Brill’s New Pauly Supplements I - Volume 3 : Historical Atlas of the Ancient World

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Subject: Classical Studies

Edited by: Anne Wittke, Eckhart Olshausen and Richard Szydlak
This new atlas of the ancient world illustrates the political, economic, social and cultural developments in the ancient Near East, the Mediterranean world, the Byzantine Empire, the Islamic world and the Holy Roman Empire from the 3rd millennium BC until the 15th century AD.

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The Achaemenid Kingdom (6th to 4th cents. BC)

(2,101 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M. | Wiesehöfer, J. | Klinkott, H. | Sommer, M.
The Achaemenid Empire was more than just the first great Persian empire; for under the rule of the Teispids (i.e. the kings before Darius I) and the Achaemenids (from Darius I), it unified for the first time all of the Near and Middle East and then kept it together, mostly in peace. It lasted from c. 550 (conquest of the Median kingdom) until 330 BC, when it was itself conquered by Alexander the Great. The Persians created an exemplary infrastructure comprising a network of roads, a uniform currency, an official language and an efficient and durable administrative system. I. The expansion of…

The Aegean area in the Bronze Age

(1,923 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M.
Far from separating the nations living on its shores, as is the case today, the Aegean Sea in Antiquity served as a medium of interaction to its coastal communities in Macedonia, Greece and Crete, along the shoreline of Asia Minor and in the Ancient Balkan region in the north. In the Aegean Bronze Age ( c. 2700– c. 1200 BC) and the subsequent Iron Age ( c. 1200– c. 900 BC), cultural assets and ideas spread along the sea routes to such a degree that we can speak of an ‘Aegean koine’, although interpretation of the surviving material and textual sources shows that…

The Ancient Near and Middle East in the 15th to 13th centuries BC

(1,482 words)

Author(s): Novák, M.
The two main maps and the supplementary one attempt to reflect the extremely complex political situation in the Eastern Mediterranean region and the Middle East during the Late Bronze Age ( c. 1500–1200 BC). While map A highlights the circumstances before the destruction of the Mittani kingdom by the Hittites around 1350 BC, map B depicts the constellation which resulted from that event and remained stable until 1200 BC. The subject of the supplementary map is the historical geography of Syria and the Levant, the contact zone between the great empires of the age. I. The Ancient Near and …

The Ancient Near East in the 17th and 16th centuries BC

(1,402 words)

Author(s): Novák, M.
The two maps highlight the political conditions during the ‘Early Babylonian period’. This age, named after a stage in the development of the Babylonian dialect, a variety of the Akkadian language, encompassed the first half of the 2nd millennium BC. It followed on the heels of the fall of the ‘Neo-Sumerian’ kingdom of the 3rd Dynasty of Ur in the 20th cent. BC and ended with the conquest and destruction of the city of Bābilim/Babylon by the Hittites in the late 16th cent. BC. Generally the Earl…

The approximate core areas of distribution of hieroglyphic, cuneiform, alphabetic and syllabic scripts in the Eastern Mediterranean area (c. 12th to 7th cents. BC)

(1,492 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M.
In the history of writing systems, three different fundamental methods of recording the spoken word have been established: these are – in order of emergence – ideographic, syllabic and phonetic scripts. Any known writing system on this planet, including those of the Ancient World, is bound to use one of these methods or a combination of them, with the phonetic script – including the special case of the mostly oriental consonant script (e.g. Phoenician) – best suited to represent combinations of sounds. The Early Iron Age ( c. 12th to 7th cents.) was chosen as the most suitable era…

The Arsacid kingdom in the 1st and 2nd cents. AD (to AD 224)

(1,917 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M.
The Parthians, or to use the name of the ruling dynasty, the Arsacids, built a kingdom from the 3rd cent. BC in what is now Iran, taking the place of the Seleucids; it encompassed large parts of Mesopotamia, the south-eastern portion of Central Asia and some adjoining peripheral zones, and it formed the link between the Graeco-Roman world on the one hand and Central Asia (and China) on the other. Many details of its history remain obscure because of the poor state of the sources. The Parthians a…

