Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Peutinger Tafel

I have spoken before of the Antioch image on the Peutinger Tafel, which is one of the oldest maps extant (at least on perishable material).

In this instance I have come across a better image than I used before.

As can be seen the "lordly" figure is seated in the middle of a curling "aqueduct" which wraps itself around the river bank. One comment I read called the undressed figure a "water spirit". Though to me it seems like it might also have links to the Orontes figure that appears underfoot in the classic Tyche representation. Maybe the "aqueduct" is also not what it appears and might well be the supposed arcades along the riverbank that supported/adorned the Imperial Palace. 



A 17th Century Map/Image

This image, though grossly inacurate and fanciful, is worth showing. I actually own a copy (purchased on Ebay in the non-coloured form) which frankly is easier to discern details upon.


The artist is sometimes described as unknown and sometimes as being Agustinus Calmet, though he may be the engraver. It an copper engraving of a view of Antioch, supposedly as it was in the year 1630.

Euphorion of Chalcis

A number of names are thrown into the ring when the subject of the "first" librarian is brought up. Almost all have some relationship to Alexandria. However, a close-run candidate is the learned epic poet, Euphorion of Chalcis, who at least appears to be the first librarian at Antioch.

The life of this poet and fragments of his works were published by Augustus Meinecke in his magisterial, De Euphorionis Chalcedonsis, vita et scriptis in Analecta Alexandrina. It is frankly amazing that Meinecke found so much to say about the fellow.

Euphorion
the son of Polymnetus, was born at Chalcis in Euboea, in some versions around 274 BC. He later obtained the right of citizenship at Athens. He was the pupil of Lacydes and Prytanis in philosophy, and of Archebulos in poetry.

Antiochus III established a library in Antioch, which in 220 B.C. was placed under the care of Euphorion, then aged 50, who held the position until his death.

Euphorion principally devoted himself to epic poetry, but be also wrote elegies and epigrams. He also produced some treatises on grammar and history. He was charged with being obscure in his expressions, and with using words in a forced sense.In the following century he became a favourite model with poets such as Tibullus, Propertius, and Cornelius Callus, besides being the theme of a passing reference in Virgil (Eclogues x 50).

He wrote a book on the Isthmian Games.




Sunday, November 29, 2009

Miscellaneous Toselli Finds

In the Revue des études anciennes, Volume 6 of 1904, the ever-present Victor Chapot highlights a few more inscriptions that Toselli had encountered. He also indicates that he had been working with Toselli's son (unnamed) on his travels around Syria over the previous three years.

"Petite stèle de marbre, haute de 0.53 m sur 0.35 m de large. Le croquis de M. Eugène Toselli montre qu'elle se termine par un entablement grossier : le sommet du fronton est dominé par un acrotère; deux demi-acrotères plus petits au bas des rampants. Dans le tympan, une rosace ù quatre feuilles. Au milieu de la stèle, un espace évidé en forme d'arcosolium; dans le bas, un personnage couché sur un lit sommaire, pourvu d'ornements lenticulaires. Au-dessous :


La forme des lettres ne laisse pas supposer une très basse époque.
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Épitaphe en grandes lettres d'environ 6 ou 7 centimètres. — Estampage.
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Petite dalle etroite, et longue de 0.22 m.
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Plaque de marbre cassee, actuellement au Musee du Louvre. Hauteur des letters: 3 a 4 cms. Estampage.
Les lettres sont trop minuscules pour laisser supposer que celle inscription figurait à la porte de quelque sanctuaire chrétien, comme un salut adressé aux arrivants; elle doit, elle aussi, avoir été gravée sur une pierre tombale. L'invocation qu'elle renferme se retrouve sur d'autres monuments, mais avec des variantes:

Dans notre texte, elle a une valeur rigoureusement personnelle : c'est une prière pour les seuls morts de cette tombe; ils devaient être au moins deux, les chrétiens n'éprouvaient pas à cet égard les scrupules des païens.
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De Harbié (nom actuel de l'ancienne Daphne, faubourg d'Antioche) : Petite dalle, large de 0.25 m, haute de 0.8 m, bizarrement et maladroilemcnt ornée. D'après le croquis de M. Eug. Toselli : au milieu, une table, du type appelé Delphica, soutenue sur trois pieds reliés entre eux à mi-hauteur par une barre horizontale; elle porte une coupe, un peigne et, semble-t-il, des fleurs mal rendues. A droite et à gauche de la table deux pilastres, avec moulures en forme de disques séparés par un ove allongé. Au bas de la pierre :


L'intérêt de ce petit monument est dans son grossier bas relief : c'est surtout dans les pays de langue latine, plutôt que dans le monde grec, qu'on trouve des mensae funéraires, où sont représentés des plats et des écuelles; on en a beau coup d'exemples pour l'Afrique, en particulier à l'époque chrétienne, où le mot mensa servit principalement, vers les IV et V siècles, à désigner une tombe de martyr (cf. Bull, de la Soc. nat. des Antiq. de Fr., 1902, p. 269)".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Toselli Find

In this edition of Bulletin de la Société nationale des antiquaires de France

Victor Chapot wrote of a Greek inscription of Christian origin which had been found at Harbié, (ancient Daphné) which had been borught to his attention by the ubiquitous Eugène Toselli.

"Ci-gît Kalliopios, qui a vécu vingt-sept ans, âme très fidèle, célébrant par ses louanges le Dieu dispensateur de la vie des mortels, qui t'a procuré l'entrée de la cité céleste".

Chapot goes on to say: "La grande métropole de Syrie et son faubourg ont livré un nombre extraordinairement faible d'inscriptions; celle-ci n'en a que plus de prix. De plus, je la crois assez ancienne pour une inscription manifestement chrétienne : les lettres sont petites, et leur forme anguleuse n'est pas celle des caractères de très basse époque. Aucune croix n'a été gravée en tête du texte ni à la fin. Mais surtout la formule est anormale, et je n'en ai pas trouvé d'exemple, même approchant.

