Byzantine ceramic workshop at Otranto (LE), Puglia (virtual reconstruction by Massimiliano Passarelli)
In various parts of the Byzantine Empire, monetary circulation ceased during the course of the 6th century. Some Italian mints, including Naples and Syracuse, continued to strike coins, although finds are often rare and appear to be linked to military and administrative payments, rather than a generalised monetary economy. Many parts of the Empire seem to have returned to a natural or pre-monetary economy, at least until Emperior Basil I in the 9th century when,gradually, small change began once again to circulate in town and country. In Sicily, instead, a rather intense circulation seems to have continued between 668 and 881, perhaps due to a requalification of the island by central government. Despite these discrepancies, the imperial system did not cease to exist. We will attempt to understand how exchange was organised and how production was financed during the period of circa 200 years, thus permitting the survival of the Empire. The project thus proposes to analyse economic exchange through the evaluation of numismatic data, also in relation to the circulation of goods and foodstuffs. Sixth to eleventh century Byzantine coin finds will be plotted and analysed in both quantitative and distributive terms, and compared to monetary circulation in other parts of the Mediterranean.