Late Antiquity

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Late Antiquity is a rough periodization (c. AD 300 - 600) used by historians and other scholars to describe the interval between Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world: generally between the decline of the western Roman Empire from the 3rd century AD onward, to the Islamic conquests, and the re-forming of Eastern Europe under the Byzantine Empire. The term Spätantike, literally "late antiquity", has been used by German-language historians since its popularization by Alois Riegl in the early Twentieth Century. It was given currency in English partly by the writings of Peter Brown, whose survey The World of Late Antiquity (1971) revised the post-Gibbon view of an arid, stale and ossified Classical culture, in favour of a vibrant time of renewals and beginnings, and whose The Making of Late Antiquity offered a new paradigm of the climacteric sea-change in Western culture, to confront Sir Richard Southern's The Making of the Middle Ages.

The continuities between imperial Rome, as it was reorganized by Diocletian, and the Early Middle Ages are stressed by writers who wish to emphasize that the seeds of medieval culture were already developing in the Christianized empire, and that they continued to do so in the Eastern, or "Byzantine" Empire. Concurrently, some migrating Germanic tribes such as the Ostrogoths and Visigoths saw themselves as perpetuating the "Roman" tradition. While the usage "Late Antiquity" suggests that the social and cultural priorities of Classical Antiquity endured throughout Europe into the Middle Ages, the usage of "Early Middle Ages" emphasizes a break with the classical past, and the term "Migrations Period" emphasizes the disruptions in the same period of time.

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