The euphrates as a boundary between rome and parthia in the late Republic and early empire

Peter Edwell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is generally agreed that during the first century BC the Euphrates River came to represent a negotiated boundary of Roman and Parthian power in the Near East, and that this remained the case until the overthrow of the Parthians by the Sassanians in the third century AD. It was during the first century BC that the term imperium began to be used in the context of expressions of corporate Roman power; this eventually saw an additional important usage of the term evolve to that of an expression of physical territory, that is, empire, by the end of the reign of Augustus.1 This paper argues that it is possible to link die development of the Euphrates as a boundary of Roman and Parthian power in me first century BC with developments and changes in the usage of the term imperium. It traces me history of Roman and Parthian agreements and conflicts throughout the first century BC in the context of the development of the Euphrates as a boundary. The paper also argues mat only the upper section of the Euphrates came to play this role and mat previous analyses of the middle Euphrates have produced a misleading understanding of Roman and Parthian activity on this section of the river. The analysis of archaeological evidence from the first centuries BC and AD from the middle Euphrates site of Dura Europos is employed to illuminate me analysis of the Euphrates as a boundary. We arrive at a better understanding of Dura's history during this period if we considert Dura in the broader context of the Euphrates' role in dividing Roman and Parthian power.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-206
Number of pages16
JournalAntichthon
Volume47
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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