Posted inMiddle Ages, Science

Icebergs in Constantinople and a Frozen Black Sea: Climate Anomalies Triggered by Eruptions in Iceland at the Beginning of the Middle Ages

It was one of the coldest winters the region has experienced: in the year 763, large areas of the Black Sea froze, and icebergs were seen in the Bosphorus. Contemporary historians recorded this unusual weather phenomenon during the winter of 763/764 in their accounts of Constantinople, now Istanbul. Now, an international and interdisciplinary study conducted […]

Posted inMiddle Ages

The Turbulent Life of Andronicus I Comnenus, who Managed to Become Emperor by Escaping after 12 Years in Captivity

It’s tough to imagine a life more turbulent and extravagant than that of Andronicus Comnenus, Byzantine emperor and the last of his dynasty. Charismatic, contradictory, lover of worldly pleasures, expert military man, his strong character and lack of scruples led him to experience extreme situations, including twelve years of captivity, numerous military campaigns, scandalous love […]

Posted inMiddle Ages

How the Republic of Venice was Born within the Byzantine Empire as a Defense Against the ‘Barbarians’

As it’s known, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, that mighty maritime state born in the 8th century (independent since the 9th) and lasting until the late 18th century, was governed by a series of institutions (Great Council, Senate, and Council of Ten) under the supreme command of the Doge. Although the Doge was elected […]

Posted inAncient Rome

Scrinium Barbarorum, the Department of the Eastern Roman Empire in Charge of Barbarian Affairs

Some time ago we dedicated an article to the frumentarii and agentes in rebus, who constituted what we might consider the Roman Empire’s secret services, although in reality that body performed more functions – including postal and supply duties – because, after all, we’re talking about another era. Julian the Apostate abolished it, leaving only […]

Posted inMedieval Archaeology

Rare Byzantine gold coin found in Norway, probably brought from Constantinople by Harald Hardrada

A metal detectorist discovered in the county of Innlandet, in inland Norway, a rare histamenon nomisma (literally standard coin), a Byzantine solid gold coin, minted in Constantinople around the year 960 AD. The coin was found in the mountains of Vestre Slidre municipality and has been exceptionally well-preserved given its appearance, as it looks practically […]

Posted inMedieval Archaeology

Pouches Full of Vandal and Ostrogothic Coins Lost by Pilgrims Discovered in the Ancient City of Marea in Egypt

Researchers from the Faculty of Archaeology at the University of Warsaw have examined thousands of coins discovered in the ancient city of Marea, located 45 kilometers southwest of Alexandria. Their findings are reshaping the established understanding in literature about monetary circulation in Egypt at the end of antiquity. Marea, known as Filoksenite during the Byzantine […]

Posted inMiddle Ages, Modern Era

The Last Descendants of the Byzantine Emperors Settled on the Caribbean Island of Barbados

The French adventurer Victor Hughes, featured in Alejo Carpentier’s novel The Century of Lights, recounts in a passage some of the wonders he has seen in his travels, including “in Barbados, the tomb of a nephew of Constantine XI, the last emperor of Byzantium, whose ghost appears on stormy nights to solitary wanderers…“. He refers […]