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Nicolaus of Damascus  

Klaus Meister

Nicolaus of Damascus, versatile author; friend and historian of *Herod(1) the Great; born c.64 bce of distinguished family, outstandingly well-educated. He became a *Peripatetic and came into contact with leading figures of his day: he was tutor to the children of M. *Antonius (2) and *Cleopatra VII (FGrH90 T 2) and from 14 bce close adviser of Herod I, who employed him on diplomatic missions (F 136). Herod also studied philosophy, rhetoric, and history with Nicolaus and encouraged him to write (F 135). When Herod incurred *Augustus' displeasure on account of the campaign in Arabia in 8/7, Nicolaus succeeded in placating the princeps in Rome; in 4 he supported Herod Archelaus who had come to Rome to have his succession to the throne confirmed (F 136).(1)Historiai, universal history in 144 books from the earliest times to the death of Herod the Great, the most comprehensive work of universal history since .

Article

Nile  

Walter Eric Harold Cockle

Nile, Egypt's river (explored by ancient Egyptians to the Upper Blue Nile) and the confluence of the Bahr-el-Gazal with the White Nile, was known to *Homer as ‘Aegyptos river’, to *Hesiod as ‘Neilos’. *Cambyses (c.525 bce) reached the desert south of Korosko, but *Herodotus(1) knew little beyond *Meroe. *Anaxagoras made a good guess that the Nile flood was caused by melting snows, but the true cause was unknown. *Alexander(3) the Great's explorations disproved that the Nile joined the Indus. Under the Ptolemies (see ptolemy(1)) the White Nile (Astapous), the Blue Nile, and sources of the Astaboras (Atbara) became known. It was confirmed that the annual flood came from rains in *Ethiopia, as *Aristotle had guessed. According to *Juba(2) II, the Nile rose in the *Atlas mountains and emerged in the east Sudan after two journeys underground. Nero's explorers passed the confluence of the Sobat with the White Nile, but were blocked by papyrus marshes (sudd). Circace 100 a traveller, Diogenes, reported from near Zanzibar (Rhapta) that snow-capped ‘Mountains of the Moon’ supplied two lakes feeding an affluent of the Nile, an indication of Lakes Victoria and Albert, and Mts.

Article

Nimrud  

Stephanie Dalley

(ancient Kalhu, biblical Calah), Assyrian city c.35 km. (22 mi.) south of *Nineveh(1) on the east bank of the *Tigris near the confluence of the Greater Zab; the patron deity was Ninurta (corruption Nimrod). Palaces, temples, and a ziggurat on the citadel, and the arsenal of Shalmeneser III (858–824) in the lower city have been excavated intermittently since 1845. A temple library, various archives, metal objects, Phoenician and Syrian ivories, and stone relief sculptures were found. The site was occupied from prehistoric times and mainly abandoned after its sack by the Medes and Babylonians probably in 612 bce. It was the capital city of *Assyria from the reign of Assurnasirpal II (883–859), who built the monumental NW palace and nine temples, until the late 8th cent. when it was superseded by Khorsabad and then Nineveh. A Hellenistic settlement has been uncovered.

Article

Nineveh  

Stephanie Dalley

(1) Assyrian city of Ninua (mod. Kuyunjik and Nebi Yunus) on the east bank of the *Tigris beside modern Mosul, also called ‘Old Babylon’ in astronomical tradition. Continuously inhabited from prehistoric times into late antiquity, it was the capital city of *Assyria in the 7th cent. bce. The patron deity was *Ishtar, with a cult strongly Hurrian in the second millennium. Intermittent excavations from 1842 onwards have uncovered monumental palaces with sculptures and libraries of Sennacherib (704–681) and of Ashurbanipal (668–627) as well as religious buildings and city gates. Texts and sculptures attest fine gardens designed by Sennacherib. In classical tradition its eponymous founder was Ninus.

(2)*Aphrodisias in Caria was known as Ninoe and claimed foundation by Ninus.

(3) Hierapolis in Syria was called ‘Old Nineveh’ by Philostratus Vita Apollonii 1. 3 and 19; Ammianus Marcellinus 14. 7.

