Access the full text.
Sign up today, get DeepDyve free for 14 days.
References for this paper are not available at this time. We will be adding them shortly, thank you for your patience.
AL-MASĀQ https://doi.org/10.1080/09503110.2023.2211882 RESEARCH ARTICLE Daniel Osland Classics - Te Puāwaitaka o Metatareina, University of Otago, Ōtepoti Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY Received 22 September 2022 This contribution explores the economic roles of cities in the early Accepted 5 May 2023 medieval economy, through the presentation of a range of archaeological datasets that can all be linked to urban production KEYWORDS and/or consumption. The individual classes of evidence each Visigoths; Late Antique cities; highlight aspects of economic exchange that, when combined, regionalism; integration; help to ﬂesh out a general model of the systems of exchange at elite agency; exchange work in post-Roman Iberia. These systems revolved around cities networks whose individual experiences varied according to local circumstances and whose participation in the wider trade networks also depended heavily on local conditions. As a supplement to the written sources of this period, the archaeological materials surveyed here contribute to an emerging picture of elite and non-elite economic activity in the sixth and seventh centuries. This in turn shapes a more nuanced understanding of the role played by cities in the transition from late Roman to post-Roman economic and political circumstances. Introduction Even after the collapse of the economic and political systems that had underpinned Rome’s highly integrated Empire, cities continued to serve as fundamental sites of economic activity in early medieval Iberia. The economic vitality – and even the stability – of the post-Roman kingdoms depended to a great extent on the ability of individual rulers to integrate Iberia’s archipelago of cities within a framework that allowed for eﬀective management and eﬃcient extraction in the form of service, taxes, and/or tribute. The survival of the cities themselves in turn depended on residents’ ability to adopt or maintain economic strategies appropriate to their new, relatively more independent status, along with the dissolution of Rome’sperva- sive economic networks. The term “city” is subject to various interpretations, but for present purposes it is loosely equivalent to the Latin civitas, which by the early medieval period could function as an informal shorthand for any sizeable settlement. It is worth noting that any attempt to characterise “the cities” of Iberia in the post-Roman context will almost certainly be CONTACT Daniel Osland firstname.lastname@example.org Classics, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Ōtepoti Dunedin, 9054, New Zealand See The Sixth Century: Production, Distribution, and Demand, ed. Richard Hodges and Edward Bowden (Leiden: Brill, 1998); Towns in Transition: Urban Evolution in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Neil Christie and Simon Loseby (Aldershot: Scholar Press, 1996); The Idea and Ideal of the Town between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. Gian Pietro Brogiolo and Bryan Ward-Perkins (Leiden: Brill, 1999). © 2023 Society for the Medieval Mediterranean 2 D. OSLAND frustrated by a lack of homogeneity and the uneven availability of good, published data. In addition, Iberian cities varied signiﬁcantly in terms of access to resources, economic strategies, aristocratic and ecclesiastical base, and connections to the wider world. These factors and others meant that cities that shared many characteristics, such as Barcelona and Tarragona, or Córdoba and Sevilla, or Lisboa and Vigo, nevertheless had widely divergent experiences both before and during their incorporation into post-Roman king- doms (Figure 1). All this variation notwithstanding, the cities of early medieval Iberia remained intellectually and economically interconnected, despite the disappearance of Rome’sartiﬁcially-integrating systems. One sign of that ongoing connectivity is the robust elite literary culture that produced authors such as Martin of Braga, Isidore, Braulio of Zaragoza, King Sisebut, and Julian of Toledo. To some extent, the archaeological evidence explored in this chapter is also biased toward this same echelon of society, or those localaristocratsoneortwo rungsdownthe social ladder: church buildings, marble sculpture and grave markers, metal clothing fasteners, glass objects, and the substantial wealth represented by the Visigothic gold coinage. But the approach followed here also highlights how these and other econ- omic indicators fundamentally depended on the contributions of a working class: among these are the sourcing of raw materials for glass and metal production, the Figure 1. Map of Iberia including sites mentioned in the text (Daniel Osland). AL-MASAQ 3 extraction of marble for reuse, and the actual construction of structures funded by the aristocracy. An Archipelago of Cities As a general rule, the physical appearance of early medieval cities was dramatically diﬀerent from that of the ideal “classical” city, whether of the High Empire or the late Roman period. While each city’s evolution was dictated by local circumstances, it is nevertheless possible to trace out a broadly consistent set of outcomes: public monuments gradually went out of use, to be despoiled and/or encroached upon by private structures; large urban houses and public buildings were subdivided into smaller independent dwellings, possibly pointing to increasing intramural population numbers (and a concomitant reduction in suburban populations); cemeteries continued to spread throughout the suburbs as suburban resi- dences went out of use, and, in a few cases, early Christian martyrial shrines and basilicas arose nearby; some towns, but not all, received bolstered defences in the form of new or augmented city walls, often built using materials taken from disused Roman public build- ings and any convenient funerary monuments. In many cases, the old Roman road network remained in use, though often diminished in width due to encroachments, and surfaced rather more haphazardly than in the High Imperial period. There was also a trend in our period, possibly starting in the ﬁfth century in certain cities, toward an increasing orien- tation around ecclesiastical interests and Christian buildings. From all this, it is clear that living conditions across the settlements of the Iberian Peninsula diﬀered qualitatively from those of the later Roman Empire. Systems that had ensured the maintenance of public infrastructure – running water and sanitation, roads and bridges, public amenities, etc. – were no longer particularly eﬀective, due to shifting elite priorities and quite possibly a reduction in overall access to resources in the wake of Rome’s collapse. In more general terms, the collapse of Roman authority over Hispania in the ﬁfth century had serious economic implications for residents across the peninsula. This was due less to the loss of Roman oﬃcials and imperial admin- istrative structures than to the concomitant fracturing of the Roman economic network, which had artiﬁcially pulled much of the late Roman world into a vast interconnected economic zone. Cities functioned as the essential nodes of exchange within this late Roman system, not least because the Roman system of administration was built around the classical concept of the civitas as the essential head of the basic (territorial) units of tax-collection. Urban change in Late Antiquity is a popular subﬁeld in the scholarship, inspiring a range of high-quality publications: on Iberia, see Josep Gurt i Esparraguera, “Transformaciones en el tejido de las ciudades hispanas durante la Antigüedad Tardía: Dinámicas urbanas”, Zephyrus 53–4 (2000–2001): 443–71; Pilar Diarte Blasco, “La evolucioń de las ciudades romanas en hispania entre los siglos IV y VI d. C.: Los espacios publicos ́ como factor de transformacioń ”, Mainake 31 (2009): 71–84; Michael Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain and Its Cities (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004). More generally: Towns in Transition, ed. Christie and Loseby; Simon Esmonde Cleary, The Roman West, AD 200–500: An Archaeological Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), pp. 97–149; Lucy Grig, “Cities in the ‘Long’ Late Antiquity: A Survey Essay”, Urban History 40 (2013): 554–66. Local elite wealth, along with that of any resident oﬃcials and their administrative staﬀ, was fundamental to the upkeep and beautiﬁcation of the cities in the later Roman period. A similar view from Britain: David Mattingly, An Imperial Possession: Britain in the Roman Empire (London: Penguin, 2006), p. 494. On the character of late Roman urbanism in Hispania, Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain and Its Cities. 