Project title in English: From the Achaemenids to the Romans: Contextualizing empire and its longue-durée developments
Project title in Polish: Od władztwa achemenidzkiego do rzymskiego: imperium w kontekście - procesy "długiego trwania"
Project duration: 1.03.2021 to 1.03.2025
Project abstract in English: This project seeks to shift attention in empire studies from the dominant position in scholarship, concentrated on empires of the modern age to empire as a phenomenon of universal history. It focuses on empires of the Eastern Mediterranean between 500 BC and 500 AD, from the Achaemenid Persian, the last empire of the ancient Near East, through empires of Alexander the Great, Seleukids, Parthians, until the Roman empire. It will locate them within the context of a broader history of empires. It wishes to overcomes traditional historical borderlines by advocating a transdisciplinary agenda that consciously focuses on the continuity and discontinuity of structures and concepts. The project will take into consideration both established, traditional empires and short-termed empires. Methodologically it envisages the concept of empire as an analytical tool to transcend already established historical epochs and to focus on long-term processes of adaption and adoption, continuity and discontinuity. It wants to study what3 / 29 empire means in the crucial period between 500 BC and 500 AD and which role the structures of empire play in a dynamic and long-term process of interconnected worlds within an Afro-Eurasian historical framework. Important aspect of this project is the historical heritage and a cultural legacy, both constituent factors in the very definition of empire. This project will probe as well the natural context of the empire: connected vassal states, cities and social elites of ancient empires, in realization that ancient empires were not strictly centralized states ruled by the king/emperor through neatly structured, uniform bureaucracy but that they were complex, multi-lingual and multi-layered states in which the central power had to negotiate its position with variety of smaller entities. This project will study reasons for longevity of some vassal states. It will investigate as well personal and family bonds between imperial and local rulers and aristocrats.
Project abstract in Polish: Ten projekt podejmuje próbę zmiany paradygmatu w badaniach nad imperiami, które koncentrują się obecnie na czasach nowożytnych, poprzez uznanie imperium za zjawisko ogólnohistoryczne. Badaniom zostaną poddane imperia bliskowschodnie w okresie 500 p.n.e.-500 n.e., od Persji Achemenidów – ostatniego imperium starożytnego Wschodu – po imperia Aleksandra, Seleukidów, Partów i Rzymu. Projekt zmierza do przekroczenia tradycyjnych granic w historiografii przez przyjęcie stanowiska transdyscyplinarnego skupiając się na badaniu ciągłości struktur i idei, biorąc też pod uwagę imperia krótkotrwałe. Istotą jego metodologii jest uznanie koncepcji imperium jako narzędzia analitycznego pozwalającego badać procesy adaptacji i ciągłości w długiej perspektywie czasowej. Projekt zmierza do odpowiedzi na pytania czym było imperium w kluczowym w dziejach tysiącleciu między 500 r. p.n.e. a 500 r. n.e. i jaką rolę struktury imperialne odegrały w śledzonej w dłuższej perspektywie dynamice zmian przeplatających się obszarów należących do styku trzech kontynentów: Afryki, Azji i Europy. Ważnym polem badawczym będzie też dziedzictwo kulturowe i pamięć historyczna, należące do fenomenów definiujących imperium. Projekt przeprowadzi również wybrane studia nad kontekstem imperiów: powiązanymi państwami wasalnymi, miastami i elitami społecznymi, w przeświadczeniu, że starożytne imperia nie były państwami scentralizowanymi, w których rządy sprawował monarcha za pośrednictwem jednolitej biurokracji. Były one organizmami o złożonej strukturze politycznej i etnicznej, w których władza centralna musiała nieustannie negocjować swą pozycję z innymi podmiotami. Przedmiotem badań będą też czynniki długiego trwania części państw wasalnych oraz wzorce związków rodzinnych i osobistych między dynastią rządzącą a lokalnymi władcami i rodzinami arystokratycznymi.
Project description: 1. The discussion on empires has significantly gained momentum since the late 1980s with Paul Kennedy’s “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers” (Kennedy 1987). It has experienced a noticeable boom both in public discourse and within scholarship, and it is present on many levels. It is encountered in feature articles, in the everyday political processing of the world events, and in an abundance of scientific publications. The reasons for this astonishing development are widely varied, but they can be defined rather clearly. Essentially, several components can be named which carry the discussion and provide for both the increased scholarly interest and for the greater everyday political attention. A decisive role is played by current political situations as well as by contemporary history backgrounds. These are diverse and change the view both of the present and of history. The history of policy and the history of