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What were the Red Sea Wars?

An inscribed marble throne at the Ethiopian port of Adulis offers us a rare window into the fateful events comprising what has come to be known as the Red Sea Wars. Tirelessly examined by scholars of Arab historiography but woefully overlooked by the world at large, the sixth century international conflict was waged between Christian Ethiopians and Jewish Arabs, creating a context for the ultimate implosion of the Persian Empire and the swift rise of Islam. Here, G.W. Bowersock, author of The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam, offers an invaluable account of this tumultuous epoch in pre-Islamic Arabian history, piecing together a seamless narrative from a host of historical fragments.

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On Cosmas Indicopleustes, the sixth century Christian merchant who discovered the throne of Adulis, and his contribution to our understanding of the Red Sea Wars.

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On the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, and its enduring significance to Ethiopian Christianity.

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G. W. Bowersock is Professor Emeritus of Ancient History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, and author of The Throne of Adulis: Red Sea Wars on the Eve of Islam. Among his many previous books are Augustus and the Greek World, From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition, Mosaics as History: The Near East from Late Antiquity to Islam, and Roman Arabia.

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