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Visigothes and Longobards: a first comparison

A conference entitled "Visigothes and Longobards: characteristics of the roman-barbarian culture in Spain and in Italy," has been organized by the Department of Medieval History of the Faculty of Letters of the University "La Sapienza " of Rome in collaboration with the Escuela Española de Historia y Arqueología en Roma (CSIC) on 28th and 29th of April.

Italian and spanish papers are divided in groups of different subjects: settlement, material-culture, royalty (functions and attributions), mintage, legislation, graphic culture and artistic culture.

The great number of subjects analized has allowed to obtain, at the end of two days of work, a global vision of the two roman-barbarian cultures examinated. So it is now possible to make comparisons between them, and a second conference, planned for the next year, will continue this kind of work..

The papers of archeological subject were concentrated in the first section of the meeting, dedicated to the settlement.

The first paper is read by prof. Caballero: he maintains that is impossible to identify a visigothic architecture. In fact this architecture is traditionally dated from VI-VII to X century, while for the rapporteur just after 711, date of the Islamic invasion, there’s a real changement in architecture. According to prof. Caballero, there’s a substantial continuity between the early Christrian and the visigothic architecture: in both cases the constructions are made in stone or in tufa, and they are generally built on pre-existing Roman structures.

Prof. Gelichi’s paper is about the settlement in northern Italy. He has mentioned many works: the studies of C.La Rocca based on the archeological and of places-names sources (area of Torin, Brescia, Verona and Garda); reconnaissance in the area of Modena; reconnaissance and excavations in southern Tuscany; the results of the recent conference about the end of roman villas. Prof. Gelichi comes to these conclusions: 1) northern Italy in longobard epoch seems to suffer a quantitative diminution of rural settlements, 2) possessores generally live in a city (castra) and they control the country, 3) Longobards accelerate the process, maybe already in action before, of the fall of the open settlements, above all in the areas of bound. At the end of VI, beginnings of VII century increases left areas and there is a fall of rural settlements.

In this first section has also spoken prof.Azkarate. He has found in the south of Pirenei, close to Victoria in Basque, a necropolis (Aldaieta) of merovingian kind, dated to VI century, plenty of really amazing archeological materials. However, it is not an isolated discovery. There are also other 10-12 necropolis in this basque area, so there are now new hipothesis about the relations between Gallia and Spain.

Prof.Gurt’s paper has concluded this first section of the meeting. His work is developed in three points: 1) metamorphosis of the habitat beginning in V century, 2) change of the historical morphology of the territory, 3) change of the landscape especially caused by the great deforestation of VII century.

The meeting’s proceedings will be soon published.

Valeria Beolchini

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