Geographical Survey

Mark Whittow

in The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199252466
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Geographical Survey

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  • Classical Philosophy
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The geography of Byzantium shaped its history by defining its strategic possibilities and challenges, setting limits to the resources that the empire and its inhabitants could draw upon and exploit, and imposing restrictions on the movement of goods and people. The Roman Empire of the sixth century—Byzantium before the rise of Islam—annexed varying territories in the central and western Mediterranean, essentially forming the eastern half of the Roman Empire of the fourth and fifth centuries. Its core territories lay in the east and consisted of the Balkan peninsula, Anatolia, the western Transcaucasus, the Levant, northern Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Long before the empire ended in 1453, it had lost most of these territories, but even in its last two centuries this remained the wider geographical context in which Byzantium continued to exist. Rather than being a Mediterranean empire, Byzantium existed in the Mediterranean.

Keywords: geography; Byzantium; Roman Empire; Mediterranean; Balkan peninsula; Anatolia; Transcaucasus; Levant; Mesopotamia; Egypt

Article.  4901 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Philosophy ; Historical Archaeology

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