4 D. OSLAND Thanks to this extensive economic network, much of the Iberian Peninsula – coastal and inland – was tightly incorporated into late Roman trade networks, such that imported goods found their way to nearly every single area of the peninsula, including both urban and rural locations. This is most obvious from the extensive distribution patterns of imported ﬁnewares from Africa (African Red Slip – ARS) and Gaul (Dérivées des sigillées paléochrétiennes – DSP), along with Spanish ﬁnewares (Terra Sigillata Hispánica Tardía – TSHT) and occasional imitations. Beyond this economic integration, the peninsula was also deeply integrated artistically and intellectually into the later Roman world: decora- tions in the houses of the elite across the cities and the countryside include mosaics, wall paintings, and sculptures of extremely high quality, oftentimes clearly derived from classical mythology and the aristocratic tastes of the late Roman elite. In a sense, following the breakdown of Roman political oversight, Iberia came to com- prise an archipelago of loosely independent cities more or less integrated into the con- temporary political and economic structures depending on local circumstances. Coastal centres, which had gained so much from participation in Rome’s long-distance trade networks, were forced to seek new connections, whether inland or via overseas trade. Unlike in the Roman period, however, there was not necessarily a major redistri- bution of urban products beyond the immediate hinterland – perhaps because elite demand in the countryside no longer spurred a deeper regional integration. Distinct economic patterns might also emerge between cities within a given region now that the integrating eﬀects of Roman ﬁscal structures had worn oﬀ. An example of this is hinted at by the diﬀerent ceramic production and consumption patterns evident in north-western Iberia in the ﬁfth through seventh centuries. Here, important coastal cities that we might expect to be tightly interconnected, such as Vila Nova de Gaia/ Porto, Braga, and Vigo, turn out to present remarkably diﬀerent archaeological records in the sixth and early seventh centuries. In addition to having its own highly localised pottery market, Vigo enjoyed unusually consistent ties to the eastern Med- iterranean and the islands of Britain, whereas the broader Atlantic seaboard trend shows a TSHT is common throughout coastal and inland Lusitania (see, e.g., Eurico de Sepúlveda, “La Terra Sigillata Hispánica Tardía TSHT: El estado actual de la investigación en Portugal”, Ex oﬃcina hispana: Cuadernos de la SECAH 1 (2013): 117–24), and ARS appears (for example) at sites across the entire (inland) Spanish Meseta (see, e.g., Cristina León Asensio and Mónica Barona Barona, “Terra sigillata africana D en la meseta norte: Estado de la cuestión y relaciones comerciales”,in Arqueología en el valle del Duero: Del Neolítico a la Antigüedad Tardía, nuevas perspectivas: actas de las primeras Jornadas de Jóvenes Investigadores del Valle del Duero. Zamora 16, 17 y 18 de noviembre de 2011, ed. José Carlos Sastre Blanco, Raúl Catalán Ramos, and Patricia Fuentes Melgar (Madrid: La Ergástula, 2013), pp. 291–8). For starting points on late Roman ﬁnewares in Hispania, see Cerámicas hispanorromanas: un estado de la cuestión, ed. Darío Bernal Casasola and Albert Ribera i Lacomba (Cádiz: Universidad de Cádiz, 2008), pp. 497–616. Daniel Osland, “Housing in Late Antique Emerita”, Oxford Journal of Archaeology 36/1 (2017): 85–106, pp. 89–91; Gisela Ripoll López, “Aristocratic Residences in Late-Antique Hispania”,in The Roman Villa in the Mediterranean Basin, Late Republic to Late Antiquity, ed. Annalisa Marzano and Guy Métraux (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), pp. 426–52. Damián Fernández has used the term “islands of taxation” for a slightly diﬀerent context (Aristocrats and Statehood in Western Iberia, 300–600 C.E. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), p. 202, with reference to Shane Bjorn- lie’s use of the phrase “ﬁscal oases” to describe Ostrogothic Italy (“Law, Ethnicity and Taxes in Ostrogothic Italy: A Case for Continuity, Adaptation and Departure”, Early Medieval Europe 22/2 : 138–70). See Peter Sarris, “The Role of Markets, Emperors, and Aristocrats”,in Local Economies? Production and Exchange of Inland Regions in Late Antiquity, ed. Luke Lavan [Late Antique Archaeology, volume X] (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 227–57. Adolfo Fernández Fernández and Roberto Bartolomé Abraira, “Ceramicas ́ tardoantiguas en el Noroeste de la Peninsula (Galicia y norte de Portugal): Entre la importacioń y el artesanado local/regional (ss. V-VII)”,in La cerámica de la Alta Edad Media en el cuadrante noroeste de la Península Ibérica (siglos V-X): Sistemas de producción, mecanismos de distribu- ción y patrones de consumo, ed. Alfonso Vigil-Escalera Guirado and Juan Antonio Quirós Castillo (Bilbao: Universidad del País Vasco, 2016), pp. 69–111. AL-MASAQ 5 marked decline in imports from the ﬁfth century, with North Africa remaining the primary source. In general, imported pottery became much less common throughout Hispania after the ﬁfth century, and maritime activity declined substantially after the fourth century. This also means that the bulk of any given city’s foodstuﬀs were produced locally or at least within ready access at the regional level, just as cities became increasingly reliant on local and regional pottery production from the ﬁfth century onward. Like Vigo, which proﬁted from its unique position in a Mediterranean-Atlantic trade network, other cities also seem to have enjoyed a privileged economic position under Vis- igothic control. For example, Toledo operated somewhat diﬀerently from the other cities of the Visigothic Kingdom after its establishment as the royal capital, likely in the middle of the sixth century. The concentration of authority and, therefore, of wealth, from the reign of Leovigild (r.568–586) or even earlier contributed to consumption patterns that diﬀered from those of other cities, especially elsewhere in inland Hispania. Imported goods and other high-status products might therefore be expected to appear in Toledo in relatively high volume by comparison with other cities and towns of the Visigothic Kingdom. Royal preference and the concomitant concentration of Visigothic (and other) aris- tocrats was only one factor inﬂuencing such economic trends, however. Along with Vigo, other key commercial centres, such as Tarragona, Cartagena, Sevilla, and Lisboa, appear to have made the most of their coastal situation to secure a ﬁrm econ- omic footing in the early medieval period. While there are occasional examples of wider regional supply from such port cities, this seems to have been less of a priority in the early medieval period than under the Roman Empire. Again, this Jose Carlos Sánchez Pardo, “Sobre las bases económicas de las aristocracias en la Gallaecia suevo-visigoda (ca. 530–650 D.C.): Comercio, minería y articulación ﬁscal”, Anuario de Estudios Medievales 44/2 (2014): 983–1023; Adolfo Fernández Fernández, El comercio tardoantiguo (ss. IV-VII) en el Noroeste peninsular a través del registro cerámico de la ría de Vigo [Roman and Late Antique Mediterranean Pottery, volume V] (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2014). See also Ewan Campbell, Continental and Mediterranean Imports to Atlantic Britain and Ireland, AD 400–800 [CBA Report, volume CLVII] (York: Council for British Archaeology, 2007); Maria Duggan, Mark Jackson, and Sam Turner (eds.), Ceramics and Atlantic Con- nections: Late Roman and Early Medieval Imported Pottery on the Atlantic Seaboard. Proceedings of an International Sym- posium at Newcastle University, March 2014 [Roman and Late Antique Mediterranean Pottery, volume XV] (Oxford: Archaeopress Archaeology, 2020). There were, of course, peaks and troughs in such activity. Paul Reynolds has suggested an uptick in Mediterranean supply to many coastal areas of Hispania and Britain in the ﬁrst half of the sixth century (Hispania and the Roman Med- iterranean AD 100-700. Ceramics and Trade (London: Duckworth, 2010), pp. 104–5, 116–7, etc.). Imported pottery from Africa and the eastern Mediterranean continued to arrive in reduced quantities at many coastal centres and certain inland cities straight through to the end of production. See the collected works in Cerámicas hispanorromanas II: Producciones regionales, ed. Darío Bernal Casasola and Albert Ribera i Lacomba (Cádiz: Universidad de Cádiz, 2012). Other cities also beneﬁted from the mobility of the Visigothic court earlier in the kingdom’s history – Barcelona, for example, along with (more sporadically) Córdoba, Sevilla, and Mérida, all of which seem to have hosted the Visigothic kings in the sixth century. Javier Martínez Jiménez, “The Rural Hinterland of the Visigothic Capitals of Toledo and Reccopolis, between the Years 400–800 CE”,in Authority and Control in the Countryside: From Antiquity to Islam in the Mediterranean and Near East (6th–10th Century), ed. Alain Delattre, Marie Legendre, and Petra Sijpesteijn [Leiden Studies in Islam and Society, volume IX] (Leiden: Brill, 2018), pp. 97–127. Jorge de Juan Ares, María del Mar Gallego García, and Javier García González, “La cultura material de la Vega Baja”,in La Vega Baja de Toledo, ed. María Mar Gallego García, Javier García González, Ricardo Izquierdo Benito, Jorge de Juan Ares, Lauro Olmo-Enciso, Diego Peris Sánchez, and Ramón Villa (Toledo: Toletum Visigodo, 2009), pp. 112–47. Josep Maria Macias Solé, La cerámica comuna tardoantiga a Tàrraco: Anàlisi tipològica i històrica (segles V–VII) (Tarra- gona: Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona, 1999); Reynolds, Hispania and the Roman Mediterranean, 40, 92, 104, 131; Fernando Amores Carredano, Enrique García Vargas, and Daniel González Acuña, “Ánforas tardoantiguas en Hispalis (Sevilla, España) y el comercio mediterráneo”,in LRCW 2: Late Roman Coarse Wares, Cooking Wares and Amphorae in the Mediterranean, ed. Michel Bonifay and Jean-Christophe Tréglia [BAR International Series, volume MDCLXII] (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2007), pp. 133–46. E.g., Reynolds, Hispania and the Roman Mediterranean, 108. 