Article

Nisa  

Malcolm Andrew Richard Colledge and Josef Wiesehöfer

Among the hills east of the Caspian near Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan, was a central place of the Achaemenid satrapy Parthava and then a capital of *Parthia, 3rd cent. bce on, called by *Isidorus(1) (1st cent. ce) ‘Parthaunisa…Greeks call it Nisaea’, with (undiscovered) ‘royal tombs’ (Parthian Stations, 12). It occupied two mounds. New Nisa was a mud-brick city till c.ce 1700. Old Nisa (excavated 1950s–1960s, and since 1990s) was a pentagonal, 14-ha. (35-acre), frequently refurbished ceremonial centre and royal citadel of mud- and fired brick, with terracotta and stone ornaments; it had walls 8–9 m. (26–9 ft.) thick, 43 towers, gardens, northern clay-vessel wine-stores, and 2,000 graffiti in Parthian, giving the name Mihrdatkert, ‘fortress of Mithradates’— I, 2nd cent. bce; there were also a Treasury 60 m. (197 ft.) square containing Hellenistic marble statuettes and 40 ivory rhyta (of Graeco-Bactrian origin?) with Greek-style relief figures, a central Tower, a Round (17-m.: 58-ft.) Hall (a mausoleum for Mithradates I?), a Square (‘Quadrate’) Hall (20 m) and a large quadrangular ‘Red Building’ (42m). They together with the locally produced unbaked clay statues of the Round Hall, larger than life-size, among them a portrait of Mithridates I, illustrate Parthian receptivity to other cultures. Life in Old Nisa stopped in the 3rd cent. ce.

Article

Nisibis  

Josef Wiesehöfer

A city in NE *Mesopotamia. After the end of the Assyrian empire it disappears from history until the Hellenistic age when it was temporarily known as Antioch Mygdonia. It reverted quickly to its old name and became part of the Parthian (129) and then the Armenian empire (after 80 bce) (see armenia; parthia). It was stormed by L. *Licinius Lucullus (2)'s troops in 68, but—after a short Armenian interval—was eventually recovered by the Arsacid king Artabanus II, who assigned it to his ‘vassal’, Izates of Adiabene. Nisibis thereafter was part of *Adiabene with a mixed population of Arabs, Aramaeans, Greeks, and Iranians. Apart from *Trajan's ephemeral occupation, it first became a Roman city as a result of *Verus' campaign. *Septimius Severus rewarded it for its loyalty to him by making it a colonia (Cass. Dio 75. 3. 2) and it received the honorary title mētropolis from *Severus Alexander onwards.

Article

nomos (1), administrative region of ancient Egypt  

Dorothy J. Thompson

Nomos (1), ‘nome’, the Greek term for the administrative districts of ancient *Egypt. Under the *Seleucids the term is also found in Palestine, probably introduced there by the Ptolemies (see ptolemy(1)). Though differing in number over time, traditionally there were 42 nomes—22 in Upper and 20 in Lower Egypt; by the 3rd cent. ce the number was almost 60. Nomes were normally divided into toparchies (the Arsinoite nome, however, into three merides), in turn consisting of villages. Each nome was governed by a stratēgos who by the late Ptolemaic period was purely an administrative official. He was assisted by many lower officials, particularly royal scribes (basilikoi grammateis), who continued into the Roman period. Under *Septimius Severus nome capitals (mētropoleis; see mētropolis (c)) acquired town councils with administrative responsibilities. In the 4th cent. nomes gave way to pagi (see pagus).

Article

Nubia  

Robert G. Morkot

Nubia, part of the classical *Ethiopia, is the region of the middle Nile valley from Aswan to the Fourth Cataract. Modern literature also includes the central Sudan (the Butana, or island of *Meroe) as far as Khartoum within the definition. After Egyptian domination during the New Kingdom (c.1550–1080 bce), indigenous kingdoms flourished into medieval times. The region from the Second Cataract to the central Sudan (Upper Nubia) was the kingdom of Kush, with its major centres at Napata and Meroe. There was conflict between the Ptolemies and the kings of Meroe for control of Lower Nubia (First–Second Cataracts), and a number of temples were built there. Roman annexation of Egypt saw further conflict; an expedition by P. *Petronius in 25–24 bce (Strabo 17. 1. 53–4) fixed the frontier at Hiera-Sycaminus, where it remained until the reign of Diocletian. Lower Nubia was fairly prosperous in the Roman period and large quantities of imported goods are found in the Nubian cemeteries. During the later Roman empire the region was occupied by the Blemmyes who moved into the Nile valley from the Eastern Desert and by the Nobades, who came from the south-west. Philae, just south of Aswan, became a pilgrimage centre in the Roman period, and Nubians are often depicted as priests of the goddess Isis. Because of Nubian devotion to the cult of *Isis, Philae was left open when *Theodosius(2) I closed the remainder of the temples in the empire.

