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Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages…

Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered (urspr publ 2008; utgåvan 2008)

av Peter S. Wells (Författare)

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3131162,332 (3.4)15
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Titel:Barbarians to Angels: The Dark Ages Reconsidered
Författare:Peter S. Wells (Författare)
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2008), 256 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Från barbarer till änglar : de mörka århundradena i nytt ljus av Peter S. Wells (2008)


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In Barbarians to Angels, Wells discusses his basic thesis that the “Dark Ages” weren’t quite so dark. That the barbarians “invading” the Roman Empire, adapted, integrated and modified the Roman government institutions, but also retained a great deal of their own complex culture and institutions after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Wells decides to focus his attention on the examination of archaeological materials to construct a picture of barbarian society in northern Europe.

In my opinion, Wells’ argument may well be correct, but he doesn’t convey this adequately (in this book) due to poor argumentation and the questionable interpretation and use of evidence. The author continually states that the Dark Ages were a time of brilliant cultural activity, but fails to show this. He keeps going back to the archaeological evidence and ignores any other type of evidence. While Wells describes the archaeological features in detail, he fails to place these objects in a wider context or compare them with similar findings in the rest of Europe. Wells’ also tends to focus on sites on the edge of the Roman Empire or even beyond its borders. There is rarely any discussion of sites within what once was the Western Roman Empire. There is also a lack of information of how his findings compare to what was happening in the area before the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. The author does present some interesting information about the evidence for trade and culture and wealth that refutes the common misconception of savage barbarians plundering cities, ravished populations and empty landscapes. But he doesn’t provide enough information to compare economic complexity during the Roman period and the post-Roman period. For example, Wells demonstrates that Dark Age Europeans were capable of creating sophisticated goods and distributing them, but the why, how, and its relation to the earlier Roman period is not explained.

In general, this book is rather basic and bland and may well be intended as an introduction to the early Middle Ages or as a limited survey to the subject. The writing style is easy to read with many photographs and maps, however, the argument is weak and unsatisfactory.
( )
  ElentarriLT | Mar 24, 2020 |
Not so dark. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 4, 2016 |
Too long to do what it does, establish that Europe was not a depopulated wasteland between the Fall of Rome and the rise of Charlemagne. Too short to do more to explore what really was happening. Interesting but left me wanting more detail--other than paragraphs describing artistic styles that I can see and evaluate for myself.
  ritaer | May 13, 2016 |
A little dry. Not written for the causal read. Discusses why people think of the middle ages as the dark ages and why that view is influenced by the Roman writers in their days of waning power and influence and the influence of Gibbon's classic work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

However, Europe was expanding in many other ways as trade and learning flourished in parts of Europe that were not Roman. Many of these elements of society that flourished do have surviving written records which feeds into the previously popular view of a dark age. Archeology has revealed a different viewpoint pointing to a period of growth and it is unlikely that the many people of the time felt they lived in a Dark Age. ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
As the defender of barbarian complexity and contribution, Peter Wells stakes a claim in the larger debate on the nature of the Fall of Rome, and with some interesting modifications, comes down on the side of continuity and gradual transition. Barbarians to Angels continues the basic thesis of his The Barbarians Speak; simply put, that the barbarians possessed a complex society of their own. While adapting to Roman culture, and integrating and modifying Roman institutions of government, they retained much of their own culture and institutions during the so-called Dark Ages, a period that Wells works diligently to dispel once and for all. Wells proposes to tackle this with an examination of the archaeological materials to construct a “bottom-up” picture of barbarian society in northern Europe.

In general, this is a well-written book recommended for undergraduates taking a survey course in the early middle ages, as an engaging introduction to barbarian archeology. The tone and style of prose is probably intended for a more general audience. It is an easy read, with numerous photographs and maps. However, some of the photographs add little or nothing to the readers understanding of the subject. The most important contribution is probably as a counterpoint to scholars who have underestimated the contributions of the barbarians to the culture of the Early Middle Ages.
( )
  Steve.Bivans | Jul 20, 2014 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (2 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Peter S. Wellsprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Lai, Chin-LeeOmslagsformgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Wagner, Margaret M.Formgivaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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The glorious civilization of the Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century.
(Note: the author goes on to state that this is a traditional view of a collapse followed by cultural barbarism with which he disagrees)
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In reference to barbarian migrations: "many of the migrations that the writers mentioned did not take place in a way they are described...instead they were created as origin myths" p. 30 Based on the myth of Virgil's Aeneas leaving Troy to come to Italy.
There is little solid archaeological evidence for any migrations on the scale corresponding to the works of Gildas and Bede... (page 32)
To call these changes (dismantling of major stone monuments) "decline', "collapse", or "abandonment"-as has been done in the past-is to adopt a conservative Roman attitude to change. ...But the question ...how can we understand these changes in terms of the lives and actions of the inhabitants of this specific place (London)?
This period (fifth through eighth centuries...was a time of brilliant cultural activity...The Renaissance and modern civilization owe as much to the 'barbarians' as to Rome.
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