National Geographic : 1962 Dec
the tens of thousands of unpublished texts and documents that line the libraries and archives of Europe. The Vatican archives alone house 20 miles of shelves containing largely unpublished documents; much of this material relates to the period before 1500. Just as our own civilization has emerged from the Middle Ages, the Middle Ages in their turn emerged from antiquity. We are often told that the "fall of Rome" spelled the end of antiquity. But Rome did not fall; it declined gradually. Scholars dispute the basic causes of this decline, but we can see its symptoms well before A.D. 300. The Roman Government had long felt the 800 KODACHROMEBY FLIP SCHULKE © NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY pressure of the Germanic peoples on the northern frontiers. While Rome was strong, these barbarians were repelled. The Ger manic invasions did not cause the decline of Rome. The invasions were successful because Rome had already declined. In the third century the Roman legions were withdrawn from Dacia (what is now Romania), and they never returned (page 802). And though Roman Britain, on the other side of Europe, was free of many of the troubles of the third century, London was soon to share the fate of most Roman cities as the weight of surrounding barbarians crumpled the decaying shell of empire.