Current Research

The two largest research project both involve the transformation and transition of Italy from Late Antiquity to the end of the first Millennium, although from very different perspectives: one on “Greek” identity, the other on the nexus of land management, climate and ecology.

The first traces the complex display of “Greekness” as a facet of identity in the process of migration from settlement to acculturation to integration from sixth  to the eleventh century.  The period was one of intermittent movement and settlement of individuals and communities from the eastern Mediterranean to Italy, and my research seeks to reassess the environment of competing identities, language and ethnicity, and political and cultural rivalry.


Funerary inscription for the nephew of the Byzantine Exarch of Italy, Isaac (ca. 640)

One of the most interesting features so far has been when and how Greek language and script was employed in the production of legal documents or memorial inscriptions. These public or semi-public declarations were one way in which being Greek seemed to have mattered, but how it mattered reveals the inherent complexity of language, heredity, religion, or political allegiance, as all parts of these early medieval identities.

The second major project centers on the ways in which historical data from charters, chronicles, and other medieval records can be read against paleoecological and paleoclimatic histories to understand how human political, cultural, and economic priorities influenced the management of land and local ecology on the one hand, and how these priorities could be affected by environmental and climatic changes on the other. By its nature, this project is collaborative, and I rely on the expertise of paleoecologists and phyiscal geographers, to understand the sources and their inter-connectivity.

Modern landscapes