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AHIS3223 – Frontiers and Empires: Conflict and Diplomacy in the Ancient World

2020 – Session 1, Fully online/virtual

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts staff and students

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff
Peter Edwell
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
130cp at 1000 level or above or (20cp in AHIS or AHST units at 2000 level)
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

This unit is an in-depth study of Rome's attempts to defend itself against a resurgent Iran in the late-third and early-fourth centuries CE. Students have the chance to study both military and diplomatic history of the two great empires, as well as religious change. Archaeological evidence is used extensively to help us to reconstruct our knowledge of Roman defensive systems.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: Analyse and express judgement about the history of Rome's Persian Wars from the 3rd-4th centuries AD in oral and written form.
  • ULO2: Demonstrate skills in reading ancient texts from a variety of historical and cultural contexts, with particular attention to critically identifying issues involved in interpretation of culturally-distant texts.
  • ULO3: Demonstrate research skills supporting independent location and evaluation of information, suitable for research at university level and for other professional situations.
  • ULO4: Demonstrate written and oral communication skills.

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts staff and students

Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status

Delivery and Resources

Staff Contact details

The convenor and main lecturer for this unit is Dr Peter Edwell (Level 2, Australian Hearing Hub, e-mail address: peter.edwell@mq.edu.au). 

Please note: Apart from the first lecture which will act as an introduction, lectures in this unit are recorded only and will not be delivered live. It is very important to listen to the recorded lectures because weekly assessable quizzes are based on the material covered in the recorded lectures.

Required Unit Materials

The only required book purchase for this unit is M.H. Dodgeon & S.N.C. Lieu, The Roman Eastern Frontier and the Persian Wars: AD 226 - 363, 1994, London & New York, Routledge.  The book can be purchased new or second hand (try the website www.abebooks.com for second hand copies). It is essential to have access to the book because it forms the basis of most tutorials/discussions during the course of the semester. Please note that the book is also available in full in electronic format via Multisearch on the Macquarie University Library website. I would encourage you to have a physical copy of the book.

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status

Lecture & Tutorial schedule

Week 1

Lecture 1                     Introduction & welcome

Lecture 2                     Geography of the Eastern Frontier

No tutorials

Week 2

Lecture 3                     Historical Background 1 (Rome)

Lecture 4                     Historical Background 2 (Iran)

Tutorial 1                     Introduction

Week 3

Lecture 5                     The Sasanian “revolution”

Lecture 6                     Rome’s early wars with the Sasanians – Severus Alexander & Gordian III

Tutorial 2                     The Early Sasanians

Week 4                                   

Lecture 7                     The invasions of Shapur I

Lecture 8                     The siege and capture of Dura Europos

Tutorial 3                     Different traditions - Roman/Byzantine sources and the SKZ

Week 5           

Lecture 9                     Palmyra – 1st & 2nd centuries AD

Lecture 10                   Palmyra – 3rd century and after.

Tutorial 4                     The portrayal of Zenobia in ancient sources

Week 6

Lecture 11                   The Persian Wars of Diocletian and Galerius

Lecture 12                   The Strata Diocletiana

Tutorial 5                     Sources on the wars of Diocletian and Galerius

Week 7                       No lectures or tutorials. 

Semester Break         

Week 8

Lecture 13                   Christianity & the Eastern Frontier

Lecture 14                   Manichaeism & the Eastern Frontier

Tutorial 6                     Christianity and Manichaeism on the Eastern Frontier                              

Week 9

Lecture 15                   Frontier theory and the Eastern Frontier

Lecture 16                   Constantine & Persia

Tutorial 7                     Constantine and the Christians of Persia       

Week 10

Lecture 17                   The Role of Armenia between Rome and Persia

Lecture 18                   The Role of the Arabs

Tutorial 8                     Armenian Historiography

Week 11         

Lecture 19                  The Persian wars of Constantius II -1

Lecture 20                   The Persian Wars of Constantius II-2

Tutorial 9                     The eastern frontier under Constantius II

Week 12

Lecture 21                   The Persian campaign of Julian-1

Lecture 22                   The Persian campaign of Julian-2

Tutorial 10                   Sources on the Persian invasion of Julian

Week 13                     

Lecture 23                   Rome and Persia in Art & Coins

Lecture 24                   Unit summary

Tutorial 11                   Sasanian Rock Reliefs

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central). Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Students seeking more policy resources can visit the Student Policy Gateway (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/study/student-policy-gateway). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

If you would like to see all the policies relevant to Learning and Teaching visit Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central).

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/study/getting-started/student-conduct​


Results published on platform other than eStudent, (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au or if you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Late Submission Policy

Unless a Special Consideration request has been submitted and approved, (a) a penalty for lateness will apply – two (2) marks out of 100 will be deducted per day for assignments submitted after the due date – and (b) no assignment will be accepted more than seven (7) days (incl. weekends) after the original submission deadline. No late submissions will be accepted for timed assessments – e.g. quizzes, online tests - or for journal notes collected randomly in tutorial classes.

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Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

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Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to improve your marks and take control of your study.

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Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

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