This is a four-year project to explain the history of Sardinia in its medieval Mediterranean context. We are an international team of historians and archaeologists with transdisciplinary skills who will test key hypotheses about Sardinia’s unique political development as well as its society and the ways that the island has been understood in the past. With our ten international collaborating partner institutions, we will establish a major new exhibition of medieval Sardinian. With short tours to smaller museums too, we expect more than 300,000 visitors during the project itself, at the end of which the exhibition will be hosted on a permanent basis.
The team will study four interwoven research strands. The first deals with the island’s ‘connectivity’, which is often used to characterise the medieval Mediterranean. However, the second largest island in the Mediterranean – Sardinia – is also understood as a model of isolation. Clearly, these ideas cannot both be correct. We will thus re-evaluate Sardinia vis-à-vis its surrounding regions through a new study of its geopolitical context.
Sardinian history has been overlooked – but not because it is unimportant. Indeed, its unique development as an unconquered liminal polity among the major powers of the Mediterranean offers important new perspectives on formative phases of Euro-Mediterranean history. For example, the migration of Byzantine monks, soldiers, officials and nobles from North Africa to Sardinia provides paradigm-shifting evidence for the Arab Conquests and the creation of Muslim-Christian frontiers, showing how the dynamics of the Muslim conquest of North Africa were very different to those elsewhere.
We will also examine the autonomous forms of insular governance that emerged between 700 and 1100 through early charters and church records. We will elicit the social and political relations between the rulers, the rural elites, small landholders, and the wider population to offer a new multidisciplinary explanation of networked and negotiated modalities of power and social interaction. Particular emphasis will be laid on the identification of prestige kin-groups and actors in the countryside mentioned in the island’s rich documentary record.
Finally, we will assemble a major exhibition of documents and artefacts. There has never been an exhibition of this size and type on the island, nor outside it. An exceptional feature of the display is its emphasis on explaining contexts from a historical perspective, rather than plainly asserting what the assemblages are. Some objects will be reproduced using cutting-edge modelling techniques: full-size, high-quality replicas of inscriptions, coins, seals as well as facsimiles of key documents including charters written in Sardinian vernacular.
Project Reference: AH/S006273/1
We will offer a fundamental re-evaluation of old and new evidence for the earliest ‘Islamisation of Europe’ after the Arab Conquests and the formation of lasting Muslim-Christian frontiers in the western Mediterranean.
We will produce a new landmark critique that integrates Mediterranean and Sardinian historiography redefining their relationships in terms of their mutual in- and inter-dependence.
We will offer an integrated, new, multidisciplinary study of networked and negotiated modalities of power and social interaction between the rulers, the rural elites, small landholders and the wider population in Sardinia.
We will assemble a major, new, cutting-edge exhibition at the Museo Nazionale in Cagliari to explain medieval Sardinian and Mediterranean history. We expect over 300,000 visitors in the lifetime of the project alone, and we have undertakings from our partner institutions that the exhibition will become permanent thereafter.
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The Making of Medieval Sardinia We are pleased to announce the publication of The Making of Medieval Sardinia, edited by Alex Metcalfe, Hervin Fernández-Aceves and Marco Muresu (Leiden–Boston: Brill). 520 pages with 3 maps and 66 colour illustrations. Available in hardback and eBook. Further details are available here. This new volume combines classic and revisionist essays Read more about Our most recent book is now on the shelves![…]
One of our Co-Investigators, Tom Birch, is part of a team that has recently been published about new findings on lead isotopes interpretation. You can read the abstract and consult the article here! The conventional approach to ore provenance studies of ancient silver coins and artifacts has been to first analyze and then try to Read more about New publication by Thomas Birch and international colleagues on interpreting lead isotopes[…]
Marco Muresu, one of our very own postdoc researchers and archaeologists, spent a month in Dumbarton Oaks as an awardee for a project entitled: ‘The Byzantine Seals of Sardinia: a new comparative approach’. While at DOaks, Marco was part of the Byzantine Studies’ staff section of the Centre, under the direction of Anna Stavrakopoulou and Read more about Our postdoc Marco Muresu was in Dumbarton Oaks, in a one-month research award[…]
The root meaning of s-b-k has always been associated with metal processing. E.W. Lane An Arabic–English Lexicon, 8 parts, (London 1872), IV, p. 1300, s-b-k ‘to melt’; sabīka, pl. sabāʾik ‘ingot, piece of gold or silver of an oblong form that has been melted, cleared of its dross and pour forth into a mould (misbaka) Read more about A note on Arabic ingots[…]
Delegations from Sardinia and Amalfi to the caliph of Córdoba, ʿAbd al-Raḥmān III (r. 929–61) in the year 942, as reported by Ibn Ḥayyān (d. 1075): “On Tuesday 8th of Dhū l-Ḥijja [330 H/24 August 942 CE], an envoy of the lord (ṣāḥib) of the island of Sardinia (Sardāniya) arrived at the gate of al-Nāṣr Read more about A Sardinian mission to Córdoba[…]
‘India for ivory, Sardinia for silver, Attica for honey!‘ These were the well-known words of the Roman geographer, Solinus, which show the reputation that Sardinia’s silver had acquired in Classical Antiquity. Many centuries later, grants to exploit this precious resource were made to the Pisans at a time when they exerted power on the island Read more about ‘India for ivory, Sardinia for silver, Attica for honey!‘: Getting the coin analysis started![…]
International conference ‘Monete frazionate. Quadri regionali, questioni cronologiche, aspetti economici’
Our PDRA Dr Marco Muresu attended the International Conference ‘Monete frazionate. Quadri regionali, questioni cronologiche, aspetti economici’. The conference was held in Milan on 16-17 September 2019, and was organised by the Catholic University of Milan and the University of Salerno. Dr Muresu presented a poster entitled ‘Monete frazionate dai contesti funerari della Sardegna bizantina’, Read more about International conference ‘Monete frazionate. Quadri regionali, questioni cronologiche, aspetti economici’[…]
Thomas Birch, one of our Co-Investigators, is part of a team that has published results on the coinage from Jerash/Gerasa, challenging the ‘5th century CE monetary crisis’, identifying potential metal sources and furthering our understanding of monetary organisation in the Eastern Mediterranean. In his paper, new compositional and metallographic data are presented for the fourth Read more about Evidence for Sardinian metal in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Byzantine period[…]
This is a four-year project to explain the history of Sardinia in its medieval Mediterranean context. We are an international team of historians and archaeologists with transdisciplinary skills who will test key hypotheses about Sardinia’s unique political development as well as its society and the ways that the island has been understood in the past. With our eleven international collaborating partner institutions, we will establish a major new exhibition of medieval Sardinian history at the Museo Nazionale in Cagliari. With short tours to smaller museums too, we expect more than 300,000 visitors during the project itself, at the end of which the exhibition will be hosted on a permanent basis.