Edges of Empire: The Sasanian Frontiers

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For centuries, arguably the greatest external threat the Roman Empire faced came from the East. From the Sasanian Persian Empire. With its nucleus situated in Iran, at its height the Sasanian Empire was one of antiquity’s most formidable kingdoms, controlling lands that stretched from the Hindu Kush to the River Euphrates. Like the Romans, the Sasanians had to deal with various potential threats. From the north, from the lands of the steppe east and west of the Caspian Sea, nomadic peoples such as the Huns would become renowned for descending on Roman and Sasanian territories and wreaking havoc. And so, on the edges of their empire, the Sasanians constructed frontiers of various forms. For military purposes, yes. But also for economic and political purposes as will be explained.

In this podcast, we’re going to look at some of these Sasanian frontiers. From a dominating fort a ‘top an alpine gorge in the Caucusus to a barrier that makes Hadrian’s Wall pale in comparison. To talk through this incredible topic, I was delighted to be joined by Dr Eve MacDonald from the University of Cardiff. Alongside her research on the Sasanian Empire and its frontiers, Eve has also done work surrounding the ancient history of Carthage and of North Africa. She is the author of ‘Hannibal: A Hellenistic Life’.



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