This chapter reflects on the contribution of prosopography to Byzantine studies during the second half of the twentieth century. To get it right, the set of identities has to be comprehensive, each identity has to be complete and correct, and its points of contact with other identities have to be clearly visible. Prosopography retrieves and labels the bits, then it boxes the kits, from which past identities are assembled and interpreted scientifically. While it may not be committed to delivering finished solutions, it lays out the steps by which they are reached, through its absolute commitment to the principles which make it a distinct form of historical science: that every piece of historical data should be related to an identifiable historical person, that multiple identities should not be confused, single identities should not be multiplied and collective identities should always be defined in terms of connections between individuals.
Keywords: prosopography; Byzantine; Rome; historical science; collected identities
Chapter. 8010 words.
Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography
Full text: subscription required