Over the past twenty years a much clearer picture has emerged of nature of the economy and society that underpinned the Eastern Roman Empire in Late Antiquity (c.300-700), allowing some to attempt to define a late antique ‘mode of production.’ This lecture will examine the extent to which Late Antiquity also possessed a distinctive character in terms of the ‘mode of exchange’ that bound the East Roman and Sasanian empires with the polities of Central Asia and China to the East, and how Roman-Persian rivalry over control of such eastern trade may have informed the development of Byzantine economic culture in the ‘Age of Justinian’.
Peter Sarris is Reader in Late Roman, Medieval and Byzantine History at the University of Cambridge, where he is a Fellow of Trinity College, and is a former Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. His publications include Economy and Society in the Age of Justinian (Cambridge, 2006), Empires of Faith: The Fall of Rome to the Rise of Islam (Oxford, 2011) and Byzantium – A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2015). With his colleague, David Miller, he has produced a translation and commentary of the Novels of the Emperor Justinian for Cambridge University Press, which is due to be published in August. His current project (for Princeton University Press) is entitled Beyond the Jade Gate: A History of Western Eurasia from Attila to Columbus.