2003 and 2004.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.485099
Depositing User: EThOS Import (York)
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2015 09:18
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2015 09:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9939

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