Sophene, Gordyene, and Adiabene

Three Regna Minora of Northern Mesopotamia Between East and West


In Sophene, Gordyene, and Adiabene, M. Marciak offers the first-ever comprehensive study of the history and culture of these three little-known countries of Northern Mesopotamia (3rd century BCE – 7th century CE). The book gives an overview of the historical geography, material culture, and political history of each of these countries. Furthermore, the summary offers a regional perspective by describing the history of this area as a subject of the political and cultural competition of great powers.
This book answers both a recent growth of interest in ancient Mesopotamia as the frontier area, as well as the urgent need for documentation of the cultural heritage of a region that has recently become subject to the destructive influence of sectarian violence.
Restricted Access


EUR €145.00USD $167.00

Biographical Note

Michał Marciak, Ph.D. (2012), Leiden University, is a Research Fellow at Rzeszów University in Poland. He has published extensively on ancient Palestine and Northern Mesopotamia, including the monograph Izates, Helena, and Monobazos of Adiabene (Harrassowitz, 2014).

Review Quotes

"The author draws upon a wide range of literary sources in a number of languages, primarily in Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Armenian. He also draws upon a wide range of material sources and the latest archaeological data. The result is an indispensable tool for anyone interested in the geography and history of northern Mesopotamia. (...) The book is extremely well-structured and indexed, and a joy to use for these reasons. The English is excellent, and typographical errors almost entirely absent. (...) Consequently, this book is to be highly recommended to anyone whose research involves the geography or history of northern Mesopotamia." David Woods, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018.04.24 ''A rich collection of data with thorough source citations and an update bibliography, the study is useful as a reference for specialists and graduate students.'' H. Chang, Choice 2018.55.08 ''Dass Marciak mit „Sophene, Gordyene, and Adiabene“ die erste umfangreiche Studie über die Regionen im Norden Mesopotamiens bietet, verdient Anerkennung. Der Autor hat englische Übersetzungen der ausführlich thematisierten Quellen in sein Werk aufgenommen. Auf welche Übertragungen und Editionen er dabei zurückgegriffen hat, macht er in den Fußnoten deutlich. Er hat seine Untersuchung klar formuliert und bietet am Ende des Buchs noch eine umfangreiche Bibliographie (435–496), eine Vielzahl von Karten und Abbildungen (497–554) und mehrere Register (555–581). Mit seinem Werk hat Marciak einen wichtigen Schritt dafür geleistet, das kulturelle Erbe der Sophene, Gordiene und Adiabene stärker ins Bewusstsein zu rufen.'' Tino Shahin, Plekos 2018.20 ''Marciak hat eine gelungene und mit großer Sorgfalt verfasste Untersuchung vorgelegt, die für die weitere Forschung zum antiken Nordmesopotamien Maßstäbe setzt und sich insbesondere für die künftige Erarbeitung der Geographie dieser Region als unverzichtbares "Startkapital" erweisen wird.'' Monika Schuol, Sehepunkte 2018.18.05

Table of contents

Acknowledgements Abbreviations and Preliminary Remarks Introduction

Part 1: Sophene

1 Historical Geography of Sophene  1.1 Strabo  1.2 Pliny the Elder  1.3 Ptolemy  1.4 Plutarch and Tabula Peutingeriana  1.5 Tacitus  1.6 Sophene in the Context of Byzantine-Sasanian Wars  1.7 Notitia Dignitatum  1.8 Byzantine Administrative Reforms of Armenian Lands  1.9 Descriptio Orbis Romani by George of Cyprus  1.10 Sophene in Armenian Sources  1.11 Summary and Conclusions 2 Cultural Landscape of Sophene  2.1 Literary Sources  2.2 Papyrological and Epigraphic Evidence  2.3 Numismatic Evidence  2.4 Onomastic Data  2.5 Archaeological Sites  2.6 Communication Routes in the Upper Tigris Region  2.7 Roman Fortresses and Bridges in the Upper Tigris Region  2.8 Summary and Conclusions 3 Political History of Sophene  3.1 The Beginnings: Sophene and Kommagene Under the Rule of the Orontids?  3.2 The Dynasty of Zariadres  3.3 Sophene and the Third Mithridatic War  3.4 Sohaemus and the Peace of Rhandeia  3.5 Sophene in the Context of the Roman-Sasanian Wars  3.6 The Transtigritani in the Light of Armenian sources  3.7 List of Rulers of Sophene  3.8 Summary and Conclusions

Part 2: Gordyene

4 Historical Geography of Gordyene  4.1 Xenophon’s Karduchoi  4.2 Strabo  4.3 Pliny the Elder  4.4 Ptolemy  4.5 Plutarch  4.6 Arrian, Cassius Dio and Tabula Peutingeriana  4.7 Ammianus Marcellinus, Notitia Dignitatum, and Descriptio Orbis Romani  4.8 Armenian Sources  4.9 Cudi Dağι in Jewish-Postbiblical, Syriac and Arabic Sources  4.10 Summary and Conclusions 5 Cultural Landscape of Gordyene  5.1 Literary Sources  5.2 Ancient Routes in Gordyene  5.3 Onomastic Data  5.4 Archaeological Sites  5.5 Summary and Conclusions 6 Political History of Gordyene  6.1 Karduchoi in the Persian Empire  6.2 King Zarbienos  6.3 Gordyene and Adiabene  6.4 Trajan and Gordyene  6.5 Gordyene and Transtigritanae regiones  6.6 Gordyene in the Sasanian Kingdom  6.7 Summary and Conclusions

Part 3: Adiabene

7 Historical Geography of Adiabene  7.1 Ethnographical and Geographical Accounts on Adiabene  7.2 Historiographical Passages on Adiabene  7.3 Summary and Conclusions 8 Cultural Landscape of Adiabene  8.1 Literary Sources  8.2 Archaeological Sites  8.3 Numismatic and Epigraphic Evidence  8.4 The Adiabene Onomasticon  8.5 Monumental Reliefs in Adiabene  8.6 Summary 9 Political History of Adiabene  9.1 Adiabene in the Hellenistic Period  9.2 Adiabene in the Parthian Period (1st Century BCE–1st Century CE)  9.3 Adiabene and Trajan’s Parthian War  9.4 Lucius Verus  9.5 Septimius Severus  9.6 Adiabene, Hatra, and Osrhoene  9.7 Caracalla  9.8 Cognomen Adiabenicus in the Third and Fourth Centuries CE  9.9 The Byzantine Campaigns in Adiabene in the 6–7th Centuries CE  9.10 Adiabene within the Sasanian Kingdom  9.11 Summary and Conclusions 10 Summary: A Regional Perspective and General Issues Bibliography Figures


All interested in the history of the frontier area between Rome and the Iranian kingdoms of the Parthians and the Sasanians, as well as the late Seleucids and ancient Armenia.


Collection Information