Cultural Changes and Continuities in the Mediterranean Essay
Cultural Changes and Continuities in the Mediterranean
Throughout history, the Mediterranean has offered a vast amount of political transformations leading to both cultural continuities and variances. One of the main political changes that occurred in this area was the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Byzantine Empire, which took place from around 200 C.E to 1000 C.E. While these empires consisted of roughly the same culture, they had different political structures which led to some differences. Other alterations that came up were the rise of Islam and the invasion of Germanic tribes. This led to cultural diffusion in the Mediterranean and had many effects on the cultures of this area.
Many relate the fall of the Roman Empire to it being split in half in 330 C.E; however, the Roman Empire officially fell in 476 C.E. when Germanic tribes overthrew the Western half of the empire. The Eastern half went on to be known as the Byzantine Empire which already had its own capitol, Constantinople, and its own emperor. Christianity had already been legalized by the Roman Empire in 313 C.E, before the split. It had spread so rapidly afterwards that it soon became the official religion of the state. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Byzantine Empire, this was one of the main continuities. Christianity was the official religion of the Byzantine Empire as it had been for the Roman Empire. Not only did the Byzantine Empire stay Christian, but also the Western half of the Roman Empire, at that point conquered by Germanic tribes, stayed Christian and the conquering tribes converted to Christianity, which was a change.
Another continuity of Roman culture into Byzantine culture was that a Byzantine emperor, Justinian, actually created a code of laws from compiling laws that were used in the Roman Empire, such as the citizenship laws that were prevalent for most of span of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine (eastern Roman Empire) continued to speak Greek, and the Western Roman Empire continued to speak Latin. This continuity of Greco-Roman culture not only showed in language but also in architecture. It was built off of architecture in both Rome and ancient Greece. An architectural feat particularly associated with the Byzantines is the Dome, an idea based off of the Roman arch. Columns were also commonly used inside Byzantine churches, which is a Greek architectural design.
A prominent change in the culture of the Mediterranean was the rise of Islam. It spread rapidly throughout the Mediterranean region of Africa, which had beforehand been a variety of religions. Although Islam was not very prevalent in most of the European Mediterranean, it did make the crossover in 711 C.E. to Spain. Before this Spain had been Christian and there were still Christians in the area, it was just that Muslims were more prevalent.
In conclusion, the political transformations that occurred from 200-1000 C.E. throughout the Mediterranean region, influenced the culture of some Germanic Tribes, the Byzantines, and some Muslim groups, affecting the entire coastal area.