Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology

Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology

Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology

Theory and Practice in Late Antique Archaeology


Can ideas and approaches current in mainstream archaeology be made to work in the conservative world of classical archaeology? This volume seeks to explore theoretical frameworks, methodology and field practice suited to the late antique Mediterranean. Broad themes such as long-term change, topography, the economy and social life are covered, but in terms of specific issues and evidential problems currently being tackled by scholars of late antiquity. This book will be useful to students and researchers seeking to enrich their approaches to Mediterranean historical archaeology and to anyone wishing to possess an overview of the current state of late antique archaeology.


Archaeological research
on the late antique COUNTRYSIDE:
A bibliographic essay

Alexandra Chavarría and Tamara Lewit

During the last twenty years, our understanding of the late antique countryside has been completely transformed. the traditional picture of a countryside devastated by crippling taxation, rural depopulation, widespread abandonment of farmland, destructive invasions, general economic crisis, and the growth of huge latifundia, has been systematically re-examined and brought into question. the increasing tendency to reject the concept of decline in Late Antiquity has been reflected in a substantial re-evaluation of rural developments.

In the East of the Roman empire, the major development of Late Antiquity was an explosion of rural settlement, with many regions

the authors gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance with bibliographic information of K. Bowes, N. Christie, S. Dar, H. Elton, L. Lavan, Y. Marano, M. Rautman, R. Reece, L. Schneider, P. Vergain, G. Volpe and the referees, and the support of Trinity College, the University of Melbourne.

Overviews of the late antique countryside : the classic exposition of the traditional view, which provides the starting point of all re-evaluations was Jones A. H. M. (1964) “The land”, in The Later Roman Empire, ii (Oxford 1964) 767–823. Comprehensive re-evaluations of many aspects, including production, effect of invasions, taxation, depopulation, technology, settlement patterns, ownership of land and forms of labour, and review of current historiography in Whittaker C. R. and Garnsey P. (1998) “Rural life in the later Roman empire”, in Cambridge Ancient History, xiii, edd. A. Cameron and P. Garnsey (Cambridge 1998) 277–311; Ward-Perkins B. (2000) “Land, labour and settlement”, in Cambridge Ancient History, xiv, edd. A. Cameron, B. Ward-Perkins and M. Whitby (Cambridge 2000) 315–45. a survey of archaeological discoveries throughout the Empire and re-evaluation of the traditional picture of rural decline in the light of this data in Lewit T. (1991) Agricultural Production in the Roman Economy, A.D. 200–400 (BAR I.S. 568) (Oxford 1991), reprinted as Villas, Farms and the Late Roman Rural Economy 3rd to 5th c. A.D., with new introductory section (forthcoming). Summary of evidence for rural life, including prosperity in the West in the 3rd to 5th centuries, and in the East from the 3rd to 8th centuries in Hirschfeld Y. (2001) “Habitat”, in Interpreting Late Antiquity. Essays on the Postclassical World, edd. G. W. Bowersock, P. Brown and O. Grabar (Harvard 2001) 258–72; Randsborg K. (1991) The First Millennium ad in Europe and the Mediterranean: an Archaeological Essay (Cambridge 1991), for summary of patterns of change and archaeological evidence, particularly in the North-West.

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