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A Note on Placenames

In rendering placenames appropriately across time and across a cultural milieu

in which several languages were used, the historian is confronted by a number
of difficulties. I have chosen to adopt in this atlas the simple expedient of using
common English versions of Ihe best -known places - thus Constantinople.
Thessalonica, Rhodes, rather than Konstantinoupol is, Theassalonikel
Thessaloniki. Rhodos - for the whole period, and otherwise to transliterate the
names according to the common usage of the dominant culture of the area in
question. Chronologically thi s means tbal up to the seventh century most names
within the Roman worl d are given in their Latin fonn: thereafter in their Greek
form. There will undoubtedly be some inconsistencies. but 1hope this will at
least allow a clear identification of the places iJl question.
1 General Maps
Physical Geography aod Climate
The late Roman worl d from the sixth century was dominated
by four land-masses (Asia Minor or Anatoli a, very
roughly modern Turkey: the levam or Middle Eastern regions
down to and including Egypt ; North Afri ca. from Egypt
westwards to the Atlantic: and the Balkans). 1l1e Meditemmean
and Black Seas U11ited these very different regions. and after
the loss of much of Italy and all of North Afr ica during the
seventh and ei ghth centuries, acted as a connecting corridor
betwee.n east and west. The cl imate of these very different
regions detemlined the patterns of agricultural and pastoral
exploitati on within the empire's borders and the nature of t he
state's surplus-extracting activit ies.
Asia Minor can be divided into three zones; centml plateau,
coastal plains. and the mountain ranges which separate them.
The plateau rises from about 1.000 metres in the west to over
1,800 metres feet in the east and is typified by extremes ofhot
and cold temperatures in summer and wimer (altitude and the
effect of the northern Pont ic range of mountains promotes in
effect a continental. steppe-type climatic system). Four climati c
sectors are usually identified: the Pontic (Black Sea coastaJ)
region has warm summers. mild winters. and a regular rainfall
across the year - temperanlres range from 23 C In midsummer
to some 14" C in the winter; the south and west coastal regions
have a Mediterranean cl imate, with mild. wel winters and hot
dry summers - temperatures range from 12 C in winler to
20 C in summer; the semi-arid plateau and rnterior have cold,
wet wrnters and hol, dry summers. with temperatures ranging
from freezing and below in mid-winter to 23 C in the summer.
Final ly, lhe nonh-eastern plateaux have warm slImmers but
severe winters, with winter temperatures reaclling - 12 C to
1go C in summer. This pattern reflects the physical geography,
for the relief of the whole peninsula is dominated by ranges
in the north and south of over 3,000 metres that encircle the
central plateau. To tbe nonh the Pontic Alps follow the line of
the southern shore of the Black Sea; til the south the Taln-lIS and
Anti -Taurus ranges exlend along the Mediterranean coast and
across northern Syria curving north-eastwards into the Caucasus
region. All the mountain zones, but particularly the southern and
eastern regions, are characterised by small er plateaux dissected
by crater lakes. lava flows and depressions. producing a highly
fragmented landscape. The central plateau itself is divided into
several large baSinS and salt lakes. with extensive eroded areas

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M(lpl.2 '10"11 Africjl.:
around th" southern fringe:;. as in Cappadocia. for example,
where the eroded limestone formations have pemlitted rhe
creation of cave dwell ings und subterranean villages. Land
use is detenni oed very clearly b} these differences in relief
Agricultural production is limIted to the coastal regions- often
quite extensive in the Cillciun pJain or western lowlands, for
example. and to the fertile ri\\!T valleys \\-hich cut through the
central plateau or coastal ranges. The uplands and plateau have
tradilionaUy been exploited by pastoral ac tivi ty, ranging from
sheer and goalS to horses and in some areas catlle. In ancient
and pre-blamic medieval times extensive pig rearing was also
practised in the transitional zones between plateau and fertile
agrarian districts.