6 D. OSLAND points to a lower degree of economic integration between (coastal) cities and their wider hinterland. Such a shift is in line with what we might expect with the dissolution of Roman administrative structures, which had imposed a close economic and political oversight of the countryside by the individual territorial capitals. Without an external impetus to maintain a high degree of regional integration, each community was left to ﬁnd its own way, resulting in a wide range of urban trajectories. Regional Responses Alongside the inﬂuence of local characteristics and experiences, the increasing region- alism that emerged in the ﬁfth and sixth centuries also played an important role in the varied economic participation of cities in the early medieval period. This diversity can make it especially challenging to identify broad stroke changes in the historical and literary record – signiﬁcant changes might be experienced in one area without having a direct or indirect impact on others. The account of Hydatius, for example, should be seen as an illustration of conditions in the region under direct Suevic inﬂuence in the peninsular north-west, even if the broader social context it assumes may be relevant elsewhere in Hispania and certain areas of Gaul (and possibly North Africa). Within this diversity, several regions exhibit a fair degree of internal consistency, including the north-central portion of the peninsula, with an orientation toward the Atlantic coast, the Mediterranean coastal bands of Tarraconensis and Carthaginensis, and the tightly-integrated old Roman province of Baetica, with its two major urban centres at Sevilla and Córdoba, along with a range of coastal and riparian centres. More generally, southern and coastal cities of much of Iberia retained essentially Roman urban characteristics under emiral and caliphal rule, even as northern and inland areas underwent more dramatic changes. For example, the northern Meseta and the inland, mountainous north-west saw the emergence of new “post-Roman” models of authority and organisation as early as the ﬁfth century. This is particularly evident in the reoccupation of Iron Age fortiﬁed hilltop settlements and in the new settlement hierarchies that grew up in the vacuum of authority left by Rome’s withdrawal. Aspects of the Rural Economy The loss of the centralising impetus of Roman state structures was accompanied by an increasing regionalism, but it does not necessarily follow that cities lost their essential At Vigo, for example, the ﬂourishing economic conditions apparent in the sixth century do not seem to have extended to the wider territory: Sánchez Pardo, “Sobre las bases económicas”. E.g., J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz, “The End of the Ancient City”,in The City in Late Antiquity, ed. John Rich (London: Rou- tledge, 1992), pp. 1–49, esp. 1–3. Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain, 154. J. H. W. G. Liebeschuetz, The Decline and Fall of the Roman City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 375, 383. Carlos Tejerizo-García and Jorge Canosa-Betés, “Power, Control, and Social Agency in Post-Roman Northern Iberia: An Archaeological Analysis of Hillfort Occupations”, Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 10/3 (2018): 295–323. Possible explanations are explored in Esmonde Cleary, The Roman West, 82, 241–2, 253; Javier Martínez Jiménez, Isaac Sastre de Diego, and Carlos Tejerizo-García, The Iberian Peninsula between 300 and 850: An Archaeological Perspective (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018), pp. 193–203. AL-MASAQ 7 economic role. In written accounts of the ﬁfth century, e.g., Hydatius on Iberia or Sido- nius Apollinaris on Gaul, cities played a central role in the construction of the post- Roman world; indeed, Hydatius’account nearly gives the impression that nobody lived anywhere except in the cities and the fortiﬁed hilltop settlements. Such sources are natu- rally biased toward elite urban life, so it is dangerous to read too much into their constant focus on urban events; the vast majority of post-Roman society probably lived outside the cities and towns that populate the literary sources. However, in times of stress – e.g., during the extensive military movements and the construction of new authority struc- tures in the ﬁfth century – some people would naturally seek refuge in the more easily-defended cities and hilltop sites. The opulent estates of rural Iberia’s wealthy aristocrats oﬀered a ready target for raiding parties of the Sueves and later the Visigoths, as such properties often lay some distance from the nearest sizeable settlement. There are occasional indications that extremely wealthy landlords might muster suﬃcient manpower to pose a threat to raiding parties, but such references are relatively rare; it must have been far more common for the elites of the countryside to retreat to their urban houses when the threat of an attack appeared. The ﬂip side of this retreat to the cities was that cities were prime targets for groups intent on accumulating plunder. An irregular concen- tration of wealthy people from around the region might swell the ranks of urban defen- ders, but it also increased the size of the prize, given that moveable wealth was a key motivation for many raiding parties. With the collapse of Roman ﬁscal structures in the ﬁfth century, the massive rural pro- duction estates that had been responsible for the generation of most of the wealth of the later Roman period probably experienced a catastrophic decline, exacerbated by the occasional threat of localised raids and by the emergence of competitive, new, extra- urban authority structures. Undoubtedly linked to this decline, the luxurious rural resi- dences that epitomise late Roman Hispania generally ceased to function as opulent elite dwellings; where they survived at all, these complexes were repurposed as production and processing centres, often with signs of relatively modest domestic activity. In some cases, the best evidence for the ongoing occupation of these rural sites comes in the form of cemeteries imposed into formerly-residential spaces. Somewhat contradicto- rily, this rural evidence points to the continuation of agricultural production into the post-Roman period, if on a much smaller scale than in late Roman times. The Sigrid Mratschek, “Sidonius’ Social World”,in The Edinburgh Companion to Sidonius Apollinaris, ed. Gavin Kelly and Joop Van Waarden (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2020), pp. 214–36. E.g., Hydatius, Chronicon, 81, ed. and trans. Richard Burgess, The Chronicle of Hydatius: And the Consularia Constantino- politana (New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 90. Esmonde Cleary, Roman West, 246–56. I hold that a signiﬁcant proportion of the rural elite were also members of the local urban elite of their particular civitas, so the move from country estate to urban house could be little more than a routine inconvenience in normal circumstances. Alexandra Chavarría Arnau, El ﬁnal de las Villae en Hispania (siglos IV-VII D.C.). [Bibliothèque de l’Antiquité Tardive, volume VII] (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 137–8; Tamara Lewit, “Vanishing Villas: What Happened to Elite Rural Habi- th tation in the West in the 5 and 6th Centuries A.D.?” Journal of Roman Archaeology 16 (2003): 260–75. Some of the evidence is surveyed in Ripoll López, “Aristocratic Residences”, 443–8, with sources. 31 th th Tamara Lewit, “Bones in the Bathhouse: Re-evaluating the Notion of ‘Squatter Occupation’ in 5 –7 Century Villas”,in Dopo la ﬁne delle ville: le campagne dal VI al IX secolo, ed. Gian Pietro Brogiolo, Alexandra Chavarría Arnau, and Marco Valenti (Mantova: SAP Società Archeologica, 2005), pp. 251–62. On the peasant economy of early medieval Iberia, see the article by Catarina Tente and Sara Prata in this volume. 8 D. OSLAND peninsula’s complex production systems designed around exportable cash-crops largely unravelled in the ﬁfth century, but the cities remained dependent on a productive agri- cultural hinterland – perhaps more so due to constrained trade networks – and signiﬁ- cant agricultural production geared for the local markets must have continued across our period. An Extra-Urban Response The disappearance of the Roman economic network and a parallel shift in elite invest- ment venues meant that access to imports became much more constrained, even in coastal cities. The eﬀects will have been more pronounced still in inland cities and in the countryside, where prices must have increased precipitously after the fourth century. Even earlier, the high cost of imports to the inland regions of Hispania may well have been one of the reasons behind the emergence of Terra Sigillata Hispánica Tardía (TSHT), a ﬁneware whose forms mimic those of production centres in Gaul and North Africa. TSHT is characteristic of the north-central portion of Spain, which, as has already been mentioned, is also where there was a shift toward fortiﬁed hilltop settlements (or hill forts) from the ﬁfth century onward. Some of the more important such hilltop sites to (re-)emerge in the early medieval period include Navasan- gil, Bernardos, Castro Ventosa, and Viladonga (Figure 2). These settlements were deliberately sited in remote locations, and, in many cases, con- ditions were