PISTIXOS 
et EUXOS sont deux termes extrêmement rares en épigraphie; quant à EUFHMES, c'est une expression de la langue païenne. Parmi les textes cités au Thesaurus et qui contiennent ce mot, il en est d'Eschyle, d'Aristophane, de Platon, de Xénophon; mais, en réalité, c'est Hérodien qui l'emploie le plus, et pour désigner l'acclamation aux empereurs. Ce texte me parait appartenir à une époque où le formulaire chrétien des épitaphes n'est pas fixé (IVe siècle sans doute) et s'embarrasse encore de restes du paganisme.

Le nom du mort semble avoir été fréquent en Syrie : on a trouvé en Égypte (in syringe Rhamsis IX) l'inscription suivante : KALLIOTIS ANTIOCHEUS EL[TH]ON XAI EI[D]ON TAS SUPIGG[A]S ETHAYMASA. KALLIOPIS est pour KALLIOPIOS, comme Bœckh le fait remarquer.

Enfin, un certain Kalliopas eut son rôle dans l'émeute qui éclata à Antioche sous Anastase (491-518)".

A Lintel Inscription

In the aforementioned text with relation to the mysterious Toselli, the Bulletin de la Société nationale des antiquaires de France, Volume 66 includes an article in which the noted French epigrahist of that time M. V. Chapot, made the following commentary on a discovery he stumbled across:

"On sait que la région d'Antioche a plus d'une fois souffert des tremblements de terre. En 528, il y en eut un terrible, qu'a raconté Théophane. A la suite des processions de supplication que provoqua la catastrophe, un saint homme avait été, disait-on, gratifié d'une vision, au cours de laquelle il connut que tous les  survivants devaient faire graver sur le linteau de la porte de leur maison cette inscription : Le Christ est avec nous, demeurez. Et ainsi s'apaisa la colère divine i.e «Cette formule, dit dom H. Leclercq, aurait donc été commune c à Antioche; or, jusqu'à ce jour, on n'en a relevé, a notre  connaissance, aucun exemplaire".

« Peut-être, de même que ce passage de Théophane m'avait échappé, le savant bénédictin n'a-t-il pas pris garde à une courte inscription que j'ai publiée jadis et qui est entrée depuis au Musée du Louvre. Bien que la pierre soit mutilée, il en reste assez pour que la lecture ne fasse pas doute : [+]'O XRISTOS METH YM[ON]. J'écrivais alors : « Les lettres sont trop minuscules, — elles mesurent 3 à 4 centimètres de hauteur, — pour laisser supposer que cette inst cription figurait à la porte de quelque sanctuaire chrétien, comme un salut adressé aux arrivants; elle doit avoir été gravée sur une pierre tombale. Je crois bien maintenant que l'argument n'est pas décisif, et je serais porté, la paléographie ne s'y opposant pas, à rapporter l'inscription à l'événement dont il s'agit. La formule, il est vrai, diffère quelque peu de celle qu'indique l'historien grec. Pourquoi cependant n'aurait-elle pas été apposée au seuil, non d'une maison privée, mais de quelque édifice ouvert aux étrangers, comme une hôtellerie ou SsvoSoxcïov? La variante s'expliquerait fort bien, et la petitesse des caractères n'aurait rien enlevé à leur vertu.


Puisque je m'occupe d'Antioche, je signalerai un sceau byzantin, conservé dans une collection particulière de cette ville, chez M. Toselli. Celui-ci a eu l'amabilité de me faire parvenir une empreinte de ce plomb, qui est de faibles dimensions. Au droit, l'on voit une représentation intéressante et qui ne se rencontre pas fréquemment sur ce genre de monuments. Le Christ, tenant sa croix, appelle à la résurrection les défunts, que figurent quatre personnages à ses pieds. Dans le champ, la légende :
And on the reverse:

which translates as "Syméon (ou Simon) II, died in 1099,was raised to the dignity of Patriarch of Jerusalem at the most latest in 1094".

The mysterious Monsieur Toselli

A personage that late 19th century visitors to Antakia frequently mention is an Italian engineer called Eugene (presumably Eugenio) Toselli. Forster mentions him as do others. In Bulletin de la Société nationale des antiquaires de France, Volume 66

the author of the article mentions visiting Toselli's house and being shown works from his collection. In another source we found reference to excavations that Toselli paid for out of his own pocket. Where and what these were is not clear.

In the Comptes Rendus of 1932-3, the venerable Chapot was still receiving new material, in this case from the son of Toselli, who must have still been living there all those many years later.  

I found an interesting reference to an auction in 1908 of Prehistoric Items (Préhistorique ages de la pierre, du bronze, du fer: Catalogue spécial des objets provenant de la collection Eugène Boban et des collections Émile Collin, du Chambon, Gaberel, Landesque, etc. etc by Charles Schleicher, Publisher Schleicher Frères, 1908) that included some Bronze Age articles sourced from the Toselli Fouilles (Toselli Excavations) in Syria giving credence to his history as some sort of amatuer archaeologist. This is a mere handful of items though.

It would be very interesting to know more of the trajectory of this man as clearly he had quite a meaningful collection and its whereabouts would be an addition to scholarship in the field. By trawling through Google Books I have come upon some references to some of these (which very well may be lost works from the very limited Antioch opus of inscriptions as per Mommsen). I shall publish these as I come upon them to keep them out of obscurity.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Syrian Governors

Antioch was, of course, the seat of the Roman governors in Syria, one of the largest, most populated and most economically important provinces. It was also one of the most strategic with its border with the Persian/Parthian/Sassanid Empire and the all-iportant trade route to Asia, particularly China. Being named governor of this province was a major career prize. Sometimes it could also be a curse...

The names of the governors are only patchily recorded. Modern authors have combined historical sources with inscirptions to create a listing that is rather extensive. 