Article

Old Persian language  

Benjamin Fortson

Old Persian was the Iranian language spoken by the ruling class of the Achaemenid Empire, probably reflecting the Southwest Iranian dialect of Persis (see Persia). It is preserved in documents in a cuneiform script superficially modeled on Mesopotamian (Sumero-Akkadian) writing and first used under Darius I in the late 6th centurybce. As a spoken language, Old Persian was the direct ancestor of Middle Persian and Modern Persian (Farsi). The script was the first cuneiform writing to be deciphered by modern scholars, starting in 1802 with the pioneering work of Georg Grotefend; this laid the basis for the subsequent decipherment of Mesopotamian cuneiform and the languages written in it, one of the most far-reaching achievements of 19th-century science (see cuneiform).Of the two Old Iranian languages that survive in written records (the other being Avestan, the language of the Zoroastrian liturgical texts), only Old Persian is attested to in original documents contemporary with when it was spoken. Most are monumental royal inscriptions, often trilingual (Old Persian, Elamite, Babylonian) in the early period, and have been found primarily in the historical regions of Persis, Elam, and Media. Many of these, most famously the massive trilingual inscribed on a high rock face at Bisotun (Behistun) that records the deeds of Darius I, are of immense value to historians. Though there is evidence of the language throughout the reign of Artaxerxes III (d.

Article

Orientalism  

Amélie Kuhrt

Orientalism is the title of a study by the distinguished Palestinian literary critic, Edward Said; published in 1978, its impact has been enormous. The central thesis is that the concepts ‘Europe’ and ‘Orient’, as polar opposites, have been created by Europeans, particularly in the context of European imperialism, to provide a positive, strong image of Europe, with which eastern civilizations (especially the Muslim world) can be negatively contrasted. The ‘Orient’ is thus presented as lacking all desirable, active characteristics: it is effeminate, decadent, corrupt, voluptuous, despotic, and incapable of independent creative development. This pervasive perception of ‘the east’ underlies most studies of Middle Eastern history and culture and has profoundly shaped scholarly analysis. Although most of Said's study is devoted to the 18th to 20th cents. he argues that Oriental stereotypes derive much of their imagery from early Greek literary works (e.g. *Herodotus(1); *Aeschylus' Persae). This has led several classicists and ancient historians to refocus their work and explore consciously the assumptions made in some traditional areas of study. As a result, standard approaches to several subjects are now being scrutinized and radically reassessed. Most prominent among these are: the development of Greek art, in particular the ‘*orientalizing’ phase, Greek tragedy, and Achaemenid and Hellenistic history.

Article

orientalizing  

Gail L. Hoffman

Orientalizing has two primary uses in studies about ancient Mediterranean society: as an art historical or archaeological phase designation (the Orientalizing period) and as a general label of cultural interactions (similar to Hellenizing or Romanizing). Both uses have received strong criticism and calls for abandonment of the term. The Orientalizing period (the later 8th and 7th centuries bce) marks a time when borrowed eastern imagery, artistic technologies, and cultural practices were being appropriated, adapted, and incorporated into local cultures in the Aegean, central, and western Mediterranean. Sustained analysis of this material culture has provided greater understanding of the dynamics of these interactions and, more importantly, has led to exploration of the uses these borrowings and adaptations served within local communities. Many recent art and archaeology survey books (possibly reacting to critique of the term) no longer include an Orientalizing period, subsuming it into the Greek Archaic period. Orientalizing (a term similar to Hellenizing and Romanizing) sometimes describes a broader and more sustained interaction. Problems in implied agency and assumptions embedded in this term as revealed in critiques of orientalism have led to challenges about its efficacy.