events, res gestae, war, and international relations experiences a renaissance in the research and gains significantly in popularity. It may not be overlooked within this context that there is a large and lengthy scholarly culture of writings on the history of empires and on universal history with regard to the great powers (concerning the European Powers in Modern European History see Suppan 2020), the empires, and their chief participants, if one thinks of Leopold von Ranke (Weltgeschichte) in the nineteenth century (Ranke 1881–1888), or Paul Kennedy (The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers) in the twentieth century (Kennedy 1987: 438ff., 447ff., 458ff., 471ff., 488ff., 514ff.; 2nd edition 1991, 3rd edition 2003), and thus these traditions and the corresponding models are carried on (Gehler and Rollinger 2014. Gehler and Rollinger 2020. Rollinger, Degen, and Gehler 2020). However, writing imperial history does not just mean a return to universal history, but rather an entangled and interconnected history with global perspectives which also implies a renaissance of the history of the great powers. Combined with the new, newer, and the newest approaches in historical research including social and cultural sciences, but also different branches of science (cf. Rollinger and Stadler 2019), it will be enriched even further. Empires have to both successfully ward off external threats (aggression from opponents and challenges from rivals: cf. Externbrink 2020) and to combat internal challenges (rebellions, unrest, turmoil through dynasty conflicts and succession disputes etc., cf. Hoffmann 2020, Dybaś 2020, and Pohl 2020) in a commanding manner. Within that context, they demonstrate the capability of coping with military defeats and political setbacks, of compensating quickly, and of managing political crises and economic instability and of successfully mastering the processes of societal transformation that are perceived as phenomena of decline and fall (concerning decline, revival and fall of an empire, see Gehler, Rollinger and Strobl (eds.) forthcoming. Cf. also Ziemann 2020). In this way, they can often last for centuries, such as the Imperium Romanum between the late Republic, late antiquity (and far beyond), and the Ottoman Empire on the whole but especially between 1718 and 1918 (Cf. Uluisik 2020.). The explanatory model of the “Augustan threshold” (Michael Doyle) as a measuring stick for an empire´s longue-durée success all too often turns out within this context to be too simple, since the processes of transformation in question are substantially more complex and varied. In the penetration of rule, empires can definitely be differentiated from nation-states. Thus, ruling the territory of the state does not always have to be complete in the sense of a nation-state. The permanent smoldering of unrest in certain (fringe) areas even appears to have been rather a sort of normal condition. That is not to be viewed as a sign of weakness, however, but rather one of strength, since the persistence of the overall state was as a rule not affected by this (Gehler and Rollinger 2014). 2. Empire and Transformation Processes As it has just been mentioned the model of an “Augustan threshold” might be instructive and plausible at first glance but on a long-term perspective it is too simplistic and does not adequately describe the complex developments empires are facing and managing. This caveat somehow also affects two other scholarly very well-established key events any empire is supposed to witness, i.e. “birth” and “collapse”. Although it is still perfectly justifiable to examine these crucial events of an empire’s history, this approach does not always offer appropriate answers (cf. Fowles 2016; Harper 2017; Middleton 2017; Weiss 2017; Eisenberg 2018 and the various contributions in Gehler, Rollinger and Strobl (eds.) forthcoming. For the more and more important topics of climate changes, plagues and disease see Gatto and Zerboni 2015; Haldon et al. 2018a; Haldon et al. 2018b; Haldon et al. 2018c; Scheidel (ed.) 2018). The reason for this is that empires do not only experience complex developments of ups and downs, but also intricate processes of reshaping, restructuring and transformation (Canepa 2018). This can imply the selective acquisition and takeover of specific traditions by ignoring others at the same time, fragmentation and losing political and military dominance but at the same time the maintenance of imperial claims, social and economic reorientation but survival of the relevant classes of the elite, as well as the acquisition of imperial frameworks from outside without becoming a “real empire” (see Pöhl 2020). These developments appear to be more often the rule than the exception and it is a true challenge to describe this kind of “new” and transformed states by an adequate terminology. With a view on developments in South-East Asia, Hermann Kulke has described such states in interim stages as “imperial kingdoms” (Kulke 1986. See also the various contributions in Lanfranchi and Rollinger (eds.) 2010, and cf. Frasch 2020). This appears to be a