Making Mesopotamia: Geography and Empire in a Romano-Iranian Borderland


In Making Mesopotamia: Geography and Empire in a Romano-Iranian Borderland, Hamish Cameron examines the representation of the Mesopotamian Borderland in the geographical writing of Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Claudius Ptolemy, the anonymous Expositio Totius Mundi, and Ammianus Marcellinus. This inter-imperial borderland between the Roman Empire and the Arsacid and Sasanid Empires provided fertile ground for Roman geographical writers to articulate their ideas about space, boundaries, and imperial power. By examining these geographical descriptions, Hamish Cameron shows how each author constructed an image of Mesopotamia in keeping with the goals and context of their own work, while collectively creating a vision of Mesopotamia as a borderland space of movement, inter-imperial tension, and global engagement.

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Hamish Cameron, Ph.D. (2014), University of Southern California, is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Classical and Medieval Studies at Bates College in Maine. His work focuses on mobility, geography, cyberpunk, classical reception in games, and the Roman Near East.
List of Maps
A Note on the MapsI

1 Introducing the Borderland
 1 What is a Borderland?
 2 Where is the Mesopotamian Borderland?
 3 A Borderland Emerges
 4 Who “Made” Mesopotamia?
 5 Outlining the Narrative

Part 1: Tradition and Narrative

2 Knowing
 1 Strabo’s Sources
 2 Pliny’s Sources
 3 Ptolemy’s Sources
 4 Spatial Measurement
 5 Hellenistic Knowledge

3 Naming
 1 Strabo’s Assyria
 2 Pliny
 3 Claudius Ptolemy
 4 The Expositio Totius Mundi et Gentium
 5 Ammianus Marcellinus
 6 Labels and Limits

4 Narrating
 1 Strabo
 2 Pliny the Elder
 3 Ptolemy
 4 Expositio Totius Mundi et Gentium
 5 Ammianus
 6 Narrating Topologically
 7 Narrating Imperially

5 Moving
 1 Skenitai
 2 Gordyaians
 3 Arranging People
 4 Hellenistic Migration
 5 Viewing Space
 6 Individual Mobility

Part 2: Movement and Power

6 Carrying
 1 Long-distance Trade
 2 Strabo and the Euphrates Route
 3 Northern Routes
 4 Expositio Totius Mundi et Gentium
 5 Desert Routes
 6 North-South Routes
 7 Local Routes
 8 Representing Mesopotamian Trade

7 Ruling
 1 Roman Power in the Borderland
 2 Representing Power
 3 Imperial Space
 4 Mesopotamia as a Frontier

8 Epilogue: Connecting
 1 Globalisation and Networks in the Mesopotamian Borderland
 2 The Conceptualisation of the Mesopotamian Borderland
Specialists of the Roman Near East and its context, classical geography and its treatment as a literary genre, and scholars of comparative borderlands or ideologies of spatial representation.
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