In the article "Syrie Romaine, de Pompee a Diocletien" by J.-P. Rey-Coquais in The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 68, (1978), pp. 44-73 the author compiled a blended list of the different versions to give a fairly definitive list of the governors who would have ruled out of Antioch. As the article is in French we shall initially include his comments here in French and, given time, translate them into English at our own pace. Thus here is Rey-Coquais' listing:

"From the creation of the province by Pompey until the death of Nero, the list has been established by F. Millar and G. Vermes ; G. W. Bowersock has added some refinements, in signallingprincipallly a study by R. Syme,essential for the years near to the birth of Christ.

From the Flavians until the end of the reign of Hadrian, the list rests upon the study by W. Eck. 

  • M. Aemilius Scaurus, 65-2 avant J.-C.
  • L. Marcius Philippus, 6I-60.
  • Cn. Cornelius Lentulus Marcellinus, 59-8.
  • A. Gabinius, 57-5.
  • M. Licinius Crassus, le triumvir, 54-3.
  • C. Cassius Longinus, 53-I. I1 etait questeur de Crassus; la defaite de Carrhes et la mort du triumvir lui donnerent le gouvernement de la Syrie, bien que depuis 58 la Syrie fut une province consulaire.
  • M. Calpurnius Bibulus, tue par les Parthes dans l'Amanus, 51-50.
  • Veiento, 50-49.
  • Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius Scipio Nasica, 49-8.
  • Sex. Iulius Caesar, 47-6.
  • Entre 46 et 44, le chevalier Q. Caecilius Bassus, du parti de Pompee, fut maitre d'une grande partie de la Syrie.
  • C. Antistius Vetus, 45.
  • L. Staius Murcus, 44.
  • C. Cassius Longinus, 44-2. Venu en Syrie apres le meurtre de Cesar, il recut l'appui de Caecilius Bassus.
  • L. Decidius Saxa, 4I-40.
  • P. Ventidius Bassus, 39-8.
  • C. Sosius, 38-7.
  • L. Munatius Plancus, 35.
  • L. Calpurnius Bibulus, de 34/3 h 33/2.
  • Q. Didius, en 31? et 30.
  • M. Valerius Messala Corvinus, entre 30 et 28.
  • M. Tullius Cicero, 29? - 27? ou 27? - 25?
  • (M. Terentius?) Varro, 24-23 (?).
  • M. Vipsanius Agrippa, 23-13.
  • A partir de 10 avant J.-C., il est difficile d'etablir les titulaires du gouvernement de Syrie et les dates de leur gouvernement. L'inscription de Tibur (CIL xiv, 3613), mutilee, mentionne un gouver-neur de Syrie non identifie. I1 y a contradiction dans les donnees evangeliques relatives a la date de la naissance du Christ: a Bethleem de Judee au temps du roi Herode le Grand (Mt 2, i); lors d'un premier recensement de 'toute la terre ' ordonne par Auguste et effectu6 alors que Quirinius etait gouverneur de Syrie (Lc 2, i-2). Contradiction aussi entre ces donnees evangeliques et les indications de Josephe sur les recensements en Palestine. Une inscription non datee atteste un recensement en Syrie sous Quirinius. Nous suivons les hypotheses de R. Syme :
  • C. Sentius Saturninus, de 9 jusqu'a 6 (?).
  • P. Quinctilius Varus, de 7/6 A 4 avant J.-C. II intervint en Palestine a la mort d'Herode le Grand en 4 avant J.-C. (Josephe, Ant. 17, 286; Bell. 2, 40).
  • L. Calpurnius Piso, dont le gouvernement pourrait se placer entre 4 et x avant J.-C.; son proconsulat d'Asie ne date pas necessairement de 3/2 avant J.-C.
  • Lollius, peut-etre, de l'avant J.-C. a 2 apres J.-C., date de sa disgrace et de sa mort, survenues en Syrie (Velleius Paterculus 2, 102, i) et P. Sulpicius Quirinius, de 2 a 3 apres J.-C., auraient peut-etre et6 gouverneurs de Syrie en meme temps que conseillers de C. Caesar, investi d'un imperium pro-consulaire sur l'Orient de i avant J.-C. a 4 apres J.-C.
  • L. Volusius Saturninus, de 4 i 5 apres J.-C. Des monnaies a son nom ont ete emises par l'atelier d'Antioche en l'an 35 d'Actium.
  • P. Sulpicius Quirinius etait certainement gouverneur de Syrie en 6 apres J.-C.; il intervint en Judee ai la deposition d'Archelaiis (Josephe, Ant. 17, 365; i8, i).
  • Q. Caecilius Metellus Creticus Silanus, 12-17.
  • Cn. Calpurnius Piso, 17-I9. Son gouvernement fut marque par sa dramatique opposition a Germanicus.
  • Cn. Sentius Saturninus, 19-21.
  • L. Aelius Lamia, de 23 environ jusqu'en 32. II gera sa charge sans quitter Rome (Tacite, Ann. 6, 27, 2).
  • L. Pomponius Flaccus, 32-5.
  • L. Vitellius, 35-9.
  • P. Petronius, de 39 a 41/2. Des monnaies a son nom furent frappees a Antioche entre l'automne 41 et l'automne 42.
  • C. Vibius Marsus, 41/2 - 44/5.
  • C. Cassius Longinus, de 44/5 jusque vers 50.
  • C. Ummidius Durmius Quadratus, gouverneur en 50, mort en poste avant 60. A une date inconnue, anterieurea u gouvernementd e Corbulon, un gouverneura u cognomend e Marinus ou Marianus est nomme dans le ' Tarif de Palmyre '
  • Cn. Domitius Corbulo, 60-3.
  • C. Cestius Gallus, 63? - 66.
  • C. Licinius Mucianus, 67-9.
  • L. Caesennius Paetus, de 70 a 71/2, temporairement reprdsent6 avant son arrivee en Syrie par Cn. Pompeius Collega, prolegat (Josephe, Bell. 7, 58). 
    · P. Marius Celsus, 72/3.
  • M. Ulpius Traianus, pere du futur empereur Trajan, de 73/4 a 78/9.
  • L. Ceionius Commodus, 78/9-81/2.
  • T. Atilius Rufus, 82/3-84/5.
  • P. Valerius Patruinus, 87/8-89/90.
  • A. Bucius Lappius Maximus, 90/1-94, atteste comme gouverneur de Syrie par un dipl6me militaire du 12 mai 91, et par la dedicace du theatre de Gerasa, datee de l'an 153 de l'ere pompeienne de cette ville, soit 90/I apres J.-C.
  • M. Cornelius Nigrinus Curiatius Maternus aurait ete gouverneur de Syrie entre 94/5 et 97, selon H. Devreker, H. Hanfmann  et G. Alfoldy;  R. Syme prefererait le placer plus tot, W. Eck le situe sans preciser davantage dans la seconde moitie du Ier siecle. Selon G. Alfoldy et H. Hanfmann, ce serait a lui que Pline, Ep. 9, 13, I , penserait sans le nommer;  W. Eck placerait en 97/8 le gouvernement de cet inconnu, et dans la seconde moitie du Ier siecle le gouverneur anonyme de CIL xIII, 2662.
  • A. Larcius Priscus, commandant la legion IV Scythica, assura comme prolegat l'interim du gouvernement de Syrie sous Nerva.
  • C. Octavius Tidius Tossianus L. Javolenus Priscus, de 98/9 a 99/100 environ, fut le premier legat de Trajan en Syrie.
  • C. Antius A. Julius Quadratus, I00/1-103/4 (Cf. IGLS 4010).
  • A. Cornelius Palma Frontonianus, 104/5-107/8.
  • L. Fabius Justus, o08/9-I 1/2?
