Art in Late Roman Britain
DOI link for Art in Late Roman Britain
Art in Late Roman Britain book
Late Antique culture and society have received considerable attention in recent years. The fourth century is no longer seen as a time of decadence but rather of vitality and innovation. These are the decades in which the Roman state underwent a subtle evolution and, in the Eastern provinces, became the Byzantine Empire.1 In the West the unity of the Roman world proved to be more fragile and during the fifth century the Empire fell apart into successor states, often dominated by Germanic ruling classes, and so the Middle Ages were born. It is too easy to view Late Antiquity retrospectively. Both in East and West men thought they were preserving the traditions of the Roman past-save perhaps the Christians who, nevertheless, based their legitimacy on history. In the West nobody imagined himself on a road to the fall of the Roman Empire; these provinces too enjoyed their Late Antique (early ‘Byzantine’) period. The different character of this period-even in Roman Britain-demands separate treatment as much as that of the Conquest in the first century, and it has recently received it.2 There will naturally be some overlap in coverage with what has come before; for example we have already considered in the previous chapter the question of mosaic workshops. Here
the stress will be on the content and use of art as an expression of Late Antiquity.