The research concentration ‘Communities and Landscapes,’ consisting of several interrelated projects, is devoted to the study of the Byzantine Empire using the approach and methodology of historical geography and social history. The evidence of material culture and archaeology combined with written sources (including cartographic material) provides the foundation for the historical-geographical evaluation of Byzantine habitats and their infrastructure on the Southern Balkan Peninsula, in Asia Minor and the Middle East. Inscriptions on Byzantine seals as well as on stones and other objects offer additional information for the history of settlements, prosopography, social structure and demographic developments. The “small prayers” contained in Byzantine euchologia address the private life and concerns of all levels of society
Traditional methods such as archaeological surveys, source criticism, accurate analysis of seals and professional deciphering of inscriptions are complemented by cutting-edge methods of Historical Geographical Information Systems and additional digital information systems. This facilitates the study of micro-regions as well as larger geographical areas, especially with regard to their infrastructure and connectivity.
Historic-geographical, epigraphic and sigillographic material in combination with other sources provides the basis for modern network and complexity analysis and its visualization – a further field of applied research within the concentration ‘Communities and Landscapes’ which investigates the different modes of interconnectivity (social, economic, religious, cultural and environmental) within Byzantine society.
Inscriptions analysed within the projects Epigraphy and Sigillography are treated not only concerning their content, but also with a view to philology and linguistics and contribute to the new research field of the interaction between word and image. As a result, these interdisciplinary projects stand in a symbiotic relationship to the research concentration ‘Language, Text and Script’, e.g. Lexicography and Editions and Editorial Methods. Further connections to the research concentration ‘Byzantium and Beyond’ arise with the implenentation of computer-based methods and a shared interest in the long-term impact of Byzantine culture.