Judean diasporas: Josephos on conflicts in Babylonia, ca. 40-66 CE (late first century CE)

Ichthyophagians: Nearchos and Agatharchides on Fish-eaters around the Arabian Sea (fourth-first centuries BCE)

Daans, Kadousians, Hyrkanians, and Sakians: Strabo on peoples east of the Caspian Sea (first century CE)

Itureans among Arabians: Strabo and Josephos on a supposed bandit-people (first century CE)

Kimmerians and Kolchians: Herodotos on other Pontic peoples (mid-fifth century BCE)

Iberians, Albanians and others of the Caucasus area: Strabo (early first century CE)

Babylonians and Assyrians: Herodotos on legendary queens and outstanding customs (mid-fifth century BCE)

Romans: Dionysios on Roman origins and legends of Greek and Pelasgian migrations to Italy (late first century BCE)

Maiotians, Bosporians, Kaukasians, and other Pontic peoples: Strabo on northern Asia (early first century CE)

Judeans, “Asiatics”, and Greeks: Cicero’s ethnic invective aimed at eastern witnesses against Flaccus (mid-first century BCE)

Indians: Herodotos on eastern peoples at the ends of the earth (mid-fifth century BCE)

Judeans and Celts: Various authors on Claudius’ actions against foreigners in the 40s CE (second / third centuries CE

Ethiopians: Herodotos on southern peoples at the ends of the earth (mid-fifth century BCE)

Mediterranean peoples: Artemidoros theorizes foreign elements in dreams (second century CE)

Indian wisdom: Apuleius on the amazing naked philosophers and Pythagoras’ journeys (mid-second century CE)

Judeans, Syrians, Celts, Scythians and others: Plutarch on the “barbarian” origins of fearing the gods, or “superstition” (early second century CE)

Judeans, Egyptians, and Magians: Various authors on Tiberius’ actions against foreign practices 17-19 CE (first-third centuries CE)

Parthians, Libyans, Egyptians and others: Acts of the Apostles on legends of Judean migration (early second century CE)

Britons, Armenians, Bessians, and others: Reliefs of subjugated peoples at Aphrodisias (first century CE)

Getians, Dacians, and Scythians: Strabo (early first century CE)

Mediterranean peoples: Sextus Empiricus engages with ethnographic discourses for philosophical aims (second-third centuries CE)

Northern peoples: Antonios Diogenes’ “Wonders Beyond Thule” and ethnographic fiction (second century CE / ninth century CE)

Scythians, Amazons, and Persians: Isocrates on the superiority of the Athenian people (early fourth century BCE)

Scythians, Amazons, and Hyperboreans: Diodoros on some northerners (mid-first century BCE)

Scythians and other Pontic peoples: Herodotos on the “most ignorant peoples of all” (fifth century BCE)

Britons and Iernians (Irish): Julius Caesar, Pytheas, and Strabo on customs including eating human flesh (early first century CE)

Egyptian diasporas: Manetho, Josephos and others on legends of migration concerning Hyksos and Judeans (third century BCE and on)

Egyptians: Diodoros on the origins of civilization and on Egyptian views (mid-first century BCE)

Parthians, Celts and Iberians or Germans: Scenes on the breastplate of the “Augustus of Prima Porta” (early first century CE)

Medes, Assyrians, Baktrians, and others: Herodotos on the mixed composition of the Persian army under Xerxes (fifth century BCE)

Libyans: Herodotos on customs and colonization (fifth century BCE)

Germans, Suebians, Marcomannians, and Kimbrians: Poseidonios and Strabo on customs and rumours about the tides (first century BCE)

Mediterranean peoples: Roman coins [part 1] on defeat, capture, and subjugation (first century BCE on)

Celts, Persians, and Amazons: Smaller statues of fighting and dying “barbarians” associated with Attalos of Pergamon (third-second century BCE / second century CE)

Indians, Ethiopians, Celts, and Scythians: Ephoros on a four-fold division of the known world (mid-fourth century BCE)

Egyptian, Phoenician, and Phrygian wisdom: Ephoros on inventors (mid-fourth century BCE)

Cretans, Spartans, Carthaginians, and Romans: Polybios on superior and inferior societal organization (second century BCE)

Mediterranean peoples: Claudius Ptolemy on astrological effects on peoples (second century CE)

Judean, Persian, and Indian wisdom: Philo on the freedom of Essenes and Kalanos (early first century CE)

Ethnic diversity in Egypt: Inscriptional and papyrological evidence

Egyptians: Herodotos on customs and legendary kings (fifth century BCE)

Welcome to Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World (edited by Kotrosits and Harland)

[For Phil’s other websites or courses, please navigate using the main menu at the top.]

