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Late Antiquity

Late Antiquity

A Guide to the Postclassical World

Edited by G. W. Bowersock, Peter Brown, and Oleg Grabar

ISBN 9780674511736

Publication date: 11/18/1999

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The first book of its kind, this richly informative and comprehensive guide to the world of late antiquity offers the latest scholarship to the researcher along with great reading pleasure to the browser. In eleven comprehensive essays and in over 500 encyclopedic entries, an international cast of experts provides essential information and fresh perspectives on the history and culture of an era marked by the rise of two world religions, unprecedented political upheavals that remade the map of the known world, and the creation of art of enduring glory.

By extending the commonly accepted chronological and territorial boundaries of the period--to encompass Roman, Byzantine, Sassanian, and early Islamic cultures, from the middle of the third century to the end of the eighth--this guide makes new connections and permits revealing comparisons. Consult the article on "Angels" and discover their meaning in Islamic as well as classical and Judeo-Christian traditions. Refer to "Children," "Concubinage," and "Divorce" for a fascinating interweaving of information on the family. Read the essay on "Barbarians and Ethnicity" and see how a topic as current as the construction of identity played out in earlier times, from the Greeks and Romans to the Turks, Huns, and Saxons. Turn to "Empire Building" to learn how the empire of Constantine was supported by architecture and ceremony.

Or follow your own path through the broad range of entries on politics, manufacturing and commerce, the arts, philosophy, religion, geography, ethnicity, and domestic life. Each entry introduces readers to another facet of the postclassical world: historic figures and places, institutions, burial customs, food, money, public life, and amusements. A splendid selection of illustrations enhances the portrait.

The intriguing era of late antiquity emerges completely and clearly, viewed in a new light, in a guide that will be relished by scholars and general readers alike.


  • Reading Late Antiquity one has a sense of the tearing down of barriers which have divided what should be a seamless web of the past. History does not in reality confine itself to neatly separate areas and departments--Greek, Roman, Hebrew, Coptic, Arabic, Germanic--in the way that universities do...Late Antiquity keeps to a very high standard of scholarship and it will please a wide range of serious readers.

    —Jasper Griffin, New York Review of Books


  • G. W. Bowersock is Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.
  • Peter Brown is Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History, Emeritus, at Princeton University.
  • Oleg Grabar was Professor Emeritus of Islamic Art and Architecture at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey.

Book Details

  • 802 pages
  • 8 x 10-1/2 inches
  • Belknap Press