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    The tale of the Theban Scholastikos, or journeys in a disconnected sea

    Darley, Rebecca (2019) The tale of the Theban Scholastikos, or journeys in a disconnected sea. Journal of Late Antiquity 12 (2), pp. 488-518. ISSN 1942-1273.

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    This article takes the under-used anonymous Roman source, the Tale of the Theban Scholastikos, to argue for a distinct Late Antique phase in the history of the western Indian Ocean. This late third- or fourth-century account of a Roman’s journey to India and eventual return from captivity, has been too easily dismissed as inaccurate or mined for decontextualised details. The present study, by contrast, situates the tale within both its immediate epistolary context and seeks to offer a new interpretation of its global-scale setting. It offers a survey of the regions likely referred to in the text - the Roman Empire, the Aksumite Empire, south India and Sri Lanka -, alongside examination of related textual and archaeological data. The picture presented of these regions is, in turn, situated within the wider framework of a ‘global hierarchy of value’ proposed by Michael Herzfeld in 2004, and applied for the first time to Late Antiquity. What emerges is an initial framing of the western Indian Ocean in Late Antiquity as a space in which long-distance connections continued from earlier centuries, and in some places even thrived, but were systematically devalued, politically and ideologically, with concrete effects for those involved.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Rebecca Darley
    Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2019 15:06
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:54


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