Byzantines, Goths and Lombards in Italy: Jewellery, Dress and Cultural Interactions
Intelligible Beauty: recent research on Byzantine jewellery (British Museum, 2010)
This is not a paper that will analyse in detail the design, inspiration, cultural affinities and production or manufacturing techniques of specific jewellery or craft items; nor is it one that identifies how jewellery or dress items were carried, worn or displayed and how such forms and fashions evolved. Instead it seeks to place objects into a cultural and socio-politico-economic context and to highlight the ways we might look at or interpret their presence, movements and functions; it will question the cultural labels we apply to these and at the same time assess the fluidity of these and highlight the contacts, sharings and borrowings between peoples through objects. The study area is a highly pertinent one, since Italy between the 6th and 8th centuries was, for much of the time, a divided and confused set of regions, territories, provinces, principalities, duchies and kingdoms, split between Byzantines (East Romans and Italians) and Lombards, and internally split between powers such as archbishops, exarchs, dukes, gastalds and counts; and before the Byzantine-Lombard split, Italy saw Ostrogothic rule and then Byzantine invasion and extended military upheaval.