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I've listened to Bryan Ward-Perkins at my university

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Well, I'm about to go to bed to be able to get up tomorrow to listen to him again, but I just thought I'd say something about it here as I guess there are "some" people here who might have a certain interest in that time period :)

I'll post more tomorrow if people are interested, if nothing else a short review of the two lectures. Today he gave a short lecture on the fall of the Roman Empire and explained how archaeological evidence had influenced his ideas on what happened. Tomorrow the subject will be a comparison between Rome and Constantinople unless my memory plays tricks with me (y)

And yeah, almost forgot, you can read more about him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bryan_Ward-Perkins and here: http://www.history.ox.ac.uk/staff/posthold...dperkins_br.htm :)

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Not sure if he's touring the world, but as he's written a book on the subject, and in my opinion is a great speaker, I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case.

I'll post a short review/summary of what I remember from the lectures later today for anyone who's interested to read.

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I'll start with saying that while I've had a general interest in history for most of my life I don't think I would have attended this lecture unless I'd been a part of WFG and thus are almost "required" :) to be interested in this time period (y) So, thanks. As I said before it was a pleasure to listen to Dr. Ward-Perkins, and even though it was aimed at archeology students I didn't have much trouble understanding what he said. Now that doesn't have to mean much as I'm a bit odd and interested :banana: and I guess I am relatively good at English, but if I put it this way: He talked about pottery and it was interesting. Not necessarily in itself, but as a part of the bigger picture he was giving us.

The first lecture was about the fall (and while there is quite some debate on whether it was a fall or a smooth transition, he was of the opinion that it wasn't a smooth transition, so because of that, and because I guess that's the way most people refer to it, I'll call it that) of Rome and he started by describing some of the ideas that exist on what happened and why he thinks that the change from Roman Empire wasn't a smooth transition barely noticeable, nor having any great impact on, those who lived in those days. He continued by explaining some general stuff about research and those days, but believe it or nor, the most interesting part of the lecture was when he talked about pottery. Ordinary pottery :) There is an explanation to that though: Few things are as easy to date, available in great quantities and also something which was used by everyone, from the society to the peasants. And as to the enormous amounts he showed us a picture of a large hill outside Rome consisting of, yeah, you guessed it: pots.

Ok, so now you know that he talked about pottery, but I guess you ask what's that got to do with the fall of Rome? Well, I wish I could tell it as interestingly and convincingly as he did, but I can't, and don't remember all of it for that matter. To summarize though: According to Dr. Ward-Perkins the way pottery was produced showed a relatively dramatic difference between how it was before and after the fall of Rome. Before the fall pottery was manufactured and distributed over large distances (which might be surprising since pottery isn't exactly the most durable kind of ware), but soon (at least in archaeological terms :) ) after the fall the manufacture and distribution of pottery began to slow down. In some parts it was really quick, like in Britain, but around the Mediterranean it took a while longer.

He talked about a lot more, but I don't remember everything, and I doubt you'd like to read too much for that matter. After all he's written a book which you can read in case you're interested. I'm seriously thinking about buying it after having heard him, not only was he interesting to listen to, but he was also “aware” if you know what I mean. He didn't just think that he knew everything or that things were easy, which I'm afraid far too many people do. And speaking about the book, which is called “The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization”, he told an interesting anecdote: The title was initially supposed to be “The Fall of Rome and the End of a Civilization”. Obviously his publisher thought that “The End of Civilization” sounded a bit more catchy, literally: as in something that makes people catch the book (ok, I admit that that was a bit lame, but please forgive as it's late when I'm writing this :banana: ).

One of the more interesting things he said at the end was that, at least for areas like Britain, things were actually worse after having been part of the Roman Empire than they were before. He described how they before the Romans came along had been beginning to manufacture and distribute pottery, and had begun minting coins etc, but that it took quite a lot of time to “recover”. Which of course isn't a very revolutionary thought, if you're used to having someone else make your pottery and then that production is disrupted you'll have to begin with learning how to do things before you can continue on to more advanced stuff.

I've got some more in my head, so please ask if there's something that's unclear/you'd like to know if he talked about. And while I found his second lecture interesting I guess I'll summarize it in a few lines: The first thing about comparing Rome and Constantinople is that the former has been excavated to a far greater and thus more is known about Rome than about Constantinople.

It was of course more detailed than this, but in short the summary said that in terms of architecture and monuments etc it was a story about a new city trying to catch up with an old imperial city. And while Constantinople produced some great monuments and public buildings most didn't quite compare to the ones in Rome. With one major exception though, the Hagia Sofia was comparable to a lot of the old buildings in Rome, and was greater than any of similar kind i.e. churches. Also, while there really weren't any major building projects in Rome in the 4th and 5th centuries, Constantinople was full of them, so in that aspect it was “winning”.

So, hope anyone found this interesting, and please understand that if things sounds strange it's most likely due to me not remembering what said as I'm sure he knows what he's talking about :)

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I was never a fan of the Romans, the Romaioi were more fun. Rome cam to power easily with few major resistances. The Hellenic Empire (of Macedonia), the Greek Colonisation period of the Roman Peninsula, Byzantines all had a special gift about what they did and how they did it. I would be interested to know if the pottery changed because the Hellenistic period of ROman ended or if it was Germanic or Local technology coming forward. I see it as either the Greeks left the ROman Peninsula after the attrocities against them and moved East. The other theory would be that Germans occupied the peninsula and as we know the Celts ruled the most southern point of Reighium. The other theory would be that the locals were left to craft without the Hellenic masters known to be the principle traders of fabricated goods and pottery of that period. Many Roman structures have Greek lettering on them indicating they were from Greek Workshops. So If the Greek workshops moved ie to Byzantium then Rome would have to rely on local tradesmen.

What do you think happened?

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While I haven't really got more knowledge about it than what I learned from his lecture I'd be a bit boring and say that it most likely depended on a lot of reasons. You seem to have more knowledge about it than I do, but I'd guess at least both those theories you mention would have some truth in them.

But at least from what I learned from his lecture it was not because local/germanic pottery etc was becoming more common, but rather that the quality got poorer and that less was produced which would suggest that things got worse in one way or another. If that was the skilled people moving to the Eastern Empire, or the distractions (mildly speaking) of a lot of smaller factions rather than a big empire or something else I don't have an idea, but as I said I'd suppose that it was a combination. And they're most likely connected, if the Western part of the empire is instabilized while the Eastern is getting more stabilized I'd move to the Eastern part if I'd been skilled and able to move.

While I don't know that much about economy I'm not surprised that the distribution of produced goods got lower when the whole was divided into smaller parts, as each kingdom would try to do what's best for itself rather than for the common good in most cases. Even when that means less prosperity.

And one thing which was clear from his lecture was that the decline in the amount of pottery produced/the length it was distributed was more obvious in parts like Britain, while it wasn't as noticeable in the Mediterranean area.

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