What did people do when the Roman empire fall apart around them? Recent scholarship, based on new archeological discoveries and techniques, argues that in the “dark” centuries between 450 and 750 AD, the people of western Europe, from conquering kings to ordinary peasants, improvised new political alliances, maintained law and order, improved the productivity of their land, and invented new crafts and art forms, building a resilient and inventive society on the foundations (often literally) of the old.
Suggested Further reading: Peter Wells, “Barbarians to Angels”. Cover image: Visigothic bronze belt buckle with garnet and glass inlays, belonging to a woman in Spain, mid-6th century AD; image provided by Cleveland Museum of Art.
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