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ICCHS - Mednarodno središče za primerjalne zgodovinske raziskave / International Center for Comparative Historical Studies


Kulturne izmenjave na križiščih in stičiščih Beneške republike in Svetega rimskega cesarstva / Cultural Exchange at and beyond the Crossroads of the Venetian Republic and the Holy Roman Empire


Mednarodno središče za primerjalne zgodovinske raziskave in Oddelek za zgodovino vljudno vabita na




20. marec 2018


L’Isola che non c’è” (Never ever land): Narratives about the 8th Century Venice/Malamocco/ “L’Isola che non c’è” (Dežela Nije): pripovedi o Benetkah/Malamoccu 8. stoletja

9.40, predavalnica 325 (Filozofska fakulteta Univerze v Ljubjani, Aškerčeva 2)


Early Medieval Venice and Slavery: Trade and Labor Organization Polices between Archaeology and Historiography/ Zgodnjesrednjeveške Benetke in suženjstvo: organizacijske strategije trgovanja in prisilnega dela med arheologijo in historiografijo 

10.30, predavalnica 325 (Filozofska fakulteta Univerze v Ljubljani, Aškerčeva 2)


From Ravenna to Aquileia: Re-imaging the Early Medieval Upper Adriatic according to the Archaeology/Od Ravene do Ogleja: arheologija in zamišljanje zgodnjesrednjeveškega severnega Jadrana 

18.00, predavalnica 343 (Filozofska fakulteta Univerze v Ljubljani, Aškerčeva 2)



Predavanja bodo potekala v angleščini.



Dr. Diego Calaon, Univerza Ca'Foscari v Benetkah, Oddelek za okoljske znanosti, informatiko in statistiko (Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia, Dipartimento di Scienze Ambientali, Informatica e Statistica), štipendist sklada Marie Curie-Skłodowska in gostujoči profesor na univerzi Stanford v ZDA, je vodja projekta arheoloških izkopavanj na Torcellu (raziskovanje poznoantičnih oz. zgodnjesrednjeveških ostalin povezanih z začetki Benetk). Pred tem je bil vodja ali sodelavec pri arheoloških izkopavanjih na področju severnega Jadrana (San Giacomo in Paludo, San Lorenzo d’Ammiana, Torcello, Treviso, Comacchio) in v Črni gori (Bar).





L’Isola che non c’è” (Never ever land): Narratives about the 8th century Venice/Malamocco

Venice’s appearance in the 8th century casted a sudden shaft of light on the movement of goods, ideas and people in the center Mediterranean, connecting east and west, north and south. 

The written sources tell us how the city in 8th century built the foundations of its future authority as a maritime economic superpower.  Venice was extremely active in trade, provisioning the western markets with luxurious goods from the south/east Mediterranean. The Duke of Venice maintained a large commercial and military fleet. Venice, also, seemed to be more than active in the slave trade, mostly supplying the Arab world with European enslaved workforces. In the 8th century the main Venetian hub in the south Mediterranean was undoubtedly the port of Alexandria, as it is attested with the theft of the Saint Mark’s body.

Between 742 and 812 AD the centre of Venice was not located were it is today. The Duke’s palace and his headquarters (with the merchant houses, the harbour, the shipyards, the warehouses etc.) were in Malamocco Island. Malamocco is a never-never land (“Isola che non c’è”): its location on the lagoons has never been positioned accurately, and traditional archaeology methods have failed in the description of the material characteristics of the site. On the contrary, archaeologists and historians have produced tales based upon later material and written sources, or they have constructed narratives that illustrate Malamocco comparing it to Roman or Byzantine stone cities, with paved roads, palaces, and churches. Malamocco has been imagined according to what Venice became in the future. Furthermore, it has been studied according to the nationalistic Venetian ideology, which has been imposed on the historical reconstruction of the Serenissima since the 14th-16th century. Consequently, wooden buildings, marshy lands, river mouths, slaves, diseases or forest management policies have been some of possible research fields for the origins of Venice, which have been left completely unexplored.

How can modern archaeology, fill this gap and project a holistic research around a pivotal site of the medieval Europe?

GIS analyses allow identifying the location of the settlement. Comparisons with other contemporary lagoon sites permit a tentative material reconstruction of Malamocco. A comprehensive environmental approach will help to define the sustainability of the site and the reasons of its abandonment. Modelling activities will encourage the reconstructions of the settled areas, and ideas about the social structure of the first Venetian communities. An anthropological and sociological reassessment of the political narratives will shed light on the interpretation of old archaeological excavated material.


Early Medieval Venice and Slavery: Trade and Labor Organization Polices between Archaeology and Historiography 

Medieval Venice has been defined as a mainspring for the modern colonial capitalism. It has been noticed how the Serenissima controlled the Mediterranean market through a series of political and military actions, supported by massive technical improvements (mainly for an effective mercantile fleet) and financial innovations (thick market for debts, mortgage instruments, banking tools etc.). Recent researches pointed out how all these elements played a central role from the very beginning of the Venice history in the early Middle Ages.

A crucial role in the early medieval Venetian economy was acted by slave trade, as has been demonstrated in M. McCormick researches. As well, the management of the local labor forces (slaves, semi-slaves?) was one of the main concerns of the early medieval Venice aristocracies. The conquest of the Mediterranean market was possible thanks to the control of the skilled labor forces employed in crucial activities, such as ships construction, forest management and channels/ports improvements. Local historians tend to underestimate the role of slave trade in the early medieval Venice, reducing it to the level of an occasional activity. Equally for long years archaeologists have been inclined to read material records as proofs of a liberal market, which should reflect a “positive” historic narrative without any scope for describing the key role of the forced labor in the making of the medieval emporium.

The purpose of this talk is to show the potential role of the archaeological perspective in re-defying the material evidences of the origin of the city, much more associated with the late antiquity pre-capitalistic slavery system than previously argued. Equally, a Mediterranean archeological perspective helps to define the central role of the commercial contacts with the first Venetians and the Islamic world, where the slave trade was likely directed. A massive medieval and modern historiography, in fact, has managed to “cover” and “disguise” this first phases: local scholars have been concentrated on the medieval economic and social relationships between Venice and Constantinople.

An ecological/anthropological perspective in archaeology could help in the evaluation of the labor provision costs and the work organizational costs. New and old material evidences from Venetian excavations should be re-interpreted to study how the Serinissima was able to produce technologically advanced  „things‟ (i.e. the Venetian Galea vessel, ports, piers, or a Venetian glass goblet). The labor control policies, also, could be evaluated in the topography of the antique city.

Furthermore, the lesson addresses to ethics within an historic perspective. Viewing slaves and labor forces as a material commodity, how is feasible to reconcile the historic narrative on slavery with the Venice historic debates built around the idea of freedom and democracy?


From Ravenna to Aquileia: Re-imaging the Early Medieval Upper Adriatic according to the Archaeology


This lesson explores new perspectives on the problem of the origins of the Venetian settlements before Venice’s birth. With an archaeological viewpoint, it considers the recent excavation data from Comacchio and Torcello (2009-2011 and 2012-2013 campaigns), integrating modern debates on ecological degradation and anthropological theory of materiality. The attempt is to reconsider the process of Europeanization through the formation of new settlements in the Venetian lagoons at the end of the Roman period.

The lesson focuses on the relationship between the environment and the societal structures from Late Antiquity to the early Middle Ages. During this critical period of flux, it is possible to study how ethnic and social groups developed a new social geography and

how new political systems and different trade networks shaped the "rising Venice".