Article

Osroëne  

Margaret Stephana Drower, Eric William Gray, and Susan Mary Sherwin-White

Osroëne, in NW *Mesopotamia, bounded on three sides by the Khabur and *Euphrates, and on the north by Mt. Masius. In the later 2nd cent. bce it broke away from *Seleucid control and formed a separate kingdom with *Edessa as capital. Its kings bore Semitic names, and the population was mainly Aramean, with a Greek and *Parthian admixture. As a Parthian vassal state and a buffer between two empires, Osroëne played a prominent and ambiguous role in the struggle between Rome and Parthia. After the campaigns of L. Verus it became a Roman dependency, later a province. Long coveted and more than once overrun by the *Sasanids, it was conquered by the Arabs (ce 638).A king-list survives in a Syriac chronicle ascribed to Dionysius of Tell-Mahre (probably c.ce 800). Of its kings, named Abgar, the following may be noted: Abgar I (92–68 bce); II (68–53 bce), the betrayer of Crassus; V (4 bce–ce 7 and 13–50), famous for his spurious correspondence with Christ; VII (109–116), who entertained Trajan in Edessa; L.

Article

Oxus  

Eric Herbert Warmington and Antony Spawforth

Oxus (Ὦξος mod. Amu Darya), central Asian river bounding *Bactria to the south before flowing north-west into the Aral Sea. Known by name to *Herodotus (1) and *Aristotle, it was apparently confused by them with the *Araxes. It was discovered by *Alexander(3) the Great, and some Indian trade was known to come by it, and thence by the *Caspian and the rivers Cyrus and Phasis (see colchis) to the Black (*Euxine) Sea.

Article

Oxus treasure  

Michael Vickers

A rich hoard of gold and silver objects of 5th- and 4th-cent. bce date, found on or near the river *Oxus in 1877 and mostly now in the British Museum. It is uncertain, however, whether the objects belong to a single hoard, since the purported assemblage included coins as late as the 2nd cent. bce. Many of the pieces are, however, distinctively Achaemenian in character and must be earlier. These include a pair of gold penannular armlets with finials in the form of winged, horned griffins, of a kind seen carried by tribute bearers on reliefs at *Persepolis. In common with other armlets and rings from the hoard, they were once inlaid with semi-precious stones. There are gold and silver statuettes; especially notable is a model four-horse chariot, in which sits a Persian nobleman. The plate consists of a gold jug, and some gold and silver bowls; a single handle in the form of a wild goat had gilded ears, eyes and hoofs. There are many gold appliqués of a kind known to have been sewn on the garments of Persian kings and high officials.

Article

Palibothra  

Eric Herbert Warmington and Romila Thapar

Palibothra (Pataliputra, mod. Patna), situated near the confluence of the Ganges and the Son and on the Mauryan Royal Road linking northern and eastern *India, was the capital of the Mauryan empire (c. 324/1–181/0 bce). The *Seleucid kings are said to have kept Greek residents, *Megasthenes and *Daimachus, at the court of the first two Mauryan kings, Chandragupta and Bindusara (the classical Amitrochates). In his account of India, Megasthenes describes the city's fortifications, stockade, and moat, some of which have been excavated. It remained an important city though little noticed by later Greek and Roman visitors to India. See mauryas.

Article

Palmyra  

Malcolm Andrew Richard Colledge and Josef Wiesehöfer

Palmyra (Tadmor) gained wealth, power, and splendour particularly in Roman times. From it, a central Syrian desert oasis with hills, wadi, and spring (Efqa), routes ran in all directions. Efqa yielded neolithic stone tools, c.7,500 bce, and c. 7000 bce. A community, Tadmor (of uncertain etymology), enters the records c.2000 bce. Puzur-Ishtar the ‘Tadmorean’ made a contract at Kanesh (Kültepe), Asia Minor (19th cent. bce); Syrian archives mention Tadmoreans, Suteans (nomads) pillaging, and the Amurru king's demand for taxes. The *Assyrians (1115–1077) defeated, near Tadmor, Aramaeans and (645–644) *Arabs, who penetrated western Asia and comprised half of Roman Tadmor's population. Tadmor rose rapidly after Seleucid extinction (64/3 bce), becoming semi-independent, and exploiting caravans between Roman (coastal) Syria and Parthia. Crafts-people developed Tadmor's ‘Parthian’ art style. From 44 bce there are Aramaic inscriptions, often with Seleucid-era dating, documented (profile-figured) art and architectural commissions. In 41 bce, M.

