Descripción: analysis of how transformation occurs
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*PhD candidate. Beyhan Kara
Faculty of Architecture, Girne American University, North Cyprus
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A B S T R A C T
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13 The Transformation of Cities in Late Antiquity within the Provinces of Macedonia and Epirus J.-P. SODINI The Sorbonne, Paris
Summary. The provinces of Epirus and Macedonia, although divided into distinct regions by their mountains, were important for the Empire, particularly because they were crossed by the via Egnatia which snaked its way eastwards, serving as the vital link between Rome and Constantinople at a time when insecurity was increasing along the Danubian frontier. From the middle of the third century, cities in this part of the Empire were under threat and their fortiﬁcations were reinforced in the ﬁfth (Thessalonika) and sixth centuries (Byllis under Justininian). There was prosperity in the fourth century and beginning of the ﬁfth (wealthy households, luxurious facilities such as baths, thriving urban centres and cathedrals with episcopal residences and other churches). During the ﬁfth century, the houses of Philippi were partly transformed into workshops. The sixth century was difﬁcult and the second half was especially bleak. However, coins and pottery show that contacts between east and west were still maintained, as well as local production. But, from 540–50, invasions and plague worsened the general situation. Graves appeared inside the city walls. Archaeology (Slav pottery and ﬁbulae) and texts (Miracula Sancti Demetrii) all demonstrate how hard times were from the 580s to the 630s. Contacts were few and highly regionalized. We have to wait for the ninth century to see the beginning of a takeover by peoples from the Balkans and Greece.
Epirus Nova (Dyrrachium, present-day Durres), and Thessaly (Larissa). The region includes both sides of the Dinaric Alps which form the mountainous spine of both the central Balkans and the Greek peninsula and dictate the direction taken by its rivers: west into the Adriatic (Drilon (now Drin), Skhumbi, Kordaikos (the present-day Seman), and Aoos (the Vjosa)); or east to the Aegean (Axios, Haliakmon). The difﬁculties of communication across the central massif are reﬂected both by the importance of the sea route from Thessalonika to Athens and the overland road heading south past Pydna, Dion and on to Thebes in Thessaly and Athens. Despite the consequent problem of communication, the via Egnatia, which led from Rome to Constantinople, crossed the southern Balkans from Dyrrhachium to Philippi and represented one west/east route which did help to link the two main parts of this region. It was a road which was vital when it was difﬁcult to use the great northern highway which followed the valleys of the Maritsa and Morava (Haldon 1999, 53–6; McCormick 2001, 69–71; Avramea 2002, 68–72). The via Egnatia also had a secondary branch road which started from Apollonia and Aulon (Vlora) and then joined the main road at Clodiana (Hammond 1974; Amore et al. 2001). This route continued up the valley of the Skhumbi (Scampae), past the lakes of Ocrhid and Prespa — a difﬁcult section — through the urban centres of Lychnidus and Heraclea Lyncestis, then snaked its way between the mountains to reach Aegae, Pella, and Thessalonika. Beyond Thessalonika, as it headed for Constantinople, the road passed the north-east corner of the Chalcidice peninsula, before following the coast, passing Amphipolis, Philippi, and Neapolis (Kavala): all cities still within Macedonia (Papazoglou 1988). The southern coast of Epirus had a number of safe anchorages and ports such as Onchesmos (Saranda), Buthroton (Butrint), and Aulon, all linked by a coastal road which came down from Salona towards Nicopolis, the equivalent of the other north/south route which linked Thessalonika with Athens. Other towns were located in the highlands, some along the Aoos and its tributaries such as Amantia, Byllis, and Antigoneia, others occupying defensive locations such as Phoinike. The valley routes allowed trafﬁc to penetrate inland, linking the via Egnatia with other road networks further north. The Black Drin connected the cities around the lakes of Ochrid and Prespa with the route Ulcinium – Skhodra – Ulpiana, down to Naı¨ssus. The valley of the Axios allowed passage north to Naïssus via Stobi and Scupi. Equally strategic positions were occupied by Sandanski on the middle reaches of the Strymon, and by Amphipolis where the north/ south road reached the Aegean. Finally, the Haliakmon connected Celetrum and Beroea.
The barbarian invasions in Epirus and Macedonia These limitations to communication were alleviated in part by the via Egnatia which remained of strategic and political importance because of the part it played during those troubled times when the region was affected by a series of invasions, often last-
ing several years, and often bringing destruction to the Balkan peninsula. The Goths appeared as raiders towards the middle of the third century. In the aftermath of the battle of Adrianople (378), they retreated into Thrace and pillaged that province as well as Macedonia and Greece. Sandanski, for example, was burnt to the ground (Milcheva 2002, 294). Having settled in Moesia II, they rose in revolt in 388 and 395. Under the leadership of Alaric, they devastated Greece, capturing Athens, and reached as far south as the Peloponnese before returning to Epirus in 397. Alaric, declared magister militum per Illyricum, took control of the region until moving on to Italy after Gainas was overthrown in Constantinople (Heather 1996; Kazanski 1999a). The next dangerous confederation of peoples was the Huns, who were at ﬁrst welcomed by the imperial authorities, but who then established themselves as a political power in Pannonia and posed a dangerous threat after Attila assumed supreme command in 434 (Boná 2002). Each year the Huns crossed the Danube to pillage the Balkan provinces. In 447, they raided Macedonia and Thessaly as far as Thermopylae. Only the death of Attila in 453 signalled the end of the Hunnic threat. However, the Goths, settled in Pannonia as foederati, and, now freed from Hunnic control, proceeded to attack Illyricum in 457 and to capture Dyrrachium in 459. The Goths again caused trouble in 473, carrying out raids in Macedonia and attacking Thessalonika. Under the command of Theodoric, they continued to raid Macedonia, sacking Stobi and Heraclea Lyncestis, as well as threatening Thessalonika. In 479, Theodoric took over Dyrrachium, then again raided Macedonia and Thessaly, capturing Larissa in the process, before himself moving on to Italy in 488. Towards the end of the ﬁfth century, the Bulgarians started raiding south of the Danube; in 517, along with some Slav conscripts, they attacked Macedonia and then Thessaly. Cotrigurs invaded both the Chalcidice, getting as far as Constantinople, and Greece, as far as the isthmus of Corinth. In 550, Slavs were in Macedonia and threatened Thessalonika and, in 551, they pillaged Illyricum. They had also attacked Byllis in 548 (when coin-loss ceased) unless the attackers were the Goths who attacked both Anchiasmos and Nicopolis in 551. In 559, Slavs and Cotrigurs plundered Macedonia and Greece as far as Thermopylae (Rosser 2001). Avars and Slavs continued their invasions. Between 580 and 587–8, they settled in Macedonia and Greece (including the Peloponnese), besieging Thessalonika in 586. By the seventh century, Slav settlement in the Balkan peninsula was continuing on a massive scale (Lemerle 1954; Popovic´ 1975, 1978; Koder 1978; Malingoudis 1988; Metcalf 1991; Avramea 1997; Kazanski 1999b; Vida and Völling 2000; Curta 2001; Morrisson, Popovic´ and Ivanisevic´ 2006, 75–93). In addition to all these invasions, there was an outbreak of plague in 542 which continued sporadically thereafter (McCormick 2001, 39–41). Although our literary sources for the Balkans do not mention it, the regional impact of plague should perhaps be reassessed in view of what we could now learn both from anthropology and from the numerous late Roman cemeteries in the Balkans. Also, earthquakes proved devastating,
like those of 518–20 which hit Macedonia, especially Thessalonika and its hinterland, and those of 524 (Corinth) and 551 in central Greece (Sanders 2004, 170–2). The picture is bleak for the diocese of Macedonia in the sixth century, especially in the second half.