In contrast, the limiled but fertile agricult ural lands of
Palestine and western Syria are very much wealthier Greater
Syria. including Palestine and the Lebanon, incorporates a
number of very different landscapes, the terrain alternating
from rugged high lands (for example the mountains of the
Lebanon), tbrough the fertile plains ofnorthern Syria or central
Palestine. the hilly uplands around Jerusalem to the desert
steppe of central Syria. south of Palestine lay the deserts of
the Sinai peninsula. leading then into the fertile Nile ,alley and
delta regions an area of fundamentally different character.
heavily dependent on the annual f100drng of the great river

and the irrigation agriCUlture which it supported. Westwards
from Eb'YPt stretched the provinces of North Africa, desert
through the eastern sector of CyrenaIca and Tripolitania in
modem Libya \\ilh wry limited fertile coastal stretches and
inland plateaux. graduattng into the coastal plains of Tunisia
and modem Algeri a. This was in tum clearly delineated by the
plateaux and sandy regions in I.he south-east, including
the aJ-Jifarall pl ain (and beyond them. the great desert). b)
the Aurcs range in tht: centre, and the Saharan Atlas . Mean
temperatures along the northern coastline range from a low of
C in winter to a swnmer high of 38-40 C in me eastern
region (slight l) lower wmter temperatures of 8-lJo C in the
western sector).
The Balkan peninsul a il> domina ted b} mountains. and
although not particularly higb. these cover some tWo thi rd;,
of its area. The main fonnations are the Dinaric Alps. which
run through the western Balkan region in a
direct ion and, 10 the associated Pindos range. dominate wC$tern
and central Greece. Extensions and spurs of these mountains
dominate southern Greece! and the Peloponnese. 111e Balkan
chain itself(Turkic halqan. 'densely wooded mountain' ; Gre!ek
Haimos) lies nortb of Greece. extending eastwards from the
Morava river for about 550 kilometres as far as the Black
Sea coast., w;th the Rhodope range forming an arc extending
3000-4, 000
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southwards from this range lhrough Macedonia towards the
plain ofThrace. River and coastal plains are relatively limi ted in
extent There are thus very distinct climatic between
the coastal, Meditemme-an-type conditions and the continental
type conditions of the inland and highland regions. Mean
temperatures in the Peloponnese and in the coastal regions
of southern and north-western Greece range from 5- 10
in winter to 25- 30 in the summer, contrasting WIth northern
and central upland temperarures of from 10 to _5 C in winrer
and 10-15 ClOthe summer. Rainfall patterns are similarly
although witJl a stronger differentiation between
thOse oreas west and soum of the J) inaric and Rhodope ranges
am.I those In the east - means of about 100 centimetres per
annum in the former and of as lill ie as half that much ill some
parts of the latter have been recorded in modem times. This
has in tum generated a very accentuated seulement-pattern
in a senCl) of fragmented geopolitical enti ties,
M!parall.'d by ridges of highlands, fanning out along river
towards the coastal areas.
The highland regions are dominated by Corest and woodland;
rl1clower foothtlls by woodland. scrub and rough pasturage.
Only the plains of Thessaly and Macedonia offered the
possihllity of extensive arable exploitalion : the river plains.
and tIlt: coastal strips assOCIated with them (such as the region
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aboUl the gulfs of Argos and Corinth. much more limited in
extent). prese,nt a similar but restricted potent ial. Here
were to be found in ancient and medievaJ times orchards. as
well as vine and olive cultivation. The relationship between this
landscape of mountains. valleys and coastal plains and the sea
is fundamental to the poli ticaL mil itary and cultural history of
the region. in parti cular in the southern zone . Surrounded by
the sea. for examplL', except along its northern boundary, the
extended coastl ine. with irs gulfs and deep inlets sl!TVes as a
means of communicat ion surrounding areas and for the
disseminati on ofcommon cultural elements even tothe interior
districts ofthe Balkans. But equally, easy sea-borne access from
me west., the south or from the north-east via the Black Sea
made the southern Balkan peninsula - in partkuJ ar Greece and
the Peloponnese - vulnerable to invasion and dislocation.
Climate has remained, with in certain margins. relatively
constant across the late ancient and medieval periods, yet there
are a number of fluctuations lhat need to be borne in mind and
which, in conj unction with natural events such as earthquakes.
man-made phenomena sueh as warfare. and catas"trophes such
as pandemic disease. could h3\e dramatic short- to medium
term effects on me human populations ofthe region, and thus
patterns ofseltlement, land-use, the extraction, distribution and
consumption of resources. and polincal systems. The climate

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200 kilometres () o
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Ilap 1.3 The Balkans: phYSIcal g"o!;'TlIphy.
