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Authors: Ricci, Giuseppe A.
Advisors: Haldon, John
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Byzantium
Eastern Roman Empire
Late Antiquity
Subjects: Medieval history
Ancient history
European history
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Abstract The Roman Empire and the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian Steppe had a long history of interaction, one which became more intense in Late Antiquity (for this work, the period between 370-680 C.E.). In my dissertation I analyze the effects of interaction with the Roman Empire on the history of nomadic steppe peoples. I demonstrate Rome’s ability to actively and passively manipulate the social and political organization of nomadic groups, as well as the empire’s critical role in the history of nomadic migrations, wars, and diplomacy. Although the field of Late Antiquity is diverse and expanding, it is essentially Romano-centric. In historiographic terms the field is obsessed with the “Fall of the Roman Empire”; whether one stands on the side of violent overthrow or transformation and accommodation, nomadic peoples are similarly understood to have been external factors that either hastened or played little to no role in the fall of the western empire. In my work, I flip this perspective on its head, asking instead “What were the effects of the Roman Empire on the peoples of the steppe in Late Antiquity?” To accomplish this task I incorporate a wide body of available evidence, including both textual as well as a wide array of archaeological materials rarely used by western historians. An analysis of the relevant textual data allows me to reassess the history of nomadic-Roman interaction in Late Antiquity and to re-narrate the events of the relevant centuries from the perspective of the harm and damage caused to nomadic groups as a result of interaction with the Roman Empire. I argue that while Rome’s temporal power was on the wane in the Mediterranean, the empire’s presence on the steppe in fact grew and became more invasive. Archaeological materials recovered from the steppe allow for confirmation of the vital role that Roman luxury items played in nomadic self-perception, particularly in relation to the expression of power. Finally, an analysis of the features, history, and tropes of Greco-Roman ethnographic descriptions of nomads is crucial for developing a model through which the Romans interpreted nomadic peoples and interacted with them.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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