2

Egypt and Asia

Sometime in the eighteenth century B.C.E., the period is a matter of contention among scholars, Egypt suddenly found itself drawn into the tangle of events transpiring to the north, in Asia. According to the ancient Egyptian historian Manetho, as recorded by Josephus:

It came to pass, I know not how, that God was averse to us, and there came, after a surprising manner, men of ignoble birth out of the eastern parts, and had boldness enough to make an expedition into our country, and with ease subdued it by force, yet without our hazarding a battle with them. So when they had gotten those that governed us under their power, they afterwards burnt down our cities, and demolished the temples of the gods, and used all the inhabitants after a most barbarous manner…. At length they made one of themselves king, whose name was Salatis; he also lived at Memphis, and made both the upper and lower regions pay tribute, and left garrisons in places that were most proper for them. He chiefly aimed to secure the eastern parts, as foreseeing that the Assyrians, who had then the greatest power, would be desirous of that kingdom and invade them. 1

It seems clear that Manetho was referring to the largely Amorite invasion that quickly overran the country. The Amorites, as noted in the preceding chapter, had invaded Mesopotamia and founded a thriving kingdom in Babylonia. Hammurabi, preeminent among its rulers, had managed to bring virtually the whole of Mesopotamia under his sway, making the Amorite period the most dynamic in the country’s long history. At the same time, however, the migration of Indo-European tribes from Anatolia along with Indo-Aryans from Iran into the Fertile Crescent placed heavy pressures on the Amorites who had settled in northern Mesopotamia, pushing them westward into the mountains and coastal regions of Syria, Lebanon,

-25-

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The Pre-Islamic Middle East
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Middle East in Early Antiquity 9
  • 2 - Egypt and Asia 25
  • 3 - The Rise and Decline of Assyria 43
  • 4 - The Rise and Fall of Media 63
  • 5 - The Empire of the Achaemenids 75
  • 6 - The Persian-Greek Wars 83
  • 7 - The Macedonian Conquest 97
  • 8 - The Dissolution of Alexander’s Empire 109
  • 9 - Reconfiguration of the Middle East 123
  • 10 - Rome Enters the Middle East 137
  • 11 - The Roman-Parthian Conflict 149
  • 12 - The Struggle over the Euphrates Frontier 161
  • 13 - The Roman-Persian Stalemate 173
  • 14 - The Era of Shapur II 183
  • Notes 192
  • 15 - The Struggle for Persia’s Frontiers 193
  • 16 - End of the Sassanid Empire 201
  • Afterword 211
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 221
  • About the Author 233
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