Defence of territory The organization of defensive measures across the provinces of Epirus, Praevalitana, and Macedonia deserves special consideration but involves a more detailed discussion than is possible here. However, such a study could demonstrate how networks of fortiﬁcations were established to protect cities such as Byllis, Dyrrachium, Scampae, Scodra, Zaradishte, Scupi, Heraclea (Milkucic´ 1986b), and Thessalonika. Major advances, recording all types of fortiﬁcations and identifying their functions, have been made over the last few decades by colleagues in Albania, Serbia, Macedonia (former Yugoslavia), and Greece. But there remains the task of drawing up a common typology which describes the defensive arrangements and methods of construction. As far as possible, dating needs to be improved if we are to differentiate between various programmes of fortiﬁcation and distinguish between imperial and local initiatives. This needs to be done before this kind of information can be used to explain why different kinds of defences were built. As we are still waiting for this research to be done, all that can be attempted here is to examine individual case studies and identify groups of different fortiﬁcations. Even so, the approach must remain tentative because all interpretations are based on insecure foundations.
Texts and inscriptions relating to urban defences The terminology used in the literary sources, especially in the Anonymous Byzantinus (sixth century) and in George of Pisidia makes hardly any distinction between important sites and simple forts: all are described as towns (poleis) (Dunn 1998). Procopius in De Aediﬁciis (4.4) does not provide a detailed description of urban defences for Epirus Nova and Praevalitana. He is rather more forthcoming about Macedonia and Thessaly but he was at pains to describe the defences at Thermopylae (Gregory 2000). He provides a separate list of forts (phrouria) built or restored in different provinces with the notable exception of Praevalitana. For Epirus Nova, he lists 26 forts which were restored and 32 newly built ones, in Macedonia 46 rebuilt, and seven restored in Thessaly. These lists are not easy to interpret. Some mix-ups in the provincial lists are easy to spot: the city of Scydros must be Scodra (Skhodra) in Praevalitana; Byllis, which, as we know epigraphically, was rebuilt under Justinian, is perhaps mistakenly called Boulibas (⫽ Boulidas?), a site assigned to Epirus Vetus. In the case of this last
example, it could quite probably be simply a mistake, or else the rebuilding took place after the text had been completed (Feissel 1988, 143–6). The cities, some which must have had several thousands of inhabitants, such as Dyrrachium, and smaller ones, such as Amantia, Kionina, and Alistron, are listed along with simple fortlets. Many of these sites are poorly transcribed; ‘Antipragai’ for Antipatria, modern Berat, or possibly Antibaris in modern Montenegro. This makes it difﬁcult to locate all the sites and especially difﬁcult to understand the defensive strategy involved. Apart from Procopius, and especially his De Aediﬁciis, the historical sources for the region do not provide a coherent account. The same applies to inscriptions, apart from the ﬁne ones from Byllis which refer to Victorinos, who was perhaps the chief military engineer in the Balkans rather than soldier or praetorian prefect of Illyricum (Feissel 1988) and who is also known to have refortiﬁed the isthmus of Corinth (Gregory 1993, 80–3, 138, 144). While, from Constantinople, a recent epigraphic ﬁnd enables us to reﬁne the dating of the Land Walls (Kalkan and S¸ahin 1994), the walls of Thessalonika (which could have served as a regional model) provide only fragments of epigraphic information. There is still uncertainty as to the identity of two men, Hormisdas and Theodosius, recorded on inscriptions associated with the refortiﬁcation of Thessalonika. Consequently, the exact date of the early Christian walls cannot be determined epigraphically. Lastly, stamped bricks have come from the walls of Thessalonika (Vickers 1973; Theocharidou 1994, 311, pl. 180), and from Louloudies (Poulter 1998, 494–500) where have been found bricks with cruciform monograms which started to be used c.520–30 and with monograms with a vertical stem, common in the seventh century, although they ﬁrst appear in the second half of the sixth century. Stamped tiles have been found at Dyrrachium (Zheku 1972; Miraj 1980; Gutteridge, Hoti, and Hurst 2001, 397), Scodra (Hoxha 2003, 166, pls 47and 48) and Elbasan (ancient Ad Quintum) (Karaiskaj 1972, 149). They all belong to different types of stamping and their dating is not established on a ﬁrm basis. However, some of these bricks present similar monograms, such as those from Dyrrachium (Zheku 1972, 38, ﬁg. 5, 41, ﬁgs 10 and 11, and 43, ﬁg. 16 reproduced in Miraj 1980) and Scodra (Hoxha 2003, 166, pl. 48, 1) and may well date to the reign of either Anastasius or Justinian.
