Books

Forthcoming: The Cambridge Handbook of Byzantine Archaeology (Cambridge University Press)

Already published:

The Byzantine Dark Ages

The Byzantine Dark Ages explores current debates about the sudden transformation of the Byzantine Empire in the wake of environmental, social and political changes. Those studying the Byzantine Empire, the successor to the Roman Empire in the eastern Mediterranean, have long recognized that the mid-7th century CE ushered in sweeping variations in the way of life of many inhabitants of the Mediterranean world, with evidence of the decline of the size and economic prosperity of cities, a sharp fall in expressions of literary culture, the collapse in trade networks, and economic and political instability.

The Byzantine Art of War

A Complete Overview of One of the Most Important Military Forces in the History of the World. The Byzantine Art of War explores the military history of the thousand-year empire of the eastern Mediterranean, Byzantium. Throughout its history the empire faced a multitude of challenges from foreign invaders seeking to plunder its wealth and to occupy its lands, from the deadly Hunnic hordes of Attila, to the Arab armies of Islam, to the western Crusaders bent on carving out a place in the empire or its former lands. In order to survive the Byzantines relied on their army that was for centuries the only standing, professional force in Europe. Leadership provided another key to survival; Byzantine society produced a number of capable strategic thinkers and tacticians—and several brilliant ones. These officers maintained a level of professionalism and organization inherited and adapted from Roman models. The innovations of the Byzantine military reforms of the sixth century included the use of steppe nomad equipment and tactics, the most important of which was the refinement of the Roman mounted archer. Strategy and tactics evolved in the face of victory and defeat; the shock of the Arab conquests led to a sharp decline in the number and quality of imperial forces. By the eighth and ninth centuries Byzantine commanders mastered the art of the small war, waging guerrilla campaigns, raids, and flying column attacks that injured the enemy but avoided the decisive confrontation the empire was no longer capable of winning. A century later they began the most sustained, glorious military expansion of their history. This work further sketches the key campaigns, battles, and sieges that illustrate Byzantine military doctrine, vital changes from one era to another, the composition of forces and the major victories and defeats that defined the territory and material well-being of its citizens. Through a summary of their strategies, tactics, and innovations in the tools of war, the book closes with an analysis of the contributions of this remarkable empire to world military history.

Life and Society in Byzantine Cappadocia

This is the first in-depth historical study of Byzantine Cappadocia. The authors draw on extensive textual and archaeological materials to examine the nature and place of Cappadocia in the Byzantine Empire from the fourth through eleventh centuries.

Tilling the Hateful Earth

This book explores the agrarian landscape and economy of the eastern Mediterranean from modern Israel to Turkey. This region experienced a surge in population between the fifth and sixth centuries AD that raised the population to levels often only regained in the late twentieth century. Cities expanded and the eastern lands reached a pinnacle of cultural expression and economic prosperity in the century before the arrival of Islam. Behind all this lay the ability of Roman farmers to feed themselves by producing a reliable surplus of food. Michael Decker describes precisely how this was done: how plants critical to survival were grown and how new plants were introduced. He also catalogues the range of intensive farming methods used and the rise of cash-crop farming based on olive oil and wine that was traded throughout Europe, western Asia, and parts of Africa.