Lead Seals in Byzantine Thrace: Re-examination of data, mapping the distribution of findings and tracing the communication networks (LSByT). Funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (http://www.lsbyt.web.auth.gr/)

Host Institution: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Andreas Gkoutzioukostas, A.-K. Wassiliou-Seibt, Dimitrios Drakoulis, Dimitrios Sidiropoulos, Konstantinos Diados. Advisory role: Ioannes Leontiades)

Collaborating Institutions: Austrian Academy of Sciences (A.-K. Wassiliou-Seibt and Werner Seibt), University of Shumen/Bulgaria (Ivan Jordanov)

The project focuses on Byzantine lead seals, or molybdoboulla, a primary source of Byzantine history. These seals increase our knowledge of Byzantine administration and social structures, as well as the prosopography and historical geography of the empire. Although seals can be used to trace communication networks and the circulation of written information in the medieval period, until now this aspect of the material has not been studied. In the framework of our research project we look at more than 2000 Byzantine lead seals with an exact find spot that correspond to the early Byzantine provinces of Rhodope, Thrace, Haimimontos, Moesia Secunda and Scythia Minor (5th-7th c.) and the middle Byzantine themes of Thrace and Macedonia (8th-12th c.) The main goals of the project are:

  1. The re-examination of the sigillographic material on the basis of the most accurate reading and dating of the seals.

  2. The mapping of the distribution of the seals

  3. The tracing of communication networks and the circulation of written evidence in middle Byzantine Thrace.

The project adopts an interdisciplinary methodological approach (sigillography, cartography and historical geography). The project will make several key scientific contributions, including:

  1. A new corpus of seals found in Bulgaria on the basis of the modern methods and scientific research criteria developed by the Centre of Byzantine Sigillography at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna).

  2. The digital visualisation of results through the creation of standard thematic maps.

  3. New interpretations of the Byzantine presence in Thrace, and the circulation of written information within the region.