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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Violent End to the Roman World

In recent years under the direction of the European Union and academic forces in Western Europe and the USA and attempt has been made to essentially re-write history. The motivation for this is simple: when the ancestors of today's Northern Europeans and many Americans took over the former Roman lands a decline in civilization, learning, engineering and knowledge took place. However, today it has become fashionable to replace the theory of the "Dark Ages" with a term known as Later Antiquity which encompasses the gradual change from Roman life to the Middle Ages.

The new theory holds that the Dark Ages never truly existed and that the Early Middle Ages were simply "different" from Roman times and that civilization was in no way inferior. This new way of thinking about the Fall of Rome which has significant political backing is in the opinion of one scholar of Roman History flat out wrong.

Bryan Ward-Perkins, a history professor at Oxford makes a compelling and in my opinion a convincing case that civilization did decline during the period of time when Roman rules was falling and Germanic kingdoms rising in the west. Ward-Perkins book, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization, focuses on archaeological evidence to demonstrate a few key points:

1- The Roman Empire in the west was violently conquered by Barbarians
2- The transition from Roman rule to Germanic rule led to a decline in comfort for most citizens of the west
3- The intracity of finished goods such as pottery, coins, and agriculture declined during the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries.
4- The masterful advances brought by Roman Engineering such as aqueducts and roads lay in decay after Rome's fall.
5- The convenience of Roman life was never replicated in the Early Middle Ages.

The book is a brilliant retort to those who seek to re-write history for the sake of making ones ancestors appear more civilized and advanced (as well as less violent) than they in fact were.
The book published by Oxford University Press is a must read for those like me who are curious as to the everyday man and woman's life while Roman civilization collapsed.

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I am the host of the Major League Soccer Talk and EPL Talk Podcasts and am frequent guest on other (world) football shows. I am also the publisher of various other websites including this one. I work in public/government relations in addition to my soccer work and have a keen interest in history, politics, aviation, travel,and the world around us.