The last century and a half have witnessed a massive influx of fresh material to study classical antiquity and the Patristic Period. Ancient sources of all kinds, including Christian sources, are more readily accessible through new collections and editions. Previous cen­turies were often satisfied with written testimonies and built their reconstructions of the past almost exclusively on textual remains. The situation is different today. Other sources and tools come to the help of the textual approach: archeology with its wealth of material remains, epigraphy and papyrology, iconography and artistic representations are some of the main ways unpublished or fresh information is put at our disposal. Anthropology and sociology have also provided fruitful hypotheses and conceptual tools often yielding fresh understanding of the historical and intellectual processes. The evidence gathered as a result of those expanded sources and instruments, submitted to a criti­cal assessment, is now used in the reconstruction and interpretation of the past.

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