hostile to traditional Roman-style agriculture: high altitude, poor or inadequate soils, insuﬃcient sunlight, excessive rainfall, etc. The shift from agricultu- rally-productive low-lying areas to less hospitable sites was probably spurred by other factors, such as emerging local authority structures, an increased need for defence, chan- ging climate conditions, and a newly-invigorated class of non-aristocratic, independent landowners. Recent work on local pottery production and consumption patterns in this region points to the formation of new local and regional economic networks, somewhat like Juan Ángel Paz Peralta, “Las producciones de terra sigillata hispânica intermedia y tardía”,in Cerámicas hispanorroma- nas: Un estado de la cuestión, ed. Darío Bernal Casasola and Albert Ribera i Lacomba (Cádiz: Universidad de Cádiz, 2008), pp. 497–539. Reynolds, Hispania and the Roman Mediterranean, 59–67. For other developments in this region, see the article by Nerea Fernández Cadenas in this volume. Martínez Jiménez, Sastre de Diego, and Tejerizo-García, Iberian Peninsula, 196. See Leonor Peña-Chocarro, Almudena Orejas Saco del Valle, Yolanda Carrión Marco, Sebastián Pérez-Díaz, José Antonio López-Saéz, and Carmen Fernández Ochoa, “Late Antique Environment and Economy in the North of the Iberian Penin- sula: The Site of La Tabacalera (Asturias, Spain)”,in Environment and Society in the Long Late Antiquity, ed. Adam Izdebski and Michael Mulryan (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2018), pp. 155–71; Alexandra Chavarría Arnau, Tamara Lewit, and Adam th th Izdebski, “Settlement, Land Use and Society in the Late Antique Mediterranean, 4 –7 c. An Overview”,in Environment and Society, ed. Izdebski and Mulryan, pp. 314–29. Peter Peregrine, “Climate and Social Change at the Start of the Late Antique Little Ice Age”, The Holocene (July 2020) doi: 10.1177/0959683620941079; Ulf Büntgen et al., “Cooling and Societal Change during the Late Antique Little Ice Age from 536 to around 660 AD”, Nature Geoscience 9/3 (2016): 231–6. The “bagaudae” of the ancient sources are sometimes invoked in the conversation around peasant agency as well. See, e.g., Chris Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400–800 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 519–35. See also Martínez Jiménez, Sastre de Diego, and Tejerizo-García, Iberian Peninsula, 193. Carlos Tejerizo-García and Alfonso Vigil-Escalera Guirado are two key scholars in the investigation of post-Roman (Iberian) pea- santry and settlement patterns. For contrasting, and sometimes complementary views, on the Late Antique peasantry, see Cam Grey, Constructing Community in the Late Roman Countryside (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Jairus Banaji, “Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages: What Kind of Transition?”, Historical Materialism 19/1 (2011): 109–44. AL-MASAQ 9 Figure 2. Map showing: 1. Several regional production zones in the north-central Meseta (dashed rec- tangles); 2. An urban/extra-urban production zone northeast of Toledo (rectangle); 3. A possible itin- erant marble workshop system in the south-east (oval) (north-central production zones after Tejerizo- García, “‘Estampas del pasado’”; Tejerizo-García, “Cerámicas altomedievales en contextos rurales”; urban/extra-urban production zone after Vigil-Escalera Guirado, “La producción y el consumo de cer- âmica”; itinerant marble workshop region after Villa del Castillo, Talleres de escultura cristiana,83–92). the situation brieﬂy outlined in coastal Gallaecia. These networks were already begin- ning to coalesce in the later Roman period: the post-Roman ceramic repertoires derive from TSHT forms. However, by the later ﬁfth and sixth centuries, this ceramic tradition had become increasingly insular or isolated, with characteristics evident from one cluster of settlements to the next (see Figure 2, above). This regional case is perhaps unusual, in that, elsewhere in the peninsula, people came to rely almost exclusively on locally-man- ufactured coarsewares, with a much smaller volume of ﬁnewares appearing in the archae- ological record after the ﬁfth century. In the southern peninsula, there was signiﬁcant Carlos Tejerizo-García, “‘Estampas del pasado’: Un análisis contextual del material estampillado en el mundo rural de la meseta norte (ss. V-VI d.C.)”,in Cerámicas altomedievales en Hispania y su entorno (siglos V-VIII d.C.), ed. Iñaki Martín Viso, Patricia Fuentes Melgar, José Sastre Blanco, and Raúl Catalán Ramos (Valladolid: Arbotante Patrimonio e Innovación, 2018), pp. 261–83; Carlos Tejerizo-García, “Cerámicas altomedievales en contextos rurales del centro y noroeste penin- sular: Secuencia cronotipológica, tecnología y regionalización productiva”, Archivo Español de Arqueología 93 (2020): 275–301. Miguel Alba Calzado, “Apuntes sobe la cerámica de épocas tardoantigua (visigoda) y altomedieval (emiral) en Extrema- dura a partir del registo arqueológico emeritense”,in Repertorio de arquitectura cristiana: Época tardoantigua y 10 D. OSLAND regional distribution of the so-called Terra Sigillata Hispánica Tardía Meridional (TSHTM) produced in Baetica, likely continuing through much of the sixth century, but there is very little evidence for peninsular ﬁneware production elsewhere after the ﬁfth century. Another regional production and consumption pattern has also been proposed, albeit tentatively, further south in the Meseta in the sixth century, extending from Toledo north-east to Complutum (Alcalá de Henares), and including several sites now on the outskirts of Madrid. In this case, the sixth-century evidence shows a marked contrast between pottery manufacturing techniques in the city (higher fre- quency of wheel-made vessels) when compared with the countryside (largely hand- made). Alfonso Vigil-Escalera Guirado has suggested specialist potters travelled to rural areas from Toledo to produce certain vessel types on a seasonal or itinerant basis. Such regional production and exchange systems illustrate an economic model built around regional and local exchange. In the northern example, the clustering of small settlements within a regional framework may have allowed communities to beneﬁt from some of the characteristics of the city-and-hinterland system without relying on the presence of an established urban elite and its concomitant urban/state authority structures. This should not be taken to imply that other types of authority were not con- structed and enforced in this less nucleated system, but rather that the scale and perhaps the nature of authority was substantially diﬀerent from earlier periods and possibly from contemporaneous urbanised areas. Urban Production and Consumption Along with the ceramics, other bodies of evidence help to ﬂesh out the extent and nature of economic activity in the early medieval period. Several of these share an apparent urban production model and a close tie to the emergence of new forms of elite self- expression. For example, the most famous class of Visigothic metalwork, garment fasten- ers (buckles/brooches), seems to have been produced in Sevilla and Toledo; however, the ﬁnal products are found mainly in rural deposition contexts, i.e. rural cemeteries not directly associated with substantial settlements. Closely related to these bronze-and-glass dress items are two further classes of evi- dence: post-Roman glass and coins. Newly-manufactured glass vessels, even from altomedieval, ed. Pedro Mateos Cruz and Luis Caballero Zoreda [Anejos de Archivo español de arqueología, volume XXIX] (Mérida: Mérida: Instituto de Arqueología de Mérida, 2003), pp. 293–332, esp. 301–4; Sonia Gutierrez ́ Lloret, “Eastern Spain in the Sixth Century”,in The Sixth Century: Production, Distribution, and Demand, ed. Richard Hodges and William Bowden (Leiden: Brill, 1998), pp. 161–84, esp. 170–5; Paul Reynolds, “Ceramica ́ tardorromana modelada a mano de caracter ́ local, regional y de importacioń en la provincia de Alicante”, Lucentum 4 (1985): 245–68. Macarena Bustamante Álvarez, “Nuevos datos estratigráﬁcos para el conocimiento de la TSHT en Augusta Emerita (Mérida, Badajoz)”, Ex Oﬃcina Hispana: Cuadernos de la SECAH 1 (2013): 91–116. Alfonso Vigil-Escalera Guirado, “La producción y el consumo de cerámica en el campo y la ciudad del centro de Hispania en época visigoda (siglos VI-VII d.C.): ¿Dos modelos o un sesgo analítico?”,in Cerámicas Altomedievales en Hispania y su entorno (siglos V-VIII d.C.), ed. Iñaki Martín Viso, Patricia Fuentes Melgar, José Sastre Blanco, and Raúl Catalán Ramos (Valladolid: Arbotante Patrimonio e Innovación, 2018), pp. 15–38. After all, this region had never been particularly urbanised, even under the Roman system. Fernández, Aristocrats and Statehood, 196–224; Sánchez Pardo, “Sobre las bases económicas”. Ruth Pliego Vázquez, “The Circulation of Copper Coins in the Iberian Peninsula during the Visigothic Period”, Journal of Archaeological Numismatics 5/6 (2015/2016): 126–60. AL-MASAQ 11 recycled raw materials, represent substantial wealth, and a handful of urban production centres have been identiﬁed, including the Plaza de la Encarnación site in Sevilla. Even in isolation, the massive scale of the operation documented in Sevilla implies the site fed demand beyond the local level. As appears to have been the case with metal and glass objects, extravagant marble architectural decorations were also produced in a few key cities – most prominent among them Mérida, likely owing to the ready availability of Roman marble blocks for reuse – and disseminated widely across the cities and rural churches of the peninsula. The impetus for such exchange came from the burgeoning economic power of the Chris- tian community and wealthy local aristocratic groups. 