Solomonic solution and may help to differentiate states like Axum (Lusini 2020), Greek Bactria (cf. Hoo and Wiesehöfer 2020), the Byzantine ‘Empire’ after the middle of the 7th century (cf. Haldon 2016), and many others from unambiguous empires like Assyria, Achaemenid Persia, the early caliphate, and the Ottoman Empire (cf. Uluisik 2020). However, what is important here is to highlight the relevant processes of transformation that many empires appear to experience, much more than simply decline, collapse or face destruction (this important aspect of empire history needs much more research in the near future. See Heather 2005; Haldon 2013; Wood 2013; Robinson 2013; Steinacher and Winckler 2014; Canepa 2018; Preiser-Kapeller 2018). This may even be regarded as a very specific form of an empire’s resilience (Schwartz and Nichols 2010; Faulseit 2016). In many cases, empires are ideologically embedded within larger contexts. They can refer to traditions and predecessors, but they do not necessarily have to do so, as in the case, for example, of the EU, which does this in the best case in mild attempts by making efforts at a somewhat diffuse idea of Europe and tracing this back to antiquity (Funke 2002; Gehler 2016; Gehler 2018: 626–630. Gehler and Rollinger (eds.) 2020). Empires in any case rely upon the creation of historical heritage and a cultural legacy. In order to be and remain empires, they have to call posterity to mind. If they are not present in the collective and cultural memory (cf. Pöhl 2020), they have forfeited their imperial claim, myth, and aura. Not only do they therefore have to provide an outstanding power factor in material history, they also require an influential culture of reception that manifests itself in the continued existence of architecture and “culture” or a lasting and prominent historiography (Canepa 2018). These aspects represent an element of continuity that spans multiple historical periods. It also affects the general phenomenon of transformation processes of empire. 3. Transformation and longue-durée: From the Achaemenids to the Romans This project concentrates on a specific group of states that are commonly labelled as "empire" and that we encounter through all historical periods. The chronological framework is limited to 500 BC- 500 AD, the millennium of unprecedented transformation in history in the East and the West. At the zenith of their power, the "empires" had an enormous geographical reach multiplying their economic and military power as well as their political influence within an trans-continental scope. The project will take into consideration both established, traditional empires and short-termed empires (Rollinger, Degen, and Gehler (eds.) 2020). Both the established and the short-term empires often came into existence in a weak international framework which constituted a power vacuum with disrupted entities and fragmented structures. Their historical beginnings are commonly based upon a charismatic, vigorous and ruthless conqueror, who leads his armies to distant regions. Undeniably, they share a belligerent attitude and war is a characteristic element of their political self-conception. In fact some of the largest and at one point most powerful empires proved ephemeral - the best example being the empire of Alexander the Great. Even more transient was the Pontic empire of Mithridates VI. Yet both Alexander the Great and Mithridates who emulated his Macedonian role-model in more than one way greatly influenced or even shaped the world great empires of their age and their public perception did not fade nearly as rapidly as their political power. For both of these reasons their empires will be scrutinized in this project too. In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious that major developments in the history of empire starting in the first half of the first millennium BC can only be adequately understood when they are seen in larger historical contexts. It has been realized that the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Persian Empires as well as the empires of Alexander, the successors, the Parthians and Romans share a common stream of tradition that cannot be ignored, which affects culture, kingship, ideology, world view, and bureaucracy (Rollinger 2020. Daryaee and Rollinger (eds.) 2020). This also applies for general political developments that concern conquest, dynasty, self-perception, and the fundamental question of the stability or weakness of these empires. Thus, for a better understanding of the phenomenon of empire in world history, its genesis and development, it is necessary to develop a broader perspective and locate it within the context of a broader history of empires, a context that starts with the evolution of empire in the ancient Near East and is still vibrant with the establishment of the Roman empire, and even beyond. The project focuses on a specific and crucial period within this longue-durée trajectory of empire history. It starts with the Achaemenid-Persian empire, sometimes labelled as the last ancient Near Eastern empire (Jacobs and Rollinger (eds.) 2020), and follows