Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University
History | Nikolaus Overtoom

Assistant Professor (Scholarly C.T.)

Faculty Advisor for WSU International History Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta-Gamma Psi Chapter
Faculty Advisor for History Club
Wilson-Short Hall 319
509-335-7973
wsu.academia.edu/NikolausOvertoom

Nikolaus.Overtoom@wsu.edu

Education

Ph.D. Louisiana State University – Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern History, 2016

M.A. University of Maryland, College Park – Ancient Mediterranean History, 2011

B.A. University of North Texas – History, Classical Studies Minor, 2008

RESEARCH AND TEACHING INTERESTS

Overtoom has published a book, Reign of Arrows: The Rise of the Parthian Empire in the Hellenistic Middle East (https://global.oup.com/academic/product/reign-of-arrows-9780190888329?cc=us&lang=en&), with Oxford University Press and numerous articles on the Hellenistic world of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Parthians. His research and teaching interests include Ancient Greece, Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic world, the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire, late antiquity, ancient Parthia, and ancient militarism.

PUBLICATIONS

Monographs

2020 Reign of Arrows: The Rise of the Parthian Empire in the Hellenistic Middle East. Oxford University Press. Oxford Studies in Early Empires Series. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/reign-of-arrows-9780190888329?cc=us&lang=en&

Praise for Reign of Arrows:

“Overtoom’s study of the rise of the Parthian Empire brings a new perspective to this important development in the history of the Hellenistic Middle East. By emphasizing the changing international-systems elements that led to the expansion of the Arsacid kings, Overtoom allows scholars to develop a more sophisticated view of how this expansion occurred, with less causal emphasis merely on the warlike nature of Parthian society or the personalities of individual rulers — important though these were.” — Arthur Eckstein, University of Maryland

“A novel, salutary, and stimulating effort to give meaningful order to hitherto confused Parthian political histories. Reign of Arrows restores dynamism to the Parthian Empire, enlivening discussion of its history and enabling its inclusion in the comparative study of ancient empires and the ancient world more generally.” — Richard Payne, University of Chicago

Reviews:

Sabine Müller, Philipps University Marburg, 2021. The Journal of Roman Studies 111: 328-330. “This is a highly reflective, very profound, thorough and critical study that offers a lot of important perspectives and thoughts that will enrich scholarship on Arsacid Parthia. It is a most relevant contribution to Arsacid research and recommended to all who are working on Parthia or are interested in its early history.
Jonathan Zartman, Air Command and Staff College, 2021. The Journal of Military History 85.3: 780-782. “This book provides a thorough and superbly supported argument explaining the rise of the Parthians… Students of military strategy, history, and the Persian-speaking world will all find this book a valuable addition to their library.”

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

2022 “Phriapatius.” Encyclopædia Iranica Online. The Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2330-4804_EIRO_COM_363949

2021 “Reassessing the Role of Parthia and Rome in the Origins of the First Romano-Parthian War (56/5-50 BCE).” Journal of Ancient History 9.2: 238-268. https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2021-0007

2021 “A Fight to Reclaim the Central Asian Frontier: The Seleucid and Parthian Rivalry in the 230s BC.” Studia Hercynia: Journal of the Institute of Classical Archaeology 25.1: 105-118. https://www.academia.edu/62724432/A_Fight_to_Reclaim_the_Central_Asian_Frontier_The_Seleucid_and_Parthian_Rivalry_in_the_230s_BC

2020 “The Parthians’ Failed Vassalage of Syria: The Shortsighted Western Policy of Phraates II and the Second Reign of Demetrius II (129-125 BCE).” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 60.1-2: 1-14. https://akjournals.com/view/journals/068/60/1-2/article-p1.xml

2019 “Considering the Failures of the Parthians against the Invasions of the Central Asian Tribal Confederations in the 120s BCE.” Studia Iranica 48: 77-111. https://poj.peeters-leuven.be/content.php?url=article&id=3287226

2019 “The Power-Transition Crisis of the 160s-130s BCE and the Formation of the Parthian Empire.” Journal of Ancient History 7.1: 111-155. https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2018-0024

2019 “A Reconsideration of Mithridates II’s Early Reign: A Savior Restores the Eastern Frontier of the Parthian Empire.” Parthica, Incontri di culture nel mondo antico 21: 9-21. https://www.torrossa.com/en/authors/overtoom-nikolaus-leo.html

2017 “The Parthians’ Unique Mode of Warfare: A Tradition of Parthian Militarism and the Battle of Carrhae.” Anabasis, Studia Classica et Orientalia 8: 99-122. https://www.academia.edu/37356616/The_Parthians_Unique_Mode_of_Warfare_A_Tradition_of_Parthian_Militarism_and_the_Battle_of_Carrhae_Anabasis_8_2017_

2017 “The Parthian Rival and Rome’s Failure in the East: Roman Propaganda and the Stain of Crassus.” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 57.4: 415-435. https://doi.org/10.1556/068.2017.57.4.4.

2016 “The Power-Transition Crisis of the 240s BCE and the Creation of the Parthian State.” The International History Review 38.5: 984-1013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2016.1140669

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. https://www.academia.edu/31987949/The_Rivalry_of_Rome_and_Parthia_in_the_Sources_from_the_Augustan_Age_to_Late_Antiquity_Anabasis_7_2016_

2013 “Six Polybian Themes Concerning Alexander the Great.” Classical World 106.4: 571-93. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/519927

2012 “A Roman Tradition of Alexander the Great Counterfactual History.” Acta Antiqua Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 52.3: 203-212. http://akademiai.com/toc/068/52/3

Peer Reviewed Book Contributions

(Forthcoming) “Concepts of Courage and Cowardice in the Formation of the Parthian State.” Brill’s Companion to Courage and Cowardice in Ancient Mediterranean Warfare. Brill. J. Finn (ed.).