Differences in the development of cities One of the major consequences of the revival which took place in the fourth, and especially in the ﬁfth century, was a change in the character of occupation, although there were marked differences between one city and another. The reorganization of the regions in the fourth century, connected with the building of the new capital, encouraged a growth of activity in the ports and the towns on the main highways and created a demand for increased agricultural resources. This was the case in the plains around Philippi and Thessalonika, even though the marshland close to these cities limited the
amount of productive land. Thessalonika during the fourth century developed into a major regional centre of considerable importance. This was promoted by the construction of an imperial palace, and then by the transfer of the Praetorian Prefecture after the Goths captured Sirmium in 441. Whereas there was clear development along the via Egnatia and along the coast, other centres, still active in the fourth century, declined in the following century, allowing some cities to proﬁt from this change in fortunes. Such seems to be true of the diocese of Apollonia which still included both Apollonia itself and Byllis in 431 but, probably from 451, and certainly by 458, Byllis had acquired its own bishop (Muçaj 2002, 659). On the other hand, it does not seem that at Thessalonika there was any diminution in the urban population during the second half of the sixth century. Lemerle (1979–81, 79–81), describing the ﬁrst attacks of the Sclavenes between 586 and 610, argued that the city found itself in a very different situation from the rest of the Balkans. Cut off from the interior of Macedonia, then occupied by the Sclavenes, the city ‘still maintained an almost normal existence’ thanks to its port. At all events, there are no obvious signs of decline which, for example, would be apparent if the fortiﬁed area was reduced. But this never happened during the second half of the sixth century, nor even at the beginning of the seventh century during the years 618–20 which represented some of the worst moments in the history of the Balkans (Spieser 1984b and 1999; Theocharidou 1994; Velenis 1998). Even so, the actual size of the urban population remains impossible to estimate. It may have declined and this could have resulted in the abandonment of parts of the city, and some areas may perhaps have been used for burials, as happened at Constantinople, in Rome and in cities mentioned in the following account as demonstrated by excavations. Philippi (Provost 2001) seems to enjoy the same demographic stability: there was no reduction in the city’s defended area, perhaps because the site was considered of strategic importance, commanding the land route along the coast between Constantinople and Thessalonika. The signs of activity at Philippi in this period are surprising when compared with the dramatic reduction in the defensive circuit around the neighbouring city of Amphipolis (Bakirtzis 1996). There was a signiﬁcant change in the settlements of this area, as in the rest of the Balkans, and more generally in southern Europe and the eastern half of the Empire. Urban defences were reduced and sites were sometimes abandoned altogether in favour of more defensible locations. There were different reasons which explain why this happened. There were earthquakes, like the one which so severely affected Apollonia in 345, barbarian invasions, as described above, or, less commonly, topographical changes such as the alteration in the course of a river, as happened with the Aoos. This river changed its course close to the rivermouth, towards the end of the third century, and then began ﬂowing out into the sea further to the south, consequently reducing the city’s importance as a port, a change which conversely accounts for the rise in impor-
tance of the port at Avlon. In other cases, we know that there was a change of site: Diocletianoupolis was abandoned in favour of Kastoria under Justinian (Procopius, De Aediﬁciis 4.3 1–6; Papazoglou 1988, 238–9). But the effect of change was most acutely felt in the interior where new settlements or fortlets were established on high ground, commanding the passes along ancient routes which were partly brought back into use. Ancient fortiﬁcations, dating back to the Hellenistic period, were reoccupied, as at Antigoneia, and, in the Mallakastra district, sites like Margelliç and Gurzeze received new walls and churches (Muçaj 1990). Totally new urban foundations could still be created, or at least this would seem to be the case even though this has not been tested by extensive excavations. This appears to apply to the site of Louloudies where a quadriburgium (80 ⫻ 90 m.) was built on the probable site of the Battle of Pydna. Poulter (1998) also identiﬁed a large fortiﬁed enclosure (3–4 ha in size), 150 m to the south of the quadriburgium, on the banks of the river Sourvala. The ﬁrst site contained a residence and a large church with baptistry, in plan very similar to the Acheiropoietos in Thessalonika. It might have been a posting station on the road from Thessalonika to Dion, built close to a fortiﬁed small town, protected by the substantially larger fortiﬁcation (Poulter 1998). However, the quadriburgium may have been an episcopal centre built c.480 to protect the inhabitants of Pydna who were being harassed by the Goths, as Marki (1997) believes, basing her argument on the text of Jordanes (Histoire des Goths, 56.287, tr. O. Devillers, Paris, 1995, 112): [The patrician Hilarianus] concluded a treaty with the Goths and then immediately gave them lands to occupy: Cyrrhos, Pella, Europos, Mediana (Methone), Petina (Pydna), Beroea and . . . Dium.
Possibly the inhabitants of Pydna returned to their city after the departure of the Goths in 485. While leaving the location of the church and palace unchanged, during the ﬁrst quarter of the sixth century. the church was rebuilt and the palace was enlarged and provided with agricultural machinery (an oil press, a vat for pressing grapes). Shortly after the middle of the sixth century, the site was destroyed by an earthquake. The church was again rebuilt but only the central aisle was used and it served as a basilica coemeterialis. The bishop abandoned his palace which, its decline precipitated by a second earthquake, was then used for industrial workshops (a pottery kiln, three glass kilns, a forge). The church and the palace were robbed of materials which were partially reused in new buildings. Walls of stone bonded with earth were built during the seventh century and later quernstones and pottery prove that a settlement still existed at the time. The neighbouring fortiﬁed site was abandoned. Perhaps, the quadriburgium had been built on a pre-existing site: late Roman baths were identiﬁed beneath the episcopal palace (road station or perhaps a ‘villa,’ according to Marki (2001, 26–7, pl. 3)).
