Historians of the later Roman Empire, especially those interested in the barbarian migrations, are familiar with the vexing problems inherent in writing the history of peoples who were enormously important but about whom we know very little. Or rather, about whom we know only the opinions held by their adversaries and overbearing neighbors, and what their material remains reveal to the archaeologists. It is a rare modern scholar of, say, the Goths, Vandals, Huns, or Franks, who has not let slip a hint of frustration at the complicated and occasionally opaque ancient sources when constructing a history of these peoples within and along the borders of the Roman empire on the...

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