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    Toral-Niehoff, Isabel 2018. The Wiley Blackwell History of Islam. p. 59.

  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: March 2011

2 - The late Roman/early Byzantine Near East

In many areas of the Near East the Late Roman period, in terms of population size, settlement density and levels of exploitation, marks a pre-modern high. The territorial expansion of Rome began in earnest in the second century BCE, and had its roots in the competitive aristocratic politics of the republic. The crisis of the mid-third century was surmounted, but it left emperors in no doubt that relations with the Persians had to be their first priority, and that major deployments anywhere other than the Persian front would depend on peace there. The Nabataean kingdom in what is now Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia was annexed in 106 to create the province of Arabia. The rise of Islam as it actually happened is comprehensible only in the context of the history of the Roman empire, a history that culminated in what James Howard-Johnston has evocatively dubbed the 'the last great war of Antiquity'.
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