The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam [NOOK Book]

Overview

Just prior to the rise of Islam in the sixth century AD, southern Arabia was embroiled in a violent conflict between Christian Ethiopians and Jewish Arabs. Though little known today, this was an international war that involved both the Byzantine Empire, which had established Christian churches in Ethiopia, and the Sasanian Empire in Persia, which supported the Jews in what became a proxy war against its longtime foe Byzantium.
Our knowledge of these events derives largely from ...
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The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam

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Overview

Just prior to the rise of Islam in the sixth century AD, southern Arabia was embroiled in a violent conflict between Christian Ethiopians and Jewish Arabs. Though little known today, this was an international war that involved both the Byzantine Empire, which had established Christian churches in Ethiopia, and the Sasanian Empire in Persia, which supported the Jews in what became a proxy war against its longtime foe Byzantium.
Our knowledge of these events derives largely from an inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis, meticulously described by a sixth-century Christian merchant known as Cosmas Indicopleustes. Using the writings of Cosmas and a wealth of other historical and archaeological evidence from the period, eminent historian G. W. Bowersock carefully reconstructs this fascinating but overlooked chapter in pre-Islamic Arabian history. The flashpoint of the war, Bowersock tells us, occurred when Yusuf, the Jewish king of Himyar, massacred hundreds of Christians living in Najran. The Christian ruler of Ethiopia, Kaleb, urged on by the Byzantine emperor Justin, led a force of 120,000 men across the Red Sea to defeat Yusuf. But when the victorious Kaleb--said to have retired to a monastery-left behind weak leaders in both Ethiopia and Himyar, the Byzantine and Persian empires expanded their activity in the Arabian territory. In the midst of this conflict, a new religion was born, destined to bring a wholly unanticipated resolution to the power struggle in Arabia.
The Throne of Adulis vividly recreates the Red Sea world of Late Antiquity, transporting readers back to a remote but pivotal epoch in ancient history, one that sheds light on the collapse of the Persian Empire as well as the rise of Islam.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Throne of Adulis shows Bowersock at full bent... 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...Bowersock has taken us back to a moment of time when the future of the Middle East still hung in the balance...the pre-Islamic Middle East, Arabia, and the Red Sea have been thrown open for us by Glen Bowersock."
—Peter Brown, New York Review of Books

"[A] splendid new book."
—Peter Thonemann, Times Literary Supplement

"G W Bowersock amply achieves his aims in a most elegant fashion.... My summaries cannot convey the intense delight of reading The Throne of Adulis, which so lightly steps from language to language to delineate and richly explain its fragments of evidence, the implications of which accumulate into explanations of poorly known yet momentous events. G W Bowersock's latest is no more than an extended essay yet it outranks many multi-volume treatises."
—Edward N Luttwak, Literary Review

"This highly erudite study makes a noteworthy and heavyweight contribution to a complex subject. It does so in an unfussy and discreet manner that belies the impact it will have for scholars working in this field."
—Peter Frankopan, History Today

"Bowersock brilliantly weaves together a sixth-century description of a now lost marble throne from modern Eritrea with new scholarship on Ethiopia and South Arabia in Late Antiquity, with fascinating results for the perennial problem of Islamic origins."
—Averil Cameron, author of The Mediterranean World in Late Antiquity

"Bowersock probes the complexities of pre-Islamic Arabia and finds flourishing Jewish and Christian communities at each other's throat, and pagans of monotheist bent. An ingenious, cutting-edge book, with answers for those wondering who needed the Qur'an's Third Way."
—Garth Fowden, author of The Egyptian Hermes

"Closely argued on scarce evidence, [The Throne of Adulis] draws attention to the enduring geopolitical significance of this poorly understood region. Recommended."
—CHOICE

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199333844
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/4/2013
  • Series: Emblems of Antiquity
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 672,965
  • File size: 18 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

G. W. Bowersock is Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. Among his many previous books are From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition, Mosaics as History: The Near East from Late Antiquity to Islam, and Roman Arabia.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Abbreviations
List of Maps and Illustrations
Maps
I. The Throne
II. A Christian Traveller in the Red Sea
III. Ptolemy's Elephants
IV. The Kingdom of Axum
V. Christianity Comes to Axum
VI. Judaism Comes to Himyar
VII. The Ethiopian Invasion of 525
VIII. Entry of the Great Powers
IX. Reckoning
Appendix: Nonnosus
Bibliography
Index

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