The continued upkeep of fortiﬁcations It is clear that cities protected themselves with fortiﬁcations, as elsewhere in the Balkans. From the Tetrarchic period, defences were built and maintained, often reusing the foundations of Hellenistic walls. The best example of this practice in the southern Balkans is Thessalonika where hasty rebuilding was carried out on the Hellenistic (?) circuit at about the middle of the third century and external reinforcement of the walls was added at the beginning of the fourth. Then the walls were totally rebuilt during the ﬁrst half of the ﬁfth century using very different defensive methods (Spieser 1984a and 1999; Theocharidou 1994; Velenis 1998).). At Philippi, following the line of preexisting, perhaps Hellenistic walls, a new curtain was provided, built with brick-courses ﬁve-tiles thick, at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth century. Towards the end of the ﬁfth or some time in the sixth century, a proteichisma was added to strengthen the defences of the lower part of the city, as also happened at Thessalonika (Provost 2001). At Stobi, ﬂoods and the encroachment of the river Erigon had undermined the Roman walls so they were replaced by new defences, built at the beginning of the ﬁfth century (Wiseman 1984, 301–2). At Buthroton, excavations on the site of the Triconch Palace with its triconch triclinium provided a late ﬁfth-century date (?) for the walls which were erected alongside the building (Bowden et al. 2002, 208–9; Hodges et al. 2004, 128–32). This new fortiﬁcation, which defended the city on the side fronting the Vivari channel, completed the enclosure of the whole peninsula upon which the city was built. At Dyrrachium, recent work has improved our understanding of the course and date of various fortiﬁcations. The main circuit is well-preserved on the south-west side where it dates to the late Roman period. Its distinctive construction uses only bricks which are 5 cm thick, some of which are stamped, between very thick layers of mortar, 7 cm thick. Tower D, in its upper construction, was provided with a series of arcades, pierced by windows and was decorated with crosses (Rey 1925, 39, ﬁg. 10). Another fortiﬁcation wall, running east-west, cut off the south-eastern extension of the city and butted up against an internal citadel, the southern face of which reused towers G and F along with the intermediary section of curtain-wall which also formed the continuation of the surviving main city defences. Both the cross-wall and the walls of the citadel were built with a rubble core faced with rectangular stone blocks, their external faces showing numerous repairs carried out in the medieval period (twelfth to thirteenth centuries?) although these fortiﬁcations may well have followed the course of a late Roman circuit. Further north, there was another line of defences, a section of which was discovered in 2001 and, since it had a similar brick construction to the main fortiﬁcation wall, was presumably contemporary. So it seems that this city had similar defences to those of Caricˇin Grad which had three defensive circuits (see Chapter 14, Bavant). John
of Antioch c.610 noted that Anastasius surrounded Dyrrachium with a triple line of defences (Muller, 1851, 621) and this may explain these different sections of curtain although such a tentative interpretation must await conﬁrmation by future research. Some specialists prefer an early date for the defences, about the middle of the ﬁfth century, closer to the time when the walls of Thessalonika were built because at Thessalonika the western curtain also had brick construction — although the bricks there are used as simple facing courses or to form thick arcading (unlike tower D at Durres) and to pick out numerous cross designs (Crow 2001, 94–6, ﬁg. 4–5). However, this line of argument has little chronological value and I would personally prefer to believe that the walls were built by Anastasius since the historical sources record how he embellished his native city (Gutteridge et al. 2001). The circular macellum which is currently being excavated in the centre of the ancient city may well have been decorated with imported Proconnesian marble, as its sculptural decoration suggests, and may date to this period of Anastasian reconstruction. A section of early Byzantine wall of more common form, using rows of small facing stones separated by tile courses, no doubt connected the city with its northern port (Porto Romano), 7 km away. The important discovery that the south-eastern line of fortiﬁcations had at least one earlier period, ascribed to the second century, shows that the city did not wait until the reign of Anastasius to take measures for its own protection and it is very likely that the crosswall separating off the south-eastern quarter and the northern curtain followed one or more earlier lines of defence (Gutteridge and Hoti 2003). The recent publication on the city of Scodra (Hoxha 2003, 30, ﬁgs 22–23), the best known of the cities in Praevalitana (the other cities being Lissus, Olcinium, and Doclea), has proved that the defences belong to two different periods, one dating to the end of the fourth century and the other to the sixth and the reign of Justinian. Houses have also been excavated. Ceramic and coin-ﬁnds suggest that the site was fully occupied down to the middle or third quarter of the sixth century after which there was a decline, although the site survived as late as the reign of Constans II (642–68). In Macedonia, several urban fortiﬁcations have recently been studied. In the case of the extensive fortiﬁcations of Dion (43 ha), its eastern curtain was carefully constructed in opus mixtum as it followed the course of the river Vaphyras, whereas its other walls were of very different construction. As to the dates of these two different sections of wall, there are widely differing opinions. Stephanidou-Tiveriou (1988) suggested that the ancient walls were rebuilt in the years 254–68 but Mentzos (2002) offers sound reasons why the rebuilding of the fortiﬁcations should date to the middle of the ﬁfth century. Tsouris (2002, 420–7) has studied the forts and fortiﬁcations on the frontier between Macedonia and Thrace. Amongst the walled cities he attributes to the third to the sixth century are: Anastasioupolis, Topiros, Didymoteichos, Drama, Anaktoroupolis, Maronea, and Serres.
The reduction of the defended circuit Shrinkage in the defended area happened in the Balkans, Asia Minor, and even in Syria, as, for example, at Palmyra. In the case of Amphipolis, the reduction in the area formerly protected by the Hellenistic defences coincided with the establishment of the Christian city (Bakirtzis 1996). In addition, the city was also divided in two by another wall which cut across Basilica A and limited access between the upper and lower parts of the city to just one gate (Tsouris 2002). At Dion, the walls protected a much more restricted area of 16 ha. However, the date of this reduction remains a matter of controversy. Stephanidou-Tiveriou (1988) assigns the new walls to the last decades of the fourth century and its ensuing destruction to the ﬁrst half of the ﬁfth. Mentzos (2002) ascribes the reduction in the fortiﬁed area to the end of the seventh century. The same reduction occurred at Nicopolis, even though a letter of Gregory the Great (Pietri 1984, 54) describes it as the third most important city in Illyricum (after Thessalonika and Dyrrachium). However, the traditional view that this happened under Justinian has been disputed and a consensus prefers a date towards the end of the ﬁfth century, perhaps during the reign of Zeno or Anastasius (Gregory 1987; Hellenkemper 1987). Mikulcic´ (1986a, 234–7) claims that a late fortiﬁcation protected the central part of Heraclea Lyncestis and the episcopal complex, cutting them off from the eastern part of the city. The fortiﬁcations of Onchesmos (Lako 1984) perhaps represent a reduction in the size of the defended area but the evidence there remains inconclusive. In the case of Byllis, where the reduction in size of walled area is important, it is difﬁcult to say whether the part of the city which was protected by the late Roman defences was the only part of the city which was still occupied. It remains to be established whether the rest of the area between the late Roman and earlier fortiﬁcations was still inhabited. The same question applies to the sites just quoted above.
