Medieval Rural Settlements in the Syrian Coastal Region (12th and 13th Centuries)
by Balázs Major. xvi+270 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. 205 2016 Archaeolingua Central European Archaeological Heritage Series 9
. Available both in printed and e-versions.
Printed ISBN 9781784912048. £52.00 (No VAT). Epublication ISBN 9781784912055. £19.00 (Inc. UK VAT)
This book is the result of more than a dozen years of research in the field of the hitherto unstudied medieval settlement pattern of the Syrian coastal region in the 12th and 13th centuries. The conclusions presented in this work were reached with the combined use of several source types including medieval documents, travellers’ accounts, former research, map evidence, toponymy, archive and satellite photographs, oral sources and extensive archaeological field surveys accompanied by documentation between the years 2000 and 2015. After enumerating the historical events that influenced the settlement pattern of the coast, its centres, including the towns and castles (with special regard to the smaller fortifications of the countryside that seem to have been a Frankish introduction to the area) are analysed. Following the detailed examination of the written sources and the architectural material preserved at these lesser sites, a closer look at the villages and their environment aims to draw a general picture on the density of settlements and their basic characteristics. The book also discusses communication lines and provides an assessment of the medieval population that inhabited the region in the 12th and 13th centuries. The text is accompanied by a collection of maps, plan drawings, tables and illustrations on a selected number of sites visited during the field surveys.
'...Major supplies a goldmine of photographs, diagrams and archaeological drawings, all of which stand as testimony to the rigour of his and his team’s research and which will doubtlessly be invaluable resources for future historians.
Overall, this is an impressive and hardworking text, of high value. It is only to be hoped that the current horrendous situation in Syria might resolve itself swiftly so that Major can continue this ground-breaking work.' – Nicholas Morton (Medieval Archaeology, 2017)