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Empires to Nation-States

Late Antiquity

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Examining Stereotypes

Social and Economic Rigidity of Classes

In fact there was some social and economic mobility and vitality. One cannot make simplistic interpretation of social conditions from legal sources. The archaeological and epigraphic (inscriptions) testimony helps to qualify legal, narrative, and rhetorical ones. Better understanding of archaeological evidence helps to understand better the substantial commercial exchanges between Syria, North Africa, and Spain, in particular shipments of olive oil and wine and ceramics. Ramsay MacMullen wrote a major essay against the stereotype that social classes were frozen in late antiquity, "Social Mobility and the Theodosian Code." [See MacMullen, Ramsay. "Social Mobility and the Theodosian Code," Journal of Roman Studies 54 (1964): 49-53]

Supporting Links:
Hope, Valerie. “Social Pecking Order in the Roman World” BBC. Link to resourcenew window (accessed April 1, 2010).

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Empires to Nation-States » Late Antiquity » Examining Stereotypes

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