throughout much of the late Hellenistic and Roman imperial
peri od was relatively wamler and milder than in the period
which preceded it. and constiruted a 'cli matic optimum' which
'avoured the expansion of agriculture. By about 500 CE this
sItuation was changing. with colder conditions persisting up to
the mid-ninth century. The human environment of tbe laler fifth
10 sevenlh centuries thus became both more cludlenging and tbe
economy of existence more fragile. Combined wim the great
plague ofthe middle oflhe sixth century this may have affected
Ihe human population in a number ofways. although these remain
unclear and the subject of continuing debate. Some marginal
lands were abandoned. soil erosion increased v. here agriculture
receded. the colder, wetter climate generated increasing water
volume in rivers and watercourses. contributing to alluviation
and lowland flooding in many more exposed areas. It remains
difficult to disentangle the effects ofclimatic and human factors
on the changing landscape. During the ninth century this trend
was reversed - and is paralleled by an extension of agriculrure
and ofhuman exploitation of woodland and scrubland. strong
demographic gro\\1h and an increasing densilY of settlement
and rate of exploitation of agrarian resources. But from the
fourteenth century once more this tendency was halted, and
widl lower temperatures. increased gl:lcistion in high alpine
.ones (in particular the European Alps), a growth in the rate
of afforestarion, a reduction in agriculrural exploi tation. and
a demographic decline. the fragile conditions of existence of
the human populations of the region were once more thrown
into disequiljbrium, wi th phenomena such as the fourteenth
century Black Death one of the most obvious accompanying
developments. All these phenomena thus form the backgrounu
to the .li ttle ice age' of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
It is against this background that we must understand and
interpret the social. economic and political history of the late
Roman and Byzantine worlds.
Laud-use lind Resources
Land-use and the exploitation of natural resources are closel)
determined by the geophysical and climatic fra mework
described above. Four basic types of productive exploitation
occur arable fanmng, pasloral farming, the exploitation of
woodland and scmbland, and the extraction and worJ....ing of
mmeral rescrurces. The extent of agricultural activity. of the



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exploitation of natural resources such as woodlands. and of
particular crops such as cereals or grapes. is reflected also in
the climatic fluctuations and shifts v.hich took place across the
period in question.
The modem Balkan regions have changed very dramaticall}
since the Second World War, lIre result of both mechanisation
and intensification of production. on the one hand, and
of political rCrOm] and change on ihe other. In Bulgaria
and Romania and some of the western Balkan countries.
for collectivisation encouraged a considerable
improvement in output and efficiency, althougb tbe longer
term social and economic results were less fortunate. In spite
of these changes in the organisation of production. however.
the patterns of land-use themselves remained very stable. a
reflection oHhe constraints imposed by terrain. geography and
climate - approximately 30%ohhe land devoted to agricultural
production. with pasture and meado\\' amounting to one fifth
of the total. In the ,\ estern coastal regions the chief crops are
grains (wheat and com). industrial crops such as beet, corton
and tohacco. and. usually on a market-garden basis, fruits and
vegetables. Vineyards are also a developing feature in the west.
although the) been a traditional crop in the south. Sinuiar
ratios prevail in the cemral and eastern regions, except where
the broader plains and alluvial regions permit a more extensive
cultivation of cercals. n e medieval picture is not dissimilar.
except for the absence of cottOIl. the more limited surface area
devoted to agriculture (for example. me modem draining of
the Danube delta marshlands has eonsidl!T'dbly expanded the
land available for cereal and other crops). and a much more
fragmented pattern ofproduction The rich alluvial plains along
the southern Danube, and the plains ofThrace. Macedomaand
Thessaly, offered the main potential. Again. sheltered river
valleys and depressions witllin the mountain regions permit
settlement and agranan production. and archaeological evidence
ror settlement density suggests occasionally fairl) intensive
exploitation of such resource!.. In the southern reg,ions. olive
and vine production on famil y or joint holdings was extensive;
and from the tenth century at least the increased cultivatIOn of
the mulberry aJ lowed an expanded prodttction of silk in the
central and southern regions of Greece.
