Environment, Climate and Society in Roman and Byzantine Butrint

In: Late Antique Archaeology

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

Abstract

A multiproxy analysis (sedimentology, geochemistry and pollen) of sediments recovered in the Butrint lagoon (Albania) allows us to reconstruct the environmental changes that occurred in the area during the 1st millennium AD. In this paper, we compare these analytical results with the evidence provided by archaeological investigations carried out at the site of the Roman city of Butrint (surrounded by these lagoon waters) and in the city’s hinterlands. From this, we can say that different periods of farming and siltation (AD 400–600 and 700–900) were accompanied by increased run-off and wetter conditions in the region. This coincided with the territorial and economic expansion of the Byzantine empire, suggesting the key role of trade in the profound land use changes experienced in Butrint.

  • Aliaj S., Baldassarre G., and Shkupi D. (2001) “Quaternary subsidence zones in Albania: some case studies”, Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment 59 (2001) 313318.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ariztegui D., Anselmetti F. S., Robbiani J. M., Bernasconi S. M., Brati E., Gilli A., and Lehmann M. F. (2010) “Natural and human-induced environmental change in southern Albania for the last 300 years—constraints from the Lake Butrint sedimentary record”, Global and Planetary Change 71 (2010) 183192.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ASPBM (2010) Butrint National Park Management Plan (Tirana 2010).

  • Avramidis P., Iliopoulos G., Panagiotaras D. et al. (2014) “Tracking Mid to Late Holocene depositional environments by applying sedimentological, palaeontological and geochemical proxies, Amvrakikos coastal lagoon sediments, western Greece, Mediterranean sea”, Quaternary International 332 (2014) 1936.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bescoby D. (forthcoming) “Roman land organisation of the Butrint hinterland”, in Butrint 6. Excavations on the Vrina Plain. The Roman and Byzantine Suburb, S. Greenslade (Oxford forthcoming).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bescoby D. (2006) “Detecting Roman land boundaries in aerial photographs using Radon transforms”, JAS 33 (2006) 735743.

  • Bescoby D., Barclay J. and Andrews J. (2008) “Saints and sinners: a tephrochronology for late antique landscape change in Epirus from the eruptive history of Lipari, Aeolian Islands”, JAS 35 (2008) 25742579.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bescoby D., Cawley G. C. and Chroston P. N. (2004) “Enhanced interpretation of magnetic survey data using artificial neural networks: a case study from Butrint, southern Albania”, Archaeological Prospection 11 (2004) 189199.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cameron A., Ward-Perkins B. and Whitby M. (2001) edd. The Cambridge Ancient History, vol. 14 (Cambridge 2001).

  • Combourieu-Nebout N., Peyron O., Bout-Roumazeilles V. et al. (2013) “Holocene vegetation and climate changes in the central Mediterranean inferred from a high-resolution marine pollen record (Adriatic Sea)”, Climate of the Past 9 (2013) 20232042.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Decker M. J. (2016) The Byzantine Dark Ages, vol. 1 (London 2016).

  • Dedej Z., and Bino T. (2003). Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands: Butrint (Albania) (Gland 2003).