1. Christian Churches and the Marble Trade The Christian Church served as a major economic generator in the sixth and seventh centuries, and in certain cities the vibrancy of the Christian community is on full display through the archaeological record. For example, Mértola, a small riparian settlement in the Roman period, seems to have enjoyed a newfound commercial sig- niﬁcance during the early medieval period. This was almost certainly due to the city’s role as a commercial intermediary between the Mediterranean and the extremely wealthy inland cities of southern Lusitania, among them Beja (Pax Iulia), Évora (Ebora), and Mérida. Alongside these commercial connections, Mértola’s Christian community came to exhibit a degree of wealth that suggests the city became an inde- pendent endpoint in regional and long-distance trade. The city’s archaeological record oﬀers both an abundance of Christian architecture and an unusually large array of funerary epigraphy from this period, demonstrating extensive commercial and intellec- tual/religious/artistic connections with the Mediterranean world, and with North Africa in particular. For the early medieval period, a useful indicator of the close relationship between church communities in Hispania and North Africa is the decorative style of marble archi- tectural elements such as capitals, rood screens, altars, pilasters, and other objects used to embellish churches and associated buildings. Evidence from across the Iberian Penin- sula points to a ﬂourishing industry centred on the production of bespoke marble dec- orations, often reworked from Roman marble architectural pieces, for incorporation into (mainly, but not exclusively) Christian buildings (Figure 3). On the one hand, David Govantes-Edwards, Chloë Duckworth, Amaya Gómez, and Lauro Olmo-Enciso, “Smoke Signals: The Social Dimen- sion of Glass Production in Visigothic Iberia”,in Approaches to the Analysis of Production Activity at Archaeological Sites, ed. Anna Hodgkinson and Cecilie Tvetmarken (Oxford: BAR, 2020), pp. 50–64; Enrique García Vargas, “La Sevilla tardoan- tigua: Diez años después (2000–2010)”, in Hispaniae Urbes. Investigaciones arqueológicas em ciudades históricas, ed. José Beltrán Fortes and Oliva Rodríguez Gutiérrez (Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla, 2012), pp. 881–925, esp. 907, 909, 911. See the article by Merle Eisenberg and Jamie Wood in this volume. Mérida’s primary maritime connection may have been overland via Lisboa or Sevilla, but trans-shipment up the Guadi- ana in shallow-draft vessels would have signiﬁcantly reduced transport time via Mértola. On Mértola, with sources, see Virgílio Lopes, “O complexo religioso e os batistérios de Mértola na Antiguidade Tardia”, Medievalista Online 23 (2018): 1–25. E. A. Thompson, The Goths in Spain (Oxford: Clarendon, 1969), pp. 330–1, with reference to Helmut Schlunk, “Relaciones entre la península ibérica y Bizancio durante la época visigoda”, Archivo Español de Arqueología 18 (1945): 177–204. María Cruz Villalón, Mérida visigoda: La escultura arquitectónica y litúrgica (Badajoz: Diputación Provincial de Badajoz, 1985); Alejandro Villa del Castillo, Talleres de escultura cristiana en la Península Ibérica (siglos VI–X), volumes I–II. (Oxford: BAR, 2021). 12 D. OSLAND Figure 3. Marble niche, Mérida, late sixth century (photo Daniel Osland, Museo Visigodo, MNAR CE37040) . this highlights the ongoing intellectual connections between Iberian Christians and Byzantium. But the interconnectedness of artistic styles in use at diﬀerent churches throughout early medieval Iberia also serves as an important reminder of the extent of physical and intellectual exchange between cities within Hispania. There was a thriving trade in marble (and other stone) spolia in Rome and other important urban centres in Late Antiquity. As economic conditions came under strain and public monuments were no longer used or valued in the same ways as in earlier periods, one practical solution was to reuse components of the expansive and well-built Roman period structures, many of which stood at or near the centre of their respective cities. Even in the later Roman period, reused materials frequently made For some early pieces see, e.g., the niche in Figure 3, a more direct Byzantine stylistic aﬃliation is sometimes posited. See Cruz Villalón, Mérida visigoda, 205–7. See https://ceres.mcu.es/pages/Main?idt=15225&inventary=CE37040&table=FMUS&museum=MNAR. Simon Loseby, “Mediterranean Cities”,in A Companion to Late Antiquity, ed. Philip Rousseau with Jutta Raithel (London: Blackwell, 2009), pp. 139–55, esp. 150–1. AL-MASAQ 13 their way into the cemeteries, where smooth stone slabs could be repurposed as epi- graphic tombstones. More robust building materials – granite or tufa blocks from the entertainment facilities, for example – were targeted for use in Late Antique city walls. The latter reuse might be envisioned as a publicly-ﬁnanced or at least sanctioned activity, for the greater good of the community. However, it is less clear how reuse of materials from old public buildings in the cemeteries might have fallen under oﬃcial oversight, and in many cases spoliation was undertaken as a commercial enterprise, as is clearly attested in Rome, for example. Repurposed materials continued to feature in cemeteries and in private construction, but the most prominent reuse contexts were city walls and the church setting, including basilicas, monasteries, and other meeting facilities. In all these cases, stones were typi- cally reworked before employment in their new setting. The more elaborate decorative marble pieces point to the existence of specialists working in dedicated workshops. Some of the most striking examples come from Mérida, whose extensive Roman public monuments had been decorated comprehensively with marble quarried only a short distance away at Estremoz and Borba (Portugal). In the later Roman period, Mérida’smarbleworkshop(s) hadsupplied decorated pieces to other parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The large number of locally-produced pieces and their distribution across the territory around Mérida illustrate amplythe importance of such sculptural work to the Christian community, despite (or perhaps alongside) the enormous expense and high levels of specialisation required to remove the stones from their original location, carve them for their new context, and then set them in place. Materials, inﬂu- ences, and possibly even artists/artisans made their way from Mérida to other peninsular cities, including Toledo, Sevilla, and Córdoba. Recent research highlights the emergence in the seventh century of smaller local workshops, which still exhibit connections within the Peninsula and with the wider Mediterranean world. A decentralised or itinerant pro- duction model has been proposed for a group of sites in the south-eastern peninsula, due to the close aﬃnities between pieces across the region. This model may have developed due to a temporary demand for new Christian architecture across a group of communities that lacked the resources to justify a permanent local workshop. This region fell under more direct Byzantine inﬂuence than most of Hispania for a time, but there are still clear stylistic Isabella Baldini Lippolis, “Private Space in Late Antique Cities: Laws and Building Procedures”,in Housing in Late Anti- quity: From Palaces to Shops, ed. Luke Lavan, Lale Özgenel, and Alexander Sarantis [Late Antique Archaeology, volume III.II] (Leiden: Brill, 2007), pp. 197–237, esp. 221–4. Carlos Machado, Urban Space and Aristocratic Power in Late Antique Rome: AD 270–535 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 82–7. Anna Leone, The End of the Pagan City: Religion, Economy, and Urbanism in Late Antique North Africa (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 206–15. Cruz Villalón, Mérida visigoda, was, until very recently, the most complete catalogue of the post-Roman marble materials from Mérida. See now also the important updates in Villa del Castillo, Talleres de escultura cristiana. Several fourth/ﬁfth century marble sarcophagi, for example, seem to have their origin in Mérida’s workshop. See Sergio Vidal Álvarez, Virginia García-Entero, and Anna Gutiérrez García Moreno, “La utilización del mármol de Estremoz en la escultura hispánica de la antigüedad tardía: los sarcófagos”, Revista Digital de Arqueologia, Arquitectura e Artes 3 (2016): 119–28. Villa del Castillo, Talleres de escultura cristiana, volume I; Cruz Villalón, “Mérida en el tiempo de la monarquía visigoda (siglos VI y VII)”,in Historia de Mérida, volume I, ed. Juan Carlos López Díaz, Javier Jiménez Ávila, and Félix Palma García (Mérida: Consorcio de la Ciudad Monumental Historico-Arti ́ stica y Arqueologica ́ de Merida, ́ 2018), pp. 489–522, esp. 505–7. The workshop of seventh-century Toledo may even have been set up by artisans from Mérida (see Villa del Castillo, Talleres de escultura cristiana,64–5; on the inﬂuence of the workshops of Mérida, see 17–66). This group is outlined in Villa del Castillo, Talleres de escultura cristiana,83–92. 