The history of the Aegean in the centuries that followed the Fourth Crusade (1204) was fascinating, full of upheavals, conflicts, triumphs and disasters. Chalcis, the Venetian Negroponte, became a vibrant hub of maritime commerce. On the eve of the Ottoman siege in 1470, the people of the city, before abandoning their homes, followed the practice of countless generations before them. They hid their valuables, or those they were unable to carry with them, hoping to retrieve them. We currently know three large hoards, which can be attributed to the days before the city’s fall. These artifacts are the focus of the lecture and help us envisage an interesting duality of the late Byzantine world: on the one hand the constant practice of treasure troves, and on the other the notion of Treasure, seen as an component of temporal and celestial authority.
Nikos D. Kontogiannis works as a Byzantine archaeologist at the Hellenic Ministry of Culture (Ephorate of Antiquities of Boeotia). Though his early work concentrated on military architecture and ceramics, his interest has since expanded to various fields of material and visual culture of the Medieval and Early Modern world. He currently holds a Chester Dale Fellowship at the Arms and Armor Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.