Tag Archives: Roman Empire

Empires and exchanges in Eurasian late antiquity

Cosmo, Nicola di & Michael Maas (eds.). 2018. Empires and exchanges in Eurasian late antiquity: Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250-750. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Table of Contents is available on the publisher’s website.

Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity offers an integrated picture of Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppes during a formative period of world history. In the half millennium between 250 and 750 CE, settled empires underwent deep structural changes, while various nomadic peoples of the steppes (Huns, Avars, Turks, and others) experienced significant interactions and movements that changed their societies, cultures, and economies. This was a transformational era, a time when Roman, Persian, and Chinese monarchs were mutually aware of court practices, and when Christians and Buddhists criss-crossed the Eurasian lands together with merchants and armies. It was a time of greater circulation of ideas as well as material goods. This volume provides a conceptual frame for locating these developments in the same space and time. Without arguing for uniformity, it illuminates the interconnections and networks that tied countless local cultural expressions to far-reaching inter-regional ones.

Cosmopolitanism and empire

Lavan, Myles, Richard Payne & John Weisweiler (eds.). 2016. Cosmopolitanism and empire: Universal rulers, local elites, and cultural integration in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean. Oxford University Press.

The empires of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean invented cosmopolitan politics. In the first millennia BCE and CE, a succession of territorially extensive states incorporated populations of unprecedented cultural diversity. Cosmopolitanism and Empire traces the development of cultural techniques through which empires managed difference in order to establish effective, enduring regimes of domination. It focuses on the relations of imperial elites with culturally distinct local elites, offering a comparative perspective on the varying depth and modalities of elite integration in five empires of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. If cosmopolitanism has normally been studied apart from the imperial context, the essays gathered here show that theories and practices that enabled ruling elites to transcend cultural particularities were indispensable for the establishment and maintenance of trans-regional and trans-cultural political orders. As the first cosmopolitans, imperial elites regarded ruling over culturally disparate populations as their vocation, and their capacity to establish normative frameworks across cultural boundaries played a vital role in the consolidation of their power. Together with an introductory chapter which offers a theory and history of the relationship between empire and cosmopolitanism, the volume includes case studies of Assyrian, Seleukid, Ptolemaic, Roman, and Iranian empires that analyze encounters between ruling classes and their subordinates in the domains of language and literature, religion, and the social imaginary. The contributions combine to illustrate the dilemmas of difference that imperial elites confronted as well as their strategies for resolving the cultural contradictions that their regimes precipitated.

Iberia between Rome and Iran

Iberia between Rome and Iran from Pompey to Heraclius

Georgian Bolnisi inscriptions, 494 AD.
Georgian Bolnisi inscriptions, 494 AD.

07.- 09. July 2016, University of Jena

An international colloquium on the history of Georgia in Late Antiquity (from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD) organized by the Chair of Ancient History at the University of Jena.

Central to the research are the close contacts of the Iberians to the Roman Empire on one side, and to the realms of the Parthians and Sasanians on the other side. Iberia formed an interface between the great powers and was strongly influenced by both sides. Some of these influences, such as the establishment of Christianity, territorial ambitions of the great neighbors or linguistic developments,  will be discussed at the conference, attended by German and internatioal scholars of the Ancient Studies and the history of Caucasian Iberia.

Programm

  • Tassilo Schmitt: “Argo und Argumente. Historische Perspektiven auf den und aus dem Kaukasus”

Sektion I – Iberien im Spannungsfeld der Großmächte

  • Frank Schleicher: “Die Chronologie der kartvelischen Könige und das Ende des iberischen Königtums”
  • Balbina Bäbler: “Pompeius im Kaukasus. Geographie und Topographie eines Feldzugs”
  • Henning Börm: “Die Grenzen des Großkönigs? Grundzüge der arsakidisch-sasanidischen Politik gegenüber Rom”
  • Giusto Traina: “Dynastic connections in Armenia and Iberia (I-III CE)”

Sektion II – Zur Christianisierung Iberiens

  • Konstantin Klein: “Ein Königssohn, zwei Rabbinen und (fast) vierzig Nonnen – die Konversion Iberiens in der lateinischen, griechischen und armenischen Überlieferung”
  • Josef Rist: “Nino versus Gregor. Die Christianisierung Iberiens und seine Stellung zur Reichskirche im Vergleich mit Armenien”
  • Stephen H. Rapp Jr.: “The Conversion of Eastern Georgia: Cross-Cultural and Pan-Regional Perspectives”

Sektion III – Zur Religiosität der Iberer (Moderator: Udo Hartmann, Jena)

