Late antiquity : a guide to the postclassical world /

Other Authors: Bowersock, G. W. 1936-, Brown, Peter Robert Lamont., Grabar, Oleg.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999.
Series: Harvard University Press reference library
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Review by Choice Review

The editors (all at Princeton) of this handsome and inviting volume have each helped kindle the recent explosion in postclassical studies with important contributions on the creeds and cultures of the first millennium CE. Late Antiquity offers casual browsers and learned specialists alike a unique introduction to and summation of current scholarship on the period that has for too long been held as "the unraveling of a once glorious ... civilization" or "a violent and hurried prelude to better things." Covering the period 250-800, Late Antiquity begins with 11 thematic essays (e.g., "Barbarians and Ethnicity," by Patrick J. Geary; "Religious Communities," by Garth Fowden). The encyclopedia proper follows, with approximately 500 signed entries on places, people, and topics, most ending with a brief bibliography. Special efforts to cover Jewish, Islamic, Sassanian, and other traditions less familiar than the early history of the Christian church result in a multicultural feast, covering not only the expected but also a fascinating array of items concerned with the social fabric and customs of the late antique period. One can find "oceans" and "olives" as well as "Ostrogoths," "bathing," "belts," and "Boethius." A subject index concludes the volume. The editors acknowledge that their aim is not comprehensiveness and that much of the material they cover is available in greater depth in such recent works as Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, ed. by Everett Ferguson (2nd ed., CH Sep'97), The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. by Alexander P. Kazhdan et al. (CH Oct'91), Encyclopedia of the Early Church, ed. by Angelo Do Berardino (CH Sep'92), or in reference classics like The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd ed., CH May'97) or Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. by F.L. Cross (3rd ed., CH Nov'97); but none provides the scope or sparkling prose of Late Antiquity. Highly recommended. B. Juhl; University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

The editors of this work, all Princeton scholars, have accomplished a worthy goal in broadening our understanding of a significant period of history; through inclusion of the early expansion of Islam, they have extended late antiquity by some 150 years. Their new time line begins around 250 C.E., when the Roman Empire was in crisis and the Sassanians, a militant new dynasty, had arisen in Iran. By 313, the Roman Empire's civil and military institutions had been totally transformed, and a strong central goverment with imperial aspirations had also altered Iran and Iraq. By the year 800, the Church in Europe drew its organization from the civil institutions of the late Roman Empire, the Islamic Caliphate of the Abbasids had adopted the court ceremonies of the Sassanians to reinforce their authority, and Byzantium was ruled by the direct successors of Caesar Augustus. Making extensive use of new archaeological discoveries, this work challenges old assumptions and should help renew interest in this era. Highly recommended for academic and large public libraries.Ă„Robert James Andrews, Duluth P.L., MN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.