Asia Minor has a relatively sma ll total surface of plain
in [act, onl y 9% of the total area is level or gently sloping
land. Modem Turkey has benefited enorn.1Otl sly from modem
mechanised techniques and the use of fertilisers. and this
has helped expand cereal production and cash crops on the
central plateau beyond the constraints imposed by climate and
geograpby. Considerable in the south. west and north-west
are dominated by a Mediterranean vegetation of deciduous.
coni ferous or mixed forest at higher altitudes (the tree-line
is between 1.800 and 2,100 metre!> above sea level), and b)'
scrub and brush in me lov. lands. Whereas the central plateau
is a region ofsteppe, with forest ofoak and coniferous trees on
the higher pans, the damper and wanner northern zone along
the Black Sea coastline is densely wooded and bas always been
source of timber. The main products in this region today are
tea (in the eastern districts). hazelmlts and tobacco, with corn
maize- dominatmg as lhe mamcereal crop. The degree ofgraiD
production increases markedly towards the west. v"ith a greater
proportion of wheat to maize. In me Marmara region. which
is also Ihe most heavily urbanised, a very mixed agriculture
has developed wheat. rice, tobacco. sunflower, maize. olives
and villes. and silk. neAegean zone, stretching down as far as
the island of Rhodes to the south, produces a large number of
cash crops - cotlon. tobacco, vines. olives. figs in Ute coastal
regions. with cereal and live.stock(and a controlled opium crop)
predominating in the hi ll country inland. The plateau. with
its steppe climate and limited rainfal l, IS domi nated today by
pastoral product ion (a third of the sheep and m.ree quarters of
the Angora goat population are raised ill this region) and cereals
_ some 40% of the country's wheat is based here. occupying
1)0% of the arable. To the south. the \1cditerrane.an region is
dominated by the Taurus. stretching from Rhodes to the border
with Syria, and is further divisible into three sectors - the fertile
and intensively cultivated coastal plains (citrus fruits. sesame,
vegetables, cotton) the centrallunestonc plateaux in lhe centre
(pastoral). and the western semi-steppe distri ct of the lakes,
where cereals dominate agricultural production. The eastern
hig.hlands. dominated in the north by mountail1 pastureilU1d
(beef and dairy catlle) and coniferous forest and in the south by
\\ooded steppe (sheep and goats), is sparsely populated. with
a limited agriculture dominated by barlcy and summer wheat.
To the south agai n the barren plateau at the foot ofLhe southern
Taurus range is drained by tbe Euphl1ltes and Tigris rivers,
where agric ulture - mainly wheat, vegetables. rice and vines
- is limited to sheltered or irrigated vaUeys and depressions.
The population is largel)' semi-nomadic or nomadic.
Apart from the introduction of different crops from Ule
Ottoman period onwards (totton and fl ax in the wes! and north.
ror example). the basjc pattern of agricultural production from
late Roman through the Byzanti ne period was much the
same. with the k.ey difTerence that lack of modem technology
meanl that levels ofproduction were very much lower, and the
possibi lities for cereal production on the central plateau were
also very much more limited. But it is clear that the production
of cereals - wheat and barley - on Ute one hand, and vines.
oli ve" fruit (especially in the south-west) and vegetables played
an imponam part in the economy of the river vall eys and coaslal
plains in the nort h, west and south-west. while inland the cereal
and frui t/vegetable producing areas were lImited to sheltered
zones and depressions on tbe plateau (such as the district around
KonyalIkonion) or along river valleys. In the uplands and on
the central plateau pastoral economies had domi nated
anCIent times - horse breeding in Cappadocia, for example
cattle and pigs in Paphlagonia and Cappadocia. sheo,? and
horses elsewhere. and long before the arrival ofthl! Turkmcn
clans with their central Asian pastOral tradition (although th
extent and degree of pastoralism before the Turks remains
unclear) . Medieval sources - Greek, Latin and other'> - all
stress the arid or scrubland nature ofmuch ofthel'lateau and the
waterless character ofconsiderable stretches, the inhospimbllity
of the mountain regions, and the productivity and ferti lity of
the \\ estern and southern plains and coastal districts.
Egypt was the bread-basket of the late Roman and earl),
BY7.antine empire. although the coastal regions ofTuniSla and
Algeria were the source of very considerable cereal
production also. along with vegetables, fru.il olives and grapes.
After these regions were lost to Islam dunng the course of the
seventh century, the eastern empire turned to Asia Minor in
particular. and to the southern plain ofThrace for its staples,
especially whea t.
