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The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity: AD 395-700 (The Routledge History of the Ancient World) Paperback – 13 Sep 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (13 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415579619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415579612
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 564,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

Praise for the first edition (1993):

'There has never been a general, introductory treatment in English, so Cameron has filled a notable gap ... In the field of ancient history, period surveys are often much more than compilations of recent work, but offer whole new lines of interpretation. [This volume is] no exception.'  History Today

'Cameron's work is a brilliant survey of a changing society in all its different facets - economic, religious, cultural, etc.' - Sunday Telegraph

'The book should be a major reference tool for all kinds of historians of late antiquity and students of this period who are interested in the social, economic, military, religious, philosophical and artistic developments of late antiquity. The author displays remarkable erudition and expertise in dealing with the full range of scholarship on scholarly debates old and new.' - Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"The great merit of this second edition lies in the juxtaposition of past and recent scholarship. Cameron outlines scholarly controversies and points out research questions and lacunae. Her book is an excellent introductory text for anyone with an interest in the eastern Mediterranean especially..." - Claudia Eicher, The Journal of Medieval Archaeology

About the Author

Averil Cameron was until recently Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History at the University of Oxford and Warden of Keble College Oxford.


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By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 April 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a revised edition of a (relatively) old book, first printed in 1993 but which ends in AD 600 only. The revised edition goes on for another century in order to include the Arab Conquests which spelt the real “End of Antiquity” according to the author, and to the school of thought to which she belongs and of which she is one of the main representatives. As another reviewer mentioned, if you are looking for the up to date and more complete treatment, then you should go for this one, as opposed to the older version.

Even if, at times, the author may not be entirely convincing, she does make a number of key points in this book which have become fairly standard about what is now called “Late Antiquity”, even if authors do not necessarily agree on the dates of this period (some make it begin in AD 284 with Diocletian, others with the reign of Constantine or even with the end of the reign of Marcus-Aurelius in AD 180).

The first, of course, is that Antiquity and Roman culture, influence and civilisation did not abruptly end in AD 476. The Eastern half of the Roman Empire survived and would even attempt to reconquer the western half. The Western half, even if split into Germanic “Successor Kingdoms” was still very much subject to Roman influences and culture, especially around the Mediterranean.

The second fact is that there were evolutions and adaptations to changing circumstances, with these containing both elements of continuity and elements of change, although the author does not seem to be quite able to make up her mind as to whether these were long-term trends, what they meant and how they came about.
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By robert crockett on 28 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A good and detailed account . A bit academic but useful when I doing a course on Late Antiquity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Arabization of the Roman East 27 Mar. 2012
By Robert Lebling - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The 7th-century Arab conquest of large chunks of the old Roman empire happened more quickly and easily than historians can explain with any confidence. Cities, garrisons surrendered without a fight; the process was relatively bloodless.

The eastern Romans, or Byzantines, shouldn't have been such pushovers: A century earlier, they had become masters of North Africa, and only 10 years before Muhammad's death, they had scored an impressive, crippling victory over the Sasanids of Persia.

In Cameron's view, the reasons for the speed and ease of the Arab conquest lie not in the traditional "Gibbon" argument of an empire in decline, or in religious differences between rulers and subject peoples. She focuses instead on the complex changes on the ground, affecting inhabitants of lands through which the Arabs moved.

Before Muhammad, the Roman east was already experiencing profound cultural change, was becoming "Arabized." Having expended much blood and treasure on distant wars, the Romans hired Arab forces (often Ghassanid nomads) to patrol the empire's eastern frontiers. Financial crisis in Constantinople meant military payrolls weren't being met, so it's not surprising that Byzantine garrisons laid down their arms and Ghassanid troops changed sides.

As Cameron notes, Arab victory came at "a time of rapid change," posing problems with which "we might identify in our own post-modern world."

{A version of this review appeared in Saudi Aramco World, Mar/Apr 2004.]
Late Antiquity – continuity and change, yet again 14 April 2015
By JPS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a revised edition of a (relatively) old book, first printed in 1993 but which ends in AD 600 only. The revised edition goes on for another century in order to include the Arab Conquests which spelt the real “End of Antiquity” according to the author, and to the school of thought to which she belongs and of which she is one of the main representatives. As another reviewer mentioned, if you are looking for the up to date and more complete treatment, then you should go for this one, as opposed to the older version.

Even if, at times, the author may not be entirely convincing, she does make a number of key points in this book which have become fairly standard about what is now called “Late Antiquity”, even if authors do not necessarily agree on the dates of this period (some make it begin in AD 284 with Diocletian, others with the reign of Constantine or even with the end of the reign of Marcus-Aurelius in AD 180).