The Augustan division of Rome and Italy into regions

(1,558 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
The term regio, which in augural terminology denoted a section of sky whose dimensions were ascertained by arcane principles, also referred (synonymously with the term tribus) to one of the four urban regions into which the sixth of the Roman kings, Servius Tullius, was said to have divided the area of the city of Rome within the Pomerium. The four original urban regiones were 1. the regio Palatina, 2. the regio Collina, 3. the regio Esquilina and 4. the regio Suburana (see Map C – The 4 tribus urbanae (from the 6th cent BC)). I. Rome In 7 BC, Augustus enacted an administrative reform unde…

The Bosporan Kingdom from the 5th cent. BC to the 1st cent. AD

(1,351 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M. | Posamentir, R.
The so-called Bosporan Kingdom established itself in the mostly Scythian-settled region on the north-eastern shore of the Black Sea (cf. also map C) after the phase of colonization, mostly by Greeks of Asia Minor (perhaps under pressure from the Lydians, later the Persians), from the 7th/6th cents. BC. The kingdom was a union of Greek cities to either side of the Cimmerian Bosporus (Straits of Kerč), on the Chersonesus Taurica (Crimea) and its eastward counterpart the Taman Peninsula, south of the Maeotis (Sea of Azov). The union was under the leadership of Panticapaeum. At first ( c. 480 …

The Byzantine Empire under Basil II (976–1025)

(1,485 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
Under Basil II, a son of Romanus II and an emperor of the Macedonian Dynasty which had ruled since 867, the Byzantine Empire attained a degree of domestic political consolidation that enabled an exercise of power abroad the like of which had not been seen since the reign of Justinian I. Like his brother Constantine VIII, Basil II lived in the shadow of extra-dynastic emperors, Nicephorus II Phocas (963–969) and John I Tzimisces (969–976), following the early death of his father Romanus II in 963. After John Tzimiskes’ death, Basil’s eunuch great-uncle, the parakoimomenos (head of the im…

The Byzantine Empire under the Palaeologi (1261–1453)

(1,929 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
The Palaeologi Emperors Michael VIII Palaeologus 1259–1282 Andronicus II Palaeologus 1282–1328 Andronicus III Palaeologus 1328–1341 John V Palaeologus 1341–1391 John VI Cantacuzenus 1341;1347–1354 Michael IX Palaeologus 1294–1320 Andronicus IV Palaeologus 1376–1379 John VII Palaeologus 1390 Manuel II Palaeologus 1391–1425 John VIII Palaeologus 1425–1448 Constantine XI Palaeologus 1449–1453 Rulers of the House of Osman Osman I 1288–1326 Orhan I 1326–1362 Murad I 1362–1389 Beyazid I 1389–1402 Mehmet I 1402–1421 Suleiman 1402–1410 Musa 1411–1413 Murad II 1421–1444; 14…

The Byzantine theme system (7th – 9th cents. AD)

(1,435 words)

Author(s): Winkle, C. | Olshausen, E.
Heraclius (610-641), who acceded on the death of Phocas, would be another emperor who tightened the structures of the Empire and its society anew. And he it was (probably more so than his grandson Constans II (641–668)) who undertook a drastic administrative reorganization: the division of the Empire into military provinces, so-called themata or ‘themes’. The actual meaning of the word thema is disputed. It may have meant a ‘sphere of operations’ for particular army divisions that were transferred to Asia Minor in response to the loss of frontier territories. The themes were governed by s…

The campaigns of Alexander the Great (336–323 BC)

(1,335 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M.
Having secured the northern (Thrace and up to the Istrus/Danube) and western (southern Illyria) frontiers of Macedonia and put down a revolt in Thebes in 335 BC, Alexander the Great crossed to Asia Minor in 334 as hegemon of the Panhellenic League (Corinthian League) to pursue the war of revenge against Persia which Philip II had declared in the spring of 337 (Diod. Sic. 17,17). No-one, ancient or modern, has been able to determine whether it was his intention from the outset to conquer the Persian Empire. Course of events In 334, after defeating a small satrap army at the Granicus, …

The city of Rome

(670 words)

Author(s): Winkle, C.
The most striking topographical feature of Rome at first glance at this map is its riparian location. This guarantees water in abundance – an advantage which might rapidly have become a disadvantage had not nearby heights (spurs of a tufa plateau) provided refuge. And indeed, these were the first sites of settlement. However, the particular advantage of the location was neither water nor protection from it. It was the position on an important trade route leading from the salt flats at the Tiber …