The explo.itati on ofwoodland and scrubland has only recently
attracted the attention of historians and archaeologists, and it is
clear that in the middle Byzantine period certainly. and probably
from late Roman times and before. lhere was a well-structl.tred
pattern of extracting resources in timber and other products
from the western Anatolian, southern Balkan and Pontic regions
under imperial control. Mineral resources were also extracted
either through state-controlled operatJons (sometimes qUlle
extensive). especially in the late Roman period. or through
smaller, more fragmented private enterprise and state contracting
in the Byzantine period. Iron was II key resOlJrce. and deposits
in Palestine, Ute Pontic region, the TalIruslAnti-Taurus and the
Caucasus, the eastern Danube, the Cri mea, Macedonia. and the
north-western Balkans were exploited in Ule late Roman peri od.
Copper was extrclcted from Cypru.<; . the Caucasus and the Pontic
mountains: gold was obtained eithcr directly or by trade from
tbe Caucasus (Armenia), by trade from west Afii ca. and di rectl>
from deposits in the Rhodope mountains and Thrace in the
souutern Balkan region. Silver likewise came from Annenian
sources and from Cyprus, but there is some evidence that the
silver deposits in Attica continued to be exploited, while in the
later period Serbian and silver was also obtained.
It is possibly indicative of the proportions of precious to non
preoious ores available to the empire that there are many more
place-names with the element 'i ron' or ' copper' i'n them than
there are with that for 'gold' or si lver .
Population 8.od Settlement
estimating pre-modem population numbers and densi ti es is
notoriously difficult and fraught with dangers, methodological
and fuctual. so while the distribution ofseulement and seulement
densities represented in '\.-laps 1.5-1.8 give a reasonably
accurate picture of the proportions between ditferent areas of
the empire, the numbers suggested below for mean population
levels must be with a considerable degree of caution.
howllver credible they may appear to be. On tlle whole, I have
erred on the cautious. but even here exactitude is impossible.
The climatic and geographIcal features which determined
land-use likt.wise determined where popUlat ions were
concentrated and how many people the land could support .
The degr<!f of continuity frolll medieval to modern times
is. in Ihis respect, considerable. But tbere were within our
penod very considerable fluctuations, both in respect of
U1e rewllOnship between tbe populations of urban and rural
rC!,;ions. nil tht: one hand. and in tenns oftheir density. BroadJy
sp.:aking. there appears to have been a long downward curve
in pOPUlation during the late Roman period, reaching a nadir
in the latl:r seventh and eighUt centuri es. followed by a slow
recuvery into the later nint h and tenth centuries, wi th a fairly
dramatic rise in the twelfth century, It has been estimated that
lhe P'lpulalicm of Roman Europe (including Britain and the
Hallum was in the orner of approximately 67-70
million at the end of the second century CE, falling to around
27- 30 million by the early eighth century. risi ng again by 1300
to some 73 million, with a particularly noticeable rise about
1200 CEoAll the evidence suggests a similar curve in the Dear
eastern and in the later centuries -Islamic world, and these
accord with the minor climatic changes described above. TIle
catastrophic slump of the mid-fourteenth century. wbich saw
the population of Europe drop to somewhere in tbe region of45
million, was made good within a century. While these figures
arc necessarily crude approximations. in view of the nature of
Ule available sources and the of their interpretation.
and while one can point to a number of exceptions. qui te
apart from a differential rate of change from cast 10 west. and
including important regional and local variations, they seem
now generalJy agreed. at least in their broad outl ines. The most
recent csomatCl> for the late Roman and Byzanti ne areas propose
a population for the empire's eastern provi nces. ofsome 19--20
million j ust before Lhe middle of the si\ UJ cenlury (before the
plague of the 54Os). wuh a furt her 7 million in the west; of 17
mill ion in the early seventh century, with a reduct ion to about
mill ion by the middle of the eigh.ul century. and a gradual
rise to about 10 mil lion in the mid-ninth century, 12 mi llion
by the time of Basi l II, falling again to about 10 mIllion (after
the loss of central Anatolia to the Turks) i.n the mid-twelfth
century, 9 million in the early thirteenth century, 5 mil lion by
about 1280 and a consistent downward trend Lhereafter as the
empire's territorial extent was reduced. Slighu} higher ligures
for the tenth to twelfth have also been proposed, with
a populati on ofsome I &million in the 1010s. for e.\ample.AIl
can be challenged on various grounds. but they provide some
very crude totals in respect of the amount of agrarian produce
consumed and avai lable ror. for example. the support ofarmies
or similar transient population b'TOUPS.
