Towns in Transition: Urban Evolution in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

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This is a close and coherent examination of the evolution and transformation of towns between AD 300 and 900 within towns the borders of the old Roman Empire. The so-called 'Dark Ages' have often been represented, wrongly, as a period of general decay. In fact, as the archaeological studies in this book show, many of the towns of the Empire survived and developed, even though the Roman character of the centres was lost or altered. Among the important questions addressed are: to what extent were urban structures such as roads, walls and drains maintained? What was the role of the Church in preserving and developing the urban fabric? Do patterns of survival reflect the depth of adoption of Roman culture? The studies in this volume are based on new archaeological data and provide a full and convincing reassessment of the old image of urban decay and the impact of incoming 'Barbarians' and Arabs on towns. The broad geographical range of towns studied, and the informed and authoritative interpretations offered in this volume, will be invaluable to scholars seeking to understand this complex, intriguing and misunderstood period of history.
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Editorial Reviews

An archaeological corrective to the historical view that the Dark Ages were a period of general decay. Presenting findings from cities between 300 and 900 that had been part of the Roman Empire, finds that urban life persevered and sometimes even flourished though sometimes the Roman nature of the towns was lost. Focuses on the extent to which such features as roads, walls, and drains were maintained, on the role of the Church, and on evidence for and against the adoption of Roman culture. Includes sites from North Africa and the Middle East as well as the continent and Britain. Distributed in the US by Ashgate. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859281079
  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Pages: 330
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.45 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Contributors
Preface and Acknowledgements
Introduction 1
1 Urban Continuity? 4
2 Tarraco in Late Antiquity 18
3 Arles in Late Antiquity: Gallula Roma Arelas and Urbs Genesii 45
4 Towns and Peoples on the Middle Danube in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages 71
5 Burial and Urbanism at late Antique and Early Byzantine Corinth (c. AD 400-700) 99
6 Byzantine Palestine and Arabia: Urban Prosperity in Late Antiquity 126
7 Urban Transition in North Africa: Roman and Medieval Towns of the Maghreb 159
8 Transitions to Islam: Urban Roles in the East and South Mediterranean, Fifth to Tenth Centuries AD 184
9 Cities, Emporia and Monasteries: Local Economies in the Po Valley, c. AD 700-875 213
10 Towns, Societies and Ideas: The Not-so-strange Case of Late Roman and Early Merovingian Metz 235
11 Urban Transition in Early Medieval Britain: The Case of York 262
12 Dream Cities: Emporia and the End of the Dark Ages 289
Index 306
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