Photo of Greg Fisher

Greg Fisher

Associate Professor (Cross Appointed College of the Humanities)

Degrees:B.A., M.A. (McGill), D. Phil. (Oxon)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 8425
Office:2A54 Patterson Hall


Greg Fisher earned a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where he studied under the supervision of Averil Cameron. He is the author of Between Empires. Arabs, Romans, and Sasanians in Late Antiquity (Oxford University Press, 2011), which examines the political and cultural background to Islam. His research interests focus on the Middle East in late antiquity (AD 200-800), particularly on the political impact of the Roman and Sasanian Iranian empires in the region. He is a member of the Ancient Borderlands Multi-Campus Research Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which is engaged in the comparative study of ancient boundaries, borders, and frontiers. He has researched and worked in Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Cyprus, and Saudi Arabia, has written about Roman ruins in Syria for Lonely Planet, and is writing a history of the Roman world for Routledge, Ancient Rome: From Romulus to Mohammed.

Critical Praise for Between Empires

From the Classical Review, October 2013:
‘F.’s study presents a skilled synthesis of the major developments in the Arab world on
the eve of Islam…The editors of the Oxford Classical Monographs are to be commended for including this fine study of the pre-Islamic Arabs in their series.’

From Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 2013:
‘fundamental… for all those wishing to approach the issue of Arab society and identity before the Muslim conquests.’

From the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, February 2011:
‘Fisher’s book is a refreshing example of what can be done with non-Muslim sources about the Near East in Late Antiquity, in shedding light on what was going on at, and beyond, the two great empires’ eastern and southern borders.’

From Sehepunkte, May 2012:
Between Empires deals with a topic that is of great importance for the study of the late antique and early Medieval Near East. Scholars of the Late Roman and Sasanian empires as well as early Islam will find this book to be very important… It should be in every serious research library.’

From the Bryn Mawr Classical Review (December 2011):
‘This is an interesting work that helps fit the Arab elite groups of the Near East into the wider context of Roman-‘barbarian’ relations. These groups were clearly ‘Between Empires,’ both in that they lay between Roman and Sasanid kingdoms, and in that they straddled those empires’ demise and the rise of the Islamic caliphate. Fisher’s arguments are sound and sophisticated.’

From (June 2011):
‘For anybody interested in the history of the Arabs immediately prior to the rise of Islam, it is vital reading.’

From CHOICE (American Library Association), February 2012:
‘The author offers readers a masterful synthesis…Fisher provides a remarkable survey of the problems surrounding the rise of written Arabic and Arabic ethnic identity…the work will be essential for any scholar studying the political context within which Islam arose’

From The Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (June 2012):
‘Fisher has tackled a subject of undeniable historical importance…a conveniently compact and stimulating study of pre-Islamic north Arabia.’

Research Interests

  • History of the Middle East
  • Roman History
  • Parthian and Sasanian Iran
  • Comparative History
  • Ancient Borderlands

2014-15 Courses

  • CLCV 2904/HIST 2904, “The Republic” (F)
  • CLCV 2905/HIST 2905, “The Empire” (W)
  • CLCV 3202/HIST 3101 “Rome and the Barbarian Kingdoms” (F)
  • CLCV 4210/HIST 4210 “The Turbulent Seventh Century” (F)



(ed). Arabs and Empires Before Islam, in press (Oxford, 2015).

(ed.) with J. Dijkstra, Inside and Out: Interactions Between Rome and the Peoples on the Arabian and Egyptian Frontiers in Late Antiquity in press (Peeters, 2014).

Rome and the Arabs Before the Rise of Islam. A Brief Introduction (CreateSpace, 2013).

Between Empires. Arabs, Romans and Sasanians in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2011).

Articles and Book Chapters

‘State and tribe in late antique Arabia: a comparative view’, in J. Dijkstra and G. Fisher (eds.), Inside and Out: Interactions Between Rome and the Peoples on the Arabian and Egyptian Frontiers in Late Antiquity, in press with Peeters (2014).

‘Emperors, politics, and the plague’, in D. Genequand and C.J. Robin (eds.), Les Jafnides, des rois arabes au service de Byzance (VIe siècle de l’ère chrétienne), in press with De Boccard (2014).

with G. Bevan and D. Genequand, ‘The late antique church at Tall al-‘Umayrī East. New evidence for the Jafnid family and the cult of St. Sergius in northern Jordan’, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, forthcoming.

with A. Drost, ‘Structures of power in late antique borderlands: Arabs, Romans, and Berbers’, in J.W.I. Lee and M. North (eds.), European and American Borderlands. A New Comparative Approach, University of Nebraska, forthcoming.

‘From Mavia to al-Mundhir: Arab Christians and Arab tribes in the late Roman east’, in I. Toral-Niehoff and K. Dmitriev (eds.), Religious Culture in Late Antique Arabia, Brill, forthcoming.

‘Foreign relations: war and conquest’, in M. Gibbs, M. Nikolic, and P. Ripat (eds.), Themes in Roman Society and Culture: An Introduction to Ancient Rome (Oxford, 2014): 307–28.

‘Rome and the Ghassānids: comparative perspectives on conversion, boundaries and power in the Near Eastern borderlands’, in J. Fossey and E. B. Aitken (eds), Late Antique Crossroads in the Levant. Space, Ritual, Texts and Daily Life (Brill, 2014): 273–92.

‘The politics of religion. Arabs, Christians, and Romans in the last century before Islam’, in R. Acar, B. Bas, and T. Kirby (eds.), Philosophy and the Abrahamic Religions: Scriptural Hermeneutics and Epistemology (Cambridge Scholars, 2012): 81–94.

‘Kingdoms or dynasties? Arabs, history, and identity in the last century before Islam’, Journal of Late Antiquity 4/2 (2011), 245–67.

‘The political development of the Ghassān between Rome and Iran’, Journal of Late Antiquity, 1/2 (2008), 313–36.

‘Crisis, Provincial Historiography and Identity in sub-Roman Britain,’ in E. Digeser & R. M. Frakes, eds., Religious Identity in Late Antiquity, (Edgar Kent Press, 2006): 166–215.

‘A New Perspective on Rome’s Desert Frontier,’ Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 336 (2004): 49–60.