The conflicts of the Etruscans and West Phoenicians with the Greeks (6th cent. to c. 400 BC)

(2,226 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M.
While (Western) Phoenicians, Greeks and Etruscans had arrived at an understanding about their areas of settlement and economic spheres of influence in the western and central Mediterranean in the 7th cent. BC, this balance was increasingly disturbed from the 6th cent. onward. The map shows the central Mediterranean region (Tyrrhenian Sea), i.e. the area of contact between the three most powerful trading nations and the theatre of war for the essential military operations from c. 540 BC onward. I. Causes of the conflicts One cause of the conflicts was the expansion of the Greek…

The Delian League (478-404 BC)

(1,571 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M.
‘Delian League’ (also ‘Attic Symmachy’, in Antiquity: ‘the Athenians and their allies’) is a scholarly term signifying the standing alliance Athens called into being after the Persian Wars of the 5th cent. BC. Nominally it was an Athenianled alliance with the Ionians, though not exclusive of others, and a coalition of – at least for the time being – free and independent members (Thuc. 1,96–97, etc.). It was designed to keep the Persians at bay and to defend the freedom of the Greeks, especially …

The development of the Macedonian Kingdom from the 7th cent. until 336 BC

(1,459 words)

Author(s): Wittke, A.-M.
Until its final political union under Philip II (360/59–336 BC), the region of Macedon was the contact zone between the non-Greek, Illyrian tribes on the Adriatic coast to the west (separated from Macedon by mountain ranges), the Thracian tribes to the east, the northern regions as far as the Istrus/Danube, and the Greek poleis to the south (also separated by high mountains). Politically speaking, Macedonia rose within just two generations from being little more than a scarcely-noticed peripheral phenomenon in the Greek north to becoming the leadi…

The development of the Roman provinces in Asia Minor (2nd cent. BC to 5th cent. AD)

(1,554 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
The bewildering frequency with which provincial frontiers in Asia Minor were moved, new provinces founded and provinces merged only to be separated again clearly betrays both the intractability and the importance of this peninsula to the Roman Empire. It was essential to defend the economic potency of the Anatolian provinces continuously against the covetous Parthians (and, from AD 227, Sassanids) at the Euphrates and Tigris. To do this, it was necessary to secure the military deployment route from the Danube to the Euphrates, which led along the southern shore of the Black Sea. On the …

The development of the Roman provinces in Britain (1st cent. AD – AD 410)

(1,573 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
The Romans first crossed the Oceanus Britannicus in 55 and 54 BC under Caesar when he was proconsul of Gaul (see Map Caesar’s proconsulship in Gaul (58 – 50 BC)). Since then Rome had maintained its claim of dominion over the island, but this claim had never been realized in the form of a Roman provincial administration. The islanders had merely been obliged since to pay import and export duties. Plans to subjugate the island, prepared under Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula, would only be implemented under Claudius (AD 41–54). A. Plautius, commanding an army of four legions, won the s…

The development of the Roman provinces in Egypt and Arabia (1st cent. BC – 6th cent. AD)

(1,396 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
I. Aegyptus The annexation of the Ptolemaic heartland as a Roman province took place after Roman forces occupied Alexandria on 1 August 30 BC. Augustus, at the time still bearing the name C. Iulius Caesar Divi filius, commanded this action in his capacity as consul IV and by authority of the oath obliging him to prosecute the war against Cleopatra on behalf of all Italy and the western provinces. Aegyptus was the first province he established, and the act was still, as it were, infused by the spir…

The development of the Roman provinces in Gaul (1st cent. BC – 4th cent. AD)

(1,708 words)

Author(s): Olshausen, E.
The map deals with Gaul bounded by the Pyrenaei montes, the Mare internum, the Alps, the Jura, the Rhenus and the Oceanus (cf. table). The overall impression of the territory is conditioned by a plethora of individual landscapes including highlands (Massif Central, Vosegus, Cebenna, Arduenna), plains (basin around Lutecia, plateau of Aquitania) and fracture zones (Rhenus, Rhodanus and Arar, Liger). Agriculture, the basis of ancient settlement, thrives throughout the entire region thanks to good …
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