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Title:The late Roman frontier in Arabia: A landscape of interaction
Author(s):Harris, David I
Director of Research:Mathisen, Ralph W.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Mathisen, Ralph W.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Burton, Antoinette; McLaughlin, Megan M.; Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Late Antiquity
Abstract:The study argues that the late Roman frontier in Arabia is best viewed as a transitional contact zone in which peoples of diverse economies, identities and beliefs interacted broadly to create a new fusion unique to the zone itself, and thus a new center in the face of the imperial margins of Rome and Persia. This zone was then a conduit through which cultures, materials and ideas were exchanged and reformed. Moreover, this zone acted as a bridge for the societies and governments on either side in which the frontier as center held agency. This project forwards a historiographic consciousness which operates free of boundaries and engages theory and methodology across the fields of ancient and modern scholarship. The governing ideal is to take the grounding of the empirical approach and combine it with the intellectually creative outlook and methods of postmodern history. Material culture in the form of archaeological, epigraphic, geographic and aerial imagery are given a leading role in order to qualify and enrich the context of the traditional literary record. This also allows the local to speak more clearly over the biases inherent in the Greco-Roman sources. Further, Arabic historiographic sources are used to look back into the preserved oral history of the frontier peoples. This dissertation engages multiple dimensions of the frontier which in turn work together to view the frontier as center. The physical geography of the region defines the zone and how it interacts with surrounding regions. Communications, economic and defensive concerns linked the desert with the settled zone and the larger economic and political context. Nomadic peoples controlled the frontier center, negotiated positions of power and became forces of influence on Rome and Persia itself. Voices of faith at the local engage imperial orthodoxy, create new religious identities, and span the divide between the pre-Christian, Christian and Islamic periods.
Issue Date:2018-07-11
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 David Harris
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-27
Date Deposited:2018-08

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