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Sasanians in Africa
By Matteo Compareti
Transoxiana 4 (June 2002)

Reviewed by Evangelos Venetis, University of Ioannina, Greece

The article of Matteo Compareti has been included in the e-journal Transoxiana [Transoxiana 4, Julio 2002]. It is part of the remarkable effort by Paola E. Raffetta, the editor of Transoxiana, to present online many aspects in the field of Oriental Studies.

Compareti's article is a very good introduction on the topic it deals with. In the first part of his article he presents in a comprehensive way the historical context of that period of time (The relation of Sasanian Iran and Byzantium in late VI cent./early VII cent. in the region of NE Africa as well as information for the history of the kingdoms in that region). Then he provides the reader with some archaeological material in order to prove the presence of the Sasanian culture in N.E Africa.

The whole material is provided in a comprehensive and accurate way, achieving both to inform and comfort the reader (the system of references that Compareti uses helps to this). The whole material is well annotated with secondary bibliography. The images of the article are clear enough with good quality, although they are not colored (except the map on the top).

At the end of the article there is a list of images and the really extensive bibliography. Some thoughts for the improvement of this article could be said in this review. In the third paragraph and passim the name of the emperor is Mauricius and not Mauritius. The article should be divided into chapters (Introduction, Historical context, Archaeological material etc.). The author, as referred above, annotates very well the text with second hand bibliography but not with references to the primary sources. In fact there is a lack of primary sources in this article (except Tabari, Procopius etc.).

The bibliography at the end of the article is not divided in primary and secondary bibliography and it would be better if the names of the authors would be placed after their surnames. Also the colored pictures would please the eye of the web reader and at the same time would familiarize him with the material analyzed in the text.

Some titles for the strengthening of the bibliography could be the following:


On the whole the article serves as a good guide to the reader who would like to deal with this period of time and the topic of the Sasanian presence in NE Africa.


Evangelos Venetis
University of Ioannina