  • Devillers B., Brown M. and Morhange C. (2015) “Paleo-environmental evolution of the Larnaca Salt Lakes (Cyprus) and the relationship to second millennium BC settlement”, JAS: Reports 1 (2015) 7380.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Di Rita F. and Magri D. (2012) “An overview of the Holocene vegetation history from the central Mediterranean coasts”, Journal of Mediterranean Earth Sciences 4 (2012) 3552.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ellwood B. B., Petruso K. M., Harrold F. B. and Schuldenrein J. (1997) “High-resolution paleoclimatic trends for the Holocene identified using magnetic susceptibility data from archaeological excavations in caves”, JAS 24 (1997) 569573.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fleitmann D., Cheng H., Badertscher S. et al. (2009) “Timing and climatic impact of Greenland interstadials recorded in stalagmites from northern Turkey”, Geophysical Research Letters 36 (2009) 15.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fletcher W. J. and Zielhofer C. (2013) “Fragility of western Mediterranean landscapes during Holocene rapid climate changes”, Catena 103 (2013) 1629.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Francke A., Wagner B., Leng M. J. and Rethemeyer J. (2013) “A Late Glacial to Holocene record of environmental change from Lake Dojran (Macedonia, Greece)”, Climate of the Past 9 (2013) 481498.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gardner J. J. and Whitlock C. (2001) “ Charcoal accumulation following a recent fire in the Cascade Range, northwestern USA, and its relevance for fire-history studies”, The Holocene 11 (2001) 541549.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Giorgi F. and Lionello P. (2008) “Climate change projections for the Mediterranean region”, Global and Planetary Change 63 (2008) 90104.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Göktürk O. M., Fleitmann D., Badertscher S. et al. (2011) “Climate on the southern Black Sea coast during the Holocene: implications from the Sofular Cave record”, Quaternary Science Reviews 30 (2011) 24332445.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greenslade S. and Hodges R. (forthcoming a) “The Roman suburb on the Vrina Plain and its issues”, in Butrint 6. Excavations on the Vrina Plain. The Roman and Byzantine Suburb, S. Greenslade (Oxford forthcoming).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greenslade S. and Hodges R. (forthcoming b) “From villa to church, c. AD 300–550?”, in Butrint 6. Excavations on the Vrina Plain. The Roman and Byzantine Suburb, S. Greenslade (Oxford forthcoming).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greenslade S. and Hodges R. (forthcoming c) “The aristocratic oikos on the Vrina Plain, Butrint c. AD 830–1200”, in Butrint 6. Excavations on the Vrina Plain. The Roman and Byzantine Suburb, S. Greenslade (Oxford forthcoming).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greenslade S. and Hodges R. (2013) “The aristocratic oikos on the Vrina Plain, Butrint c. AD 830–1200”, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 37 (2013) 119.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grove A. T. and Rackham O. (2003) The Nature of Mediterranean Europe: an Ecological History (New Haven 2003).

  • Haldon J., Roberts N., Izdebski A. et al. (2014) “The climate and environment of Byzantine Anatolia: integrating science, history, and archaeology”, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 45 (2014) 113161.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hansen I. L., Hodges R. and Leppard S. (2013) Butrint 4: the Archaeology and Histories of an Ionian Town (Oxford 2013).

  • Hodges R. (2013) “1. Excavating away the ‘poison’: the topographic history of Butrint, ancient Buthrotum, in Butrint 4: the Archaeology and History of an Ionian Town, edd. I. L. Hansen, R. Hodges, and S. Leppard (Oxford 2013) 121.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hodges R., Carr E., Sebastiani A. and Vaccaro E. (2016) “Beyond Butrint: the ‘Mursi survey’, 2008”, BSA 111 (2016) 129.

  • Hodges R., Kamani S., Logue M. and Vroom J. (2009) “The sack of Butrint, c. AD 800”, Antiquity 83 (2009) 320.

  • Hounslow M. W. and Chepstow-Lusty A. (2004) “A record of soil loss from Butrint, southern Albania, using mineral magnetism indicators and charcoal (AD 450 to 1200)”, The Holocene 14 (2004) 321333.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Izdebski A. (2016) “Byzantine Miletus. Environmental history of the hinterland”, AA (2016) 270280.

