Archive for August 23rd, 2010

Wikipedia references

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Almost every day I read the frontpage of Wikipedia to discover some interesting new information. In some cases these leads to the discovery of new books. A recent example of this was a historical event. Wanting to know more about it, I opened the whole article. As the event was about Byzantine history and I had recently purchased a number of histories I checked the references for possible books. Here I stumbled upon the work by Theophanes. I checked the online bookstores and discovered there was a translation available under the title The chronicle of Theophanes (c. 815) and it was of an affordable price. And thus I purchased it.

What makes this book noteworthy? The author describes the period 602-813 AD. This is the so-called dark age of the Byzantine Empire, because there were many wars and internal religious struggles which destroyed almost all writings from that period. The history by Theophanes is as such the only remaining history of that time that still remains.

The book itself is fairly thin, less than 200 pages with many notes, which is not much for a period of 200 years. But the period itself is rather interesting as it described how the Byzantine and Parthian Empires weakened themselves that they were easy prey to the rise of Islam, which occurred with stunning speed.

An interesting sidenote is that this book is the only English translation of Theophanes and that it has been done by Harry Turtledove after completing his PhD. Many people probably don’t know him, but I do, as Turtledove started writing Science Fiction and Fantasy afterwards and is a fairly known name in those genres. I even have a few of his novels.