David M. Lewis
Twentieth-century scholarship, guided in particular by the views of M. I. Finley, saw Greece and Rome as the only true ‘slave societies’ of antiquity: slavery in the Near East was of minor economic significance. Finley also believed that the lack of a concept of ‘freedom’ in the Near East made slavery difficult to distinguish from other shades of ‘unfreedom’. This chapter shows that in the Near East the legal status of slaves and the ability to make clear status distinctions were substantively similar to the Greco-Roman situation. Through a survey of the economic contribution of slave labour to the wealth and position of elites in Israel, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Carthage, it is shown that the difference between the ‘classical’ and ‘non-classical’ worlds was not as pronounced as Finley thought, and that at least some of these societies (certainly Carthage) should also be considered ‘slave societies’.
A. D. Lee
This chapter explains the warfare between the Roman Empire and Sasanian Persia, specifically presenting an historical review of Roman–Persian warfare. The Roman Empire presented many new military challenges, one of the most serious and certainly the most consistent of which was that introduced by Sasanian Persia to the east. The Sasanian regime was able to pose a more serious military threat to the Roman Empire compared with its predecessor. Sasanian siege capability led to increased Roman investment in the fortification of cities and towns on and near the frontier. A recent re-examination of the evidence has prompted a revised interpretation involving Persian tunnellers deliberately collapsing their tunnel on top of Roman pursuers after a grisly underground fight in the dark.