Given Ute geographical constraints descri bed al ready, it is
apparent that the pattern of' settlement. and in particular the
density of settlement, will reflect thIS environment very closely.
and this is indeed the case both in modern times as \... ell as
in tbe pre-modem and pre-i ndustrial worl d. A comparison of
the areas of settlement density as reflected in the prt!Sence
of cities (as defined in the Roman legal context) in the late
Roman and early Byzantine world wim one sho\\ ing modem
patterns demonstrates a remarkable continuity
in both the Balkans and Anatolia. Such a map can tell us li ttle
about absolute numbers. of course. nor about the fluctuations
. across time in density and extent ofsettlement; but it does poi nt
to the relationship between human populations and the ability of
the land to support them. A glance at the-demographic situation
in Turkey before the Second World War (re.presenting the mid
1930s) shows this relationship quite clearly (Map J .8). A map
showing the density of Roman cities and Byzantine Episcopal
sees highlights the fact iliat it is more or less the same areas
whicb could maintain substantial populations in ancient and
medieval times. which saw the densest concentration ofurban
centres, and which may rhus be taken to have remained the
most productive and heavily-settled regions of the Byzanline
period aner tile transfornlation of the late ancient city network
aller the seventh century. A similar pattern emerge5 from a
comparison of Roman and medieval population centres with




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200 kilometres
" 100 miles
Most densely populated regions
Map 1.6 The Balkan, major r<'pulatlttll centres, 7th-12th cenluries.
modern demographic concentrations in the Balkans. bt:aring
In mind the changes brought about by industrialisation and
mechanisation of both mdustrial and agrarian l'lroduC'uon.
There were several phases of evol ution in the overllll
seU1emcnt pattern of the empire, WhiCh will be dealt witll
in lfrealer detail in the following chapters. But the two most
apparent shifts occurred during the fit1h and sixth centuries in
the Balkan territories of the empire and during the si:\th and
centuries in Asia \1inoT. v. hen tov.llS decreased in Size.
when a larger number of intennediate semi-rural /semi-urban
unified centres evolved, and when village communities came
to playa more significant fiscal and political role than the)
pr.:\'iousl) bad; and in the ninth to twelfth centuries. when
relatively peaceful circumstances saw a demographic upswing.
,an increase in urban consumption and market activity, a growth
of'locaJ industr)' and In a closer relationshIp between supply,
demand and consumption in the Byzantint: territories and the
neigllbouring l ones, especially with the west and the Islamic
world, Both these movements can be related La the in
gem:rul climatic conditions in the period from the later fourth
l'ClIluryollwards, and again from the middle of the ninth century
on. While It would not be correct to draw lOO many direct
there can be no doubt of the mdirect causal
associations which e\iol"ed.
Ri\ers. R03ds 3nd Communications
Again, and as we would expect. maJOr cotnJlllmicat ions routes
were derennlOcd by the geography of the landscape, and for
the heartlands of the medieval east Roman empire the inter
regional route;, can be identified \\ ith some although
their tr<lces are not always so readily located. In the
Balkans, the major as well a<; the important routes pass in
several places through relatively narrow and often LJuite high
passes. easily blocked. Winter conditions alone made passage
hazardous. as even toda} in many cases. but human agency
might also close for example, to an invading army.
PohlJcaJ control has always been difficult, and the fragmented
g..:ography made for a fragmenteu polilical landscape also.
The history of the Balkans, the pattern of communications
and the degree and depth of Byzantine political control show
this clearly, for there was no obvIOUS geographical
focal point in the south Balkan region the mam cities in
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VUfll.7 Asia II,.1inllr: mOJor population centres.
MapJ.8 Turkey in 1935: average popuJalion pcrsquare mile.
