The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: An Ethnographic Perspective (Studies in Historical Archaeoethnology) Paperback – 20 Nov 2003
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The work of top scholars in Visigothic studies... Using all evidence available, the volume addresses the evolution of the Visigoths in early medieval history. CHOICE Indispensable for all scholars of the Visigoths. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW Books on the Visigoths and Visigothic Spain in English are rare, so this is a welcome addition to their ranks... wide-ranging collection (which) has much to offer, not just to Spanish studies but to students of late antiquity in general. CLASSICAL REVIEW
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If anyone purchases this, or another of the Studies in the Historical Archaeoethnology series, you shouldn't expect an overview. That's not its purpose - these are papers on very specific topics dealing with the Visigoths. Some of the topics are related to one another but each is its own subject.
What I particularly enjoy about this series are the discussions. Following each paper all of the presenters at the conference have a round table discussion together. These discussions are transcribed and published in the book. Quite often I learn more from the discussion than I do from the paper.
I won't be summarizing each paper - I start down that road and it won't end until after 5,000 words. The paper titles are generally representative of their respective topics and are all good - particularly because even if there are holes in an argument, this is brought out in the discussion.
The papers given are:
1. "Linguistic Evidence for the Early Migration of the Goths" by Dennis H. Green
2. "The Creation of the Visigoths" by Peter Heather
3. "Settlement of the Visigoths in the Fifth Century" by Ana Maria Jimenez Garcia
4. "Kinship and Marriage Among the Visigoths" by Giorgio Ausenda
5. "Social Relations in the Visigothic Kingdom from the Fifth to the Seventh Century: The Example of Merida" by Ian Wood
6. "Jural Relations as an Indicator of Syncretism from the Law of Inheritance to the Dum Inlicita of Chindaswinth" by Isabel Velazquez
7. "As Coins go Home: Towns, Merchants, Bishops and Kings in Visigothic Hispania" by Felix Retamero
8. "Visigothic Political Institutions" by Pablo C. Diaz
9. "Adding Insult to Injury: Julian of Toledo and his Historia Wambae" by Mayke de Jong
10. "Symbolic Life and Signs of Identity in Visigothic Times" by Gisela Ripoll Lopez
11. "Cult and Religion among the Tervingi and the Visigoths and their Conversion to Christianity" by Andreas Schwarcz
There is also a final chapter titled, "Current Issues and Future Directions in the Study of the Visigoths" which summarizes a discussion among the participants on what needs exist for future research.
One of the most significant things I took from this book is that we just don't know that much about the Visigoths compared to, say, the Franks or Ostrogoths. There have been fewer archaeological discoveries and less textual evidence as well. Compared with the papers in Volume 3 of this series, _Franks and Alamanni_, the conclusions reached by the presenters were much more speculative.
One other thing I took is how far Spanish historians have come since 1975. Under Franco the state of historical research was very poor. In this book five of the presenters were from Spain and wrote papers ranging from credible to excellent.
This is another excellent book in the series (if I could I'd rate it a 4.5). A couple of cautions. First, don't make this one of the first books you read on the Visigoths. You should have a general sense of their origins, sojourns through the Empire and Gaul, and society first. Second, in many ways this set of papers does more to raise questions than answer them. Based on the discussions following the papers, there is much less consensus on various aspects of Visigothic society than in the previous book in this series I read; _Franks and Alamanni_. In many ways this book reads more as a detailed history class - not giving you all the answers, but providing you with a means to find some of the answers. However that doesn't detract from its worth, or from the somewhat voyeuristic enjoyment I received from reading the discussions.
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