Methods of defence Both forts and towns used the same types of defences, whether in Epirus, Praevalitana, in Dardania, or in Macedonia. Amongst the characteristic methods of construction employed are triangular and pentagonal towers and proteichismata (Philippi, Thessalonika (Bace 1976; Karaiskaj 1998; Crow 2001)). The Balkans may have been used as a kind of testing ground for various types of fortiﬁcation and the lessons then applied in Antalolia during the seventh century (Dunn 1998; Crow 2001). There were a few simple methods. The most common involved the use of a core made of mortar and stones with stone-facing and brick-courses, three to ﬁve bricks thick (Thessalonika, the eastern defences, Fig. 1) But some have walls built just in bricks without a central core of mortared stone. The best example of this type is Dyrrachium, but the same technique was also used at Perinthos, at Serdica, and at Salmydessos (modern Midye: Crow
Figure 1. Thessalonika, the eastern curtain-wall (J.-P. Sodini).
2001, 103, ﬁg. 9). Lastly, there are also walls with both sides built from stone blocks and without brick-courses. This was the case at Byllis, built by Victorinos (Figs 2 and 3), Onchesmos, where there were walls also using alternate brick and stone-courses (Fig. 4), in a series of fortiﬁcations which have been studied or listed by Hoxha (2003, 32–3), including Scodra and Doclea, and some walls at Philippi (Provost 2001, ﬁg. 5: the wall south of the Neapolis gate). Putlog holes for supporting wooden scaffolding are commonly used in this kind of wall, as they are in walls built with brick-courses and stone block-facing (for example, at Nicopolis: Hellenkemper 1987, pls 500–5). But at Scodra, Hoxha (2003, ﬁg. 5) discovered that they had been used to hold wooden bracing beams with timbers passing along the axis of the wall and linked to beams laid across the width of the curtain. This discovery upsets the traditional view that these cavities were all simply putlog holes used to support scaffolding during the construction process. Could it be that these holes then served a double function? At Byllis, S. Muçaj (1990) did not ﬁnd any traces of such horizontal timbers within its walls. On the other hand, clearly visible in section are the courses of mortared rubble of the core, so stone facing-stones must originally have existed. We need more studies to determine the true function of the holes. Even so, these differences in construction technique do not necessarily mean that the fortiﬁcations were built at different times or by other types of
Figure 2. Byllis, inside face of the walls at tower Y (J.-P. Sodini).
builders. Philippi has opus mixtum and curtain-walls faced with stone blocks. The same applies to Onchesmos. Nevertheless, it seems that in these cases the entire circuit was built at the same time. However, at Dion, there are signiﬁcant differences in construction: in some sectors stone is reused, in others there are new blocks. In some places, regular brick-courses are used and in others bricks are displayed in an erratic way. Some sections of wall use limestone mortar, others use simple earth-bonding. The use of various methods most probably reﬂects differences in technical but also ﬁnancial resources. Consequently, these differences are so strong that they could imply many phases that have to be recognized and dated.
The street-grids Because large-scale excavation has been generally limited, we know less about cities in Macedonia and Epirus than we do about cities in the northern Balkans. Nevertheless, there are two exceptions: Stobi and Philippi. In the ﬁrst of these (Wiseman 1984), the street-grid which dates in its ﬁnal form to the end of the fourth century, is irregular: its two main axial routes — called by the excavators the via principalis superior, with its
Figure 3. Byllis, exterior face of the walls, between towers P and Q. Note the collapsed external facing (J.-P. Sodini).
extension the via sacra, and the via principalis inferior— regularly changed direction, closely following the natural topography. The via sacra was ﬂanked, at least on its eastern side, by colonnades. Halfway along its course, it passed on its east side the cathedral’s atrium, then opened onto a semi-circular square, fronted on its internal side by a portico, and by shops on its exterior side which formed a kind of macellum (after Mikulcic´ 1999, 337, ﬁg. 211). A good parallel for such a square has been discovered at Beisan-Scythopolis, built in 506/7 and called Sigma (Tsafrir and Foerster 1997, 117). By the beginning of the ﬁfth century, this square was directly linked to the cathedral’s almost triangular atrium so it must then have functioned as a place of assembly for the faithful. Along these roads there were both houses, like the ‘house of the Fuller’, and shops. A public fountain was found, backing onto the north wall of the ‘house of Peristeria’. Philippi had a more regular layout, determined by the orientation of two roads which converged from the west towards the eastern gate and the route to Neapolis (Kavala), as was also the case at Constantinople and at Zenobia (Halabiye) on the Euphrates. The northern road was ﬂanked by a colonnade on its southern side which fronted onto the agora and the most important buildings. Both roads had been
originally 9 m but had been reduced in the fourth century to 5.4 m. Based on these two main roads, there were two separate street-grids, one occupying the northern triangular area between the two axial routes and a second grid, taking its orientation from the southern road and occupying the lower, rectangular part of the city. Both grids were divided into rectangular insulae, apart from the area close to the junction of the two
converging main roads. This urban plan dates to the second century and was still in use during the late Roman period. But, in the later period, two churches occupied the northern part of the city (Basilicas A and C) and the forum was, in effect, taken over by the cathedral, ﬂanked as it was by the episcopal complex to the east and by Basilica B to the south. Another church, which was identiﬁed by Provost and Boyd (2002) and the Ephorate, lies west of the square and, though it is some way away, still adds to the impression that the forum was used in late antiquity as a connecting space between three churches. No church has yet been recognized in the rectangular area on the southern side of the city. The churches and their associated buildings more or less respected the layout of the pre-existing insulae as, for example, in the case of the episcopal complex which took up three adjacent blocks. In the case of Thessalonika, we know a lot about some important excavations although these are separated by areas about which we know nothing at all. The wide colonnaded street, the cardo maximus of the city, is well known and proves that, by the second half of the second century, the Roman city had a regular grid-network of streets. The construction of the Tetrarchic palace and the temple (or mausoleum) on the other side of the cardo maximus represent, along with the arch of Galerius, a grandiose embellishment of the city’s main streets.
