Racial cauldron – Rome and the Near Middle East
The story of Roman expansion to the east is no less dramatic than that of its extension to the west—the major difference was that in racial terms, the effect of occupying areas to the east was far greater than the areas in the west.
In fact, it was the extension of the Empire to the east which ultimately led to its downfall, for through the inclusion of eastern territories, vast numbers of people were drawn into Rome who shared a different genetic inheritance than the original founders—unlike the situation in the West.
Once again, as had been the case with every great civilization before it, Rome fell because the original people who created the Empire disappeared: submerged into a mass of foreigners—replaced by immigrants and the descendants of slaves brought in from all over North Africa, the wider Mediterranean and the Middle and Near East.
Above: The full extent of the Roman Empire in the east is shown here: From the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers to the southern reaches of the Nile. In this way masses of mixed race peoples from this region were given access to Rome itself.
Prior to the Roman expansion into the Middle and Near East, the process of racial integration in that region had proceeded apace. Original Nordic Indo-European and Old European Mediterranean types had all but vanished by the year 100 BC. In the space of a few hundred years, large numbers of Indo-Europeans had been completely submerged into the far faster breeding Semitic, Arabic and Asian elements filling up the Middle and Near East.
[Kemp then writes about the Roman miscegenation with Persians, and in Asia Minor (Turkey), Syria, and North Africa. Then he says something about Emperor Philip:)
The infiltration of Roman society by individuals born in all corners of the world was exemplified by the emperor Philip (244-249 AD). Born in the Roman province of Arabia, in what today is the village of Shahba, roughly 55 miles south-southeast of Damascus, Philip’s father was a prominent local man, Julius Marinus, who had been awarded Roman citizenship and was thus not a native born Roman. Nothing is known of Philip’s mother. Known as ‘Philip the Arabian’, Philip was an emperor who was clearly not of pure European descent.
The vast numbers of Arabic Semites and mixed races included in the new regions in the Middle East and North Africa were all put through the customary Romanizing process. Within the space of a few decades they were allowed to elect senators to the Roman senate in Rome—their sheer weight of numbers soon meant that true Romans quickly made up a minority of senators in the capital of the Empire.
It takes no imagination to understand how the relatively small group of original Romans soon lost control of the racial make-up of Rome under these conditions. It was, simply put, demographically impossible for the Romans alone to supply the manpower to run such a vast area. They were forced to Romanize the local population and recruit soldiers and tradesmen from the local populations. Very often only the most senior civil servants in the Roman provinces were actually originally from Rome—and in a very many cases, even they too were supplanted in the course of time by locals.
Eventually the logical step was taken by the Emperor Caracalla in 212 AD, when he gave all free men in the Empire Roman citizenship, the racial implications of which were huge and which have already been discussed. (Caracalla was himself born of a Roman family in Africa and a Syrian mother—his own dubious citizenship status may have played a role in his decision to extend citizenship to all.)