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Empires in Collision in Late Antiquity

G. W. Bowersock

Publication Year: 2012

Political and military developments in the Arabian Peninsula on the eve of Islam In this book, based on lectures delivered at the Historical Society of Israel, the famed historian G. W. Bowersock presents a searching examination of political developments in the Arabian Peninsula on the eve of the rise of Islam. Recounting the growth of Christian Ethiopia and the conflict with Jewish Arabia, he describes the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of a late resurgent Sassanian (Persian) Empire. He concludes by underscoring the importance of the Byzantine Empire’s defeat of the Sassanian forces, which destabilized the region and thus provided the opportunity for the rise and military success of Islam in the seventh century. Using close readings of surviving texts, Bowersock sheds new light on the complex causal relationships among the Byzantine, Ethiopian, Persian, and emerging Islamic forces.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series: The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-xv

The lectures that follow were delivered by Professor Glen W. Bowersock, Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, as the 2011 Jerusalem Lectures in History in Memory of Menahem Stern. Over the last fifteen series of these Jerusalem lectures we, the audience in Jerusalem and then the readers of the...

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pp. xvii-xix

I am profoundly grateful to the Historical Society of Israel for its invitation to deliver the 2011 lectures in memory of Menahem Stern, and for the unforgettable warmth and hospitality of the welcome I received in Jerusalem during the course of those lectures in early April of that year. I cannot adequately...

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1. Byzantium, Ethiopia, and the Jewish Kingdom of South Arabia

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pp. 1-28

When the old antiquarian and polymath, Pliny, was registering the cities of the Near East in the fifth book of his Natural History in the middle of the first century CE, he remarked that in central Syria the great emporium at the Palmyra oasis lay between two powerful empires...

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2. The Persian Capture of Jerusalem

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pp. 29-51

In the fateful year 614 the armies of the Sassanian king Khosroes II set up siege towers outside Jerusalem, breached its walls, and invaded the city. With due allowance for the partisan and rhetorical exaggeration in our sources, it is safe to say that this invasion was the most devastating event to...

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3. Heraclius’ Gift to Islam: The Death of the Persian Empire

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pp. 53-77

The Persian invasions of Palestine and Egypt posed a serious dilemma for the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, who had succeeded the usurper Phocas in 610. He was confronted by hostile Avars in the vicinity of Constantinople, and yet he could not ignore the Persian presence in the near-eastern...


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pp. 79-90


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pp. 91-95

Further Reading

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p. 97

E-ISBN-13: 9781611683226
E-ISBN-10: 161168322X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611683202
Print-ISBN-10: 1611683203

Page Count: 128
Illustrations: 5 illus.
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures
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OCLC Number: 820719584
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Empires in Collision in Late Antiquity

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Middle East -- Civilization -- To 622.
  • Middle East -- History -- To 622.
  • Iran -- Civilization -- To 640.
  • Iran -- History -- To 640.
  • Byzantine Empire -- Civilization -- To 527.
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