The Front Line Against Persia
The Front Line Against Persia
Roman Province from 18 AD to the 7th century
The Eastern Front of the Roman Empire was in endless danger of invasion by the Persians. There were many outposts and strongpoints meant to stop or slow down an invading enemy until reinforcements could arrive.
The front line against Persia was Cappadocia, a province of the Roman Empire in Anatolia, with its capital at Caesarea. It was established in 18 AD by the Emperor Tiberius (ruled 14-37 AD), following the death of Cappadocia's last king, Archelaus.
Cappadocia was an imperial province, meaning that its governor (legatus Augusti) was directly appointed by the emperor.
Bording the Euphrates river to the east, Cappadocia was the most eastern province of the Empire. Its capital, Caesarea, was located in more central Anatolia, further back from the Parthian frontier. Upon annexation, the province was governed by a governor of Equestrian rank with the title Procurator. The Procutors commanded only auxiliary military units and looked to the Senatorial ranked Imperial Legate of Syria for direction.
|The 16th Legion was one of
many stationed on the frontier.
When the emperor Vespasian added Commagene to the Roman empire (72 CE), the upper Euphrates became a frontier zone; across the river were the Oersian Parthian Empire and the buffer state Armenia.
The main road along the Roman border (limes) was from Trapezus on the shores of the Black Sea to Alexandria near Issus, Seleucia, and Antioch near the Mediterranean in the south.
The legionary bases in the general area of this highway included the Sixteenth Legion Flavia Firma, Melitene (XII Fulminata), Samosata (VI Ferrata), Zeugma (IIII Scythica) and XV Apollinaris.
The city-fortress of Satala was a main strongpoint because it commanded not only the Euphrates, but also the road from central Anatolia to Armenia.
The province of Cappadocia was ground zero for the endless invasions and counter invasions on the Persian frontier.
Although warfare between the Romans and the Parthians/Sassanids lasted for seven centuries, the frontier remained largely stable. A game of tug of war ensued: towns, fortifications, and provinces were continually sacked, captured, destroyed, and traded. Neither side had the logistical strength or manpower to maintain such lengthy campaigns far from their borders, and thus neither could advance too far without risking stretching its frontiers too thin. Both sides did make conquests beyond the border, but in time the balance was almost always restored.
The line of stalemate shifted in the 2nd century AD: it had run along the northern Euphrates; the new line ran east, or later northeast, across Mesopotamia to the northern Tigris. There were also several substantial shifts further north, in Armenia and the Caucasus.
Reconstruction of a Persian Sassanid Cataphract
The expense of resources during the centuries of Roman–Persian Wars ultimately proved catastrophic for both empires. The prolonged and escalating warfare of the 6th and 7th centuries left them exhausted and vulnerable in the face of the sudden emergence and expansion of the new Muslim Caliphate, whose forces invaded both empires only a few years after the end of the last Roman–Persian war.
(livius.org) (Persian Wars) (Cappadocia)