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Byzantine Fortifications (Hardback)

Protecting the Roman Empire in the East

Ancient History Military

By Dr Nikos Kontogiannis
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 288
Illustrations: 40 illustrations
ISBN: 9781526710253
Published: 21st April 2022



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The Byzantine empire was one of the most powerful forces in the Mediterranean and Near East for over a thousand years. Strong military organization, in particular widespread fortifications, was essential for its defence. Yet this aspect of its history is often neglected, and no detailed overview has been published for over thirty years. That is why Nikos Kontogiannis's ambitious account of Byzantine fortifications – their construction and development and their role in times of war – is such a valuable and timely publication.

His ambitious study combines the results of decades of wide-ranging archaeological work with an account of the armies, weapons, tactics and defensive strategies of the empire throughout its long history. Fortifications built in every region of the empire are covered, from those in Mesopotamia, Syria and Africa, to those in Asia Minor, the Aegean and the Balkan peninsula.

This all-round survey is essential reading and reference for anyone with a special interest in the Byzantine empire and in the wider history of fortification.

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A very interesting read this book especially if you have an interest in forts and fortifications.
A chronological look at the Byzantine empire including it's war and strategies, city walls, forts and fortifications and how they were built, renovated and/or improved, the different types of towers, gates and buttresses and their uses.

Read the full review here


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A very good historical read on fortifications during ancient times. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good book to read. It’s well researched and put together to make it interesting to read.

NetGalley, Lional Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a beautifully illustrated volume which covers an impressively broad time period - from early 3-4th century fortifications through the late Byzantine 13th-15th century. The unifying strategic importance, location, and development are well explained by the author in a manner which is understandable to the layperson. There are maps, line drawings and schematics, and modern photographs of ancient castles and fortifications.

The author writes engagingly. It's clear he's both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about his area of expertise. It's easy to imagine he would be a gifted lecturer and instructor. Although it's accessible to the layperson, the volume is meticulously annotated throughout and the chapter notes and source annotations will provide readers with many hours of further reading. I especially liked seeing the modern photos of ancient ruins.

Five stars. This would make a superlative choice for public and school library acquisition as well as a fine addition to the home library for readers of military history, archaeology, etc.

NetGalley, Annie Buchanan

Dr. Kontogiannis, after decades of Byzantine studies and teaching, has published a long-neglected aspect of military history. The defensive works of the Byzantine Empire. Defense against not just the expansionist Ottoman Turkish Empire, but also from the fractured remnants of the old Western Half of the Roman Empire. Very well done and worth the time.


About Dr Nikos Kontogiannis

Dr Nikos Kontogiannis is Assistant Professor of Byzantine Archaeology and Art at Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey. He is a leading expert on the archaeology of the Byzantine empire and has made a special study of Byzantine fortifications and defences. His most recent publication in this area, with Michael Heslop, is a reassessment of the defences of Middle Byzantium in Greece.

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