The Late Antique Period

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Late Antiquity, often defined as the period from the late 3rd century C.E. to the mid-7th century C.E., saw the birth of modern world institutions. It was a time of political, cultural, and spiritual changes that laid the foundation for what was to come in the Middle Ages and beyond. Late Antique society saw the birth of the bureaucracy, with rulers who became increasingly separated from the ruled by increasingly intricate channels of access. It saw the end of widespread paganism with the triumph of monotheism as not only a tool of faith, but of government and empire building. Classic historians like Gibbons placed the end of the Late Antique period at the fall of Rome in the 6th century to the Germanic barbarians. The epoch of Late Antiquity…show more content…
Religion, specifically the rise and evolution of Abrahamic monotheism (Christianity, rabbinic Judaism, and Islam), is the defining characteristic, of this era. Religions of the Late Antique period were linked with power and entered into a weird dance between politics and faith. Imperial monotheism served as a rallying cry and the building block of empires. Religion was used equally as a tool for salvation, either of the individual or the community, and to justify law. Constantine and the Christians, the Jews of the Himyarite Dynasty in Arabia, the Manicheists who tried to court the Persians, and even the Zoroastrians who were keen to court their Iranian overlords, all sought to solidify their power, control, and government over regions of conquered peoples by using religion as an emulsifier of different tribal/cultural groups and a tool of state control. Each religion created empires of varying sizes and strength that were bound by the socio-political idea of religion and conversion of the conquered (especially in the case of Christianity). In this light, Islam did not seal the end of Late Antiquity, but rather continued one of its most famous features: conquest and expansion using religion as a justification. The Islamic conquests, so often viewed as the ending of Late Antique era, fit precisely into this mold. By conquering new peoples and forcing their conversion to Islam as a way to strengthen…show more content…
Still visited tombs and shrines of holy people. Assuming one can believe the general tenor of what one reads in later sources, then there are a number of different contenders for the role of holy man in early Islam. Saints’ lives, strikingly absent in the early Islamic canon to those with late antique expectations, thus emerged; but it should come as no surprise that their authors ignored late antique precedents, adopting instead the biographical and historical genres already worked out. His charisma, which had earlier been squarely based on his political vision and success, now came to rest more and more on the miracles so familiar to students of late antique holy

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