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Fellow Seminar

16 February 2017

Dr. Pantelis Charalampakis will present his research proposal on the topic: "The Social, Fiscal and Administrative Status of the Slavic Communities within the Byzantine Empire. A Comparison between the "Archontiai" of the Balkans and the "Andrapoda" of Asia Minor" on 16 February 2017 (Thursday) at 16:30h at CAS Conference Hall.

Abstract:

The main topic of my research is the status of the early Slavs living within the Byzantine (Roman) State, from the perspective of administration, fiscal policy and society. The time span of the study covers the period from the late 6th/early 7th until the 10th century A.D. Based on textual sources, sigillographic evidence, personal and place names, as well as the conclusions and remarks of archaeologists, I attempt a reconstruction of the process of integration and assimilation of the early Slavs into Byzantine society in general. The study is divided in three main parts.

Part 1 is about the administrative and fiscal status of the Slavic tribes in the southern Balkans. I am dealing mostly with the areas of what is now modern Greece, because the lands to the north, occupied by the Bulgars from the 680's, were no longer part of the Byzantine Empire. Special attention is paid to the interpretation of the terms "sklavinia" and "archon". The first one has been, in my opinion, falsely interpreted as a name for any Slavic community or tribe organized in a sort of autonomous "state" entity. Instead, I argue that it was simply a geographical term. The second term denotes, according to some scholars, Slavic leaders or rulers, officially recognized by the Byzantine authorities. Careful examination of the evidence rather points to Byzantine officials and "elite" Slavs in the service of the Byzantines. Moreover, I comment on the financial activity of the Slavs and the State's fiscal policy through a mechanism that was not interrupted during the so-called "Dark Ages". The seals of the "kommerkia" and of the "dioiketai" show a continuous presence of Byzantine fiscal authorities in the southern Balkans throughout the period under examination.

Part 2 is about the population transfers from the Balkans to Asia Minor. This policy of "forced migration" was very common at that time and I offer several examples in order to illustrate the concept behind this practice. Although textual evidence for the Asia Minor Slavs is far more limited compared to the Balkans, abundant sigillographic material for (and from) Asia Minor and especially the administrative and fiscal structure shows that the Slavs must have had different status. There is no information about Asia Minor Slavs being supervised by any "archon", although some of them were concentrated in specific areas thus forming local communities. Moreover, it would be unreasonable to speak about an "argumentum ex silentio" in order to justify the absence of material related to the Slavic presence in that area. Apart from these, I try, for the first time, to collect all place names related to the Slavs in Asia Minor and locate them on the map.

Part 3 is about the integration and assimilation of the early Slavs (both in the Balkans and in Asia Minor). From the use of language and Christian symbols to the employment in the military and in the administrative mechanism, the appointment in high ecclesiastical seats or the enrichment and the access to the Byzantine "elite", there are many examples, some of which I present in order to show that there was a slow but effective process towards the integration and eventually the assimilation of the early Slavs into Byzantine culture and society.

 
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