"Esmonde Cleary begins by declaring his intention to 'emancipate archaeology from the role of servant'. In this, he can consider himself successful ... [his] achievement is to put the two types of evidence on an level-footing, showing that they should be interrogated according to their own merits, rather than expected to fit into pre-determined, often incompatible, frameworks ... As such, while this book will be greatly appreciated by experienced archaeologists, it is also a good guide for non-archaeologists who want to use the discipline to strengthen their work, but who might be hampered by the changing schools of thought or misled by the generalisations of earlier works."
Steven Spiegl, Bryn Mawr Classical Review
The traditional story of the decline and fall of the western Roman Empire has been derived from the written evidence. The development of archaeology with different sources and new analyses allows an alternative reading of events and a critique of notions of 'crisis' and 'decline and fall'.