Highlighted contributors: > Maia Kotrosits > Daniel Mitchell  > Justin Nadeau

The purpose of this website (now with over 525 posts) is to collect, organize, and make public resources for the reconstruction of ethnic relations and ethnographic culture in the ancient Mediterranean and near eastern worlds (fifth century BCE-sixth century CE). Please use the accordion-style arrows and categories in the right sidebar to navigate the site.

“Ethnographic culture,” as we intend it, moves beyond the idea of “ethnography” (literally “representing peoples” or “writing about peoples”) as a Greek and Roman literary genre describing non-Greek and non-Roman peoples (“barbarians”). Instead, ethnographic culture refers to the ways in which the imagination, classification, description, and representation of “other peoples” actively played out in large-scale and small-scale ways across societies and among many different peoples. This is especially the case in connection with conquest and colonization, but also in local social interactions and within diasporic communities of immigrants. Judeans (Jews) and Jesus adherents (Christians) were very much a part of this larger sphere of ethnic encounters, so they have a place here too (see especially category five to your right).

This website, then, combines literary, papyrological, epigraphic, numismatic, and other visual data in order to aid students and researchers in a fuller understanding of ethnographic culture and interactions between peoples. It also facilitates the reconstruction of minoritized ethnic groups spread across time (from the fifth century BCE to the sixth century CE) and geography (across the Mediterranean and near east).

There are times when the organization of material mimics or uses terms from the ancient material. This is not to naturalize those categories or terms, but rather to more clearly demonstrate the categories with which ancient people were working.

Who did it?: This website reflects the ongoing work of Maia Kotrosits and Phil Harland (along with voluntary scholarly contributors) supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) under the rubric of “Ethnicity, Diaspora, and Ethnographic Culture in the Greco-Roman World.” Many thanks to the Research Assistants from York University who have helped with inputting or checking translations: Amy House (Strabo), Victoria Muccilli (Diodoros), Daniel Mitchell (Herodotos, Lucian), Justin Nadeau (Persian related items and others), and Rosalie Reis (detailed proof-reading). Special thanks also go out to several websites that have already taken the time to clean up and convert to html public domain sources, including Lacus Curtius (led by Bill Thayer), Attalus (led by Andrew Smith), and Topostext (led by Brady Kiesling).

Who are those guys shaking hands at the top?: Aglibol and Malakbel. The monument is from Rome and is a dedication to the Palmyrene gods Aglibol (Moon) and Malakbel (Sun) by Iahari son of Haliphi from Palmyra in Syria (IGUR I 119-120; 236 CE). The inscription is bilingual, in both Greek and Palmyrene. That is not a giant asparagus in the middle. (Currently in the basement of the Capitoline museum in Rome; photo by Harland).

Who is the cowering figure? This is a somewhat disturbing depiction of a soon-to-be subjugated, defeated and killed Persian, likely originally depicted in a monument set up by king Attalos of Pergamon, on which go to this link (now in the Louvre; photo by Harland).

How to cite this website: Maia Kotrosits and Philip A. Harland, eds., Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, accessed 2023, https://philipharland.com. For citing individual posts, see the short link citation at the top of each post.

Europeans and Asians: Pseudo-Hippokrates on humoural and environmental theories (fifth century BCE)

Judeans: Mnaseas, Poseidonios, Apollonios Molon, Diodoros, Apion, and Damokritos on the statue of a donkey and on human sacrifice (second century BCE and on)

Judean wisdom: Josephos’ Against Apion in full (late first century CE)

Persian, Babylonian, and Scythian wisdom: Diogenes of Laertes refutes Magian and Chaldean origins for Greek philosophy (early third century CE)

Chaldeans, Greeks, Egyptians, and Judeans: Aristides of Athens (second century CE)

Mediterranean peoples: Polemon theorizes the meaning of physical features (second / fifth centuries CE)

Barbarian wisdom: Clement of Alexandria [VI] on barbarian and Hebrew philosophy (late second century CE)

Judeans: Poseidonios (?) and Strabo on decline after Moses (first century CE)

Barbarian wisdom: Celsus and Origen of Alexandria (second-third centuries CE)

Phoenician, Egyptian and Babylonian wisdom: Porphyry of Tyre and Antonius Diogenes on Pythagoras (third century CE)

Judean wisdom: Eupolemos on contributions by Abraham and Moses (before the mid-first century BCE)