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A Social and Cultural History of Late Antiquity

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A Social and Cultural History of Late Antiquity examines the social and cultural landscape of the Late Antique Mediterranean. The text offers a picture of everyday life as it was lived in the spaces around and between two of the most memorable and towering figures of the time—Constantine and Muhammad. The author captures the period using a wide-lens, including Persian material from the mid third century through Umayyad material of the mid eighth century C.E. The book offers a rich picture of Late Antique life that is not just focused on Rome, Constantinople, or Christianity.

This important resource uses nuanced terms to talk about complex issues and fills a gap in the literature by surveying major themes such as power, gender, community, cities, politics, law, art and architecture, and literary culture. The book is richly illustrated and filled with maps, lists of rulers and key events. A Social and Cultural History of Late Antiquity is an essential guide that:

Paints a rich picture of daily life in Late Antique that is not simply centered on Rome, Constantinople, or Christianity

Balances a thematic approach with rigorous attention to chronolog

Stresses the need for appreciating both sources and methods in the study of Late Antique history

Offers a sophisticated model for investigating daily life and the complexities of individual and group identity in the rapidly changing Mediterranean world

Includes useful maps, city plans, timelines, and suggestions for further reading

A Social and Cultural History of Late Antiquity offers an examination of everyday life in the era when adherents of three of the major religions of today—Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—faced each other for the first time in the same environment.

Author: Boin Douglas
Publisher: WILEY
Pages: 300
ISBN: 9781119076810
Cover: Paperback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018

Illustrations x

Boxed Texts xii

Preface: The Magic of History xv

Acknowledgments xix

Annotated List of Abbreviations and a Note on Citations from Secondary Literature xxi