14 D. OSLAND connections to contemporary peninsular sculptural workshops, so the impetus behind the regional workshop model cannot have been purely external. Given the extensive use of marble in ecclesiastical settings, we may reasonably ques- tion the strictly “economic” signiﬁcance of this sort of production. It is unlikely to have been run as a private, for-proﬁt, commercial enterprise involving producers and consu- mers. On the other hand, even in an essentially closed-loop exchange system, economic considerations will still have been crucial to the production and deployment of these dec- orative pieces. Here we should remember that “The Church” as a vague, impersonal entity, did not have any real wealth that could be leveraged in this way. Rather, individual (local) churches and their members – clergy, laypeople, etc. – will have had to front up the costs of what was certainly an expensive and highly specialised process. What little ﬁrm evidence we have on the source of funding for new buildings and renovations comes from inscriptions, which highlight a reliance on donations from indi- viduals, often church oﬃcials ostensibly acting in a private capacity. This sort of in- group patronage blurred the line between church leaders, among them bishops, abbots, and abbesses, acting in an oﬃcial capacity, and their private benefactions. It seems likely that, just as in the Roman period, such community leaders were keen to highlight their supervisory role in new construction or renovation while downplaying or completely ignoring the speciﬁc source of funding, which was likely public or insti- tutional in many cases. Thereislittleenoughinformation on theprecisesourceoffunds forecclesiastical building, but there is still less evidence for how the builders involved in the process acquired their materials. If we may imagine early medieval marble workshops working along the lines of the late Roman model, then access to the raw materials – largely disused Roman monumental structures – may have been leased or sold to an individual or an entity by the owner. Materials were then handed over to the workshops for preparation for their new application. It is plausible that at least some such workshops had come under local ecclesiastical oversight by the later sixth century, not least because the local church, under the bishop’s management, was the largest single consumer of the ﬁnal product. Individual pieces were likely cut to order, given that Christian buildings were far and away the most common destination for such materials. While the model posited here assumes a primary ecclesiastical role in nearly every aspect of this production process, the early medieval marble repurposing system came to beneﬁt the wider community and not just the local church, as can be seen from the proliferation of marble grave markers for Christians and non-Christians alike. This must point to at least some degree of commercialisation of the output of marble workshops. Maintenance/operations was one of three or four legitimate destinations of church income, and local churches certainly came to manage extensive property portfolios. See Ian Wood, The Christian Economy of the Early Medieval West: Towards a Temple Society (Binghamton, NY: Punctum Books, 2022), pp. 53–58; María de los Ángeles Utrero Agudo and Francisco José Moreno Martín, “Evergetism among the Bishops of Hispania between the Sixth and Seventh Centuries: A Dialogue between Archaeological and Documentary Sources”, Journal of Early Christian Studies 23/1 (2015): 97–131. The question of property and agency is explored in Pablo de la Cruz Díaz Martínez, “Iglesia propia y gran propiedad en la autobio- grafía de Valerio del Bierzo”,in Actas I Congreso Astorga Romana, volume I (Astorga: Ayuntamiento de Astorga, 1986), pp. 297–303. Utrero Agudo and Moreno Martín, “Evergetism”. Ibid., 99. The city would theoretically have been the owner, but it is also possible that, by the later ﬁfth or sixth century, some form of private ownership was imposed, especially given the dwindling evidence for a formal, functional urban administration. AL-MASAQ 15 Theentiremarbleworkshopsystem proposedherecouldbeoperatedunderthe umbrella of local episcopal control. This would make sense given the employment of marble mainly in Christian contexts, and also given that many local church commu- nities came to be very wealthy in the sixth century. The fact that there is very little new marble sculpture from the early medieval domestic setting seems to align with this interpretation, though other explanations are also possible. For example, the lack of marble in the domestic setting could be due to extremely high costs, gaps in the archaeological record, or restrictions on the use of certain types of building material. If, as has sometimes been posited, aspects of the urban administration sur- vived into the sixth century to manage the rather orderly conversion of public monu- ments and materials for private use, then it is possible that the church worked with local oﬃcials to ensure that the best materials were reserved for use in the cities’ new Chris- tian architecture. 2. Cities and Administration Alongside the Christian Church, the other great power of early medieval Hispania was the Visigothic Kingdom, which, like the Church, adopted aspects of the old Roman administration as it sought to impose its authority in the sixth century. One aspect that the Visigoths sought to exploit was the Roman use of cities as administrative heads of their territory, appointing counts (comites) and other royal oﬃcials in order to look after the interests of the king, including perhaps the collection of taxes/ tribute. Indeed, cities were such a fundamental aspect of royal administration and state propaganda that the kings created several new ones in the sixth and seventh centu- ries, the most famous of which is Recopolis. Excavations on the site identiﬁed as Recopolis have revealed a large acropolis over a sprawling walled city, and included among the structures on the acropolis are an eccle- siastical complex and a massive building (c. 140 × 13 m) sometimes referred to as a The bibliography on Late Antique epigraphy in Hispania is immense: Ernst Hübner, Inscriptiones Hispaniae Christianae nd (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1871); José Vives, Inscripciones cristianas de la España romana y visigoda,2 ed. (Barcelona: A.G. Ponsa, 1969); José Luis Ramírez Sádaba and Pedro Mateos Cruz, Catálogo de las inscripciones cristianas de Mérida [Cua- dernos Emeritenses, volume XVI] (Mérida: MNAR, 2000), includes a number of Hebrew and other non-Christian inscrip- tions from Mérida. Leonard Curchin, “Curials and Local Government in Visigothic Hispania”, Antiquité Tardive 26 (2018): 225–40; Simon Loseby, “Arles in Late Antiquity”,in Towns in Transition, ed. Christie and Loseby, pp. 45–70, esp. 54; Daniel Osland, “Abuse or Reuse? Public Space in Late Antique Emerita”, American Journal of Archaeology 120/1 (2016): 67–97, pp. 86–8. The sixth-/seventh-century Parrochiale Suevum illustrates the extent of overlap between episcopal and state adminis- tration systems, especially when viewed alongside the Visigothic die sites in formerly-Suevic territory. Pierre David, Etudes historiques sur la Galice et le Portugal du Vie au Xlle siecle (Lisbon; Paris, 1947); Pablo Díaz Martínez, “El Parrochiale Suevum: Organización eclesiastica, poder político y poblamiento en la Gallaecia tardoantigua”,in Homenaje a José María Blázquez VI, ed. Jaime Alvar (Sevilla: Ediciones Clásicas, 1998), pp. 35–48; Daniel Osland, “Tribute and Coinage in the Visigothic Kingdom: On the Role of the Bishop”, Anas 24/2011 (2016): 71–95. For the better-documented parallel situation in sixth-century Italy, see Bjornlie, “Law, Ethnicity and Taxes”, 154–8. See also Merle Eisenberg and Paolo Tedesco, “Seeing the Churches Like the State: Taxes and Wealth Redistribution in Late Antique Italy”, Early Medieval Europe 29/4 (2021): 505–34. John of Biclarum, Chronicon 51. Other Visigothic foundations mentioned in the sources include Victoriacum and Oligi- cus: John of Biclarum, Chronicon 61 and Isidore, Historia Gothorum 63, respectively. For translations, see Kenneth Baxter nd Wolf, Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain,2 ed. [Translated Texts for Historians, volume IX] (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999), pp. 69, 106. 