the paths of empire-history through the establishment of the Roman empire that is generally thought to give way to a new epoch laying foundation to the later “European history.” This innovative approach overcomes traditional historical borderlines by advocating a transdisciplinary agenda that consciously focuses on the continuity and discontinuity of structures and concepts. It thereby transcends the general agreement on how to organize the outline of political history of empire within this crucial historical period. This traditional approach conceptualizes the historical outline as a succession of clearly defined empires. Each of them is perceived as a kind of living individual with its human cycle of life. i.e. birth, youth, heyday, age, and death. All these empires are purportedly clearly distinguished from each other with clear cut beginnings and endings. This concept that has its origins already in antiquity is further highlighted by disciplinary borderlines between Ancient Near Eastern Studies and Classics that gain further momentum by ideologically based conceptions that envisage the history of empire through the lens of an east-west divide thus operating with dichotomies of “orient” and “occident,” “Asia” and “Europe,” stagnation and development, tyranny and freedom, etc. In contrast to such views the project consciously ignores these dividing lines and pre-conceived and ideologically charged conceptions. It follows a structural approach already established in late antique and early medieval studies that highlights processes of transformation and change within a crucial period of human history (Halsall 2007. Heather 2005. Heather 2009. Heather 2013. Meier 2012. Meier 2014. Meier 2019). Methodologically it envisages the concept of empire as an analytical tool to transcend already established historical epochs and to focus on long-term processes of adaption and adoption, continuity and discontinuity. It thereby intends to get a better and more detailed grip on the dynamics of the early history of empire within a universal, i.e. Afro-Eurasian context and its long-term developments and trajectories (Preiser-Kapeller 2018). It questions the generally considered major break to have taken place with the conquests of Alexander the Great when ancient Near Eastern empires and history are thought to have come to an end and a new, this time western empire emerges and a new era is introduced. This project challenges this well - established view by contemplating: 1.) what empire means in the crucial period between 500 BC and 500 AD, 2.) which role the structures of empire play in a dynamic and long-term process of interconnected and entangled worlds within an Afro-Eurasian historical framework. 4. Empire within: vassal states, cities, elites For all attention paid to the empire, this project is not about imperial structures and great conquerors alone. It will probe the empire in transition through a number of studies focused on developments often overshadowed in classical sources and modern historiography alike by notions of empire-building, conquest and collapse of great powers. The project realizes that ancient empires were not strictly centralized states ruled by the king/emperor through neatly structured, uniform bureaucracy but that they were complex, multilingual and multi-layered states in which the central power had to negotiate its position with variety of smaller principalities, temple-states, cities, tribes etc. These characteristic although more applicable to Achaemenid and Seleukid empires, were shared by the imperial Roman Republic and the Early Roman empire too. Therefore one focus of this project will be interaction of central imperial power with smaller entities within broadly defined sphere of imperial power. Some of these smaller entities, often referred to as vassal states, were ephemeral, while the other remarkably long-lasting, to the point of outliving an empire with whom they were associated. Vassal/client kingdoms of the imperial Roman Republic and the Roman empire have attracted the greatest interest of modern historiography with the dominant view that, alongside the Roman military might, the institutions common in Roman public and private life, i.e. hospitium (mutual hospitality), amicitia (friendship) and patrocinium (patronage), allowed Rome to dominate the Mediterranean for several centuries (Badian 1958; Jehne and Pina Polo 2015; Wendt 2015; Baltrush and Wilker 2015). Fergus Millar once coined the name two-level sovereignty for the system of the Roman empire and its client states (Millar 2002). This project takes the position that the vassal states constituted the primary context for any ancient empire. Many of them were studied in the past, usually for their own sake, while this project intends to research the phenomenon of vassal principalities as a constituent factor in history of ancient empires. In the period between the battle of Actium (31 BC) and Trajan’s eastern campaign (115 AD), most eastern client states gradually came under direct Roman administration. The general scholarly consensus depicts incorporated client kingdoms as