Going Where the Job Takes You: Itinerant Producers in the Eastern Roman Empire

Author(s): Sarah Craft

Year: 2015


Architectural relationships between the eastern Roman imperial capital at Constantinople and its provinces have traditionally been understood as derivative. In the province of Isauria on the southern coast of Anatolia, however, distinctive remains have led to the conceptualization of a group of native stonemasons known as ‘Isaurian builders,’ who traveled through provinces across Anatolia and northern Syria, leaving in their wake an identifiably Isaurian style of early Christian churches. At the same time, brick masons from the capital were exported to the provincial capital at Seleukeia, whose workshop in turn exported its product even further afield. This paper addresses the movement of craftpersons to, from and within Isauria, questioning traditional understandings of innovations and developments in construction materials and techniques between a province and its capital, as well as relationships between provinces within the same empire. This has ramifications for understanding these workmen as itinerant specialists, matching the quality of the regional limestone in the caliber of its stonemasons, or as seasonal workmen, driven by economic circumstances to ply their skills and labor outside their native province. More broadly, it illuminates our understanding of the inter-provincial movement of productive knowledge and technologies, facilitated by the very fabric of empire.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Going Where the Job Takes You: Itinerant Producers in the Eastern Roman Empire. Sarah Craft. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395579)


builders Empire movement

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;