Most of the sources that we have on the history of the late antiquity are lost and can at best be recovered in extracts through the reference from subsequent authors, who sometimes lived half a millennium later. The late antiquity is of great importance for the political and cultural development of Europe that cannot be overestimated: within this epoch highly dramatic events occured that one can associate with the keywords “Völkerwanderung” or “Ende des römischen Reiches”. It is also the time, when Christianity rose from a persecuted to a state religion and the Pagan body of thought assimilated, so that those works were handed down to posterity. For the historiography of the late antiquity a collection in the dimension of the fragments of the Greek historians, published by Felix Jacoby, is missing, so that one has to rely on incomplete and insufficient older compilations.
The research project of the “Kleinen und fragmentarischen Historiker der Spätantike” comprises 90 authors or anonymous works from the 3rd until the 6th century. They include Latin and Greek authors, secular and church historians, fragmentarily preserved and “kleine” (small) authors, meaning those, that are rarely edited as independent works and therefore not recorded in collections of fragments (e.g. Polemius Silvius and the chronicle from 452), historians that are known by name and safely reconstructable but anonymous historical works (e.g. the Enmannsche Kaisergeschichte). The authors and texts are not merely edited in the original text, provided with a critical apparatus which informs about the most important readings and conjectures, but also equipped with a German translation and a philological as well as historical comment. The contributors of both disciplines that are involved in the project, the Ancient History and the Classical Philology, are divided between these tasks.