  • Eka Tchkoidze: “Iberia between Christianity and Zoroastrianism (evidence from Georgian literary tradition)”
  • Cornelia B. Horn: “Die Georgier und das Heilige Land: Hagiographische, apokryphe und historische Elemente einer Beziehung”
  • Jan-Markus Kötter: “Bekenntnis als Mittel der Diplomatie – Die Stellung der iberischen Kirche zum Reich”

Sektion IV – Zu den Quellen

  • Alexander Schilling: “Die ‚Diegesis ophelimos‘ (BHG 1060) in georgischer Überlieferung: historische und historiographische Kontexte”
  • Bernadette Martin-Hisard: “L’Ibérie des VIe-VIIe siècles d’après des traditions religieuses géorgiennes des IXe-XIIe siècles”
  • Armenuhi Drost-Abgarjan: “Das Bild der Iberer in der armenischen Literatur (5.-7. Jh.)”
  • Johannes Niehoff-Panagiotidis: “Griechisch, Aramäisch oder was? Die historischen Voraussetzungen für die Genese der georgischen Literatursprache”

Sektion V – Archäologisches

  • Nodar Bakhtadze: “The Oldest Basilicas Revealed in Nekresi Former City and Assumptions on Architectural Design of the First Georgian Christian Churches”
  • Annegret Plontke-Lüning: “Von Dmanisi nach Bolnisi. Ein alter Pilgerweg in Niederkartli”

The Nisibis War

Harrel, John. 2016.  The Nisibis War: The Defence of the Roman East AD 337–363. Pen & Sword Military.

The war of 337-363 (which the author dubs the ‘Nisibis War’), was an exception to the traditional Roman reliance on a strategic offensive to bring about a decisive battle. Instead, the Emperor Constantius II adopted a defensive strategy and conducted a mobile defence based upon small frontier (limitanei) forces defending fortified cities, supported by limited counteroffensives by the Field Army of the East. These methods successfully checked Persian assaults for 24 years. However, when Julian became emperor his access to greater resources tempted him to abandon mobile defence in favour of a major invasion aimed at regime change in Persia. Although he reached the Persian capital, Ctesiphon, he failed to take it, was decisively defeated in battle and killed. The Romans subsequently resumed and refined the mobile defence, allowing the Eastern provinces to survive the fall of the Western Empire.
John Harrel applies his personal experience of military command to a strategic, operational, tactical and logistical analysis of these campaigns and battles, highlighting their long-term significance.

A new look at the Roman Empire of the fourth century

Dijkstra, Roald ,  Sanne van Poppel & Daniëlle Slootjes (eds.). 2015. East and West in the Roman Empire of the fourth century. An end to unity? Brill.

East and West in the Roman Empire of the Fourth Century examines the (dis)unity of the Roman Empire in the fourth century from different angles, in order to offer a broad perspective on the topic and avoid an overvaluation of the political division of the empire in 395.
After a methodological key-paper on the concepts of unity, the other contributors elaborate on these notions from various geo-political perspectives: the role of the army and taxation, geographical perspectives, the unity of the Church and the perception of the divisio regni of 364. Four case-studies follow, illuminating the role of concordia apostolorum, antique sports, eunuchs and the poet Prudentius on the late antique view of the Empire. Despite developments to the contrary, it appears that the Roman Empire remained (to be viewed as) a unity in all strata of society.

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Ideology, power and religious change in antiquity

Plakat_IPRCA2015Ideology, Power and Religious Change in Antiquity, 3000 BC – AD 600 (IPRCA)

International Summer School organized by Graduate School of Humanities Göttingen (GSGG)

20 – 24 July 2015, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Archäologisches Institut und Sammlung der Gipsabgüsse)

In the modern world, political as well as religious leaders make use of ideological messages to legitimize and advertise their power. Especially during periods of transformation and change, it is important for leaders to demonstrate their strengths and capacities in order to unify their subjects. By presenting themselves as the right men in the right place they could win their subjects’ loyalty and thus legitimize and safeguard their own positions. This practice is however not a modern invention, it is rooted in ancient traditions and habits.

The summer school focuses on ideological messages communicated by leaders in the ancient world (Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome, c. 3000 BC – AD 600) during periods of religious change (periods characterized by the rise, expansion or dominance of new religions, specific religious factions, sects or cults that caused changes in or threatened existing social, religious and/or power structures). Which messages were communicated by central and local authorities as well as specific religious authorities in these epochs? What do these messages tell us about the nature of power exercised by leaders?

The pre-arranged sessions to discusse the different subjects and questions are:

  • Session 1 Ancient Mesopotamia
  • Session 2 Ancient Anatolia, Levant and Iran
  • Session 3 Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World
  • Session 4 Roman Republic and Empire
  • Session 5 The Byzantine Empire

Programme:

Continue reading Ideology, power and religious change in antiquity