Timeline xxv

Map: The Late Antique World At-A-Glance xxviii

Part I The “Vanishing” of Rome 1

1 Who and What Is Late Antiquity? 3

1.1 An Overview of the Book 4

History from the ground]up, all the way to the top 4

A top]down view of Rome in the fifth century ce 9

1.2 Three Lives and the “Fall of Rome” 10

Victorinus, vicarius of Britain 11

Palladius, the law student from Gaul 13

Rufius Volusianus, the prodigy who went to Constantinople 14

2 When Does Late Antiquity Begin? When Does it End? 19

2.1 The Third through Fifth Centuries ce: A Narrated Timeline 20

The third]century crisis 20

The fourth]century crisis 24

The fifth]century crisis 29

2.2 A Warning about Periodization 32

3 How Do We Do Late Antique History? 35

3.1 Evaluating Sources, Asking Questions 36

Comparing and contrasting 36

Incorporating textual and material culture 37

3.2 The Past in the Past 39

3.3 Acquiring Cultural Competence: The Study of Religion in History 43

3.4 Linking, not Disconnecting, Different Periods of Early Christianity 45

Paul and the context of the late Second Temple period 46

Paul’s legacy, forged texts, and the rise of Christianity 47

3.5 Pre]Modern vs. Early Modern History: A Note on Sources 50

Part II Late Antiquity Appears 53

4 Power 55

4.1 Third]Century Politics 55

4.2 Mithras and a Roman Fascination with the Mysteries of Persia 56

4.3 The Material Culture of Sasanian Persia 58

4.4 Rome and Sasanian Persia in Conflict 60

Weighing the accounts, making a decision 63

4.5 The Roman World of the Third Century ce 69

Empire]wide citizenship is decreed 69

Rome’s birthday is celebrated, a saeculum is renewed 70

New walls and city borders are constructed 72

5 Worship 75

5.1 The Civic Sacrifice Policy of 250 ce 76

Implementation of the policy 77

The historian’s delicate task: writing about the policy 78

5.2 How Did Romans Worship Their Gods? Text and Material Culture, c. Third Century ce 82

Traditional worship 85

Mystery cults 87

Emperor worship 90

6 Social Change 93

6.1 Rome’s Laws Against Christians 94

Emperor Valerian, 257–258 ce 94

Christian sacrifice in context on the eve of the Rule of Four 95

6.2 The End of the Third Century and the Rise of the Rule of Four 97

6.3 A View from Thessaloniki, Roman Greece, Late Third Century ce 99

Galerius’ urban investments 99

The political messages of Galerius’ arch and palace vestibule 99

6.4 Diocletian’s Edict against Followers of Mani, 296 ce or 302 ce 105

6.5 The Rise of Christianity: Assumptions and Starting Points 106

“Christianization” and evangelization 106

Christian demographics and faith]based narratives of rapid conversion 108

Recognizing political disagreement among Rome’s Christian community 110

7 Law and Politics 113

7.1 Roman Law: History From the Ground]Up, Top]Down, and Sideways 114

Petitions from Roman Egypt 115

Roman legal texts in Late Antiquity 116

The history of Roman law as a story of “horizontal relations” 119

7.2 The “Edict of Milan,” 313 ce 119

The Roman constitution in context 120

Expanding the idea of being Roman 121

7.3 Individual Laws and the Collection of Legal Texts 123

The Edict on Maximum Prices, 301 ce 123

The Edict against Christians, 312 ce 124

The creation of the Theodosian Code, 429–438 ce 124

7.4 Law and Politics in the Fourth Century ce 125

8 Urban Life 130

8.1 Daily Life in the Fourth Century ce and Beyond: Starting Points and Assumptions 131

8.2 The Archaeology of Rome 135

The city center and the imperial fora 135

The communities of Rome’s Aventine Hill 137

Funerary banquets on the Via Appia 140

8.3 The Archaeology of Constantinople 142

A new city but with a forgotten history 143

Constantine’s Forum 145

Urban infrastructure and neighborhood residences 148

9 Community 152

9.1 Mystery Cults 155

The cult of Demeter and Persephone at Eleusis 155

Anthropological perspectives on initiation 156

9.2 Christian Communities and Christian Law 156

9.3 The Jewish Community: Shared Values and Social Diversity 159

Synagogues 159

The importance of Jewish place and time 160

9.4 The Communities of Roman Egypt, Fourth–Fifth Centuries ce 163

Antony and the monastic communities 166

Roman army members and military families 166

Disaffected communities: “God’s soldiers,” c.391–392 ce 168

10 Economy 171

10.1 Egypt beyond Its Borders 172

Porphyry and the economy of marble 172

Egyptomania in Rome and Constantinople 175

10.2 The Arena and Racing Culture 177

10.3 Economic Realities, Third–Sixth Centuries ce 179

The two economic corridors of the state 180

The importance of ceramic evidence 182

The importance of the wooden legal texts from Vandal North Africa 183

10.4 The Crypta Balbi Excavations, Rome: The Story of a Social Safety Net, Third Century–Sixth Century ce 184

Ceramics from the Crypta Balbi excavations 185

Two final details from the Crypta Balbi excavations 188

11 The Household and Family 191

11.1 Home as a Place 193

Apartments 193

Houses 194

11.2 House]Churches in the Long History of Christianity 196

Tituli and the transformation of the Caelian Hill, Rome 198

House]churches and church leadership 200

11.3 Family and Household Relations, c.405–551 ce 201

Jerome and the lives of two Christian women in Gaul: c.405 ce 201

Procopius tells of a scandalous Christian empress, c.550–551 ce 203

11.4 Slaves and Slavery 203

11.5 Households and the Emergence of the Papacy in Rome 206

12 Ideas and Literary Culture 209

12.1 The “One” and the Many: Philosophical and Anthropological Perspectives 210

12.2 Literature and Ideas after the “Vanishing” of Rome 212

12.3 The Literary Culture of Justinian’s Roman Empire 215

Justinian’s Latin Laws 215

Justinian’s Greek]speaking Christian state 215

12.4 Literature as a Source for the Study of Medicine and Disease 218

12.5 The Rise of a Book Culture 219

Books and patrons 220

Books and beliefs 222

12.6 Latin Poetry and Christian Communities in Rome, c.366–600 ce 222

12.7 Looking Ahead: “People of the Book” 224

Part III The Illusion of Mediterranean History 229

13 Geography and Society 231

13.1 Seeing the Sixth Century Through the Eyes of an Emperor and a Traveler 232

Emperor Justinian, 527–565 ce 233

Justinian’s Christian architecture 235

13.2 Cosmas’ Christian World 235

Geography 236

The centrality of scripture 237

Apocalyptic thinking 238

Religious minorities 241

13.3 Beyond Rome’s Christian Empire in the Sixth Century ce 242

13.4 Sixth] and Seventh]Century South Asia 244

Sri Lanka and the economy of the Indian subcontinent 244

“Buddhism” and “Hinduism” 245

13.5 Sixth] and Seventh]Century China and Central Asia 247

The nature of trade along the Silk Roads 248

Coins as evidence for shared customs in Rome and Sasanian Persia 248

14 A Choice of Directions 253

14.1 Jerusalem in the Sixth and Early Seventh Centuries ce 254

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem at the dawn of the seventh century ce 254

Jesus’ end]time preaching and Jerusalem before the seventh century ce 258

End]time preaching and Jerusalem during the seventh century ce 259

14.2 The Social World of the Arabian Peninsula in the Sixth Century ce 260

Merchant oases and desert sanctuaries 261

14.3 The Believers Movement 262

The Constitution of Medina 264

An apocalyptic component 267

An initial focus on Jerusalem 269

Glossary 273

Index 276

Douglas Boin (Douglas Ryan Boin) is a historian who investigates the people, cities, and beliefs of the Roman Empire. He is particularly keen on using material culture—the archaeological remains of the past—to recover lost or marginal voices. Doug received his B.A. in Classics from Georgetown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Classics from The University of Texas at Austin and is currently an Associate Professor of History at Saint Louis University. He holds a special love for the people and city of modern Rome.

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