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Byzantine sources for Khazar history

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Chapter Summary

The Khazars built up their authority in the middle years of seventh century in the steppes north of the Caucasus. This chapter looks at Byzantine sources for a steady flow of information about the Khazars, throughout the three centuries of the khaganate's existence. One of the most striking features of early medieval Byzantium was a sudden, drastic historiographical decline in the middle of the seventh century. For the next three centuries, information must be gleaned normally from two relatively thin historical traditions. The first pair of texts is the Short History of Nikephoros, and the Chronographia of Theophanes, which may draw on a wider range of sources but which often duplicates that of Nikephoros. The De Administrando Imperio (DAI), a handbook of diplomacy enriched with a wide range of historical and antiquarian material, is by far the best Byzantine source of information about the Khazars.

Keywords: Byzantine sources; Caucasus; Chronographia of Theophanes; De Administrando Imperio (DAI); Khazar history; Short History of Nikephoros



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