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Late Antiquity

(1,600 words)

Author(s): Fuch, Markus E.
Concept and Time Span 1. Until the mid-twentieth century, researchers understood late antiquity “as the long decay of ancient times, or as the commencement of the European-Byzantine Middle Ages.”1 Since then it has been regarded as an era ‘of its own,’ a genuine part of antiquity. Its characterization as a ‘time of decay’ arose from the evaluation of a humanistic, partly anti-Christian classicism—unless it was positively conceived in terms of the décadence-ideal of the fin de siècle. To be sure, the boundaries of eras always have something of the arbitrary or optional ab…