Henri Pirenne (1862-1935) was a Belgian historian who not only wrote a multivolume history of Belgium but became most famous (posthumously) for his thesis that the real break between the Roman world and the Middle Ages did not happen before the Arab expansion around the Mediterranean in the 7th/8th centuries. The vast archaeological material which came to light throughout the last eight decades – from the shores of the Mediterranean up to the Baltic sea – shows the complete insufficiency of the evidence that was available to Pirenne. Nevertheless, the Pirenne-thesis proved to be one of the most influential points of reference and discussion among medievalists until today.
József Laszlovszky is Professor of Medieval Studies at the Central European University, Budapest and director of its Cultural Heritage Studies Program. He is a specialist of medieval archaeology and of different aspects of the history of the Middle Ages. After studying at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest and Oxford University he has defended his PhD on the medieval English-Hungarian contacts. His research interest span the archaeology of the countryside and monastic landscape through the archaeology of the Mongol Invasion in Europe and the preservation of cultural heritage. He was the leader of the Hungarian archaeological teams at the excavations of different monastic sites in Mont Beuvray (France) and Ravenna (Italy). He was also the leader of the Hungarian landscape archaeological research team at Koh Ker (Cambodia).He is now member of a team of Mongolian and Hungarian archaeologists doing survey and landscape archaeological investigations at the deserted nomad towns of the Kitan Empire in Mongolia. During the last 30 years he has carried out excavations and historical research at Visegrád (Hungary), a medieval royal center. Recently, he is directing the archaeological investigations at a medieval monastic glass production site near Budapest. He has published extensively on the royal palace, town and monasteries at Visegrád, on the medieval economic history of Hungary and on the Mongol Invasion of Hungary in 1241-42.