Empires in Collision in Late Antiquity

G. W. Bowersock

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.

Paper: $24.95 | E-book: $17.99
ISBN-13: 9781611683219
Pages: 128 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8.5 in.
Date Published: August 22, 2012


  • Bowersock has brought a novel freshness to this grand narrative. He fastens with delight on new pieces of evidence, from each of which he derives conclusions that significantly alter our view of the whole story.

    The New York Review of Books
  • Glen Bowersock turns topics that are marginal to traditional ancient history into mainstream subjects, and thereby brings new ideas into play. Thus he inspires numerous others to continued research. Religion, wars and empires in the late antique Near East are reinterpreted. Momentous events, the results of which we can still witness, are here described in a concise and eminently readable account.

    Benjamin Isaac
    Tel Aviv University

About the Author

Glen W. Bowersock

G. W. Bowersock is professor emeritus of ancient history at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. His most recent book is From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition.

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