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 subject matter of the project is the Byzantine lead seals or molybdoboulla, an original primary source of Byzantine History, which promotes our knowledge in the administration and social structures as well as the Prosopography and the Historical Geography. An aspect relevant to the function of seals that has not until now been studied is the tracing of the communication networks and the circulation of written information in the Medieval period. 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: a) the re-examination of the sigillographic material on the basis of the most accurate reading and dating of the seals, b) the mapping of seals distribution, and c) the tracing of communication networks and circulation of written information in middle Byzantine Thrace.The project represents an interdisciplinary methodological approach (Sigillography, Cartography, Historical Geography). Its contribution to science is expected to be: a) a new corpus of seals found in Bulgaria on the basis of the modern methods and scientific approach criteria developed by the Centre of Byzantine Sigillography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, b) digital visualization of results through the creation of standard thematic maps, and c)new intrerpretations of the Byzantine presence in Thrace and the circulation of written information in the region.