The first book of its kind, this richly informative guide to the world of late antiquity offers the most recent scholarship to the researcher along with sheer reading pleasure to the browser. In eleven comprehensive essays and in over 500 encyclopedic entries, an international cast of experts provides essential information and fresh perspectives on the history and culture of an era marked by the rise of two world religions, unprecedented political upheavals that remade the map of the known world, and the creation of art of enduring glory. By extending the commonly accepted chronological and territorial boundaries of the period to encompass Roman, Byzantine, Sassanian, and early Islamic cultures, from the middle of the third century to the end of the eighth this guide makes new connections and permits revealing comparisons. Consult the article on 'Angels' and discover their meaning in Islamic as well as classical and Judeo Christian traditions. Refer to 'Children,' 'Concubinage,' and 'Divorce' for a fascinating interweaving of information on the family. Read the essay on 'Barbarians and Ethnicity' and see how a topic as current as the construction of identity played out in earlier times, from the Greeks and Romans to the Turks, Huns, and Saxons. Turn to 'Empire Building' to learn how the empire of Constantine was supported by architecture and ceremony. Or follow your own path through the broad range of entries on politics, manufacturing and commerce, the arts, philosophy, religion, geography, ethnicity, and domestic life. Each entry introduces readers to another facet of the postclassical world: historic figures and places, institutions, burial customs, food, money, public life, and amusements. A splendid selection of illustrations enhances the portrait. The intriguing era of late antiquity emerges completely and clearly, viewed in a new light and from new vantage points, in a guide that will be relished by scholars and general readers alike.