victims of their own success: by helping to introduce Roman administration and culture in their territories, they facilitated their subsequent swift takeover (Braund 1984; Kaizer and Facella (eds.) 2010; Sartre 2013). Nonetheless, certain examples prove that the growing Roman impact in the cultural and administrative spheres of eastern client kingdoms need not have inevitably led to annexation and the incorporation could be reversed, as happened in Commagene, Judea (the early first c. AD) and Osrhoene (the third c. AD) (Millar 1993). This consensus needs to be tested, as well the dominant theory that the Roman administration had not any grand strategy bent on incorporating their client kingdoms, instead preferring a flexible and reactive approach towards their eastern allies, by and large refraining from meddling in the internal affairs of their client states’ ruling dynasties – that is, as long as their independence benefitted the Empire. But this project intends to go beyond Roman imperial history, looking at client/vassal states as a phenomenon typical of many, if not all, empires of the Near East. Although it is not possible to study all of them within the framework of this project, a few case studies will be performed. One general question to be asked is about mutual benefits the empire and its vassal state drew from their relationship. Then the project wants to ascertain what factors contributed to longevity of some lesser states: was it geography, making lesser states on fringes of the empire more independent and stable than those closer to centre of the empire, was it their distinct internal characteristics, ethnic or religious cohesiveness, well-established local dynasty rooted in the past and perhaps endowed with its own ideology, not necessarily sharing principle tenets with ideology of the empire. What needs to be investigated in this context is the established notion of vassal states playing the role of a buffer between major empires: it is commonly applicable to Armenia, Osrhoene, Adiabene and Sophene (Millar 1993; Bowersock 2003; Fowler 2010; Marciak 2017). Yet the question needs to be asked whether this notion is not overstated to the point of obfuscating rather than clarifying relations between the empire and its vassal state and whether it was typical only of the age of the Roman empire or if the phenomenon of vassal buffer states is applicable to all empires of the ancient Near East. Both the local and imperial perspective on complex relations between empires and vassal principalities will be applied in search of conclusions applicable to all empires and all vassal states in the territory and time-frame under investigation. Questions will be asked about the family bonds, real and invented, between the ruling dynasties of ancient empires and vassal kingdoms. The scale of this phenomenon will be studied with additional issues: whether family bonds between the imperial family and local rules were forged as a part of major design, how this policy evolved over time, if it was influenced by ethnic or religious factors. The royal family of Kommagene is known to have underlined direct family ties with ruling families of the three great empires of the distant and recent past: the Achaemenids, family of Alexander the Great and the Seleukids. A question needs to be asked whether Antiochos of Kommagene was an isolated example or part of a more widespread phenomenon of creating royal past and building legitimacy in periods marked by succession of empires and ensuing instability. Alongside the family ties, real or imagined, an issue worthy of consideration in this project is the manner in which vassal kings expressed their loyalty to the Empire. This again, as many things associated with client kings in general, has been most thoroughly investigated in reference to the Roman empire and its vassals. Their relationship functioned both as an interpersonal and a political bond. Many rulers chose to socialize with the emperor and his family: a stay at the emperor’s court could leave a favourable impression and convince the emperor of the king’s loyalty, as well as allow the king to gain first-hand knowledge of the Empire’s inner workings and establish a network of relationships with members of the imperial elite (Allen 2006). If client kings could not visit the imperial capital in person, they sent their offspring and relatives as hostages, or alternatively they sent them to gain a proper Roman “education”, a practice that, in Hekster’s words, transformed Rome into a “princely kindergarten.” (Hekster 2010). One should ask whether forging personal ties between the imperial family and imperial aristocracy and rulers of vassal kingdoms was a phenomenon typical of the Roman empire alone, springing from the Roman legal and social practice of uneven friendship codified in the system of patronage (clientela) or if it was a more universal approach, to find in other empires of the Near East. The most wide-spread lesser entities interacting with empires, in the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia at least, were cities (Eilers 2002; Goodman 2008; Nicols 