Most densely populated regions
Elevation (metres)

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5 Dyrrhachlon 6 Allona
- / -
Adrianople 4 Thessalonica
\I VimlOacium
13 Develw,
Skopje Naissus (Ni)
10 Singidunum (Belgrade) 11 Serdica (Sofia) Philippopolis
17 Varna
2 1 Nikopoli
15 Corinth
"'up 1.9 The Balkans: major route:;, 7th- 12th centuries.
the medieval penod were Thcssalonlca and Constantinople,
both peripheral to the interior of t.be peninsuJa.In Ule highJand
especially the Rbodopl.! and Pindus ranges. govennuent
power \\'8& always circumscribed by distance and remoteness,
regions Where pagan ism and heresy could survive relatively
uninterrupted by State or ccclt'Siastical authority. In Asia Minor
the waterless traCts across the centraJ plateau made
travel hazardous. while the eastern highlands were particularly
di fficult to negotiate in the winter season. The narrow mOlmtatn
passes across the Taurus made dlat range a nalural barner. and
it Was successfully employed by the imperial government in
way much of the eighth. ninth and tenth centuries.
i\cross the Middlt:> Eastern and African provinces orlhe empire
15 Mesembria 16
19 Pliska :w Tmovo
::! 3 Dorostolon Arkadiopoli,
27 Semiin
tile road system cOOli nued 10 expand into the fifth century as
tbe frontie-r between Roman and Persian lands shIfted and as
strategic priorities altered over time. In North Afnca agai n
strategic considerntions, and in particular the moilllenance or
communications between key coastal garrisons and ports and
the fortresses covering thc interior, were important factors,
and continued to influence imperial construction into lhereign
The eastern Roman empire benefited from !he Cre31J0n of
mili tary roads, constructed large ly in the period 100 BCE
100 CE by tbe Roman army one of the reasons for their
success and effiCiency on campaign. for tbis net\york also
eased and aided nun-military communications, the movement

Elevation (mel res)
\lLl1' I . /(l ,\,i.. Minor: n,ajnr mUles, Tlh l centuries.
of goods. people and inlOnTlation. But the regular maintenance
of roads, which was a state burden upon towns and which was
and regulated at the local leveL seems during the
later Roman period to have sulTcred One significant
consequence of Ihi!> lhange. and the difficulties it created for
the use orwheeled vehicles. an cver-lOcreasmg dependence
on pack-animals - ponies, mule:.. donkeys, camels.
Strict regulations were established during the later third amI
founh.ccnturics on the size_ loads and typl.'S ofwheeled vehicle
employed b) the stale transport This was divided into
two branches. the fest pOl>! (fester-moving pack-animals. light
cruts. und hOTse3 aT ponies) and the stem post (ox-carts and
similar heavy vehicles) and although the service was drasth:ally
reduced after the sixth cenwry (and cut back uln:ady under
Justinian). il seems that a unified transport und courier servicc
continued to operate through the Byzantine period.
There were many types and standards of road: wide roads.
naITO'" tracks or paths. pa\edand unpaved roads. roads suitable
or unsuilsble for \,;'3gons or wheeled vchic\C$ are al l mentioned
in the sources. Roads of strategic importance were general!}
more regularly maintamed. Art er the sixth century. it would
appear thal certain key routes only were kept up. largely b)
means of compu lsory dutics imposed on local communiti r:s
and appropriately skilled craftsmen. The road system from
lile middle of the seventh century in Anatolia was thus less
extensive than in the fifth century or before, but still elTective.
considerations apply in the Balkans. The maintenance
of Dluch ofthe Tlclwork became alocalised and irregular maUer.
and the limited evidence suggests that the great mtlJorit) ofnon
mililUry routes Oecame Iiule more than paths or suitable
onl) for pack-animals.. with paved or h,lJd surfaces onl)
to""TlS and fortresses.
Transport by weter was gent:rally much fastcr3nd
far chcaper than by land. Long-d.istance overland movement of
bulk goods such as graiTl was generally prohibitively
_ the co!it of feeding draugbt-oxen. malOt311ling drmt:f!> and
carter.;. paying local tolls, combmed Wllh the extrt:me1y slo\\
rate ofmovement ofox-carts. multiplied the value ()f the g(:
Adrianople - across the Sredna Gora range over the
Shipka pass through the Balkan range itself- Nikopolis
,Vellko n-nol'O) Novae (Svistol') on the Danube.