  • C. Julius Quadratus Bassus, de 114/15 a 116/17 selon W. Eck, entre 100 et 117 selon Chr. Habicht. II est nomme dans une inscription d'Apamee sur l'Oronte, sous Trajan Germanicus Dacicus mais non encore Parthicus. Un cursus anonyme d'Heliopolis IGLS 2775 mentionne sous Trajan un gouverneur de Syrie que Chr. Habicht, comme naguere A. von Premerstein, identifie avec Julius Quadratus Bassus; je reste sensible aux diff6rences notees IGLS 2775 entre l'inscription de Baalbek et l'inscription de Pergame. Selon Chr. Habicht, Julius Quadratus Bassus aurait quitte la Syrie en aouit 117 pour la Dacie, oi il remplaga C. Avidius Nigrinus et oi il mourut dans l'hiver 117/18.
  • P. Aelius Hadrianus, en I I7. Il etait gouverneur de Syrie quand il devint empereur.
  • L. Catilius Severus Julianus Claudius Reginus, 117/I8-118/I9. Hadrien le nomma lorsqu'il partit pour Rome.
  • C. Ummidius Quadratus se placerait entre 121 et 124.
  • C. Quinctius Certus Poblicius Marcellus, 130/I-134/5. En 132, il partit pour la Judee avec une grande partie de l'armee de Syrie; C. Julius Severus, 16gat de la legion IV Scythica, devint prolegat.
  • C. Julius Severus est honore a Apamee sur l'Oronte par deux inscriptions grecques oui W. van Rengen, se fondant sur la longueur des lacunes, restitue [Ora]T-rK6s plutot que [auyK]rl]TKoes , enconsiderant donc que ces dedicaces sont posterieures a son consulat suffect de I39;  la raison de ce honneurs echappe d'autant plus que je ne crois pas a la parente de C. Julius Severus avec l'illustre famille apamdenne de L. Julius Agrippa.
  • Cn. Minicius Faustinus Sex. Julius Severus, de 135/6 jusque vers 137/8.
  • Les consulaires Bruttius Praesens et Julius Major, attestes en Syrie en avril 138, ne sont pas des gouverneurs, mais des clarissimes en mission extraordinaire, comme W. Eck l'etablit par l'etude de leur cursus.
  • L. Flavius Arrianus,287e ntre 137 et 147.
  • Le philosophe Arrien de Nicomedie, apres avoir ete gouverneur de Cappadoce de 131/2 a I37, aurait ete gouverneur de Syrie. Chr. Habicht confirme cette hypothese de G. A. Harrer, acceptee par E. Honigmann.288 Ce pourrait etre Arrien que designerait Lucien, Peregrin. 14. Mais W. Eck exclut Arrien de la liste des gouverneurs de Syrie.
  • L. Burbuleius Optatus Ligarianus, en 142.
  • Sulpicius Julianus, en 149.
  • D. Velius Fidus, vers 153/4.
  • M. Cassius Apollinaris, entre 154 et 156 (PIR2 c 484).
  • L. Attidius Cornelianus, atteste comme gouverneur de Syrie en 157 par le diplome ILS 9057, en i62 par une inscription trouvee pres de Damas (CIL II, I29, corr. 6658). I1 fut mis en deroute par Vologese II.
  • Un A. Larcius Priscus, que E. Honigmann placait en I62 et qui selon E. Groag assurait l'interim du gouvernement de Syrie, doit disparaitre de la liste.
  • C. Julius Commodus Orfitianus n'a pas ete gouverneur de Syrie, mais de Palestine (PIR2 I 271).
  • M. Annius Libo, 163 (?). Cousin de Marc-Aurele, il fut envoye comme legat en Syrie au temps de la guerre parthique et il y mourut subitement (Vita Veri 9, 2). E. Groag (PIR2 A 668) place cette mort en 163; R. Syme doute que Libo ait vraiment ete gouverneur de Syrie.
  • Cn. Julius Verus, 163?-i66. Commandant les armees romaines engagees dans la guerre parthique, il remporta la victoire de Soura et libera la Syrie. Les inscriptions de la route d'Abilene (CIL III, I99-20I) le designent comme ami des empereurs et gouverneur de Syrie. L. Petersen (PIR2 1 618) voit en lui le successeur d'Attidius Cornelianus et place son gouvernement entre 163 et 166.
  • C. Avidius Cassius, legat de Syrie de 166 a 171 au moins; en 172, il fut charge de reprimer en Egypte le soulevement des Boukoloi. Nomme par Marc-Aurele rector totius Orientis, il se souleve en 175 et conserva la pourpre six mois avant etre assassine.
  • M. Pontius Laelianus Larcius Sabinus, en 176.
  • P. Martius Verus, 177-9.
  • P. Helvius Pertinax, I80-2.
  • C. Domitius Dexter, 182-3, mentionne dans une inscription de Soueida (IGR III, 1276) et dans une inscription de la garnison de Palmyre.
  • Julius Saturninus, I85-7.
  • Asellius Aemilianus, I87-90. Dans l'inscription de Batanee IGR III, I262, le nombre des annees de regne de Commode n'est pas certain. Herodien assure qu'il eut Niger pour successeur dans le gouvernement de Syrie.
  • C. Pescennius Niger, en 191.
  • Vainqueur de Niger en 194, Septime-Severe divisa la Syrie en deux provinces, la Syria Coele au Nord, la Syria Phoenicea u Sud. J. F. Gilliam a dresse la liste des l6gats de Syria Coeled e Septime- Severe a Diocletien; un grand nombre sont connus seulement par les documents de Doura- Europos.298 Une inscription de Bulla Regia a permis d'ajouter un nom a cette liste.
  • Alfenus Senecio, vers 200.
  • Marius Maximus Perpetuus Aurelianus, atteste a Doura en 208. J. F. Gilliam rejette le L. Calpurnius que mentionnerait comme gouverneur de Syria Coele sous Septime-Severe une inscription de Han Qoseir, au Nord de Damas (CIL iI, 128), connu seulement par une copie plus ou moins interpolee de Des Monceaux dans les Voyages de Corneille Le Bruyn.
  • Minicius Martialis, procurator Augusti, agissait sans doute comme vice-gouverneure n 209-11.
  • Aurelius Mam- - -, en 216.
  • Fabius Agrippinus, en 218 ou 219, mis a mort sous Elagabale (Dion Cassius 79, 3, 4).
  • Antonius Seleucus, vir clarissimus consularisn oster,a tteste a Doura en 221; peut-etre le meme qu'un tyran du temps d'Elagabale.
  • Q. Atrius Clonius, vers 22.
  • [Claudius Sollem]nius Pacatianus, atteste a Doura vers 235.
  • Q. Aradius Rufinus Optatus Aelianus, avant 238, date a laquelle il fut sans doute proconsul d'Afrique, connu par une insciption de Bulla Regia.
  • - -- nius, vir clarissimusc onsularisn oster, atteste a Doura en 239.
  • Attius Rufinus, legatus Augusti pro praetore, en 241, ou peut-etre en 239, a Doura; c'est peut-etre le meme qu'un P. Attius Pudens Rufinus Celsianus, v. c. cos. n.
  • D. Simonius Proculus Julianus, vers 245.
  • Flavius Antiochus, atteste a Doura entre 244 et 249.
  • Atilius Cosminus, v. c. cos. n., atteste a Doura en 250 et en janvier et mars 251.
  • Pomponius Laetianus, vir egregius procurator Augustorum nostrorum, atteste a Doura en avril et mai 25I, agissant peut-etre comme vice-gouverneur.
  • Arrius Maximus, au milieu du IIIe siecle, connu par une inscription de Seleucie de Pierie, IGLS I1 4I.
  • Virius Lupus, praeses, vers 265.
  • Maximinus, en 275-6, sans doute un senateur, parent de l'empereur Tacite, tue par ses propres troupes.
  • Julius Saturninus, pretendant a l'empire et adversaire de Probus, etait gouverneur de Syria Coele selon Zosime i, 66, vers l'annee 278.
  • Charisius, praeses Syriae en 290.

