Byzantium on the Theiss : of Byzantine diplomacy, the emperor's image and the Avars

Title: Byzantium on the Theiss : of Byzantine diplomacy, the emperor's image and the Avars
Variant title:
  • Byzanc na Tise : o byzantské diplomacii, obrazu císaře a Avarech
Author: Bollók, Ádám
Source document: Convivium. 2015, vol. 2, iss. 1, pp. 166-181
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Summary language
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Settling in the Carpathian Basin in 567– 568 after the long trek from inner Asia, the pastoral Avars promoted the spread of late antique and early medieval Mediterranean cultures in general and, notably, Byzantine visual culture. Conversely, Avar culture itself underwent deep transformation as a result of diplomatic, political, and cultural encounters. These observations derive not only from Byzantine literary and material evidence, but also from analysis of a series of copper-based alloy cast belt ornaments and a gilt silver belt fitting of the mid-eighth century from the Carpathian Basin. These items all bear the portrait of a triumphant emperor of the late Roman type. This particular iconography was revived in eighth-century Constantinople by the emperors of the first Iconoclastic period, who sought appropriate visual tools expressing imperial power and superiority. In the course of a Byzantine diplomatic mission, a gift decorated with this imagery was sent to a member of the Avar elite to affirm, by visual means, that the recipient was a client of the Byzantine emperor.
This study was written with support from the research project OTKA-111853.