Francis Ludlow and J.G. Manning
In the Crucible of Empire
Edited by John J. Collins and J.G. Manning
This collection of essays contains a state of the field discussion about the nature of revolt and resistance in the ancient world. While it does not cover the entire ancient world, it does focus in on the key revolts of the pre-Roman imperial world. Regardless of the exact sequence, it was an undeniable fact that the area we now call the Middle East witnessed a sequence of extensive empires in the second half of the last millennium BCE. At first, these spread from East to West (Assyria, Babylon, Persia). Then after the campaigns of Alexander, the direction of conquest was reversed. Despite the sense of inevitability, or of divinely ordained destiny, that one might get from the passages that speak of a sequence of world-empires, imperial rule was always contested. The essays in this volume consider some of the ways in which imperial rule was resisted and challenged, in the Assyrian, Persian, and Hellenistic (Seleucid and Ptolemaic) empires. Not every uprising considered in this volume would qualify as a revolution by this definition. Revolution indeed was on the far end of a spectrum of social responses to empire building, from resistance to unrest, to grain riots and peasant rebellions. The editors offer the volume as a means of furthering discussions on the nature and the drivers of resistance and revolution, the motivations for them as well as a summary of the events that have left their mark on our historical sources long after the dust had settled.