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On the Roman-Byzantine adoption of the stirrup once more: a new find from seventh-century Aphrodisias

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2021

Tim Penn*
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh, UK
Ben Russell
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh, UK
Andrew Wilson
Affiliation:
University of Oxford, UK

Abstract

Archaeological evidence and the text of the Strategikon show that it was only in the late sixth century AD that the Roman-Byzantine military adopted the stirrup. It is now widely argued that the Avars, who settled in the Carpathian basin in the sixth century, played a key role in introducing iron stirrups to the Roman-Byzantine world. However, the evidence to support this assertion is limited. Although hundreds of stirrups have been found in Avar graves in the Carpathian basin, very few stirrups of sixth- or seventh-century date are known from the Roman-Byzantine empire - no more than seven - and only two of these are of definitively Avar type. The text of the Strategikon, sometimes argued to support this Avar source, can be interpreted differently, as indeed can the archaeological evidence. While the debate about the Roman-Byzantine adoption of the stirrup has focused mostly on finds from the Balkans, two early stirrups are known from Asia Minor, from Pergamon and Sardis. This paper presents a third, previously unpublished stirrup, from a seventh-century deposit at Aphrodisias in Caria; this is the first stirrup found in Asia Minor from a datable context. Here we present this find and its context, and use it to reconsider the model of solely Avar stirrup transmission that has dominated scholarship to date. So varied are the early stirrups that multiple sources of influence, Avar and other, and even a degree of experimentation, seem more likely to underpin the Roman-Byzantine adoption of this technology.

Özet

Özet

Arkeolojik kanıtlar ve Strategikon metni, Roma-Bizans ordusunun üzengiyi ancak MS 6. yüzyılın sonlarında benimsediğini göstermektedir. Roma-Bizans dünyasına demir üzengilerin getirilmesinde altıncı yüzyılda Karpat havzasına yerleşen Avarların kilit rol oynadıkları artık yaygın olarak tartışılmaktadır. Ancak, bu iddiayı destekleyecek kanıtlar sınırlıdır. Karpat havzasındaki Avar mezarlarında yüzlerce üzengi bulunmasına rağmen, Roma-Bizans imparatorluğundan altıncı veya yedinci yüzyıla ait en fazla yedi üzengi bilinmektedir ve bunlardan sadece ikisi kesinlikle Avar olarak tanımlanmıştır. Kimi zaman, üzengilerin Avar kaynağını desteklediği öne sürülen Strategikon metni, arkeolojik kanıtlarda da olduğu gibi farklı yorumlanabilir. Üzenginin Roma-Bizans döneminde benimsendiği konusundaki tartışmalar çoğunlukla Balkanlar’daki buluntulara odaklanırken, Küçük Asya’da Pergamon ve Sardes’den iki erken dönem üzengisi bilinmektedir. Bu makale, Karia’daki Aphrodisias’ta yedinci yüzyıl tabakasından bulunmuş olan ve daha önce yayınlanmamış üçüncü bir üzengiyi sunmaktadır. Bu üzengi, Küçük Asya’da tespit edilmiş ve tarihlenebilir bir kontekstte bulunan ilk üzengidir. Burada bu buluntu ve bulunduğu kontekst anlatılmakta ve bu buluntu ışığında bugüne kadar hakim olan yalnızca Avar üzengi aktarımı modeli yeniden gözden geçirilmektedir. Erken dönem üzengileri o kadar çeşitlidir ki, Avar ve diğerleri gibi birden çok etki kaynağı ve hatta bir dereceye kadar çeşitli denemelerin, bu teknolojinin Roma-Bizans tarafından benimsenmesinin temelini oluşturması daha olası görünmektedir.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the British Institute at Ankara

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