Roads on the frontier between Rome and Persia
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Euphratesia, Osrhoene and Mesopotamia from AD 363 to 602
This thesis examines the physical evidence for ancient bridges and roads in the three most eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Its focus is the two and a half centuries before the Arab invasions when population reached a peak. It uses satellite photographs from Google Earth to place the roads in a geographical context and contains many maps. The thesis describes twenty-four stone bridges in the provinces concerned which are thought to date from the Roman period and contains photographs of these where possible. Field research has included a large number of visits to SE Turkey and two visits to Syria. On the basis of the material evidence and the ancient sources, in particular the Peutinger Table (which are discussed in a specific chapter), the thesis examines the course of the roads and their users; it also addresses the reasons for construction of the roads, together with associated issues such as the disappearance of wheeled vehicles. The thesis describes the ancient cities, the settlement pattern and the fortifications of this region, which lay on a much troubled frontier with frequent warfare between Rome and Persia. It discusses how warfare and the construction of fortifications modified the nature of the region in the sixth century AD and then examines issues arising from the existence of the road network such as defence of the frontier, trade and the impact that commercial and social links, as well as the road network itself, had on relations between the two great empires of Late Antiquity. Annexes short reviews of archaeological work in the area and of medieval and modern travellers who have passed through it. A gazetteer of cities and fortresses mentioned in the text is attached at the end.