It is an academic study of the evolving civilization and society and religion of the area. This region was at a crossroads of trade and crusading routes, within the sphere of influence of both the Byzantine Orthodox Church and Latin Christendom.
The book discusses the rise of medieval states, the conversion to Christianity, the monastic movement inspired by developments in Western Europe and in Byzantium and the role of material culture in the representation of power.
What I learned was that there is still much archeological work to be done, especially in researching settlements, as most of the work was done with cemeteries.
The early history, in the ‘dark ages’, 500 AD to 800 AD, was one primarily of different groups invading from the area of the Northwestern Steppes, such as the Avar and the Magyar. It seems to be one long conflict and counter-conflict, making it difficult for larger settlements to take hold, especially because of the style of the time of relocating the conquered people to different regions.
It was in this time that Christianity was trying to get a stronger foothold against the widespread pagan beliefs, and the two competing flavors, the Byzantine Orthodox Church, and Roman Catholicism were at odds to be the authorities in this developing area.
The book itself is a scholarly study, and is part of the Cambridge Medieval Textbooks series.