1 Kahorkloll
13 \dramyllion
19 Sislon
25 Ankyra
31 Scbasl<!ia
3' EudlailJl
S Amorion
1-1 Allillt:ip
20 Podarul".
32 Tnlf1<!foll'
38 Ciuog"';!
t, . ..
o ,00",,'''''

3 'Sikaia 4
<J Akroinnn III
15 Se1eukcis It>
21 Ikol1lon :!:!

Sinope 18
:n KClloneiil 34
)1} SO:lorx,'b 4U
5 Dorylaion
23 Kai.an:ia
1') Amaseia
35 Melilene
(\ Kotyaion
12 Smyrna
\g Gennanikela
24 ChaF.iJlIlC/l'l
30 D!lZJnlon
36 Kluudiopolis
being transponed beyond the pri ce of anyone who would
otherwise have bought them. Although the bulk transport of
goods over long distances did somet imes happen. it was really
only Ule state, wi th some activity funded by wealU1Y private
individuals. which could pay for this. The cost-enectiveness
of shipping. entailing tbe carriage of large quantities of goods
in a single vessel handled by a small crew, also gave coastal
settlements a great advantage with regard to their access to
the wider world.
Balkan ROLlles
The l'ia Egnatia: Constantinople - Herakleia in Thraee
- Thessalonica - Edessa - Bitola - Achrida (Oill'itI)
- Elbasan - Dyrrachion (Durriis) on the Adriatic coast.
Constantinople - Adrianople (EdirneJ - along the
Maritsa - Ph ili ppopolis (Plol'div) - the pass of Succi
(guarded at the nOl1hem exit by the so-called 'galeS of
Trajan', and harred by a wall and fons) - the pass of
Vakarel- Serdi ca (Sofia) - the Nisava vaJley - Naissus
(Nis - key crossroads al ong the routes southwards to
the Aegean and Macedonia, westwards to the Adriatic,
soutb-eastwards to Thrace and Constantinople. and
nOl1hwards to the Danube) - the va ll ey of the Morava
- Viminacium (m. rood. Kostalac) - Singidunum
(Belgrade) . This was a key military route. and it was
complemented by a number of spurs to east and west,
giving access 10 the south Danube plain, the Haimos
mountains and Black Sea coastal plain. as wel l as, in
the west, the valleys of the west Morava. I bar and Drin
Thessalonica - the Axios (Vardor) valley and the pass
of Demir Kapija (alternati ve easterly loop avoiding
this defile and leading through another pass. known to
ule Byzantines as Kleidion - the key) - Stoboi (Slobi
- Skopia (Skopje) - Naissos (Nis).
Constantinople - Anchi al os (Pomo,.i,) - Mcsembria
(Nesebar) - Odessos (Varna) - mouth of the Danube.
Analoltan ROlJles
Chrysoupolis (opposite Constantinople) - Nikomedeia
Nikaia - Malagina (an important imperial military base)
- Dorylaion- (easterly route via KotyaionlwesterJy route
via Amorion) - Akroinon - Ikonionl Synnada - Kolossail
Chonai . There were two options to rum off to the south
along this last route, the first down 10 Kibyra and thence
across the mountains to the coast at Attaleia or. fiuther
west. at Myra. Alternatively. the road from Chonai led
westwardl> Yia Laodikeia and Tralles to Ephesos on the
!konion -Archelais - TyanaIKaisarcia.
!konion - Savatra - Thebasa - KybistralHerakleia
- Loulon - Podandos - <;aki t River gorge (through the
Anri -Taurus mountains).
Kaisareia- Tyana- Loulon - Podandos - ' Cilician Gates'
(Kfilek Bogazl) - the Cilieirul plain - TarsoslAdana
Kaisareia - (i) - Ankaral Basilika TheTTlla - Tabion
- Euchaital (u) - Sebasteia - Dazimon - Amaseia
Sebasteia - Kamachal Koloneia - Satala.
Dorylaion - valley of the Tembris river (mod. Porsuk
Su) - Trikomia - Gorbeous - Saniana - Timios Stavros
- Basilika Therrna - Charsianon Kastron - Bathys Ryax
- Sebasteia - (and on to north LO Dazimon.
east to Koloneia and SataJa. or south-east to Melitenel.
Saniana - Mokissos - loustinianoupolis - Kaisareia.
the TaliI'll.\' Ranges infO By:antine lands
Ci tician Gates - Podandl)S - LOlll on - Ilcrakki
Ikonionf Loulon - Tyana - Kaisareia.
Germanikeia - Koukousos - Kaisareia
Adata - Zapetra - Mt!lilene - Kaisareia - Lykando
Kaisareia - SebasteialMt!lilene - Arsamosata (Simsat)
- Khl iat (on L. Vall)
Mopsouestia (al-Massisa) - Anazarba (' Ain Zarba)
- Sision - Kaisareia.