Friday, April 27, 2012

Conference explores land and sea in Middle Ages

The great religious, political and economic upheaval of the early medieval era has been the topic of conversation at a meeting of international scholars at The University of Queensland this week.

 The Land and Sea in the Early Middle Ages Conference focused on the 300-1100 period and featured a range of research papers on topics including Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Arthurian travel, medieval naval warfare, rebel Roman emperors, harbours in Constantinople, and piracy.

 “The Early Middle Ages was a time of great religious, political and economic change,” said conference convener Dr Amelia Brown, from UQ's School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics. “A number of creative new political, religious and economic systems that were born in this era still flourish today. New technologies were advancing knowledge and quality of life, and many of these related to seafaring.

 “The sea allowed for intensive communication between the newly Christianised and Islamized coastal areas, in a way that continues up until now — for good (exchange of ideas, trade, knowledge) and for bad (refugees, warfare, the Crusades).”

The conference, held between April 26 and 28, explored the persistence of contact by sea across coastal and riverine landscapes from Late Antiquity into the Middle Ages, in areas ranging from Ireland to the Levant, and Scandinavia to the shores of North Africa.

“By comparing ancient and modern responses to the same landscape, we can learn about human capabilities, and answer some long-running questions about the development of religious, political and economic systems in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa,” Dr Brown said.

Click here to read this article from the University of Queensland

Click here to visit the conference website