Urban quarters and public buildings Thessalonika has a rectangular agora, similar in form to that at Philippi. It covered an area of 2 ha, the equivalent of three-and-a-half insulae in the centre of the city and clearly represented a major feature in the urban plan (Adam-Veleni 2001). The paved court was 146 m in length. This was ﬂanked on three sides by double stoas with Corinthian columns which provided access to rooms around the sides of the complex. On the southern side, the top of a double cryptoporticus was built to the same level as the agora and supported porticoes which fronted the open court. A road, 2 m wide and paved with marble, provided access to shops to the south of the agora and had replaced, on the south-east side, a set of Roman baths. Thirteen shops which opened onto the southern road were repaired and remained in use into the sixth century, indeed longer than the agora itself. However, it was during this late period that the cryptoporticus was converted into cisterns. To the east, a buleuterion, which had been built in the ﬁrst century, was replaced in the second by an odeion, seating 200 people — its capacity increased to 400 in the last quarter of the third century. In the second quarter of the fourth century, work began on a major enlargement of the cavea but the project was abandoned after construction had already started. Apparently, a room south of the odeion was used to store the city archives because it was built with shelves clearly intended for that purpose. North of the theatre, there was a mint which operated from the reign of Licinius and may have continued to function until the end of the fourth
century. At the beginning of the ﬁfth, the agora went out of use and the area was used for pottery production and then, still later, for burial. The abandonment of the agora at this early date is worrying. One would have expected that this would have happened much later, perhaps at the beginning of the seventh century. This problem could be resolved if a sixth-century agora were to be found. This might have been in the area between the gate of Cassandra and St Sophia. Relevant here is the fact, noted above, that the circular macellum, probably built under Anastasius at Durres, is the only evidence for late Roman urban construction in this city, apart, of course, from the urban fortiﬁcations. At Nea Anchialos, in the old agora, various workshops and pottery kilns were in use although these late structures are poorly dated. At Sandanski, between Basilicas 1 and 2, one or more buildings were built and have been interpreted as forming part of an administrative centre (Milcheva 2002). Baths are amongst the best known public buildings. They have been found in Thessalonika (here of particular interest since they are associated with the cult of St Demetrius), at Stobi (Wiseman 1973, 29–30 : ‘Little Bath’), at Scupi (Mikulcic´ 1986a, 234), at Heraclea Lyncestis (Mikulcic´ 1986a, 235), at Byllis (repaired in the sixth century: Feissel 2000, 92, n.20), at Durres (third-century, but still in use in late antiquity), at Vlora (Çano 1991), at Elbasan which has the same history as the baths at Durres (Ceka and Papajani 1972), and at Butrint (‘channel side’, Martin 2004, 95). Although the time when they were in use remains uncertain, baths would seem also to have been identiﬁed by geophysical survey at Philippi (Boyd and Provost 2001, 507–9). Churches should be included in this study because they were a major feature of the late Roman urban landscape. Philippi and Stobi have already been described above. Here it is important to stress the signiﬁcance of the episcopal complexes (Byllis, Philippi, Stobi, Heraclea Lyncestis, Bargala (Mikulcic´ 1999, 343, ﬁg. 219)). These were the buildings around which the life of the city developed a new focus in the early Byzantine period. At Onchesmos, the church was built on the site of a synagogue dating to the fourth century. The same happened at Stobi and so there must have been Jewish communities here which survived at least until their places of worship were taken over by the Church (Nallbani 2003). Other Jewish communities are attested in Macedonia, especially in Thessalonika and Thebes in Thessaly (Karagiorgou 2001, 213). Of no less interest are the residential quarters. Numerous examples existed at Stobi, and in Philippi. Although there are fewer such houses, they also existed at Butrint where a private domus of the fourth century was extended in a Triconch Palace at the very beginning of the ﬁfth. The main feature was a triconch dining-room with a masonry stibadium in the central apse, but its construction may have been curtailed abruptly (c.420?) (Bowden et al. 2002; Gilkes and Lako, 2004, 151–75). Although his name is unknown, we know the owner had the rank of clarissimus. When the structure was no longer used as a residence, building materials were robbed, although masonry walls and, later, simple walls bonded with earth were added and the site was used for
activities involving the preparation of ﬁsh and shellﬁsh, later still for burials. Nicopolis (Sodini 1984) and Thasos (Sodini 1995 and 1997, 461–2) have also several ﬁne examples of private houses. Rescue excavations carried out in Thessalonika are now starting to bear fruit: a dozen or so houses, with apsidal-ended triclinia, have been found, as well as atria equipped with peristyles (Karudas 1996 and 1999). One very carefully excavated example proved to have had two luxurious periods of use, the ﬁrst dating to the end of the fourth century, and the second at the beginning of the ﬁfth century. During the second half of the sixth, there were signs of impoverishment: the marble ﬂooring was replaced with bricks and earth-bonded walls were built. Towards 630, an earthquake destroyed the house. The rooms were cleared of debris but no repairs were carried out. In the eighth century, the house was abandoned, stones robbed and the site covered with a thick layer of rubble into which a grave was dug (Karudas 1995). As argued above, this sequence, no less than others from the same city, demonstrates a decline in the provision of elegant housing from the middle of the sixth century and then, in the eighth century, a shrinking in the extent of occupation when previously domestic areas were used for burial: regular cemeteries have been identiﬁed at nineteen locations inside the city, a circumstance which reﬂects the process of general decline in urban standards as will be described below. Apart from these urban residences, there were more modest, smaller houses without atria. Nicopolis and Amphipolis have provided good examples although poorer housing has not yet been widely published with the exception of Nea Anchialos and Stobi, both of which have produced a few such buildings. Even so, these structures would seem to be relatively late in date, perhaps sixth century. It is particularly interesting for our purpose to trace the development of housing at Philippi, which is possible thanks to the excellent studies by Gounaris and Velenis (see additional bibliography in Sodini 1997, 460, n.107; Gounaris and Velenis 1996). In the two large insulae which have been excavated and the phases of development fully published, it is clear that, from the ﬁfth century, the houses merely served as workshops. There is also a third insula within the other street-grid in the southern part of the city (Gounaris 1995–2000). Built originally in the second century, it was probably in the third century that one house was furnished with a mosaic which depicted hippodrome races. After it was abandoned in the second half of the fourth century, it was used, by the early ﬁfth century, as a glass workshop with a large furnace for smelting glass and other facilities for making glass vessels. Thereafter, this building suffered the same fate as the other excavated examples. The appearance of workshops within houses, for which we have numerous examples, especially at Delphi, happens alongside the ruralization of cities and the appearance of mills, oil, and grape-pressing facilities within the fortiﬁed area and especially in private houses. As a last example from Philippi, there is a building in the south-west part of the city which the ﬁrst excavator (M. Feyel) believed to have been a baths complex. Subsequently, it was interpreted as a schola or farmers’ club by the second excavator (P. Aupert). It has also been the object of more recent excavations by