Il parait inutile de poursuivre cette liste, a laquelle s'ajoutent plusieurs anonymes de date incertaine; on la trouvera dans The Prosopography of the Later Roman Empire."

The list includes some famous names. Most notable are Marcus Agrippa, Trajan's father, Ulpianus Traianus, Hadrian, Arrian (the philosopher), Calpurnius Piso (under whose reign Germanicus was murdered in Antioch, possibly via his machinations) and C. Pescennius Niger (the usurper under Septimius Severus).


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Miscellaneous Churches

Boucher states: "Among other churches were those of St. Cosmas and St. Damianus; of Cassianus, where the jewelled mantle of Justinian was displayed; of St. Stephen on the west of the city; and the martyrium of St. Leontius". We have spoken of the Cassianus elsewhere. 

A very interesting source (though unfortunately short on references) is JOHN CHRYSOSTOM AND HIS TIME,  VOLUME ONE,  PART ONE, ANTIOCH: The Early Years (1929), by the evocatively named Reverend Chrysostomus Baur, O. S. B. who comments "Very near the Maccabees' grave, on the slope of Mount Tauris, and near the synagogue, was located the Grotto of St. Paul, in which the Apostle was said to have preached. Also a house in which he once dwelt, was held in honor, and his bed and table were shown there.

The Martyrium of St. Drosis seems to have been a fairly large mausoleum. When a visitor entered the vestibule, a multitude of graves appeared before his eyes, and he saw all around him sarcophagi, urns and monuments to the dead. As probably the custom prevailed in Antioch, as in Rome, that pious Christians wished to be buried as near as possible to the graves of the saints and martyrs, so that many a Martyrium became the focal point of a large cemetery. Another chapel (or church) which certainly was still standing in the time of Chrysostom was the Martyrium of St. Ignatius, the famous martyr bishop of Antioch, who died in Rome; Chrysostom preached a sermon on him which still survives.

