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The Long Seventh Century

Continuity and Discontinuity in an Age of Transition

Edited By Alessandro Gnasso, Emanuele E. Intagliata and Thomas J. MacMaster

This volume represents a selection of papers presented at the 2013 Edinburgh Seventh Century Colloquium, showcasing the latest scholarship from a rising generation of academics. The volume traverses the globe from Iran to the Atlantic and from Sweden to the Sahara and ranges from the establishment of the early Islamic state to the beginnings of English Christianity. Topics include the transmission of high culture across time, settlement patterns in a rapidly changing world and the formation of new and emerging identities. The essays also bring into dialogue a wide range of disciplinary and methodological perspectives, including archaeology, literature, history, art, papyrology and economics. Together, they generate valuable new insights into the still uncharted territories of the long seventh century.
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Afterword: Why the Seventh Century? The Problem of Periodization across Cultures


The present volume is an outgrowth of the Seventh-Century Colloquium held at the University of Edinburgh in May 2013. That conference, in turn, grew out of a sense that the organizers had that, in the last few decades, the seventh century has been getting larger. A ‘long seventh century’ has begun to be referred to; that longer century has begun to spread into both sixth and eighth centuries while the geographical framework has grown immensely.

A quarter century before the Edinburgh colloquium, in July 1988, the Warburg Institute held a joint French and British colloquium out of which sprang a volume of proceedings titled Le Septième Siècle: changements et continuités/The Seventh Century: change and continuity.1 That volume is quite different from this one, suggesting that the way that the period is envisioned has gone through a tremendous shift. Looking at the eleven essays in it and contrasting it to the somewhat similarly titled volume currently in your hands may give some sense of how a tremendous shift in the study of the seventh century has taken place (and, by all indications, will continue to do so). With the exception of Averil Cameron’s contribution to the older volume,2 all the essays in it concentrate on the Latin-using West, especially Gaul and Spain, with nothing to be said regarding the rest of the former Roman world. Similarly, it is a volume almost solely focused on Christianity and literature.

In contrast, twenty-five years...

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