Provost (2002, 512–18). The interpretation of this building is complicated by the discovery of a bath, evidently of signiﬁcance, since it occupied a complete wing of the complex. The excavator called it the ‘House of the Cat’ and believed the wing opposite the baths to have been the main apsidal-ended dining room (triclinium), opening onto a peristyle court. The building lost its original function after a destruction which occurred towards the end of the fourth century, an event perhaps associated with the Gothic invasions. Thereafter, during the ﬁrst half of the ﬁfth century, the rooms were subdivided and used as workshops and for lime-burning. Its cistern collapsed in the sixth century and its sides were used as a foundation for a modest house, also in the sixth. The discovery of a coin of Phocas and Slav pottery suggests that occupation continued until the beginning of the seventh century. The impoverishment of urban institutions follows a similar course in all cities, as is well described by Popovic´ (1982) in his study on Sirmium. During the periods of restructuring and christianization of urban areas, episcopal quarters and churches were built in prominent locations. This was probably the case at Nea Anchialos although the street-grid has not yet been established; at Byllis, where the layout of the Hellenistic insulae has been identiﬁed and which seems still to have been respected in the late Roman period; and especially at Philippi where the episcopal quarter encompassed more than three insulae, and where Basilica B occupied two, Basilica A probably three, and the basilica by the modern museum probably another two. The abandonment of streets during these huge building projects reﬂects the prestige which ecclesiastical authority acquired at this time but it did not really amount to a disruption of the civic order. This happened later, when ﬂimsy houses were built in places formerly of civic importance but which no longer served their original function, such as the theatres at Stobi and Heraclea Lyncestis. It became a general feature of cities that the inhabitants were reduced to living in small houses with earth-bonded walls; Heraclea Lyncestis, Stobi, and Butrint (Hodges et al. 1997, 223; Gilkes and Lako 2004, 170); or ones built with sun-dried brick, again at Butrint (Hodges et al. 1997, 231: end of the sixth to beginning of the seventh century). The roads were often covered by earth and became meandering lanes. Then burials appear within the city itself as happened in Sirmium (Popovic´ 1982), and perhaps in Corinth. Unlike Ivison (1996), Sanders (2004) has questioned the presence of graves inside the late walls which have been claimed for Nea Anchialos (Karagiorgou 2001), Durres (especially in the ampitheatre: Bowes and Hoti 2003), Butrint (Bowden et al. 2002, 207–8: after 550, in the ruins of the Triconch Palace), and at Byllis (S. Muçaj pers. com.).
Ceramics as an economic indicator Pottery could be of considerable help in understanding the economic conditions and trade in these provinces. But, while pottery is regularly discussed in preliminary reports,
there is an unfortunate lack of full analysis. The only full publication is that on Stobi (Anderson-Stojanovi´c 1992), which is relevant to the eastern part of the via Egnatia. This has been helpfully ampliﬁed by the very recent publication of small-scale excavations at Scodra, close to the Adriatic coast (and the port of Olcinum), to which the city is well connected by road, as well as by boat down the river Buna. There are also preliminary reports published by P. Reynolds (Bowden et al. 2002, 221–7) which deal with some excavations carried out inside the city of Butrint and elsewhere in the vicinity, to which must be added the recent publication, of mainly sixth-century important assemblages from the Triconch Palace (Reynolds 2004, 224–69). But, even for these three sites, the quantity of pottery involved is quite limited because the excavations were themselves on a small scale. What is more, there is still a lot of work to be done on sites such as Onchesmos, Byllis, Dyrrachium, and Lissus, on the main settlements along the via Egnatia, and especially in Thessalonika. Still, Stobi is a particularly interesting case. Amongst the imported ﬁne wares, this city exempliﬁes an almost total dominance (Sodini 2000, 187–91) of north-African imports (30.4 per cent of the total amount of ﬁne ware) which peak at the end of the fourth century and beginning of the ﬁfth, but then are totally lacking during the ﬁfth century — when the gap in imports is made up for by Phocaean Fine Ware (forms 2 and 3) — before again becoming dominant with the arrival of late forms of African Red Slip Ware (ARS 107 and 108) and spatheia (Anderson-Stojanovi´c 1992, 97, nn. 705–9, pl. 83), also of African origin. Just one sherd of Cypriot Red Slip (form 5) has been found, dating to the end of the ﬁfth/beginning of the sixth century. Although the workshops have not been located, this city was certainly the place where ‘Macedonian Grey Ware’ was produced. It constitutes 45.7 per cent of all ﬁne wares and was exported towards the Aegean coast, reaching Thessalonika, Philippi, and Thasos, and sites to the north (Sandanski), to the west (Scodra: Hoxha 2003, 73, pl. 16, 12–14; Zaradishtë: Damko 1992) and to the south (Corinth). The types of amphorae found in houses and on the cathedral site included LRA1 (a few), LRA2 and LRA3 (rare), LRA4 and spatheia which were quite common. The coarse wares are local, except for some forms of Aegean Cooking-Ware. The pottery demonstrates a new prosperity in Stobi at the end of the fourth century which continued until the beginning of the sixth century, with connections extending to the Mediterranean but also involving contact with Moesia and Pannonia. This latter connection is proved by the discovery of lead-glazed pottery. The site was completely abandoned c.570. At Scodra, Hoxha (2003) identiﬁed a similar abundance of African Fine Ware between the end of the fourth century and the middle of the ﬁfth when it disappeared until the middle of the sixth century and was replaced by Phocaean Ware following the same pattern established for Stobi. Only one sherd of Cypriot Fine Ware was found at Scodra. Well attested from the end of the fourth century, Phocaean Ware became increasingly rare during the ﬁrst half of the ﬁfth before appearing again in large quantities from the middle of the ﬁfth until the middle of the sixth and continued to be