16 D. OSLAND Figure 4. Warehouse/garrison structure in the palatine complex at Recopolis (adapted from Lauro Olmo-Enciso, “Recópolis: una ciudad en una época de transformaciones”,in Recópolis y la ciudad en la época visigoda [Zona Arqueológica, IX] (Alcalá de Henares: Museo Arqueológico Regional, 2008), pp. 40–62, ﬁgure 3). “palatine structure” (Figure 4). While none of the other royal foundations attested in the sources oﬀers relevant archaeological remains, two roughly contemporaneous new cities with similar “palatine” features, including an episcopal complex and possible storage facilities or garrisons (both of which can be linked to state administration), have been uncovered: El Tolmo de Minateda in the southeast and Falperra, on the out- skirts of Braga. The acropolis features in a city like Recopolis illustrate the king’s priorities in the late sixth century, aﬃrming the integration of church and state resources in a way that is also reﬂected at other cities. This agrees with other evidence, such as coins and law codes, that the Visigoths relied on cities as a key site of ﬁscal interaction with their subjects, For an overview, see Recópolis y la ciudad en la época visigoda [Zona Arqueológica, volume IX] (Alcalá de Henares: Museo Arqueológico Regional, 2008). See also Joachim Henning, Michael McCormick, Lauro Olmo-Enciso, Knut Rassman, and Eyub Fikrit Eyub, “Recopolis Revealed: The First Geomagnetic Mapping of the Early Medieval Visigothic Royal Town”, Antiquity 93 (2019): 735–51. Gisela Ripoll López connects the basilica and “a possible horreum” to the north in “The Transformation of the City in th Hispania between the 4 and 6th Centuries”,in The Power of Cities: The Iberian Peninsula from Late Antiquity to the Early Modern Period, ed. Sabine Panzram (Boston: Brill, 2019), pp. 39–83, esp. 63. See also Blanca Gamo Parras and Sonia Gutiérrez Lloret, “El Tolmo de Minateda entre la Tardía Antigüedad y la Alta Edad Media: Nuevos retos en nuevos tiempos”,in La Meseta Sur entre la Tardía Antigüedad y la Alta Edad Media, ed. María Perlines Benito and Patrícia Hevia Gómez (Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, 2017), pp. 47–74, esp. 49 (with sources). Falperra: Mário Jorge Barroca, Andreia Arezes, and Rui Morais, “A basílica paleocristã e o edifício palatino de Sta. Marta das Cortiças: As escavações de F. Russell Cortez e de J. J. Rigaud de Sousa”, Arqueologia Medieval 14 (2018): 129–48. Javier Arce, “The Late Antique City in Spania: Toledo and Recópolis”,in Power of Cities, ed. Panzram, pp. 84–104, esp. 94–101. AL-MASAQ 17 mediated by appointed royal oﬃcials and, at least through the sixth century, in collabor- ation with members of the local elite class. While the exact mechanisms of Visigothic taxation are still debated, it is clear that the massive ﬁscal apparatus of the later Roman period was not maintained. This may point to a higher degree of involvement by members of the local elite, reducing the need for ﬁscal oﬃcials, but it was also much cheaper to run the Visigothic kingdom than the late Roman Empire, or even just the Spanish Diocese. The largest single expense of the Roman system had been the army, and after that the provision of food to the capitals – neither of these enormous burdens was carried over into the post-Roman setting. The Visigoths did have a substan- tial military body, but this does not seem to have translated directly over to a professional standing army beyond the palatine guard. The state’s primary expenses, then, would have centred on the palace and its immediate needs. In the ﬁrst century or so of Visigothic expansion, palace expenses were perhaps recouped through raiding parties and the regular exaction of tribute from key cities. But as more consistent hegemony was imposed late in the sixth century, more regular streams of income were needed both to feed the palace and also for royal gifts – whether to individuals or to church communities, as appears to have been the case on occasion. The emergence of an oﬃcial royal gold coinage in the name (and image) of the king dates to this phase of consolidation, both to streamline ﬁscal processes and as a propagandistic response to the Byzantine imperial presence in the southeast. Leovi- gild’s campaigns in the 570s and early 580s brought most of the peninsula under Visi- gothic control, leaving only a small portion of the Byzantine province of Spania outside the kingdom, and it is not a coincidence that the overtly-independent Visi- gothic gold coinage appeared during his reign. Cities of the Visigothic kingdom were a fundamental point of ﬁscal interaction, where agricultural surpluses could be collected and converted into (gold) currency by the king or others acting under his authority. It has become increasingly clear in recent years that the cities were also key sites for lower-level commercial activity across all sectors of society. Contemporary excavation techniques have conﬁrmed that late Roman copper- alloy coins circulated in large numbers alongside Visigothic and Byzantine gold and silver currency. Early medieval issues in copper-alloy and in silver are also increasingly recognised in excavations, though still relatively scarce and also not particularly well Arce Martínez, “Late Antique City”, 100; Eisenberg and Tedesco, “Seeing the Churches”; Osland, “Tribute and Coinage”. The dioecesis Hispaniarum had included the entire Iberian Peninsula along with a strip of North Africa that frequently housed a signiﬁcant military garrison. Kulikowski, Late Roman Spain, 81. Michael Hendy, “From Public to Private: The Western Barbarian Coinages as a Mirror of the Disintegration of Late Roman State Structures”, Viator 19 (1988): 29–78, pp. 54–5. Cf. also Félix Retamero, “As Coins Go Home: Towns, Merchants, Bishops and Kings in Visigothic Hispania”,in The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: An Ethno- graphic Perspective, ed. Peter Heather (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1999), pp. 271–320; Martínez Jiménez, Sastre de Diego, and Tejerizo-García, Iberian Peninsula, 255–8. Roger Collins, Visigothic Spain, 409–711 (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), pp. 50–63. 79 th Philip Grierson and Mark Blackburn, Medieval European Coinage, volume I, The Early Middle Ages (5 –10th centuries) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 53. On the Visigothic gold coinage, there are two recent, compre- hensive works with extensive references to the previous scholarship: Jesús Vico Monteoliva, María Cruz Cores Gomen- dio, and Gonzalo Cores Uría, Corpus Nummorum Visigothorum, ca. 575–714, Leovigildus – Achila (Madrid, 2006) and Ruth Pliego Vázquez, La moneda visigoda, volumes I–II (Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla, 2009). One telling example is the site of El Tolmo de Minateda, established in the sixth century, where hundreds of late Roman copper-alloy coins were found throughout the site’s early medieval strata: Carolina Doménech Beldá, “Moneda y espa- cios de poder en el reino visigodo: Los tremises de El Tolmo de Minateda (Hellín, Albacete)”, Arqueología y Territorio Medieval 21 (2014): 9–37. 18 D. OSLAND published. As a general trend, the numismatic evidence highlights that the volume of production, and probably also of exchange, underwent a dramatic reduction after the fourth century; even so, the ongoing use of Roman copper-alloy coins and the introduc- tion of punctual new low-denomination coinages also conﬁrms ongoing small-scale economic transactions in the cities of early medieval Iberia. 3. Luxury Goods and Urban Production After the disintegration of Roman economic networks, many of the objects of daily life could still be produced relatively easily anywhere that raw materials were available (wooden and pottery objects are two obvious examples). However, certain items, such as coins and other metal objects, required a much higher degree of technical and techno- logical specialisation alongside raw materials whose supply was much more constrained. The production of a new gold coinage, for example, depended on a supply of gold from existing gold coins that could be melted down and re-struck and/or newly-mined gold. Similarly, metal clothing fasteners – ﬁbulas (brooches) and buckles – were also highly prized among a wealthy subset of early medieval Iberians (Figure 5). These are such characteristic funerary deposits in certain cemeteries of the northern Meseta and, later, other areas of Hispania, that their presence has sometimes been used to support claims of Visigothic ethnic identity or, more recently, the construction of new modes of elite self-expression. Whatever their intended signiﬁcance within their original context, it is clear that these objects have deﬁnite predecessors in the late Roman (military) context and that certain classes of clasps have unambiguous connec- tions to similar objects of personal adornment from the Byzantine world. Their exist- ence in substantial numbers, even if not in a majority of the graves within a given cemetery, points to a set of highly skilled artisans with access to the requisite raw materials (iron, copper, tin/zinc, and glass, in many cases) along with the specialised tools and equipment needed for their production. This in turn points to the existence of a complex infrastructure of production, even if on a relatively small scale compared with things like arms and armour, which would have been needed in considerably larger volumes and also required a high degree of specialisation. The inclusion of glass in many of the more elaborate buckles (often referred to as cloi- sonné-style decoration) also attests to an extensive trade network and highly specialised craftspeople, most of whom were probably based in the coastal cities of the peninsula. Pliego Vázquez, “Circulation of Copper Coins”. On gold mining in the Visigothic Kingdom, see the article by Linda Gosner in this volume. Gisela Ripoll López, “La ocupación visigoda en época romana a través de sus necropolis (Hispania)”, PhD Thesis, Uni- versitat de Barcelona, 1986; eadem, Toréutica de la Bética (Siglos VI y VII d.C.) (Barcelona: Reial Acadèmia de Bones Lletres, 1998); eadem, “El Carpio de Tajo: Precisiones cronológicas de los materiales visigodos”, Arqueología, Paleonto- logía y Etnografía 4 (1998): 367–84; Javier Williams, “Early Visigothic Period Belt-Buckles: Status Markers and Symbols of Identity?” PhD Thesis, University of Leicester, 2020. The development and inﬂuences of the diﬀerent classes of clasps are outlined in Williams, “Early Visigothic Period Belt- Buckles”,96–100. The use of such ﬁbulas or brooches in Roman military contexts may have its (distant) origins in extra- imperial clothing traditions and the incorporation of non-Roman units into