The ancient Middle East was the theater of passionate interaction between Phoenicians, Aramaeans, Arabs, Jews, Greeks, and Romans. At the crossroads of the Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, and the Arabian peninsula, the area dominated by what the Romans called Syria was at times a scene of violent confrontation, but more often one of peaceful interaction, of prosperous cultivation, energetic production, and commerce--a crucible of cultural, religious, and artistic innovations that profoundly determined the course of world history.
Maurice Sartre has written a long overdue and comprehensive history of the Semitic Near East (modern Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel) from the eve of the Roman conquest to the end of the third century C.E. and the dramatic rise of Christianity. Sartre's broad yet finely detailed perspective takes in all aspects of this history, not just the political and military, but economic, social, cultural, and religious developments as well. He devotes particular attention to the history of the Jewish people, placing it within that of the whole Middle East.
Drawing upon the full range of ancient sources, including literary texts, Greek, Latin, and Semitic inscriptions, and the most recent archaeological discoveries, The Middle East under Rome will be an indispensable resource for students and scholars. This absorbing account of intense cultural interaction will also engage anyone interested in the history of the Middle East.
Histories of the Roman Empire tend to stay close to Rome, so Sartre's summation of what we know about imperial influence in the region then known as Syria is highly welcome. Sartre offers an account of major events in the region, but the real treasure is the rich detail about ancient Syria's cultural life. Drawing on archeological evidence as well as historical texts, the author sketches a thriving region dotted by cosmopolitan city-states that were in many cases governed by local rulers with Roman guidance...Vivid descriptive prose could help this excellent treatise find a readership beyond the world of classical scholars.
A learned, highly readable and even entertaining volume...It opens up an immense wealth of evidence, heretofore inaccessible to many ancient historians and archaeologists, and illustrates the often-neglected importance of the Middle East for classical history and culture. The scholarly community, as well as many students, will benefit from this.
[Sartre constructs] his narrative from solidly attested evidence alone, however fragmentary, eschewing all dubious sources and hypothetical fillers in a very sound preference for authentic ruins over speculative palaces...Aided by a translation that is as fluent as it is precise, and which is sometimes attractively revealing of a witty mind, this is a good read. But it is far more than that, and would indeed warrant much attention even if the prose were especially dull--one sees why Glen Bowersock promoted its elegant publication in English, an honour reserved to few Continental European historical works these days. For Sartre succeeds in giving us a richly detailed, remarkably fresh account of the Levant under Roman rule while being more severe than most in excluding dubious narratives and undocumented conjectures. Much of the new information that Sartre weaves into his story is from recent archaeological, epigraphic, and numismatic evidence...Sartre has given us an admirable survey, as enjoyable as it is instructive, especially in its elegant Belknap Press edition.
This is an excellent book from a talented and tireless scholar. It is especially important that a French scholar should contribute to the growing band of surveys of the region in view of the dominant role so many of his countrymen have played in research over some ninety years...A major contribution of the book is simply...that it provides a very readable story.
This highly significant and informative work...is an essential resource for greater Syria during the Roman period. It is clear and written with historical accuracy. The notes and bibliography alone are worth the reasonable price of the book.
Professor Maurice Sartre's The Middle East Under Rome is a study of Roman Syria and a substantial contribution to the scholarly literature. [It] is massive and is based on a mountain of documentation. While it is possible to become lost in the book's detail, Sartre still provides a fast moving narrative of this portion of the Roman Empire.
- 688 pages
- 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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