Under Theodosius the Younger, the bones of St. Ignatius were transferred to the former temple of Tyche, which had been transformed into a Christian church. A piece of good fortune, that Libanius, the enthusiastic worshiper of Tyche (Fortune) did not live to see it. Also Bishop Eustathius, who had died in exile in Thrace, had his memorial chapel in Antioch.' Then there was a Church of Saint Simeon, in which the adherents of Paulinus held divine service. Other saints and blood witnesses from the times of the persecutions may have had their martyria or memorial chapels already in the fourth century, for example, Sts. Juventinus and Maximus, Pelagia, Berenice and Prosdoce; St. Lucian, the founder of the older schools of Antioch, and others. For a number of martyrs, who still rested in the common cemetery, " together with heretics (Arians), so that the people had difficulty finding their graves,''the Patriarch Flavian later built a common martyrium before the city, " in Romanesia." Here Chrysostom gave a still surviving sermon on a certain Ascension Day. This martyrium of Romanesia attained a special significance in the later life of our John".

This excerpt is rich in detail and meshes with some other information. We had wondered why the Bridge Gate was called the Romanesia Gate (and also seemingly Philonauta) and now we find that the area across the river (sometimes also referred to as the site of the Campus Martius military camps) was called Romanesia. We have the obligatory mention of the Maccabean graves but here locating them near the Grotto of Saint Paul (which in our view is somewhere near the Charonion) rather than the Kerateion where the Maccabean synagogue is usually thought to have been located. By Mount Tauris we wonder if he means Staurin, but if not then the debate turns to the subject of the gates again, with Catherine Saliou's work on the Porta Tauris which features on the Megalopsychia mosaic and has been thought to be on the Island and giving egress in the direction of the mountain range on the other side of the Orontes. We also have here the Temple of Tyche being converted into the resting place of St Ignatius' earthly remains, which is novel and something we have not seen elsewhere. It is as if Baur has access to a totally new source no one in the "nothing new under the sun" world of Antiochene studies has ever seen.   



The Palaia (or Old Church)

Palaia means "ancient" and was used to refer to one of the major churches in Antioch to discriminate it from the Great Church (the Golden Octagon) that I have written on elsewhere. Boucher states in his Short History that "the earliest ecclesiastical building, called Palaia, or Apostolic, traditionally ascribed to Theophilus the friend of St. Luke, was believed to stand on the spot where the Apostles first delivered their addresses. This seems to have disappeared in the persecution of Diocletian, and it is doubtful whether the church begun by Constantine and also called Apostolic was on the same site". 

If Boucher was right (and he was wrong on some other details in his book) then the site of the first preaching was the Singon (or Siagon) Street that I have discussed elsewhere. This, by implication might also signal that the Palaia was at this site which some feel might be closer to the Beroea Gate than the old centre of the Seleucid city.

The Palaia, according to Wendy Mayer, was the main preaching pulpit for John Chrysostom. She speaks of it dating back to the time of the Apostles and cites Eltester 1937 (pgs 272-3). She sites it in the Old Town because it was the Old Church... The Siagon ("jawbone") street was so called because it was not straight and that does not appear to signify a street in the strictly Hippodamian Old Town. Just because the church was called "ancient" does not mean it must be in the  most "ancient" part of the town. 

Pietro Rentinck in his book "La cura pastorale in Antiochia nel IV secolo" says that the church was rebuilt and expanded under the bishop Vitale (around 314 AD) and after his death the work was completed by Filogonio (319-324 AD). He feels the church may have been reconstructed in a basilica form at that time. He says the sources are silent on the dimensions of the structure. 

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Calendar of Feasts at Antioch

The social calendar of  the Antiochenes was a full one. As I have noted elsewhere they liked to party. Some of these parties emanated from religious festivals. The 4th century represented an interesting moment in which Christianity started to displace the old Graeco-Roman theology. This dealt a death blow to many of the festivals and thus made Antioch a duller place. I repeat again the feeling that Christianity did Antioch no favours. 

In Jean-Francois Vieslet's definitive work on Antiochene religious festivals,  Les Fastes d'Atnioche et le crepuscule du paganisme. Analyse des fetes paiennes D'Antioche au IVe s. ap. J-C. (Louvain 2004-2005) he produces a calendar whih I feel is useful to reproduce here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Festivals

The Maiuma was a festival that existed in a number of cities, but Antioch, as was typical, managed to turn a mere religious event into something very special. Antiochenes had a touch of the Gatsby about their party-going.

Chrysostom spoke on the subject on the Maiuma: "For tell me, if anyone offered to introduce you into a palace, and show you the king sitting (there), would you indeed choose to see the theatre instead of these things? … And you leave this and run to the theatre to see women swimming, and nature put to open dishonour, leaving Christ sitting by the well? … But you, leaving the fountain of blood, the awful cup, go your way to the fountain of the devil, to see a harlot swim, and to endure shipwreck of the soul. For that water is a sea of lasciviousness, not drowning bodies, but working shipwreck of souls. And while she swims naked, you, as you behold, are plunged into the depths of lasciviousness. … For in the first place, through a whole night the devil takes over their souls with the expectation of it; then having shown them the expected object, he has at once bound them and made them captives … If now you are ashamed, and blush at the comparison, rise up to your nobility and flee the sea of hell and the river of fire, (I mean) the pool in the theatre … And you, when there is a question of precedence, claim to have priority over the whole world, since our city first crowned itself with the name of Christian; but in the competition of chastity, are you not ashamed to be behind the ruder cities?"

Bouchier (quoting Malalas) reports that Commodus funded a number of building programs and also " "... the triennial nocturnal festival of Bacchus and Aphrodite called the Maiuma. For the lamps and candles with which the city was illuminated on the latter occasion certain revenues were set aside."

