Nikolaus Overtoom

Lecturer III
Visiting Lecturer

Photo: Nikolaus Overtoom

Phone: 505.277.2451


B.A. University of North Texas - History, Classical Studies Minor, 2008
M.A. University of Maryland, College Park - Ancient Mediterranean History, 2011
Ph.D. Louisiana State University - Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern History, 2016

Research Statement:

My forthcoming book, Reign of Arrows: The Rise of the Parthian Empire in the Hellenistic Middle East, draws on a wide variety of sources to explain the political and military encounters that shaped the international environment of the Hellenistic Middle East from the middle third to the early first centuries BCE. This study combines traditional historical approaches, such as source criticism and the integration of material evidence, with the incorporation of modern international relations theory to better reconstruct the rise of the Parthians (or Arsacids) to dominance over their Greek, Persian, and nomadic neighbors in the ancient Middle East. In this study I treat broader issues of international relations in the ancient world, state decision-making, royal identity and ideology, evolving spatial perspectives and power relations, and state security concerns. I conclude that the Parthians were not exceptional for reasons of unique national identity, cultural legitimacy, or bellicosity; rather, Parthian success in this period mostly was the result of qualities, such as the versatility of Parthian society, the inclusiveness of the Parthian imperial administration, and the innovations of the Parthian military. The Arsacid dynasty was intrinsically connected to the development and evolution of these exceptional qualities. The relatively unique capability, flexibility, and stability of the Arsacid dynasty throughout this period helped provide the Parthians with an important set of cultural, political, and military advantages in the hotly contested and dangerously competitive international environment within the Hellenistic Middle East. Reign of Arrows provides the first comprehensive study dedicated entirely to early Parthian history within the Hellenistic world prior to contact with Rome and the first comprehensive effort to evaluate early Parthian political history since 1938. It is a major effort to synthesize a wide array of especially recent scholarship across numerous fields of study in order to present the reader with the most cogent, well rounded, and up-to-date account of the intersections of Hellenistic and Parthian history possible.


Nikolaus Overtoom is the Visiting Lecturer of Ancient History at the University of New Mexico. He has published several articles on the image of Alexander the Great, ancient imperialism and propaganda, ancient international relations, and ancient militarism. His current scholarship focuses on the rivalry of the Parthians with their Greek, Persian, and Roman neighbors. Oxford University Press will publish his monograph, Reign of Arrows: The Rise of the Parthian Empire in the Hellenistic Middle East, in 2019. Moreover, this fall, Studia Iranica will publish his article, “Considering the Failures of the Parthians against the Invasions of the Central Asian Tribal Confederations in the 120s BCE.”

Recent/Select Publications:

2017 “The Parthians’ Unique Mode of Warfare: A Tradition of Parthian Militarism and the Battle of Carrhae.” Anabasis, Studia Classica et Orientalia.

 2017 “The Parthian Rival and Rome’s Failure in the East: Roman Propaganda and the Stain of Crassus.” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae.

2016  “The Rivalry of Rome and Parthia in the Sources from the Augustan Age to Late Antiquity.” Anabasis, Studia Classica et Orientalia 7: 137-174.

2016   “The Power-Transition Crisis of the 240s BCE and the Creation of the Parthian State.” The International History Review 38 (5): 984-1013.

2013   “Six Polybian Themes Concerning Alexander the Great.” Classical World 106 (4): 571-593.

2012    “A Roman Tradition of Alexander the Great Counterfactual History.” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 52 (3): 203-212.

Book Contributions

2016  Conflict in Greece and Rome: The Definitive Political, Social, and Military Encyclopedia, ed. Sara Phang, Douglas Kelly, Peter Londey, and Iain Spence, ABC-CLIO. *Nine article entries.

Book Reviews for H-Net and H-War

 2015  James Evans. Daily Life in the Hellenistic Age: From Alexander to Cleopatra. Norman. 2012.

2015  Hans van Wees. Ships and Silver, Taxes and Tribute: A Fiscal History of Archaic Athens. London. 2013.

2015  J. Yardley and Anthony Barrett trans. Velleius Paterculus’ Historia Romana. Indianapolis. 2011.

2014   Marguerite Johnson. Boudicca. London. 2012.

2014  Jacqueline de Romilly. The Mind of Thucydides. Ithaca. 2012.

2014  Paul Cartledge. After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars. Oxford. 2013.

2013  Elizabeth Carney. Arsinoë of Egypt and Macedon: A Royal Life. Oxford 2013.

2013  Clifford Ando. Imperial Rome AD 193 to 284: The Critical Century. Edinburgh. 2012.



 2015-2016    The Louisiana State University Graduate School Dissertation Year Fellowship Award

2012                The Scott R. Jacobs Fellowship Grant for the Advancement of Alexander Studies in North America, Association of Ancient Historians


Fall 2017                     Imperial Rome: Politics and Society from Caesar to Constantine (University of New Mexico)

Fall 2017                     The Greeks: The Ancient Aegean World from Homer to Alexander the Great (University of New Mexico)

Fall 2017                     Western Civilization to 1648 CE (University of New Mexico)

Spring 2017                History of Ancient Greece: Politics and Society from Homer to the End of the Hellenistic Age (Missouri State University)

Spring 2017                World History to 1600 CE; 2 Sections (Missouri State University)

Fall 2016                      History of Ancient Egypt: Society, Religion, and Politics during the Pharaonic, Hellenistic, and Roman Periods (Missouri State University)

Fall 2016                      World History to 1600 CE; 2 Sections (Missouri State University)

Spring 2015                 The Early Roman Empire: Society, Religion, and Politics (Louisiana State University)

Spring 2015                 World Civilization to 1500 CE (Baton Rouge Community College)

Fall 2014                       Ancient Warfare: The Impact of Policy, Strategy, and Tactics on Ancient Societies from Homeric Greece to Late Antiquity (Louisiana State University)

Fall 2014                       World Civilization to 1500 CE (Baton Rouge Community College)

Summer 2014              Western Civilization to 1500 CE (Louisiana State University)