imported until the beginning of the seventh century. The north-African amphorae, found in ﬁfth-century contexts, represent 46 per cent of all amphorae in this period. LRA1 and LRA2 comprise, respectively, 9 per cent and 10 per cent of this total, although LRA4 types (3.9 per cent) and LRA3 (1.3 per cent) are poorly represented. The sixth century saw a relative decline in African imports (33 per cent) and their replacement by Cilician and Cypriote amphorae (LRA1, 14.28 per cent), others from the Aegean (LRA2, 14.28 per cent) and also Gaza amphorae (LRA4) which quickly increased to reach 13.26 per cent of all amphorae in this century, whereas imports of amphorae from Asia Minor (LRA3) remained insigniﬁcant (2.04 per cent). Imports of amphorae fall at the beginning of the seventh century, although the relative percentages of different types show a revival of African imports (53.33 per cent), an increase in LRA1 (23.33 per cent), an unexpected fall off in imports of LRA2 (10 per cent), and an absence altogether of LRA4 amphorae. All of which points to a revival in links with Africa and a reduction in contacts with the Near East, even though the amounts of material on which these conclusions are based are limited and therefore the ﬁgures for the relative importance of the different amphorae should be treated with caution. The same trends for sigillata and amphorae seem to be true at Scampae (Cerova 2005). The ﬁrst stages of research at Butrint suggest a slightly different situation than at Scodra. In sixth-century levels, which belong to the reoccupation of the Triconch Palace, the rarity of African Fine Ware after 550 is notable (although in use during the ﬁfth to sixth centuries). It gives way to Phocaean Fine Ware, forms 3H and 10. Connected with this late change is the importation of only small quantities of African amphorae which were replaced by LRA2, amphorae of the Samos cistern type, and bag amphorae from Palestine (Beth Shean type), whereas quantities of LRA1 decline and there was only a trickle of Italian imports. Durres follows the same pattern (Shkodra 2005). This decline in western contacts suggests that, during this period, Butrint was more closely connected with the Byzantine exchange network. In the excavations on the site of the Triconch Palace, there is no clear seventh-century level even if the burials in late seventh-century amphorae have been found here and there on the site. This eastern link disappears in the seventh to eighth centuries in those limited deposits which show evidence, both for burials and occupation in the city and on the nearby site of Diaporit. Pottery from these levels is similar to the ceramics found in the Crypta Balbi and in Calabria, and is found along with only a few eastern products. These ﬁnds suggest that in this period supplies had declined and links centred on the Adriatic and the adjacent coastline of Italy. By now, economic connections are very different from the Aegean side of the Greek peninsula where links with Constantinople continue along the Aegean coasts as well as with Crete and Cyprus. Slav pottery has been found on several sites in Epirus Nova, Dardania, Macedonia, and Thessaly, although the only assemblage which has been published is that from the necropolis at Olympia, the oldest types dating to the second quarter of the seventh century (Vida and Völling 2000). The metal ﬁnds, particularly the Slav bow-ﬁbulae, on the other hand, are more
common and, despite some controversy, rather better attested (Popovic´ 1975 and 1978; Teodor 1984).
Conclusion After a recovery at the beginning of the fourth century and during the ﬁrst half of the ﬁfth, important changes took place from the end of the ﬁfth century. There were still some building projects which were undertaken, such as the macellum of Anastasius at Durres and the small baths at Byllis. Private houses were still being lavishly decorated with mosaics and nymphaea. But it was the churches which provided the greatest demonstration of economic development. Certainly, the building works, and especially the reconstruction of walls, contributed to increased activity under Anastasius and Justinian, but this often involved a reduction in the urban area. There are few traces of the houses belonging to the lower classes, no doubt because they had been displaced to the suburbs. Only the small number of the possessores, the successors of curiales of the fourth to ﬁfth centuries, lived in the city centres where power was vested in the bishop and the defensor who exercised control over both the urban area and its territory (chora). Thereafter, the urban landscape degenerated still further: a disorganized multitude of craftsmen were involved in the production of pottery, glass, and metal objects or were engaged in numerous other activities such as dyeing, some of which leave no trace in the archaeological record. The quality of buildings declined still further, as exempliﬁed by the sixth-century houses excavated at Heraclea and at Stobi, especially those in the theatre. Burials appear in the intramural area during this ﬁnal phase of occupation (Snively 1998). There then followed a period of rapid decline. It can be seen in the complete abandonment of sites — or at least the abandonment of those areas which have been excavated. This happened inside Byllis and in the coastal sites such as Onchesmos. However, a few settlements on the coast, or those with easy access to the sea, continued to exist until the reign of Heraclius, and as late as the reign of Constans II, as at Scodra, or even until the end of the seventh century in the case of Butrint. Here, the neighbouring site of Diaporit was still occupied at the end of the eighth century. At Durres, the latest coin of the seventh century (up to the time of the recent excavations) was a coin of Constantine IV (668–83). The city was then abandoned for one-and-a-half centuries (Hoti and Myrto 1991). The cities in the interior, apart from Scupi which was destroyed by a massive earthquake as early as 518, had a very difﬁcult time at the end of the sixth century, a fate shared by Lychnidus (Ohrid), Heraclea Lyncestis (destroyed c.586), Bargala (burnt down in the same year), Stobi (Mikulcic´ 1986a), and Sandanski (Milcheva 2002). Destruction overtook the castra and fortlets in the same region (Mikulci´c 1986b). The cities, close to the Aegean coast, experienced a less abrupt end to occupation and, like Thasos, survived until the reign of Heraclius. At Amphipolis, life continued until the reign of Constans II. Despite the description of the
attacks on Thessalonika, described in the Miracula Sancti Demetrii, the city was never captured by the Avars and Slavs. Trade links, though considerably reduced, did survive in some few centres which continued to exist, for example, in Epirus (Corfu, Nicopolis, Butrint) or in Macedonia (Thessalonika). Even so, the countryside lacked security and agricultural production was often in the hands of peoples who were commuting from a half-nomadic existence to a fully sedentary existence. The only other source of food was market-gardening carried out within the protection of the cities’ defences. Although the supply of foodstuffs was unpredictable, it would seem to have been sufﬁcient for what was, by then, a much-reduced urban population. It would be illuminating to know the date of the inscription from Amphipolis which perhaps refers to the invading stream of barbarians. The text beseeches God to save the city: ‘Christ our God, save and relieve this city as well’ (Bakirtzis 1996). This lament recalls ‘the barbarian storm of the barbarian ﬂeets’, in a mosaic inscription in the Church of St Demetrios at Thessalonika dating c.630 (Spieser 1973, 155–6). Such sentiments are equally apparent at Sirmium (Brunsmid 1893) where inscriptions record how the inhabitants turned to God, seeking protection from the Avars c.580–2. Note. Translated from French by A. G. Poulter.
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