  • Izdebski A., Pickett J., Roberts N. and Waliszewski T. (2016) “The environmental, archaeological and historical evidence for regional climatic changes and their societal impacts in the eastern Mediterranean in Late Antiquity”, Quaternary Science Reviews 136 (2016) 189208.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Jones M. D., Roberts C. N., Leng M. J. and Turkes M. (2006) “A high-resolution Late Holocene lake isotope record from Turkey and links to North Atlantic and monsoon climate”, Geology 34 (2006) 361364.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaniewski D., Paulissen E., Van Campo E., Al-Maqdissi M., Bretschneider J. and Van Lerberghe K. (2008) “Middle East coastal ecosystem response to Middle-to-Late Holocene abrupt climate changes”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105 (2008) 1394113946.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lacey J., Francke A., Leng M., Vane C. and Wagner B. (2015) “A high-resolution Late Glacial to Holocene record of environmental change in the Mediterranean from Lake Ohrid (Macedonia/Albania)”, International Journal of Earth Sciences 104 (2015) 16231638.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lambeck K. and Purcell A. (2005) “Sea-level change in the Mediterranean Sea since the LGM: model predictions for tectonically stable areas”, Quaternary Science Reviews 24 (2005) 19691988.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lane A. (2004) “The environs of Butrint 1: the 1995–1996 environmental survey”, in Byzantine Butrint: Excavations and Surveys 1994–99, edd. R. Hodges, W. Bowden, and K. Lako (Oxford 2004) 2746.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lavorel S., Canadell J., Rambal S. and Terradas J. (1998) “Mediterranean terrestrial ecosystems: research priorities on global change effects”, Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters 7 (1998) 157166.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Leng M. J., Wagner B., Boehm A. et al. (2013) “Understanding past climatic and hydrological variability in the Mediterranean from Lake Prespa sediment isotope and geochemical record over the Last Glacial cycle”, Quaternary Science Reviews 66 (2013) 123136.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lionello P., Congedi L., Reale M., Scarascia L. and Tanzarella A. (2014) “Sensitivity of typical Mediterranean crops to past and future evolution of seasonal temperature and precipitation in Apulia”, Regional Environmental Change 14 (2014) 20252038.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lionello P., Malanotte-Rizzoli P., Boscolo R. et al. (2006) “The Mediterranean climate: an overview of the main characteristics and issues”, in Developments in Earth and Environmental Sciences, edd. P. M.-R. P. Lionello and R. Boscolo (Amsterdam 2006) 126.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Luterbacher J., Xoplaki E., Casty C. et al. (2005) “Mediterranean climate variability over the last centuries: a review”, in The Mediterranean Climate: an Overview of the Main Characteristics and Issues, edd. P. Lionello, P. Malanotte-Rizzoli, and R. Boscolo (Amsterdam 2005) 27148.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Manning S. (2013) “The Roman world and climate: context, relevance of climate change, and some issues”, in The Ancient Mediterranean Environment between Science and History, ed. W. Harris (Leiden 2013) 103170.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marriner N., Morhange C., Kaniewski D. and Carayon N. (2014) “Ancient harbour infrastructure in the Levant: tracking the birth and rise of new forms of anthropogenic pressure”, Scientific Reports 4 (2014) 111.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Martin S. (2004) “The topography of Butrint”, in Byzantine Butrint: Excavations and Surveys 1994–99, edd. R. Hodges, W. Bowden, and K. Lako (Oxford 2004) 76103.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mazzini I., Gliozzi E., Galaty M. et al. (2016) “Holocene evolution of Lake Shkodra: multidisciplinary evidence for diachronic landscape change in northern Albania”, Quaternary Science Reviews 136 (2016) 8595.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mazzini I., Gliozzi E., Koci R. et al. (2015) “Historical evolution and Middle to Late Holocene environmental changes in Lake Shkodra (Albania): new evidences from micropaleontological analysis”, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 419 (2015) 4759.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCormick M., Büntgen U., Cane M. A. et al. (2012) “Climate change during and after the Roman empire: reconstructing the past from scientific and historical evidence”, Journal of Interdisciplinary History 43 (2012) 169220.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meco S. and Aliaj S. (2000) Geology of Albania (Stuttgart 2000).

  • Medeanic S., Zamora N. and Corrêa I. C. S. (2008) “Non-Pollen palynomorphs as environmental indicators in the surface samples from mangrove in Costa Rica”, Revista Geológica de América Central 39 (2008) 2751.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morellón M., Anselmetti F. S., Ariztegui D. et al. (2016) “Human-climate interactions in the central Mediterranean region during the last millennia: the laminated record of Lake Butrint (Albania)”, Quaternary Science Reviews 136 (2016) 134152.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moreno A., Pérez A., Frigola J. et al. (2012) “The Medieval Climate Anomaly in the Iberian Peninsula reconstructed from marine and lake records”, Quaternary Science Reviews 43 (2012) 1632.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morrisson C. (2004) ed. Le monde byzantin 1. L’empire romain d’Orient (Paris 2004).

  • Muço B. (1995) “The seasonality of Albanian earthquakes and cross-correlation with rainfall”, Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors 88 (1995) 285291.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Negroni G. (2001) “La laguna di Butrinti”, Il Pesce 6 (2001) 4549.