George Soane in his book on ancient festivals notes: "This festival was celebrated with much splendour, banquets and in offerings, as we are told by the Emperor Julian, in his satirical address, the Misopogon, to the people of Antioch, and in time it appears to have degenerated so deeply into licentiousness that it was suppressed, so far as laws could suppress it, in the reign of Constantine, together with the feasts of Pan and Bacchus. Under the united rule of Arcadius and Honorius, it was restored, though with caution, the imperial mandate declaring, " clementiae nostrae placuit ut Maiumae provincialibus laetitia reddatur ; ita tamen ut servetur honestas, et verecundia castis moribus perseveret." Imp. Cod. lib. xi. tit. 45.

The admonition, however, in regard to decency and sobriety, does not seem to have produced any very desirable effect upon the minds of the people, for in the same reign it was once more forbidden on the plea of licentiousness by a rescript to the prefect Aurelian, which is still extant in the Theodosian Code, (lib. xv. tit. vi.) It is, however, plain, that though the Maiuma might be condemned by the edicts of emperors and the fulminations of saints (i.e. Chrysostom), it persisted."

Gerald Rendall claims that Libanius declared that the essence of the Maiuma was ' not to abstain from any kind of abomination.'
It is suggested that the theatre unearthed at Daphne was inundatable so that the aquatic frolics that accompanied the Maiuma could be presented there. Some have suggested that the representation of a boating basin in the Megalopsychia Mosiac represents, possibly, the theatre at Daphne in its flooded state. 
The worship of Adonis was also of great importance in Antioch. The festival associated with the commemoration (and seeming resurrection) of Adonis was called the Adonies. No evidence of a temple complex or sanctuary has been found but that is not surprising as Adonis was not a god himself but one of the favorites of Aphrodite. The festival though seems to have taken to the streets of the city. It consisted, perversely, of weeping and wailing rather than whooping it up. The main participants were women, an interesting antecedent to the public displays of mass grief that are still a feature in the Middle East. 
Sir James Frazer in his book "The Golden Bough" (1922) refers to some of the festivities: "One of the earliest seats of the worship of the new god (i.e. Christianity) was Antioch, and at Antioch, as we have seen, the death of the old god (i.e. Adonis) was annually celebrated with great solemnity. A circumstance which attended the entrance of Julian into the city at the time of the Adonis festival may perhaps throw some light on the date of its celebration. When the emperor drew near to the city he was received with public prayers as if he had been a god, and he marvelled at the voices of a great multitude who cried that the Star of Salvation had dawned upon them in the East. This may doubtless have been no more than a fulsome compliment paid by an obsequious Oriental crowd to the Roman emperor. But it is also possible that the rising of a bright star regularly gave the signal for the festival, and that as chance would have it the star emerged above the rim of the eastern horizon at the very moment of the emperor’s approach. The coincidence, if it happened, could hardly fail to strike the imagination of a superstitious and excited multitude, who might thereupon hail the great man as the deity whose coming was announced by the sign in the heavens. Or the emperor may have mistaken for a greeting to himself the shouts which were addressed to the star. Now Astarte, the divine mistress of Adonis, was identified with the planet Venus, and her changes from a morning to an evening star were carefully noted by the Babylonian astronomers, who drew omens from her alternate appearance and disappearance. Hence we may conjecture that the festival of Adonis was regularly timed to coincide with the appearance of Venus as the Morning or Evening Star. But the star which the people of Antioch saluted at the festival was seen in the East; therefore, if it was indeed Venus, it can only have been the Morning Star". 
The most important source on this event is Jean-Francois Vieslet of the University of Louvain in Belgium. His chapter "Les Adonies d'Antioche au IV siecle apres J.C." in his thesis "Les fastes d'Antioche et le crepuscule du paganisme. Analyse des fetes paiennes d'Antioche au IVe s. ap. J.C." was submitted in 2004-5. The chapter in question is available here. His study covers the whole gamut of the Adonis festival, its origins, its manifestations (including the use of dolls to represent Adonis and the growing of mini-gardens in pots that were then cast into the ocean), the historical record and the way in which the festival was "celebrated" in Antioch.  

A missing manuscript

The pool of original sources on Antioch is shallow to say the least. By a very roundabout hunt (for something else) I stumbled upon an 1866 article in a French journal (Bibliothèque de l’École des chartes) in which Leopold Delisle discusses a collection of manuscripts that Lord Ashburnham bought from a Mr Barrois. More sleuthing revealed that this collection was auctioned of in 1897 in a spectacular series of auctions. Amongst the documents that the author mentioned is one that caught my eye, seemingly a manuscript copied by the Benedictines. This document (numbered 6755) had the following subject matter in Delisle's words:
1. Une partie du manuscrit a ete copie en 1267
2. Il y a des extraits de saint Bernard et de saint Augustin
3. Il y a un traite de musique commencant par los mots Quoniam circa artem, et occupant neuf feuillets.
4. Un feuillet renferme au recto la description des environs de Jerusalem (Si quis ab occidentalibus), et au verso une court description d'Antioche (Haec urbs). Le feuillet suivants contient une liste des villes conquises en Espagne par Charlemagne.
5. Le traite de Methodius commence au verso d'un feuillet et occupe les quatre feuillets suivants.
The catalogue of Mr Barrois has an entry relating to the manuscript that says: 11. Descriptio nobilissime urbis Antiochie. Fol 61 verso. - " Haec urbs Antiochia valde et pulcra et honorabilis". So the description is short but might appear to be a pre-12th century description of the city.

