The Abandonment of Butrint: From Venetian Enclave to Ottoman Backwater

by David R. Hernandez

Hesperia, Volume 88, Issue 2
Page(s): 365-419
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2972/hesperia.88.2.0365
Year: 2019


This article examines Butrint under Venetian and Ottoman rule during the period of its final settlement and subsequent abandonment, before the start of archaeological excavations (A.D. 1386-1928). On the basis of excavated Venetian houses and later burials at the site of the Roman forum, it is argued that the Republic of Venice abandoned the Butrint headland after Süleyman the Magnificent sacked the city in 1537 and that Butrint was never resettled thereafter due to environmental adversities posed by malaria and emergent wetlands. Plague, border-zone dynamics, and state decay also exacerbated local conditions. Throughout its abandonment, however, Butrint and its environs remained economically active and strategically important, primarily to Corfu.