The Long Eighth Century

By Inge Lyse Hansen; Chris Wickham | Go to book overview

PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION AND DEMAND
IN THE BYZANTINE WORLD, c. 660–840
John Haldon

Production, distribution and demand represent three key features of medieval East Roman economic and social relations, and in a short contribution such as this it will be possible to highlight only some of the more salient features for the period in question. More importantly, perhaps, it should be emphasised at the outset that an analysis of these features of the economic and social life of the East Roman empire is hindered from the outset by the current state of the archaeological, and more especially the ceramic, record, which is extremely poor for Anatolia, and patchy for the south Balkans and Aegean region. Reliance on numismatic and documentary evidence alone for certain data is therefore greater than is perhaps desirable, but at this stage, unavoidable.1

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1
There is a substantial older literature relevant to the East Roman area, which still provides useful material: E. Ashtor, “Nouvelles réflexions sur la thèse de Pirenne”, Schweizer Zeitschrift für Geschichte 20 (1970), pp. 601–07; P.E. Hübinger ed., Bedeutung und Rolle des Islam beim Übergang vom Altertum zum Mittelalter, Wege der Forschung, 202 (Darmstadt, 1968); R.S. Lopez, “The role of trade in the readjustment of Byzantium in the seventh century”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 13 (1959), pp. 67–85; “Silk industry in the Byzantine empire”, Speculum 20 (1945), pp. 1–42; “The dollar of the Middle Ages”, Journal of Economic History 11 (1951), pp. 209–34; “East and West in the early Middle Ages: economic relations”, Relazioni del X Congresso Internazionale di Scienze Storici 3 (Florence, 1955), pp. 113–62; A.R. Lewis, Naval power and trade in the Mediterranean A.D. 500–1100 (Princeton, 1951); H. Adelson, Light-weight solidi and Byzantine trade during the sixth and seventh centuries (New York, 1957); Ph. Grierson, “Commerce in the Dark Ages”, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 9, 5th ser. (1959), pp. 123–40; H. Antoniadis-Bibicou, Recherches sur les douanes à Byzance, l' “octava”, le “kommerkion”et les commerciaires (Paris, 1963); D. Claude, Der Handel im westlichen Mittelmeer während des Frühmittelalters, Untersuchungen zu Handel und Verkehr der vor-und frühgeschichtlichen Zeit in Mittel-und Nordeuropa 2 (Göttingen, 1985). More recently: M.F. Hendy, Studies in the Byzantine monetary economy, c. 3001450 (Cambridge, 1985), esp. pp. 561–69; the essays in R. Hodges and W. Bowden eds., The sixth century: production, distribution and demand (Leiden-Boston-Köln, 1998); and P. Reynolds, Trade in the western Mediterranean A.D. 400–700: the ceramic evidence, BAR International Series 604 (Oxford, 1995). Further literature, especially in respect of ceramic evidence, will be mentioned below.

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