The End of The Roman Empire: Did it Collapse or Was it Transformed?

Bryan Ward-Perkins finds that archaeology offers unarguable evidence for an abrupt ending.

It used to be unquestioned that the Roman empire in the West fell to violent and bloody invasion that resulted in the death of a civilization, and the start of a ‘dark age’, from which it would take Europe centuries to recover. Recent scholarship, however, has tended to downplay the violence, and to challenge a concept of post-Roman cultural decline. New orthodoxies are emerging: that the barbarians were peacefully ‘accommodated’ into the empire to serve as its defenders; and that Roman culture was quietly ‘transformed’ into a new guise.

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