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 the guide of Jonathan Shea, the latter responsible for the renowned Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Coins and Seals Collection.
His research undertook a new analysis of the Byzantine Lead seals found in Sardinia, from the ones found by archaeological excavations to others coming from illegal digs (i.e. San Giorgio) or Museum collections. With the guide and the help of Jonathan Shea, curator of the Collection, Marco refined his knowledge about the prerogatives of Sardinian Byzantine/Postbyzantine officers, in terms of comparison with other Byzantine Mediterranean realities. Also, this experience deepened his comprehension of the terminology in the seals’ inscriptions. The possibility to have access to such a wide range of books and publications, with covered a vast array of topics concerning the Byzantine World, allowed Marco to clarify where, when and how these officials must have been established.
One of these offices, for example, was that of the archon Sardenias, as it is attested in texts as well as inscriptions. This survey and analysis relied not only on sigillography, but also on Byzantine epigraphy and history of public patronage, both in the West as well as the East. The comparison between different social realities, Africa in the first place, was enriched also by a prosopographical exploration. Marco produced a list of the names and the offices of the seals, and compared it to the the prosopographical lists from the Exarchate of Italy and, generically, to the lists of PLRE.
Likewise, Marco was able to expand the scope of his original research, into many other themes and fields, thanks to the material available in their Research Library. Marco also met with several top-level scholars in Byzantine Studies, who were available to discuss the research project and to provide some assistance. These included not only Anna Stavrakopoulou and Jonathan Shea, but also Eurydice Georganteli, lecturer in Late Antique, Byzantine and Medieval Art History and Numismatics at Harvard University.