Ravenna has eight World Heritages sites--churches, baptisteries, chapels and monuments dating from the fifth and sixth centuries AD which are renowned especially for exquisite mosaics portraying biblical scenes and figures.
They were designed, constructed and decorated over decades during the era of the fall of the western Roman empire, against a tide of invasion, regime change, conflict and a destructive Italian civil war.
How did Ravenna achieve such architectural and artistic glory in this era?
The book recounts the city's unique experience as the capital both of the late western Roman empire and of its successor Gothic kingdoms.
It shows the central role played by its bishops as the early Christian Church detached itself from the crumbling imperial government.
It brings out the important cultural contribution of the kingdom of Italy headed by Theodoric the Ostrogoth and the strong links between Ravenna and the emerging Byzantine empire of the eastern emperor Justinian.