If possible, the annual commission meetings will not be held digitally. It is only through a non-virtual setting that a transdisciplinary atmosphere can be created, which is crucial for a successful commission work. Furthermore, this is also vital for successful public relations as the commission’s meetings and their achieved work are able to reach a certain attention within and outside the Academy by means of public lectures. The commission meetings will be held twice a year, one meeting will be organised in combination with the respective conference and the other will take place in Vienna.




Of the five wars fought by Romans and Persians in the sixth and early seventh centuries, the fifth was the longest, most charged ideologically and most dramatic. The trigger was the overthrow and execution of the Emperor Maurice (582-602), who had helped restore Khusro II to the Sasanian throne in 591. Khusro launched attacks on both western fronts in spring 603. Fighting continued, with a single pause in 606 for additional recruitment on the Persian side, until February 628. A first phase of attritional wafare (603-10) saw the Persians push forward to the Romans' inner line of the defense on the Euphrates. Taking advantage of a slow-moving revolution in the Roman empire (608-10) which brought Heraclius to power, both leading generals, Shahrbaraz in the south and Shahen in western Armenia, pushed deep into Roman territory. With the Roman empire now divided in two by a salient reaching the Mediterranean beyond Antioch, the Persians were able to occupy the whole Roman Levant and Egypt, once Khusro had decided (in winter 615-16) to liquidate the rival empire. But the tide turned in the third phase (622-8), when Heraclius and a highly-trained force invaded the Sasanian north-west in 624 and, even more important, the Turk khaganate, the great power of central Asia, intervened in force in 626. Opposition to the war grew both in the officer corps and at court, and led to a virtually bloodless coup on the night of 23rd-24th February 628 and the execution of Khusro four days later.

   The war had repercussions in Arabia, where the eschalogical apprehension which it induced coloured the earliest utterances of Muhammad after his withdrawal and first vision. However, Arab success, in particular the defeat of the full field armies of the old empires, cannot be attributed wholly, or even largely, to the debilitating effects of the war. In the final part of the lecture, it is the merger of the umma, the Muslim community at Medina, on the one hand, and Mecca, the dominant city-state of the Hijaz, on the other, an event datable to 628 and signalled by Muhammad's acceptance of the hajj, which is identified as the key factor. Thereafter the zeal of the faithful was conjoined to the organisational capability and statecraft of a mercantile city with ramified connections in Arabia and beyond. It was a formidable and invincible combination.

The Sack of Nineveh in 612 B.C.: Fall of an Empire?

Giovanni Battista Lanfranchi | 28 OCTOBER 2021 | Museumszimmer OeAW


The lecture is aimed at discussing the applicability of the term “empire” to the governmental structure commanded by the Neo-Assyrian kings during the first four centuries of the first millennium BC, and the modalities and consequences of its disappearance after the sack of Nineveh in 612 BC, both terms being usually associated in the commonly adopted historical formula “fall of the (Neo-)Assyrian Empire”.