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Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity
Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250–750


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Michael Maas, Nicola Di Cosmo, Matthew P. Canepa, Richard Lim, Rong Xinjiang, Peter Brown, Valerie Hansen, Giusto Traina, Patrick Geary, Michael Kulikowski, Luo Xin, Ursula Brosseder, Walter Pohl, Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, Max Deeg, Frantz Grenet, Joel Walke, Mark Whittow, Daniel T. Potts, Michael R. Drompp, Peter B. Golden, Sören Stark, Ekaterina Nechaeva, Andrew Eisenberg, Jonathan Karam Skaff, Naomi Standen, Averil Cameron
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  • Date Published: August 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107476127

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About the Authors
  • Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity offers an integrated picture of Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppes during a formative period of world history. In the half millennium between 250 and 750 CE, settled empires underwent deep structural changes, while various nomadic peoples of the steppes (Huns, Avars, Turks, and others) experienced significant interactions and movements that changed their societies, cultures, and economies. This was a transformational era, a time when Roman, Persian, and Chinese monarchs were mutually aware of court practices, and when Christians and Buddhists criss-crossed the Eurasian lands together with merchants and armies. It was a time of greater circulation of ideas as well as material goods. This volume provides a conceptual frame for locating these developments in the same space and time. Without arguing for uniformity, it illuminates the interconnections and networks that tied countless local cultural expressions to far-reaching inter-regional ones.

    • Proposes an integrated view of Eurasia during the period ca.250–750 CE that brings together Rome, China, Iran, and the central steppe lands, allowing readers to gain a fresh approach to a coherent transformational period in world history that has not been discussed within these chronological and geographical parameters before
    • Brings together in an innovative way two areas that are the focus of considerable current interest, late antique studies and silk road studies, offering new methodologies for integrated study
    • Introduces the concept of 'Eurasian Late Antiquity', which is not based on the centrality of the Roman Mediterranean world, helping readers understand the commonalities, differences, and exchanges over a broad geographic area, including Rome, China, Iran, and the steppe lands between them
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    • Winner, 2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

    Reviews & endorsements

    'It is difficult in a brief review to do justice to such a rich variety of contributions, but enough has been said to give a flavor of the riches before us. This is an inspiring book. It establishes Eurasian Late Antiquity as a cohesive area of study at the same time as it demonstrates the sheer excitement of the subject. The editors have done us a great service in bringing together such a thought provoking volume.' Barry Cunliffe, Asian Perspectives

    '… Di Cosmo and Maas' volume makes a convincing case for historians and archaeologists to take a Eurasian perspective when studying their particular regions or sites.' Arezou Azad, Medieval Archaeology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107476127
    • length: 542 pages
    • dimensions: 256 x 180 x 30 mm
    • weight: 1kg
    • contains: 39 b/w illus. 9 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Historical Thresholds:
    1. How the steppes became Byzantine: Rome and the Eurasian Nomads in historical perspective Michael Maas
    2. The relations between China and the steppe from the Xiongnu to the Türk Empire Nicola Di Cosmo
    3. Sasanian Iran and the projection of power in Late Antique Eurasia: competing cosmologies and topographies of power Matthew P. Canepa
    4. Trade and exchanges along the silk and steppe routes in Late Antique Eurasia Richard Lim
    5. Sogdian merchants and Sogdian culture on the silk road Rong Xinjiang
    6. 'Charismatic' goods: commerce, diplomacy, and cultural contacts along the silk road in Late Antiquity Peter Brown
    7. The synthesis of the Tang Dynasty: the culmination of China's contacts and communication with Eurasia Valerie Hansen
    8. Central Asia in the Late Roman mental map, second to sixth centuries Giusto Traina
    Part II. Movements, Contacts, and Exchanges:
    9. Genetic history and migrations in Western Eurasia Patrick Geary
    10. Northern invaders: migration and conquest as scholarly topos in Eurasian history Michael Kulikowski
    11. Chinese and inner Asian perspectives on the history of the Northern dynasties (386–589 CE) in Chinese historiography Luo Xin
    12. Xiongnu and Huns: archaeological perspectives on a centuries-old debate about identity and migration Ursula Brosseder
    13. Ethnicity and empire in the Western Eurasian Steppes Walter Pohl
    14. The languages of Christianity on the silk roads and the transmission of Mediterranean culture into central Asia Scott Fitzgerald Johnson
    15. The spread of Buddhist culture to China between the third and seventh century Max Deeg
    16. The circulation of astrological lore and its political use between the Roman East, Sasanian Iran, Central Asia, and the Türks Frantz Grenet
    17. Luminous markers: pearls and royal authority in Late Antique Iran and Eurasia Joel Walker
    Part III. Empires, Diplomacy, and Frontiers:
    18. Byzantium's Eurasian policy in the age of the Türk Empire Mark Whittow
    19. Sasanian Iran and its northeastern frontier: offense, defense, and diplomatic Daniel T. Potts
    20. Infrastructures of legitimacy in inner Asia: the Early Türk Empires Michael R. Drompp
    21. The stateless Nomads of Central Eurasia Peter B. Golden
    22. Aspects of elite representation among the sixth- to seventh-century Türks Sören Stark
    23. Patterns of Roman diplomacy with Iran and the steppe peoples Ekaterina Nechaeva
    24. Collapse of a Eurasian hybrid: the case of the northern Wei Andrew Eisenberg
    25. Ideological interweaving in Eastern Eurasia: simultaneous kingship and dynastic competition Jonathan Karam Skaff
    26. Followers and leaders in northeastern Eurasia, ca. seventh to tenth centuries Naomi Standen
    Epilogue Averil Cameron.

  • Editors

    Nicola Di Cosmo, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey
    Nicola Di Cosmo is the Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. He has held positions at the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, and Canterbury University in New Zealand. His publications include Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (Cambridge, 2002), Manchu-Mongol Relations on the Eve of the Quing Conquest (2003), The Cambridge History of Inner Asia: The Chinggisid Age (Cambridge, 2009), Warfare in Inner Asian History (500–1800) (2002), and Military Culture in Imperial China (2011).

    Michael Maas, Rice University, Houston
    Michael Maas is the William Gaines Twyman Professor of History at Rice University, Houston, where he also directs the Program in Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations. A former Director in Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, he has published widely in late antique history, including Exegesis and Empire in the Early Byzantine Mediterranean. Junillus Africanus and the Instituta  Regularia Divinae Legis (2003) and The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila (Cambridge, 2014).


    Michael Maas, Nicola Di Cosmo, Matthew P. Canepa, Richard Lim, Rong Xinjiang, Peter Brown, Valerie Hansen, Giusto Traina, Patrick Geary, Michael Kulikowski, Luo Xin, Ursula Brosseder, Walter Pohl, Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, Max Deeg, Frantz Grenet, Joel Walke, Mark Whittow, Daniel T. Potts, Michael R. Drompp, Peter B. Golden, Sören Stark, Ekaterina Nechaeva, Andrew Eisenberg, Jonathan Karam Skaff, Naomi Standen, Averil Cameron


    • Winner, 2018 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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