|Institution:||University of Birmingham|
|Department:||Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies|
|Keywords:||D111 Medieval History; DF Greece; HD Industries. Land use. Labor; TS Manufactures|
|Full text PDF:||http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5560/|
This work represents the most comprehensive investigation of silk in the middle Byzantine period to date. The current interpretation of silk as an imperial prerogative confined to elite use is poorly integrated with the body of evidence and lacks explanatory value. The difficult terminology and scattered mentions in written sources limits application of conventional research methods. Although a number of silk fragments survive in institutional collections, the lack of find and contextual information represents a formidable obstacle. This dissertation redefines silk in Byzantium by demonstrating its social importance, contribution to technology development, and integration in the regional economy. Findings are based on intensive analysis of production and consumption data from parallel investigation of texts and textile fragments according to a common framework. To aid data collection and analysis, information technology tools involving relational database methods and digital imaging were devised for this purpose. The evidence suggests that the historical process involving silk was shaped by a continuing cycle of elite differentiation and imitative reproduction, which contributed to the transmission of the material and production in the region. From a broader perspective, this work demonstrates the relevance of textile studies to the interpretation of economic and social history.