2014). Their interaction is a topic far exceeding the bounds of this project. Yet a probing into a few issues will be done. One is the ways in which empires were active within the world of cities within their limits and without. The project intends to go beyond the current discussion of propaganda as the motive of imperial benefaction towards temples, oracles, festivals. It will focus on interaction, taking into consideration the ways how cities attempted, often with success, to influence the empire. Another issue is the internal evolution of a city, in contact with the empire. This perhaps can be best approached in the case of Phoenicia whose city came into being well before lower terminus of this project, who interacted, often unwillingly, with a string of empires, from the Achaemenid, through Alexander's, Seleukid, to Roman, and whose transformation can be studied based on ample local evidence, be it inscriptions in variety of indigenous and imperial languages, coins, archaeological material. Much the same questions as posed to vassal kings in their relation with empires will be asked with respect to aristocracy and elite families in general. This project intends to question the established notion of the tremendous importance of (Greek, Macedonian) ethnicity in buildup of the ruling elite of Hellenistic empires, the Seleukid empire in the first place, and of the Roman empire in the East (Romer 1985; Goodman 1987). It will try to look beyond the hellenizing curtain of Greek authors in study of elites within the empires of the ancient Near East, searching for patterns of adaptation of ethnically diverse elites to the ruling class of an empire. This question will be asked about ethnically non-Iranians within the imperial elites of the Achaemenid empire and about non-Western elites within the Seleukid and Roman empires. An interesting issue is whether the elites originating from among peoples conquered by an empire were simply pursuing a survival strategy or if they were contributing to transformation of the ways how the majority imperial culture and society operated. Particular attention will be paid to periods of transition between empires and strategies adopted by vassal kings, cities and aristocratic families. The overlapping issue in this project is the cultural dimension of the empire. In order to discuss the cultural impact of Ancient empires on the provincial populations one need to trace the dissemination of certain cultural traits as a consequence of direct or indirect imperial influence. One of the most apparent manifestations of the cultural processes like that is the spread of languages of international significance. In the case of the Near East the most important languages that could be a subject of such analysis are Aramaic, Greek and Latin. So far, there was several studies dealing with the role and significance of Latin in the Near East (Millar 1995; Eck 2009; Isaac 2009). However the problem still demands further elaboration that would provide more specific picture of the presence of Latin into the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East as a whole and in particular subregions of this vast area. The lack of comprehensive local studies in this field prevents one from distinguishing common patterns from local peculiarities. In terms of this project, it will be also important to examine the fate of other vernacular languages and the response of indigenous populations to the spread of languages of international significance. One of such cases is perhaps the decline of the Phoenician language in the evidence (Briquel-Chatonnet 1991). However, this case deserves further examination by juxtaposing it with other examples of such phenomenon, e.g. the decline of the Anatolian languages in the early Greco-Roman period. In such a wide-range study it is important to include diverse case studies that would allow one to identify particular treads of global processes reflected in the cultural development of particular regions. Thus, while discussing the processes of shaping culture and identities under the influence of Ancient empires, it is necessary to examine regions of different cultural and ethnic background that display different cultural dynamics: 1) a milieu of deeply rooted homogeneous background and expansive cultural potential (e.g. Greece); 2); a milieu of deeply rooted background of cultural and ethnic duality (e.g. Bosporus); 3) a milieu of deeply rooted homogeneous background disposed on foreign cultural influences (e.g. Phoenicia); 4) a milieu of recent and mixed background (e.g. Antiochene). This would allow to state how global tendencies were reflected in the local context all around the Eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. Accomplishing these research objectives demands applying a multidimensional approach to empires, provincial societies and their integration with the imperial structure. Reconciling all of these divergent perspectives is possible only within a wide-ranged project conducted by a research team of highly specialized scholars. 