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Towards One World - Ancient Persia and the West

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The Persian Empire was the first major eastern power to actually extend its borders into Europe. The Persians came in the 6th century BC as a great power seeking to incorporate parts of south-eastern Europe as provinces into a centrally ruled and administered empire. Yet Iran's foothold in Europe was tiny, distant and brief: of all the peoples from the East who entered Europe, the Iranian presence appears the least, covering little more than sixty years. Furthermore, this contact is usually viewed in terms of conflict: the Graeco-Persian wars, the conquests of Alexander, the numerous wars between Rome and Iran. But Europe's contact with ancient Persia was neither short-lived nor conflicting: it was the beginnings of a complex interaction between East and West that continues to this day. This book explores that relationship.

The main people in Europe with whom the Persians came into contact were the Greeks, and contact was as fundamental for the Romans too: it was a neo-Persian kingdom that came close to stemming the emerging power of Rome in the first century BC, and it was the continued existence of Iran as a great power and its relationship with the Roman Empire that brought about a war at the end of antiquity that wrought more change than any other war in history. Throughout antiquity, Iranian religious ideas came west to profoundly influence the beginnings of Christianity. More than anything else, what Iran contributed to posterity was an idea. In articulating the concept of a single universal creator, ancient Persian civilisation was the first to grope towards the idea of a single universal world. The idea of one world was to persist.

This is the second of four volumes by Warwick Ball examining the spread of cultures from the east into Europe, in a series entitled Asia in Europe and the Making of the West. Also available: Out of Arabia: Phoenicians, Arabs and the Discovery of Europe, Sultans of Rome: The Turkish World Expansion and The Gates of Asia - The Eurasian Steppe and the Limits of Europe.


A Near Eastern archaeologist and author who has spent over twenty-five years carrying out excavations, architectural studies and monumental restoration throughout the Middle East and adjacent regions, having lived, worked and travelled in most countries between the Mediterranean and China. He is currently director of Eastern Approaches, a special-interest cultural tours company specialising in the East. Author of many books and articles on the history and archaeology of the region, his book, Rome in the East: the Transformation of an Empire, was winner of the James Henry Breasted History Prize and was Choice Outstanding Academic Book in 2000. He is also the author of the much acclaimed Syria: A Historical and Architectural Guide.

Born in Australia, Warwick Ball now lives in Scotland.

137 x 216 mm, 288 pp. 11 maps, with 48pp colour, paperback
ISBN 978 1 907318 02 3
31 July 2010


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