As one would expect, this book is written on the basis of a body of Byzantine sources, written mostly in Greek between the seventh and the eleventh centuries, that includes chronicles, saints’ lives, law codes, property documents, inscriptions, the acts of church councils, works of theology, sermons, homilies, letters, panegyrics and handbooks to diplomacy, warfare, court ceremony and protocol. More evidence comes from archaeology, numismatics and art history; and the whole has been interpreted in the light of how regional geography shaped the historical development of the empire, and of how comparable societies developed elsewhere. But in fact this list is rather misleading. Even compared with other early medieval societies Byzantium is an obscure and ill-recorded world, and it is worth making clear at the outset of a book on Byzantium that it is based on significantly less evidence than is available for any of the other important Christian states of the early medieval world.
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