Definition of antiquity in US English:



  • 1The ancient past, especially the period before the Middle Ages.

    ‘the great civilizations of antiquity’
    • ‘Some of the classical cities of antiquity, notably Athens and Rome, became dependent on trade by sea to import the building materials and foodstuffs necessary to maintain both their populations and their navies.’
    • ‘Similarly, no scribe in antiquity could have worked with such a typology, for every variation in the objects could never be registered in bureaucratic discourse.’
    • ‘Though human life was not regarded as sacred in antiquity, the Greeks judged murder to be an act of impiety, since it offended the gods and caused miasma or pollution.’
    • ‘Thus, the spirit of the age in antiquity is in direct conflict with modern perceptions of the period.’
    • ‘Archaeology can show that Britain since antiquity has been a diverse, multi-ethnic and multicultural nation, something that needs remembering more than ever today.’
    • ‘Among the greatest works of western art, these sculptures drew on Bernini's knowledge of antiquity and Michelangelo.’
    • ‘There are 56 original works by the artist and 36 from different historical periods ranging from antiquity to the 19th century.’
    • ‘He painstakingly gathered and published in The African Past a rich collection of little-used documents dating back to antiquity.’
    • ‘Although it is known that the other island, known in antiquity as Lerina, was inhabited from an early period, there is nothing to see there relating to Honoratus, the 4th century saint from whom it derives its modern name.’
    • ‘Three factors fed into the transformation of the Mediterranean economy of antiquity into the European economy of the Middle Ages.’
    • ‘From antiquity through the Middle Ages, according to Wickberg, ‘humor’ referred always to objective entities.’
    • ‘The extant pottery undoubtedly provides a precious resource of iconographic material that can greatly enrich our understanding of ancient Greece; but its status in antiquity has been exaggerated.’
    • ‘They also suggest a common geographic origin in antiquity, with a range of variation between cultures in time and space.’
    • ‘His 37-volume Natural History is the longest work on science in Latin that has survived from antiquity.’
    • ‘On the other hand claims of massive deforestation since antiquity seem mistaken: Greece today has a greater area of woodland than it had fifty years ago, and the classical landscape may have been less wooded than today's.’
    • ‘Its counterpart in antiquity was not Plato's philosophy, but Ptolemy's astronomy, which depended on actual measurements, while the former sought eternal truth beyond all possible measurement.’
    • ‘In antiquity Gibraltar belonged in turn to the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, and Visigoths.’
    • ‘In order to appreciate the Nile's position in antiquity, we should see it through ancient eyes, remembering the ancient distinctions between the divine and the human.’
    • ‘No such figures of Silenus happen to have survived from antiquity, though the idea of ‘a god within’ another statue or image is known from medieval Christian Europe and from Hindu India.’
    • ‘The poem was accepted as Hesiod's in antiquity, but various indications point to the period 580-520 BC.’
    ancient times, the ancient past, classical times, former times, the distant past, times gone by
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    1. 1.1usually antiquities An object, building, or work of art from the ancient past.
      ‘an extensive collection of Greek antiquities’
      • ‘There are thousands of antiquities, monuments and heritage sites of various levels of importance all over County Meath.’
      • ‘Even worse, lots of antiquities have been looted directly from excavation sites, ruining them for history.’
      • ‘A property developer and financier, he is an important collector of Asian antiquities, particularly jade.’
      • ‘The Townland Survey not only mapped the Townlands but also collected information on local antiquities and place names.’
      • ‘It was built as the University Galleries to house paintings, prints, drawings, and antiquities.’
      • ‘He was also scholarly, an insatiable reader, collector of books, antiquities, and other works of art.’
      • ‘Conservation work is needed on three main groups of objects - important antiquities from the public displays, ivories and other items.’
      • ‘While in Baghdad, Lynn made dozens of photographs of the exquisite antiquities housed in the Iraq Museum.’
      • ‘The new database posts photographs and information on antiquities from the Iraq Museum collection.’
      • ‘Wiley gave the plates to McDowell for the museum of antiquities on the campus.’
      • ‘Girtin's first commissions were copies after prints and worked-up versions of amateur drawings of scenery and antiquities.’
      • ‘Under Greece's strict protection laws, it is illegal to own, buy, sell or excavate antiquities without a special permit.’
      • ‘His ambition was to establish a museum of antiquities in Cairo, and in 1858 Said Pasha the viceroy of the Ottoman emperor agreed to the plans.’
      • ‘In the loneliness of her final years, she founded an archaeological museum in Baghdad and became Iraq's director of antiquities.’
      • ‘The British Museum holds a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures.’
      • ‘Gauguin's primitivist pottery lives happily within the same walls as ancient Egyptian antiquities.’
      • ‘These books circulated images of famous paintings, calligraphy and antiquities, as well as designs for such utensils as ink cakes and ink stones.’
      • ‘Paintings, works on paper and antiquities were stored and displayed in various buildings throughout the campus.’
      • ‘The building on Queen Street houses portraits of eminent Scots, antiquities, and the national photography collection.’
      • ‘Defying the age of celebrity, and resisting the lucrative market for antiquities, the property owner kept mum about his treasure for decades.’
      antique, period piece, museum piece
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  • 2Great age.

    ‘a church of great antiquity’
    • ‘Montesquieu, Smith and Tocqueville were forced to theorize about the antiquity of the institutions and culture which underlay modernity and its origins in England.’
    • ‘A third instance is that paleontological evidence seemed to push the antiquity of life back to the earliest Archaean times.’
    • ‘The issue for me is closely associated with the antiquity of the earth.’
    • ‘The graveyard dates back nearly 200 years and due to the antiquity of the graves, many of them were not marked.’
    • ‘The question arises: what have American cantors done with this information concerning the antiquity - and ubiquity - of Jewish liturgy?’
    • ‘Historians continue to debate the antiquity and plausibility of his discovery.’
    • ‘It's not just the antiquity of the towns, but also the way people there think about urban life.’
    • ‘As a consequence of the antiquity and relatively short duration of mining, little was known of the mineralogy of the Pittsville iron deposits.’
    • ‘He has noted that population size is an important element in determining population diversity which is usually assumed to derive from the antiquity of a population.’
    • ‘A look at the old ledgers is enough to convince one of the antiquity of the bank.’
    • ‘I am lucky to have been able to savour the antiquity of the town in its relatively pristine state.’
    • ‘Now some writers question the antiquity of the rabbinic moser laws.’
    • ‘Dr. Nolan said the antiquity of the family alone gives the book credence.’
    • ‘So I wrote to the author, complimenting him on the well-written article, and then challenging him on his statements about the antiquity of horseshoe crabs.’
    • ‘Aside from the intrinsic fascination for knowing the antiquity of a given species or clade, accurate date estimation is important for advancing evolutionary theory.’
    • ‘Another aspect that deserves attention is the relationship between the antiquity of a gene and its evolutionary rate.’
    • ‘These scientists are calculating the antiquity of the various genes we share, not attempting to reconstruct the complete family tree of the people who carry them.’
    • ‘This is good since there is such a deluge of false information in regards to the antiquity of Wicca, and hopefully the seeker who reads these books will come away with a true sense of the age of Wicca.’
    • ‘Archaeological discoveries not only provide evidence for the antiquity of this masking tradition, but also add credence to a Niger Delta origin.’
    • ‘It is an unwritten code that wherever possible churches with antiquity would be preserved.’
    age, oldness, elderliness, ancientness
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Middle English: from Old French antiquite, from Latin antiquitas, from antiquus ‘old, former’ (see antique).