Report on the workshop of the MASLAP project in Pécs (7-8th September 2023)

On 7-8 September 2023, the MASLAP (Mutation of Architectural, Social and Landscape Space in the Mirror of Late Antique Peristyle Buildings along the Danube) workshop was held in Pécs, Hungary, to discuss the landscape, architectural and social aspects of late antique peristyle villa or villa-like buildings in the Danube provinces.

The choice of Pécs as the venue was not a coincidence: the city’s ancient predecessor, Sopianae, as a late antique administrative seat and the centre of a villa landscape, could provide a suitable venue for the event, but the city’s World Heritage-listed Early Christian Cemetery also provided an excellent backdrop.

The international meeting took place in hybrid form with four sessions. The first session of the two-day event presented the results of the MASLAP project over the last years by three lectures: by Orsolya Heinrich-Tamáska (MASLAP, GWZO) about the architectural character of Late Antique peristyle villa buildings (meso-scale of the project); by Máté Szabó (MASLAP, HUN-REN BTK Institute of Archaeology) about the environmental conditions and landscape archaeological features of the sites, and the similar results of the PD 138585 project at the Institute of Archaeology (macro-scale of the project); and by Márton Szabó (MASLAP, University of Lille) about the social context of the villa buildings based on related archaeological finds (micro-scale of the project).

The Speakers of the Workshop brought examples from different areas of the Roman Empire: from Dalmatia to Hispania (second session) and the Balkan Provinces (fourth session). In frame of the third session the role of Pannonia was discussed, which included sites from Hungary as well as from neighbouring countries, like Croatia, Serbia and Austria. The program also provided space for a poster session.

In the busy professional programme, there was not only more time than usual for the presentations, which allowed for a more in-depth discussion of the topics, but also plenty of opportunity for debates and discussions. The workshop was characterised by a rich exchange of ideas that questioned and reinterpreted previous, generally accepted theories. In the limited free time of the programme, participants could visit Pécs sights in addition to visiting exhibitions.

The workshop on archaeology was preceded by a similar professional meeting in the autumn of 2022, hosted by the Institute of Archaeology of the HUN-REN Faculty of Sciences. Last year’s and this year’s event in Pécs are part of a joint publication plan, which will result in a future MASLAP project volume based on the presentations of the two workshops.

Several institutions were involved in the organisation of the event, including the MASLAP project supported by I-SITE ULNE (University of Lille, France), Leibniz Institute for History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig and the HUN-REN Research Centre for the Humanities, while the workshop was hosted by the Janus Pannonius Museum in Pécs. In addition to the main organisers Orsolya Heinrich-Tamáska (MASLAP, GWZO), Máté Szabó (MASLAP, HUN-REN BTK Institute of Archaeology) and Márton Szabó (MASLAP, University of Lille), Friderika Horváth (HUN-REN BTK Institute of Archaeology), Dominic Moreau (University of Lille) and Réka Neményi (JPM) assisted in the implementation of the programme.