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Late Antiquity: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]

Gillian Clark
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 Feb 2011 Very Short Introductions
Late antiquity: decline or transformation, conflict or interaction? Late antiquity is the period (c.300 - c.800) in which barbarian invasions ended Roman Empire in Western Europe by the fifth century and Arab invasions ended Roman rule over the eastern and southern Mediterranean coasts by the seventh century. Asking 'what, where, and when' Gillian Clark presents an introduction to the concept of late antiquity and the events of its time. Not only a period of cultural clashes, political restructurings, and geographical controversies, Clark also demonstrates the sheer richness and diversity of religious life as well as the significant changes to trade, economy, archaeology, and towns. Encapsulating significant developments through vignettes, she reflects upon the period by asking the question 'How much can we recognise in the world of late antiquity?' ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (24 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199546207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199546206
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 11.4 x 17.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 285,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Gillian Clark was a student and then Research Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford. In 2000 she was appointed as the first Professor of Ancient History at the University of Bristol. She co-edits the OUP series Oxford Early Christian Studies and Oxford Early Christian Texts. She is also on the editorial committee of the Journal of Roman Studies and the advisory board of the Journal of Late Anquity.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obsessed with Augustine 2 Aug 2011
I'm usually a fan of the VSI series, but for me this fails absolutely as an introduction to late antiquity because as I find it so dodgy on areas where I do have some knowledge, I can't trust the author on the areas which are new to me. It is also obsessed with Augustine. Once the author moves beyond Augustine, and perhaps neo-platonism, everything becomes rather fragile, and, occasionally, bizarre. Augustine was certainly a formidable figure, but almost everything, in a volume covering c250-750 CE, is referred back, at one point or another, and in a rather uncritical and decontextualised reading, to Augustine. For example the index reveals Augustine mentioned on 31 out of 116 pages, that is over a quarter of the book, and it is by far the largest entry in the index. By comparison the index indicates both Constantine and Constantinople are on 9 pages, and Justinian on 10. There are numerous lengthy quotes, but the reader is rarely made aware of the sources of the quotes. Tellingly the author's blurb only mentions previous editorial activity. There is no mention of authored work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Late Romans 24 May 2014
By opus
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book moves at quite a pace. Very good for a female writer. If that sounds patronising then I should say that it is a lot better than some of the vsi's essayed by females.

(see page 93 if you think this comment unfair).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very good introduction 10 July 2011
This book provides a great introduction to the period of Late Antiquity, covering Europe and the near East from around 250 to 750 AD. This is one of the longer books in the Very Short Introduction series, with wealth of information. There's quite a large emphasis on Chritianity, perhaps due to the author's greater knowledge in that area, a significant theme in the period, but the book is long enough that this doesn't prevent other topics being treated in adequate depth. An easy read and definitely worth a go!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear facts, concisely presented 30 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Concise facts about prominent people and significant events in late antiquity help with understanding the context and provide good background information for a planned novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid Introduction to the Late Roman Empire 26 May 2011
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Historical transitions are oftentimes controversial. They are often an invention of historians writing many centuries, or even millennia, after they had purportedly come about. Oftentimes people who lived through the transition are scarcely aware that one epoch has ended and a new one had begun. Nonetheless, with the help of hindsight we can perceive historical patterns, and see when a way of life and the structure of relations - interpersonal, religious, international - changes dramatically over a relatively short period. Thus, we can perceive that the Roman world started to irrevocably change some time around the third century AD, and over the course of next few centuries (up to approximately the beginning of the seventh century) it transitioned to what would later be called Middle Ages. This period is the late antiquity of the title of this very short introduction (VSI).

Perhaps the most famous book on late antiquity is Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It is a very influential book, but it is heavily influenced by the information available at the time and Gibbon's own prejudices and ideological viewpoints. This VSI aims to take into account all that we now know about the cultural, religious and political in the late antiquity. It treats religion and in particular Christianity as one of the main driving forces behind the historical developments in this era, but it neither overstates its impact nor blames it for the decline of the Roman civilization. In fact, as far as the culture is concerned, a strong argument can be made that Roman culture not only did not decline in this period, but actually flourished. The "barbarian" tribes that sacked Rome and undermined most of the Western Roman Empire adopted much of the Roman customs, administrative divisions, and most importantly language. Even though it was far from a unified polity, Roman Empire survived in terms of its cultural heritage for much longer than its often supposed. In fact, it could be argued that it gave birth to the concept of Europe that has lasted to this day.

Overall, this is a very interesting and readable short introduction. If you have any interest in history, this book will be a delight to read.
4.0 out of 5 stars remember the dark ages in school? 19 Sep 2013
By dom - Published on
Well, this certainly wasn't them. The Dark Ages was certainly a misnomer as one becomes well aware after reading this book. Just because Rome fell doesn't mean there wasn't a "civilization" still to be experienced or written of in the future. As with the majority of the VSI books I've read, this one teaches you the details you haven't heard (or don't remember) and shows you that the contemporary perspectives of this series on old subjects and times are definitely worth the read. You can read a blog post I wrote about the series on my blog: [...]
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good intro 12 May 2013
By Richard - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book presents a fair perspective on differing views of late antiquity which I can explore on my own. This era was made famous by Gibbon's classic history, but it's always interesting to consider whether a period in history is a 'decline', a 'fall', a golden age, or just a change.

Clark's book is worth reading as a starting point for a discussion of,the meaning of history.
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