(Forthcoming) “The Parthian Empire in Josephus’s Writings.” The Oxford Handbook of Josephus. Oxford. K. Atkinson (ed.).

(Forthcoming) “Considering the Parthian Army, Its Logistics, and the Challenges the Seleucids Faced in Fighting It.” Brill’s Companion to Food and Drink in the Armies of Ancient Greece and Rome. Brill. J. Donahue and L. Brice (eds.).

(Forthcoming) “Patricide, Fratricide, and Betrayal: The Role of Parthia in the First War with Rome.” Brill’s Companion to War in Ancient Iran. Brill. J. Hyland and K. Rezakhani (eds.).

2016 Conflict in Greece and Rome: The Definitive Political, Social, and Military Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. S. Phang, et al. (eds.). Nine article entries: Polybius; Maniples (Roman Military); Pyrrhus of Epirus and the Pyrrhic War; Battle of Magnesia (Romans vs Seleucids); Arch of Septimius Severus (Rome); Roman Civil War (Pertinax-Septimius Severus); Ammianus Marcellinus; Constantius II; and Julian “The Apostate.” https://products.abc-clio.com/abc-cliocorporate/product.aspx?pc=A3697C

SELECTED GRANTS, FELLOWSHIPS, AND HONORARIA

2021 Samuel H. and Patricia W. Smith Teaching and Learning Grant ($5,000) for proposal entitled “Engaging an Equitable Antiquity,” developing new courses at Washington State University to encourage diversity and inclusiveness in the study of antiquity.

2021 Dallas-Fort Worth Society of the Archaeological Institute of America Travel Grant and Honorarium for Invited Talk at the University of North Texas, March 3 (held online due to Covid-19).

2021 Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World Honorarium for Invited Talk at UCLA, February 3 (held online due to Covid-19).

2018-2019 The University of New Mexico History Department Teaching Grant (formerly the Shoemaker Award).

2017-2019 Gorham Fund Grant for the Advancement of Ancient History at the University of New Mexico, two-time recipient.

2018, 2019 New Mexico Humanities Council Grant, two-time co-recipient.

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

2015, 2016 The Association of Ancient Historians Subvention Grant-in-Aid, two-time Recipient.

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

INVITED TALKS

2021 “Considering Who Were the Parthians and Why They Were Successful in Forging an Empire,” online series in honor of Dr. Arthur Eckstein on the 15th anniversary of Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome, September 14.

2021 “Understanding Parthian Success and Reconstructing Parthian History in the Hellenistic World: An Introduction to the Challenges of Parthian Scholarship and Sources,” Guest Lecture for the Dallas Archaeological Institute of America Lecture Series hosted by the University of North Texas, Denton, TX, March 3 (postponed and moved online due to Covid-19, originally April 20, 2020).

2021 “Reconsidering the Emergence of the Parthian State: The Crisis of the 240s-230s BCE in

the Hellenistic Middle East,” Guest Lecture for the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, February 3 (held online due to Covid-19).

2020 “The Forgotten World Empire: The Parthians in Antiquity and Beyond,” Guest Lecture for the Roots of Contemporary Issues Lecture Series hosted by Washington State University, Pullman, WA (postponed due to Covid-19, originally March 31, 2020).

2019 “The Roman Obsession with Parthia in Classical and Late Antiquity,” Guest Lecture for the Works in Progress Series hosted by the University of New Mexico Institute for Medieval Studies, Albuquerque, NM, April 25.

2018 “The Rise of King Tigranes II of Armenia and his Rivalry with the Parthians from 88-69 BCE,” Guest Lecture for the University of New Mexico History Colloquium Series, Albuquerque, NM, February 16.

PROFESSIONAL INTERVIEWS AND MEDIA PRESENTATIONS

2021 “Reconsidering the Emergence of the Parthian State: The Crisis of the 240s-230s BCE in the Hellenistic Middle East,” Video Lecture for the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World Video Archive at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA. Filmed by Matt Slotemaker, Feb. 10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPpxH3ysKgc

2021 “Understanding Parthian Success and Reconstructing Parthian History in the Hellenistic World: An Introduction to the Challenges of Parthian Scholarship and Sources,” Video Lecture for the Dallas Archaeological Institute of America Lecture Series at UNT, Denton, TX. March 3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1f6w038SECo

2020 “Why Is January 1 the Beginning of a New Year?” Discover Magazine. Interview and web article by Cody Cottier, December 30. https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/why-is-january-1-the-beginning-of-a-new-year

2020 “The Tradition of Rome and Parthia’s Rivalry,” The Study of Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Interview and video by Nick Barksdale, April 25. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZ3iv3xR1Ec&feature=youtu.be

2020 “The Rise of the Parthian Empire,” The Hellenistic Age Podcast. Interview by Derek Smith, April 2. https://tinyurl.com/ut7epto

2020 “WSU Experts Explain the Origins of the Leap Year,” WSU Insider. Interview and web article by Robert Wolcott, February 19. https://news.wsu.edu/2020/02/19/wsu-experts-explain-origins-leap-year/?utm_source=WSUNews-enewsletter&utm_campaign=wsunewsenewsletter&utm_medium=email

COURSES TAUGHT

History 101 Ancient, Medieval, and Early Modern Europe
History 120 World History to 1500 CE
History 337 Women in the Ancient World

History 340 Ancient Greece from Homer to Alexander the Great
History 341 The Rise and Fall of Ancient Rome

History 395 Ancient Warfare and Society
History 469 The Hellenistic World