5. Methodology The project combines well-established historiographical methods with recent theoretical approaches in a productive and engaging framework that considerably enlarges perspectives and gives way to a dynamic and open-minded evaluation of the available sources. It makes use of a universal view of the ancient worlds that takes into consideration the “cultures” and lands of Afro-Eurasia as entangled and interconnected territories. The project focuses on phenomena of proto-globalization and glocalization and defines “empire” as a transregional and connective entity that structures historical processes beyond the traditional boundaries of traditional disciplines. Drawing from the most recent results of the “imperial turn” it is based on interdisciplinary diversity and wide range. It combines archaeological, historical and philological disciplines engaged in different fields and areas. It unites Classical Studies, Ancient History, Ancient Near Eastern Studies and a colorful variety of Archaeologies that range from Ancient Near Eastern to Classical, and Roman Archaeologies. This demonstrates not only the wide outreach of research agendas but also the far-reaching geographical, chronological and intellectual dimensions of the project. In its unified diversity the project focuses on the interconnected imperial worlds between 500 BC and 500 AD in their broadest sense. It transcends the traditional boundaries of the scientific disciplines as they have been established in the 19th century. It underlines and highlights the multiple aspects of connectivity that unite Ancient Worlds. It makes use of new methodological concepts on how to approach and study ancient cultures. It shares a seminal understanding of culture as a dynamic system that creates and defines meaning. A major aim is to overcome traditional concepts of Eurocentrism. Ancient Worlds are not anymore seen as predecessors of a Western-European history but as an essential part of globally connected World History. The trajectories of Ancient Near Eastern history to the Islamic and Central Asian History are as important as those to the West and North. Empire History and the transcultural networks involved are seen as a framework that connects cultures and regions. Thus, the interdisciplinary nature and diversity of the project offer a new understanding of the interconnected worlds between 500 BC and 500 AD. Moreover, the project faces the many challenges of a globalized world of the 21st century CE. It places Ancient Worlds and Archaeologies within the contexts of a multi-faceted globalized world and contributes to better understand the present times by profoundly analyzing their interconnected pasts. A project which spans a culturally diverse area over a millennium will rely both on meta-analysis of many previous studies on empires. It will apply diverse methods of source analysis, typical of Assyriology when cuneiform evidence is concerned, of epigraphy, Greek and Latin and Semitic (Phoenician and Aramaic), numismatics, in its various aspects pertaining to diverse coinages of the ancient Near East, papyrology, and art history, used in study of iconographical sources such as sculpture, reliefs, mosaics. It will draw as well on archaeological reports and evidence, always published or at least housed in museums. There are no plans to conduct original archaeological excavations or surveys. This project will apply both qualitative and quantitative research methods, e.g. counting inscriptions and producing epigraphic curves in select areas of the ancient Near East (e.g. in Phoenicia, parts of Syria and Palestine) and conducting detailed analysis of individual inscriptions in stone, mosaics and coin series. 6. Activities planned during project implementation: Most activities planned during project implementation is research in the fields of classics, ancient history, oriental studies with sub-disciplines such as epigraphy, numismatics. The results of research will be disseminated as books, journal articles, conference papers. Among planned activities are two conferences: Melammu Workshop in 2023, with a topic strictly related to the this project and a large, high-caliber conference within the series "New Achaemenid History Workshop" in 2025 in which end results of this project will be presented by all participants. Over the duration of the project its participants will be meeting at regular seminars, twice per semester, presenting their work in progress. In addition the doctoral student(s) of the project will participate in Wrocław-Innsbruck joint doctoral seminars. Professor Rollinger will preside on project seminars and will be offering mentoring to junior members of the project group. All members of the project group are expected to submit papers (2 per participant) to high quality journals and to present papers at conferences. Since two conferences will be organized at the UWr within the framework of this project, acts of both will be published as volumes co-edited by Professor Rollinger and a member of the project group. Post-docs are expected to edit books based on their doctoral dissertations and to submit them to good international publishers before the end of this project.