Article

Parthian-Roman Wars  

Jason M. Schlude

Founded and ruled by the Arsacid royal family, the Parthian empire (c. 250 bce–227 ce) was the native Iranian empire that filled the power vacuum in the Middle East in the midst of Seleucid decline. Arsacid interaction with the Roman empire began in the mid-90s bce, eventually established the Euphrates river as a shared border, and was peaceful in nature till 54 bce. In that year, the first of four cycles of Parthian-Roman wars began. Since the Romans carried out the initial large-scale mobilization of troops that introduced most of these wars, it is appropriate to associate these four cycles with the various Romans who coordinated the Roman military efforts: (a) Crassus to Antony (54–30 bce); (b) Nero (57–63 ce); (c) Trajan (114–117 ce); and (d) Lucius Verus to Macrinus (161–217 ce). The fundamental causes for these conflicts were Roman imperialism, which was well ingrained by the 1st century bce, and Parthian imperialism, which accelerated in the 2nd century bce, probably accompanied by the Arsacids’ attempts to present themselves as successors to the Achaemenid dynasty.

Article

Parthia, Parthian empire  

Josef Wiesehöfer

The people whom Greeks and Romans called Parthians were originally Parni, members of the semi-nomad Dahae confederacy north of Hyrcania. Their Greek name is derived from the Achaemenian (see achaemenids) and then *Seleucid satrapy (see satrap) called Parthia (Parthava), which they occupied, traditionally in 247 bce, the year with which the Parthian (‘Arsacid’) era begins; later they ruled from the *Euphrates to the Indus, with *Ctesiphon as their main residence. The territorial gains under Mithradates I and II not only changed their former eastern Iranian empire into an ethnically, politically, socially, and culturally diverse one needing new forms of administration and organization, but also deeply influenced the relationship between the Parthian aristocracy and the rulers. It was the conflict between kings and nobles which shaped later history and often allowed foreign powers like Rome to intervene in Parthian affairs. Although we hear of large estates of Parthian aristocrats in the conquered parts of the empire we do not know very much about the way in which their rights of possession and use were transferred to, and retained by them. It is therefore dangerous to call the Parthian state a ‘feudal’ one. Ambitious members of the great Parthian clans (Suren, Karin, Gev and others), governors, petty and ‘vassal’ kings temporarily gained total or limited independence (like the rulers of *Mesene and Seistan).

Article

Pasargadae  

Michael Vickers

Pasargadae (Πασαργάδαι), an *Achaemenid centre north-east of *Persepolis, where *Cyrus (1) the Great ‘conquered Astyages the Mede in his last battle…founded a city, and constructed a palace as a memorial of his victory’ (Strabo 15. 3. 8; cf. media). The tomb of Cyrus the Great, visited by *Alexander (3) the Great (Arr. Anab. 6. 29; Strab. 15. 3. 7; Plut. Alex. 69. 4), lies to the south-west of the palace area set around an irrigated, formal garden. To the north-east is a tower of disputed function and an unfinished citadel (Tall-i Takht); to the north-west lies the ‘sacred precinct’ with a fire altar and stepped podium facing it. Excavation has revealed over 1 km. of stone-lined conduits. Soundings conducted by an Irano-French team have revealed the existence of mud-brick buildings below the surface.

Article

Pelusium  

Dorothy J. Thompson

Pelusium, the city at the easternmost mouth of the *Nile (modern Tell el-Farama) which formed the natural entry to Egypt from the north-east, on the route upriver to *Memphis. It was near this stategic entry-point that *Cambyses defeated the Egyptians in 525 bce. *Pharnabazus and *Iphicrates were stopped here by floods in 374, but many successful invaders of Egypt came this way, among them *Artaxerxes (3) III (342), *Alexander (3) the Great (332), *Antiochus (4) IV (169/8 ), A. *Gabinius (2) and M. *Antonius (2) (55), and Octavian (see augustus) in 30 bce. Under the Roman empire, Pelusium was a station on the route to the *Red Sea. Salt-pans lay in the area, which was also famed for its flax.