the military, but, by the fourth century, their Roman military or oﬃcial associations were apparent. See Esmonde Cleary, Roman West,84–6. Williams, “Early Visigothic Period Belt-Buckles”, 186–91. The author suggests that most of the materials would have been readily available, but that these relatively elaborate metalworks were likely produced in a limited number of urban workshops (pp. 190–2). See also Govantes-Edwards et al., “Smoke Signals”,50–64, esp. 56–57, where raw materials for new glass production are explicitly stated to be available to the Visigoths only through trade. Jorge de Juan Ares and Nadine Schibille, “La Hispania antigua y medieval a través del vidrio: La aportación de la arqueo- metría”, Boletín de la Sociedad Española de Cerámica y Vidrio 56/5 (2017): 195–204, p. 199. AL-MASAQ 19 Figure 5. Gold and copper-alloy ﬁbulas inlaid with semiprecious stones and glass from Tierra de Barros, Badajoz (images courtesy The Walters Art Museum: https://art.thewalters.org/detail/16373/ eagle-ﬁbula-3/ https://art.thewalters.org/detail/13833/eagle-ﬁbula-2/). Glass production required either the recycling of large volumes of discarded glass items or the procurement of raw materials that were not readily accessible within the Iberian Peninsula. Only a small number of glass production sites have been identiﬁed in the Vis- igothic kingdom, but nearly all are located in towns and cities, where the raw and recycled materials for production were more readily accessible and where the bulk of the consumer market was probably located. Most of the glass vessels made in the sixth and seventh centuries were produced from (apparently) recycled glass, giving them a characteristic hue, often greenish or amber/brown. By contrast, the decorative This represents a huge reduction in the total number of glass workshops after the ﬁfth century, which is in line with a concomitant reduction in the number of forms produced. See María Dolores Sánchez de Prado, “El vidrio romano en el Conventus Carthaginiensis: Comercio y producción”, PhD Thesis, Universidad de Alicante, 2016, II, pp. 717–43. This is almost certainly an accident of discovery/preservation, and we should probably assume that some small-scale glass production continued outside the cities. Govantes-Edwards et al., “Smoke Signals”; David Govantes-Edwards, “Glass Production, Circulation, and Consumption in Visigothic Spain: An Interim Report”, Journal of Glass Studies 61 (2019): 259–62; María Dolores Sánchez de Prado, “La vajilla de vidrio durante la Antigüedad Tardía en el Conventus Carthaginiensis”, BSAA Arqueología 75 (2009): 159–200. Gold and glass workshops at Recopolis were found very near to each other, in a quarter located just outside the palatine complex. Caroline Jackson and Harriet Foster, “The Last Roman Glass in Britain: Recycling at the Periphery of the Empire”,in Neighbours and Successors of Rome: Traditions of Glass Production and Use in Europe and the Middle East in the Later 20 D. OSLAND metal and glass buckles frequently incorporate coloured glass that may have been custom-made or reshaped from earlier glass objects set apart for this speciﬁc purpose. In either case, this mode of decoration makes it clear that coloured glass was more highly prized than the glass resulting from the recycling process, whether purely because of its colour range or because of its (perceived) higher value. These last two sections – looking at glass and metal objects – illustrate how the early medieval economy relied heavily on the interconnectedness of a network of cities involved in both production and consumption. The acquisition of luxury goods and raw materials from abroad seems to have been focused at a few key cities, many of them coastal or at least linked directly to coastal exchange networks. Imports were then redistributed at the local or regional level or converted into ﬁnal products for wider distribution. The resulting objects were deployed by elites across much of the peninsula, and the frequent appearance of both decorative buckles and the occasional glass vessel in rural contexts emphasises the integration of (certain) rural areas within a wider network that was still, apparently, dominated by the cities, even as it had been in the later Roman period. Conclusion The collapse of Roman authority in the course of the ﬁfth century saw the concomitant disruption of large-scale economic exchange that had long been underpinned by state- subsidised trade. For the Iberian Peninsula, this meant a rapid decline in the volume of imports, illustrated most obviously through a dramatic reduction in imported red- slip pottery at both coastal and inland sites. It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the ﬁnal decades of the ﬁfth century and the opening of the sixth saw a major economic depression. This dire state of aﬀairs makes it all the more surprising that the archaeolo- gical evidence shows a signiﬁcant upswing in economic conditions in the sixth and seventh centuries. This rebound is especially pronounced in the cities, and it may be that the countryside of early medieval Iberia bore the brunt of the collapse of Roman economic structures. Much of the evidence surveyed in this contribution points to the ongoing success of urban aristocratic classes, who were able to adapt their existing advantages to ﬁt the new political and economic realities. Whether they recognised it or not, their position as intermediaries between the king’s representatives and the local community depended both on their legitimacy in the eyes of locals and on the economic stability of local 1st Millennium AD, ed. Daniel Keller, Jennifer Price, and Caroline Jackson (Oxford and Philadelphia: Oxbow, 2014), pp. 6– 14, esp. 11–2. The important inland cities of Toledo and Recopolis both beneﬁted from the targeted interest of the monarchy. Mérida’s privileged position likely derived from an extremely wealthy aristocracy and its prominent place in peninsular Christianity. Lauro Olmo-Enciso, Manuel Castro Priego, Blanca Ruiz Zapata, María José Gil García, Marian Galindo Pellicena, Joaquín Checa-Herráiz, and Amaya de la Torre-Verdejo, “The Construction and Dynamics of Early Medieval Landscapes in Central Iberia”,in Mediterranean Landscapes in Post Antiquity: New Frontiers and Perspectives, ed. Sauro Gelichi and Lauro Olmo- Enciso (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2019), pp. 104–28, esp. 108. Lauro Olmo-Enciso, Manuel Castro Priego, Blanca Ruiz Zapata, María José Gil García, Marian Galindo Pellicena, Joaquín Checa-Herráiz, and Amaya de la Torre-Verdejo, “The Construction and Dynamics of Early Medieval Landscapes in Central Iberia”,in Mediterranean Landscapes in Post Antiquity: New Frontiers and Perspectives, ed. Sauro Gelichi and Lauro Olmo- Enciso (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2019), pp. 104–28, esp. 108. AL-MASAQ 21 production. One key means of bolstering their legitimacy was through patronage of the local church, e.g., buildings, renovations, and bequests. Through such actions, the wealthy class, who now represented the post-Roman supralocal authority, could show that they still cared for the local community and represented their interests, facilitating the less pleasant expressions of the new power structures, such as tribute, taxes, and mili- tary support. These archaeological case studies show that the cities retained a key role as the essen- tial point of conﬂuence of the three great authorities of the time – kings, aristocrats, and church. Aristocrats mediated kings’ interactions with urban and rural locals, and the church mediated aristocrats’ interactions with the wider populace. All of these inter- actions could be accompanied by an array of power dynamics and, as has been shown through a range of archaeological datasets, economic import. It is true that the economic web of early medieval Iberia was much less complex than under the Roman Empire. But even in emblematic cases, such as the consumption of imported ﬁnewares, local circum- stances had a crucial role to play. Some coastal cities continued to import such objects right down through the end of production, whereas others shifted their attention else- where. And all of the cities, or nearly all of them, continued to be integrated into a penin- sula-wide network that saw the exchange of raw materials, luxury goods, and ideas, resulting in a shared cultural koine that stretched across wide swathes of early medieval Iberia. Acknowledgements This research has beneﬁtted greatly from conversations with a group of scholars who participated in the Approaching the Early Medieval Iberian Economy from the Ground Up workshops, hosted at the Centre for Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen. The editors and other contributors to this volume have been particu- larly generous with feedback and suggestions, and the anonymous referees also provided helpful perspective on the wide range of issues raised by this contribution. I am hopeful that the ground- work presented here will contribute to ongoing fruitful conversations around life in this fascinat- ing period of Iberian history. Disclosure Statement No potential conﬂict of interest was reported by the author(s). ORCID Daniel Osland http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8268-0091
Al-Masāq – Taylor & Francis
Published: Sep 2, 2023
Keywords: Visigoths; Late Antique cities; regionalism; integration; elite agency; exchange networks
Access the full text.
Sign up today, get DeepDyve free for 14 days.