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Die Feldzüge Shapurs d. Gr. (240-271 n.Chr.) Anatolien um die Mitte des 3. Jahrhunderts n.Chr. [The Campaign of Shapur the Great (AD 240-271)]
Heidemarie KOCH*

The activities, which, Shapur the Great cites in his own words, ‘he was proud of’, must have brought catastrophes to the world of the time, when they are studied in detail. During this period not only most of the region was devastated but also hundreds of thousands of people must have been displaced. Shapur may have stated in order to exaggerate his own movement that there were 60,000 losses and 70,000 new recruits in the Roman army but Rome must still have had a big army. These figures of soldiers must be compounded with another big group comprising merchants and prostitutes.

It may be proposed that Romans within their territory were not as brutal as the Persians, who were in the territory of the enemy. Mercenaries coming from all around the empire and not knowing one another probably did not think of such questions. For the Roman army it was more important to live better as possible. Therefore, all the silos on the route that were the life artery of the region were plundered. In spite of the fact that other soldiers joined them as they advanced, it can be proposed that big waves of fleeing populace were provoked by the approaching Roman army. The worst of all was that the Persians followed on after all these. The size of the Persian army was not any inferior to that of the Roman army. Furthermore, they had no reason to protect the populace. On the contrary Shapur boasts that all the territory was burnt down, razed to the ground and plundered. It is clear that his goal was to plunder only, not to expand his territory. As the news of the Persian devastation spread rapidly, those who could simply fled to the west, as far away from the Persians as possible. These circumstances affected the regions not in direct contact with the Sassanids as well. Romans would have big difficulties with these refugees while those who could not manage to escape were to be exiled by the Persian army.

It is not easy to visualise this diehard condition aroused in the west by the campaign of Shapur. The effect of the devastation caused by the rebels reached the Mediterranean world beyond the borders of the territory they had occupied.

* Prof. Dr. Heidemarie Koch
Seminar für Alte Geschichte Marburg/Almanya
E-mail: kochh@staff.uni-marburg.de

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