Rome in the East : The Transformation of an Empire book cover
2nd Edition

Rome in the East
The Transformation of an Empire

ISBN 9780415717779
Published July 1, 2016 by Routledge
594 Pages 180 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This new edition of Rome in the East expands on the seminal work of the first edition, and examines the lasting impact of the near Eastern influence on Rome on our understanding of the development of European culture. Warwick Ball explores modern issues as well as ancient, and overturns conventional ideas about the spread of European culture to the East. This volume includes analysis of Roman archaeological and architectural remains in the East, as well as links to the Roman Empire as far afield as Iran, Central Asia, India, and China. The Near Eastern client kingdoms under Roman rule are examined in turn and each are shown to have affected Roman, and ultimately European, history in different but very fundamental ways. The highly visible presence of Rome in the East – mainly the architectural remains, some among the greatest monumental buildings in the Roman world – are examined from a Near Eastern perspective and demonstrated to be as much, if not more, a product of the Near East than of Rome.

Warwick Ball presents the story of Rome in the light of Rome’s fascination with the Near East, generating new insights into the nature and character of Roman civilisation, and European identity from Rome to the present. Near Eastern influence can be seen to have transformed Roman Europe, with perhaps the most significant change being the spread of Christianity. This new edition is updated with the latest research and findings from a range of sources including field work in the region and new studies and views that have emerged since the first edition. Over 200 images, most of them taken by the author, demonstrate the grandeur of Rome in the East. This volume is an invaluable resource to students of the history of Rome and Europe, as well as those studying the Ancient Near East.

Table of Contents

List of Line Drawings

Photographic Acknowledgements

List of Photographs

List of Tables


East or West?

Constraints and considerations

Sources, perspectives and evidence

The limitations of epigraphy


Geographical limits



1. Historical background

To the Euphrates

Rome and Iran

Hannibal and Antiochus the Great

Pompey the Great

Crassus, Carrhae and the Parthians

Beyond the Euphrates

Trajan and the ghost of Alexander

Septimius Severus and Mesopotamia

The end of the beginning

The Long Retreat

Iran restored: Alexander and Artaxerxes

Shapur I, Valerian and the disaster of Edessa

Shapur II, Constantius and the disaster of Amida

Julian and the loss of the Tigris Provinces

Justinian the Peasant's son and Khusrau of the Immortal Soul

Endgame: Heraclius, Khusrau Parviz and Muhammad

2. The Princely States - Near Eastern kingdoms under Roman protection

Rome and the Arabs

Emesa and the Sun-Kings

The Kings of Emesa

The religion of Emesa

The Great Temple of Emesene Baal

Judaea, Herod the Great and the Jewish Revolt

The Rise of Herod

The successors of Herod

The Jewish Revolt

Arabia and the Nabataeans

Rise of the Nabataeans

The Nabataean Achievement

Nabataean Religion

Palmyra and Queen Zenobia

Origins of Palmyra

Palmyrene Trade

The Rise of Udaynath


The Revolt

Aftermath of the Revolt

Palmyrene Civilisation

Edessa and the coming of Christendom


The kings

Religion at Edessa

Edessa and Christianity

The Tanukhids and Queen Mawiyya

'King of the Arabs'

Queen Mawiyya's Revolt


The Ghassanids and the coming of Islam

3. Rome East of the Frontiers

Military Campaigns

Mark Antony and Iran

Aelius Gallus and Yemen

Roman prisoners of war

Crassus’ lost legions?

Survivors of Edessa

Roman trade

Rome in India

Rome in Central Asia and China

‘Romano-Buddhist’ Art

4. The Towns and Cities

Antioch, the Imperial City


Eastern city or foreign implant?

Antioch as an Imperial city

The Macedonian heartland of the north

Seleucia and Laodicaea



Cyrrhus and Chalcis

The Euphrates and Mesopotamia



Dura Europos


The Phoenician Coast

Aradus, Antaradus and Marathus



Sidon and Tyre


Aradus, Tyre, others

The Decapolis


Qanawat and Si‘



Other Decapolis cities

‘Roman’ Arabia: Bosra and Shahba




5. The Countryside

The Dead Cities

The settlements and their setting

The houses

Public buildings

Christian buildings




Other areas

Elsewhere in north Syria

The desert fringes


The Negev


The Hauran

Villages and their settings

Public buildings


6. Secular architecture: Imperial stamp or imperial veneer?

The urban layout

Planned towns

Sacred and processional ways

Colonnaded streets

The four-way arch

Other ornamental arches

Dedicatory columns


The kalybe


Oval and circular plazass

Buildings of pleasure



Military architecture



7. Buildings of religion: the resurgence of the east


The temenos temple

Temple propylaea

Eastern temple origins

Exterior altars

Temple sanctuaries


High places

Early Christian architecture

The basilica

The martyrium

Funerary architecture

Pyramids, temples and columns

Tower tombs

Underground tombs

Tomb facades

Fabric and style

Building material

The trabeate style

The ‘baroque’ style

The ‘Syrian Niche’


8. The transformation of an Empire

The Arabs and the West

India and the West

Julia Domna and the Arabs who ruled Rome

Septimius Severus and Julia Domna

Caracalla and Geta

Elagabalus and Baal

Alexander and the end of a dynasty


Philip the Arab

Lepcis Magna: Roman City in Africa and the orientalisation of Europe

From Paganism to Christianity

Religion in Pagan Rome

From slave to master

From Iran to Rome

From Anatolia to Rome

From the Semitic East to Rome

From East to West

The Oriental Revolution

East and West

Character and prejudice

The view from the east

Triumph of the East

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Warwick Ball is a Near Eastern archaeologist who has excavated in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya and Ethiopia, and travelled extensively in most other countries in the region in his professional capacity. He has held posts with the British Institute of Afghan Studies in Kabul, the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and the British School of Archaeology in Iraq. The first edition of Rome in the East was Choice Outstanding Academic Book in 2000 and was awarded the James Henry Breasted Prize in 2001. Author of many other books on the history and archaeology of the region, Mr Ball now lives in Scotland.


"When this book first appeared it proved highly controversial. Now a timely updated second edition has taken into account much of the recent literature. Postcolonial approaches that foreground the viewpoint of the ‘other’ have reset the academic agenda and in many ways the first edition was a precursor of this approach. This second edition has continued the legacy of the first and is thought provoking, provocative and challenging. Such works are badly needed as a corrective to the prevailing orthodoxy of the western paradigm in Graeco-Roman studies. It is a very readable and valuable work and one which every student of both the Roman world and the ancient Near East needs to study."

- Professor Paul Newson, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

 "The new version of Rome in the East is still a major scholarly achievement worthy of praise for its wealth of detail on architecture, urban planning, religious cults, and so on ... the book is still outstanding in its scope and detail. Anyone reading it will learn a great deal about the culture and history of the Roman Near East."

- Professor Lee E. Patterson, Eastern Illinois University, USA, in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review

“The first edition of this book, published in 2000 (CH, Sep'00, 38-0450), was a Choice “Outstanding Academic Title." This second edition has all the virtues of the first brought up to the present, when many of the monuments it illustrates are threatened by war. Ball is a Near Eastern archaeologist who approaches the Roman Empire with an outsider’s optics. His book is not only the best compendium of the archaeological remains of the Roman East, it also sets forth his thesis, once again: in the competition between the cultures of eastern and western portions of the Roman Empire, the east won … For researchers, graduate students, upper-level undergrads and, perhaps, the general reading public.”

- J. A. S. Evans, University of British Columbia