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Chapter Four Merchants, Monks, and Medieval Sardinian Architecture

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Chapter Summary

This chapter evaluates medieval Sardinia from three perspectives: material culture, architectural history, and socio-economic history. This interdisciplinary approach yields the benefit of a better understanding of Sardinia's evolving settlement patterns, the island's role in Mediterranean trade, and its relationship with the Islamic world. With special attention to Arab culture and its "non-visible" presence along the Mediterranean coasts, the chapter proposes that Sardinia might have played a wider role in medieval maritime trade than previously believed. Merchants in the western Mediterranean first began dealing in Islamic glazed pottery in the late tenth century, but the earliest bacini found on Sardinian churches date from the second half of the eleventh century. This represents a delay of about fifty years from the time bacini first appeared in continental Italian churches, particularly those of Pisa.

Keywords:bacini; Islamic; medieval Sardinian; Mediterranean; merchants; Pisa; Sardinian churches

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