As historical periods go, Late Antiquity is neither fish nor fowl. Straddled by epochs with broadly recognizable attributes (city states and temples! kingdoms and churches!), Late Antiquity escapes easy definition. Scholars continue to debate the period’s most essential elements, from when it began (the third century?) to when it ended (the seventh century?) to whether its most salient features were religious (the rise of Christianity, rabbinic Judaism, and Islam?) or political (the fragmentation of the empire, its coalescence around Constantinople, and the emergence of post-Roman kingdoms?). In fact, we cannot even agree on whether Late Antiquity stands as epilogue (as the period’s name suggests) or prologue, whether it was an epoch of decline or a period of transformation.

For me, and I suspect for most readers of Studies in Late Antiquity, the fact that Late Antiquity troubles its own periodization is precisely why we study it. Its indeterminacy invites...

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