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by Archaeology Newsroom

Byzantine Amorion. A provincial capital in Asia Minor

Amorion figures prominently in the pages of Byzantine history throughout the period between the seventh and twelfth century. Due to its location on one of the major highways across Asia Minor, linking Constantinople with the eastern frontier and the Arab caliphate, Amorion was a key stronghold in the defence of Byzantine territory. According to one Arab source, it was regarded as the third largest city, after Constantinople and Thessaloniki, in the whole of the Byzantine Empire. It survived well into the eleventh century and perhaps even into the twelfth, before it was finally abandoned and left to fall gradually into ruin and decay during the Turkish period. The site of Amorion was first rediscovered by the British scholar and traveller Willian Hamilton in 1836. It has, however, largely been neglected as an archaeological site, and work only began there in 1987 under the direction of the late Professor R. Martin Hamson. The results of the past 10 years’ work have shown that the site is a valuable storehouse of material for the study of Byzantine art history and archaeology. To date, the excavations are concentrated mainly on the military and ecclesiastical aspects of the site, although it is hoped in coming seasons to gain much more information about the nature of Byzantine domestic architecture and about the size and layout of the city, especially during the crucial years of the Dark Ages. The excavations have helped enormously in shedding new light on the history of Amorion, a large site covering some 70 hectars of land, by augmenting considerably the relevant documentary evidence. However, much has yet to be learnt, and it is to be hoped that sufficient funds will be raised in order to allow the excavations to continue into the twenty-first century. Amorion deserves to be given the chance to reveal more of its unrivalled treasures and so to take its rightful place in the history of Byzantium and in the archaeology of Asia Minor.