The first, of course, is that Antiquity and Roman culture, influence and civilisation did not abruptly end in AD 476. The Eastern half of the Roman Empire survived and would even attempt to reconquer the western half. The Western half, even if split into Germanic “Successor Kingdoms” was still very much subject to Roman influences and culture, especially around the Mediterranean.

The second fact is that there were evolutions and adaptations to changing circumstances, with these containing both elements of continuity and elements of change, although the author does not seem to be quite able to make up her mind as to whether these were long-term trends, what they meant and how they came about. While these evolutions are well illustrated and are part of the “longue durée” analysis dear to Fernand Braudel and others, events should not totally be neglected either, and such neglect was the impression I got at times.

The third element is this book is not really a narrative history covering the period but a thematic history. This has both advantages and limitations. Among the latter is the fact that to follow the author in her discussion, you would do better to have prior knowledge of the period. This knowledge will be particularly useful when reading through the thematic chapters on the city of Constantinople, the late Roman army, the Church, social structures and the economy, culture and mentality and urban change Only the latter chapters on the Persian Wars and the Arab Conquests and the chapter on Justinian come close to narrative history. An advantage, and probably the main reason for having chosen it, is that a thematic structure allows for each aspect to be analysed throughout the period and for elements of continuity and change to be more easily identified.

While this is, as other reviewers have mentioned, a very good and at times an excellent thematic study of the Late Roman Empire during the 5th and 6th centuries AD, I could not raise much enthusiasm for it somehow. One reason might be that some topics, particular those related to religion, the Church, culture and mentality, were treated better, and perhaps even much better, than others. I was not, for instance, by the author’s treatment of the evolving institutions, starting with the army, while her treatment of Constantinople was no more than average. Although the author’s scholarship is undeniable, I could not help having a slight preference for “The Roman Empire Divided” by John Moorhead, which covers the same period (AD 400-700) in a somewhat similar way. Four stars.
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Another Oxford Professor who is "quite old fashioned. . . right out of the Victorian age." 21 Oct. 2013
By Audrey Shabbas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Review of Averil Cameron's work. The quote in my review title is from another reviewer of another Oxford professor (Fergus Millar's) work, The Roman Near East.
That reviewer of Millar hit the nail on the head for Averil Cameron too.

These two are in agreement that the notion of nationalism and identity based on language is to be trashed. . . and so too their writings mock the idea of "Coptic" and "Syriac" and "Syrian Christian" or "Arab" and even "Semitic" are proper when referencing any culture to which people would have considered themselves as members or as a means of identifying themselves.

Yes, Cameron does accept a "Jewish" one, ignoring languages spoken and scripts used as part of that identity.

And then, she does resort after-all to the ethnic/linguistic/nationalistic term "Arab" in the context of "Arab conquests" and "spread of Islam". . .and in the case of "Persian invasions." So of course we are not speak of "Arab civilization" or "Persian civilization."

In Cameron's view of Roger Bagnall's Egypt in Late Antiquity, Cameron notes: ". . . the term 'Coptic' can properly be applied in this period only to a linguistic phenomenon, not to culture, and still less to an ethnic group." And they likewise are equally dismissive of "Syriac" or "Syrian" identity. Rather, for Cameron (and Bagnall and Millar) these become simply "the local populations in the conquered provinces" [Greek and Roman]. . not to be taken by serious scholarship. . ."Like the romantic view of eastern Christianity, or the notion of common Semitic cultural identity."

Cameron is on record for reporting that Millar and Bagnall correctly show that there was no opposition therefore between two distinct elements in the 6th and 7th centuries [read: rise of Islam] "Hellenism of the governing elite and local, defined, and native culture on the other - [these two distinct groups antagonistic to each other] did not exist." So apparently the notion of "Arab conquest" being facilitated and welcomed by disgruntled natives feeling the weight of Hellenistic occupation and authoritarianism, is simply not true!

And of course, we can line up with Cameron, Millar and Bagnall who have, Cameron reports, "trashed" (my word, not hers) Martin Bernal's Black Athena, as "unable to withstand the questioning of archaeologists and historians with a less prejudicial approach to culture and ethnicity."

Cameron, Millar and Bagnall - the "less prejudiced"? Really!

Cameron quotes are from The New York Review of Books, June 22, 1995, reviewing the two works by Bagnall and Millar referenced above.
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Late Roman era - beginning early Medieval 24 Sept. 2013
By Janet Gilmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Necessary text to begin to understand and appreciate the 3rdto4th century AD. Well written so an easy read for beginners.
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