  • Olesen J. E. and Bindi M. (2002) “Consequences of climate change for European agricultural productivity, land use and policy”, European Journal of Agronomy 16 (2002) 239262.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Regattieri E., Zanchetta G., Drysdale R. N., Isola I., Hellstrom J. C. and Dallai L. (2014) “Lateglacial to Holocene trace element record (Ba, Mg, Sr) from Corchia Cave (Apuan Alps, central Italy): paleoenvironmental implications”, Journal of Quaternary Science 29 (2014) 381392.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reimer P. J., Bard E., Bayliss A. et al. (2013) “IntCal13 and Marine13 Radiocarbon Age Calibration Curves 0–50,000 Years cal BP”, Radiocarbon 55 (2013) 18691887.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reynolds P. (2010) “Trade networks of the East, 3rd to 7th centuries: the view from Beirut (Lebanon) and Butrint (Albania) (fine wares, amphorae and kitchen wares)”, in LRCW3: Late Roman Coarse Wares, Cooking Wares and Amphorae in the Mediterranean. Archaeology and Archaeometry, Comparison Between Western and Eastern Mediterranean, edd. S. Menchelli, S. Santoro, M. Pasquinucci and G. Guiducci, (Oxford 2010) 89114.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roberts N., Moreno A., Valero-Garcés B. L. et al. (2012) “Palaeolimnological evidence for an east–west climate see-saw in the Mediterranean since AD 900”, Global and Planetary Change 8485 (2012) 2324.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Roberts N., Stevenson T., Davis B., Cheddadi R., Brewster S. and Rosen A. (2004) “Holocene climate, environment, and cultural change in the circum-Mediterranean region”, in Past Climate Variability Through Europe and Africa, edd. R. W. Battarbee, F. Gasse, and C. E. Stickley (Dordrecht 2004) 343362.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sacchi M., Molisso F., Pacifico A., Vigliotti M., Sabbarese C. and Ruberti D. (2014) “Late-Holocene to recent evolution of Lake Patria, south Italy: an example of a coastal lagoon within a Mediterranean delta system”, Global and Planetary Change 117 (2014) 927.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sadori L. and Giardini M. (2007) “Charcoal analysis, a method to study vegetation and climate of the Holocene: the case of Lago di Pergusa (Sicily, Italy)”, Geobios 40 (2007) 173180.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sadori L., Giardini M., Gliozzi E., Mazzini I., Sulpizio R., van Welden A. and Zanchetta G. (2015) “Vegetation, climate and environmental history of the last 4500 years at Lake Shkodra (Albania/Montenegro)”, The Holocene 25 (2015) 435444.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sadori L., Giraudi C., Masi A., Magny M., Ortu E., Zanchetta G. and Izdebski A. (2016) “Climate, environment and society in southern Italy during the last 2000 years. A review of the environmental, historical and archaeological evidence”, Quaternary Science Reviews 136 (2016) 173188.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schnurrenberger D., Russell J. and Kelts K. (2003) “Classification of lacustrine sediments based on sedimentary components”, Journal of Paleolimnology 29 (2003) 141154.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stine S. (1994) “Extreme and persistent drought in California and Patagonia during mediaeval time” (sic), Nature 369 (1994) 546549.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Taricco C., Ghil M., Alessio S. and Vivaldo G. (2009) “Two millennia of climate variability in the central Mediterranean”, Climate of the Past 5 (2009) 171181.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vött A. (2007) “Relative sea level changes and regional tectonic evolution of seven coastal areas in NW Greece since the mid-Holocene”, Quaternary Science Reviews 26 (2007) 894919.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Waliszewski T. (2014) Elaion: Olive Oil Production in Roman and Byzantine Syria-Palestine (Warsaw 2014).

  • Xoplaki E., Fleitmann D., Luterbacher J. et al. (2016) “The Medieval Climate Anomaly and Byzantium: a review of the evidence on climatic fluctuations, economic performance and societal change”, Quaternary Science Reviews 136 (2016) 229252.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zanchetta G., Van Welden A., Baneschi I. et al. (2012) “Multiproxy record for the last 4500 years from Lake Shkodra (Albania/Montenegro)”, Journal of Quaternary Science 27 (2012) 780789.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zhang X., Reed J., Wagner B., Francke A. and Levkov Z. (2014) “Lateglacial and Holocene climate and environmental change in the northeastern Mediterranean region: diatom evidence from Lake Dojran (Republic of Macedonia/Greece)”, Quaternary Science Reviews 103 (2014) 5166.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 433 150 15
Full Text Views 123 6 0
PDF Views & Downloads 24 4 0