Some sleuthing revealed a book called "Catalogue des manuscrits des fonds Libri et Barrois" in Google Books. This is in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. The catalogue describes 180 manuscripts. Concordances on . [264]-273 indicate the correspondence of their numbers in the Bibliothèque Nationale with those in the Fonds Libri and fonds Barrois at Ashburnham Place.
Fol. 61 v°. » Descriptio nobilissime urbis Antiochie "Нес urbs Antiochia valde est pulcra et honorabilis, quia intra muros ejus sunt quatuor montanee maxime et nimis alte... "

Its location would be an interesting addition to the pool of reports on the city. Now to find out where the manuscript went in the library auction so long ago...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Decline and Fall

When to write off Antioch? Well, the most obvious time to look for would be to identify when the city ceased to be Antioch the Great and instead became an also ran amongst cities. Some may care to differ but you can't get much more of a fall from greatness than effecting a name-change to reduce the threat of earthquakes. Thus I would be sorely tempted to date the "end" of the city's greatness to just after 528 AD when the name change to Theopolis was effected. We stand ready however to also plump for 540 AD when Chosroes devastated the city and carried off its population to his ersatz Antioch on the banks of the Euphrates.

We keep coming back to our simile of Berlin in the 20th century. The period 528-540 AD was very similar to 1933-45. The creative element was shipped out, scared away or destroyed while the physical nature of the city was transformed by destruction of the urban fabric of the metropolis. Rebuild and repopulate as one might the elements that came together to make, however flawed, the shining moments of the city's history could never be replaced in the former combination. Antioch went from metropolis or Weltstadt to provincial humdrum. The sole consolation was that the stupid Theopolis name went the way of all things and today's Antakya still harks back to the founding in 300 BC while Theopolis just looks like superstitious mumbo jumbo.

Even Berlin's travails pale into insignifigance compared to Antioch's. Warsaw or Konigsberg might be better simile. The 6th century was an unremitting litany of disaster.
  • A devastating fire in 525
  • the massive earthquake of 526 that destroyed the Island
  • the quake of 528 with even wider damage
  • the burning and looting by Chosroes in 540 with the wholesale transhipment of the population
  • bubonic plague in 542
  • another earthquake in 551
  • a cattle plague in 553
  • another earthquake in 557
  • more bubonic plague in 560
  • Persians burned the suburbs in 573
  • another earthquake in 577
  • a more damaging earthquake in 588
  • a drought killed the olive trees in 599
  • a weevil infestation ruined the crops in 600
Frankly with all this in prospect after 540 the lucky ones were the locals who were shipped off to "Better-than-Antioch" for there could scarcely be anywhere worse than the old Antioch!
These tribulations must have left the city massively denuded of population with the attendant collapse in services and output. I discussed elsewhere tha "big mistake" of abandoning the Island and focusing on building the Walls of Justinian which were promptly proved to be useless. 
There is very little information on what the city was like by the time it fell to the Arabs in 638 AD (after a series of passing back and forth between Byzantine and Persian control). There can scarcely have been much of the classical city left or even of the later Christian establishment. The Domus Aurea never recovered from the 588 AD quake when the structure, damaged in 526 AD, finally collapsed. Swathes of other churches and civic buildings must have been destroyed and the retreat of the city from occupying the limits of the Walls of Justinian must have begun. The inhabited area seems to have not stretched much beyond the Parmenios when the Crusaders arrived in 1098. Water supply must have been compromised, the Island was clearly stripped to provide building material after the earthquakes of the 520s when it was left outside the reduced circuit of the Walls. The acropolis and temples had their building materials "recycled" for other uses in the city. The population might have fallen by 2/3rds via these various ravages and certainly cutting of the aqueducts or reduction in their capacity would have made the city less able to carry as much population as it once did.
The city was intellectually and culturally denuded by the events between 536 AD and 540 AD. It may have been repopulated with peasants from elsewhere (the Byzantine version of Lebensraum as related by Cyril Mango) but they just weren't the cheeky, saucy, inspired popluation of the past. No wonder the city scarcely warranted a mention ever again for its intellectual or cultural output.
The city went from being a "city" to being a provincial town and a rapidly declining and peripheralised one at that. The Crusaders gave it a new burst of political life and presumably some artistic revival (as much as could be managed in the medieval context) but that was shortlived and then the really Dark Ages from Baibars victory through to the 20th century fell upon the town like an impenetrable fog. 

Monday, July 6, 2009

Abandoning the Island - The Fatal Mistake

Small things change the course of history. A large event though prompted a decision in the history of Antioch that might very well have been the fatal flaw that sealed the city's fate and cast it into 1,500 years of obscurity.

In 526 AD a massive earthquake devastated the city but most severely damaged was the Island. The colonnades were thrown down, the palace damaged and the Domus Aurea was nearly toppled. 

The upshot of this damage was that, seemingly, a decision was made to abandon the Island. The area was used as a quarry for stones to build the Wall of Justinian around the main part of the city. The Golden Octagon lingered on (now outside the city walls) until it eventually collapsed later in the century.

What if, however, the Island had not been the worst hit part of the city? What if the decision was made to fortify the Island instead of the mountainous  part of the city? What might have been an alternative outcome?

The Island was the easiest part of the city to defend. If a strategy to strengthen the Island and use it as the fortress in time of extremis have been adopted then there might have been a chance that the city may have more effectively resisted the onslaught of Chosroes in 540 AD, and devastation from which the whole city went into terminal decline. As the reports of the seige make clear the Sassanid invader gained access to the city via the walls on the southern heights. These were the walls that had only just been built. 

Frankly despite the enormous effort of constructing the Justinian Walls, the city was essentially indefensible in the new layout, it was too extended and the high parts of the city were too vulnerable. These encompassed, quite literally, two mountains. Defenders could not easily race to the walls. 

With time the branch of the river that separated the Island from the main city became silted up, thus making the Orontes less of a moat and more of an access point. While still swampy the Crusaders in 1098 found the flatlands on the river-side of the city the most suitable place to make camp and sally forth against the Dog Gate and the Duke's Gate. 

Why was the Island not chosen as the safe haven for the city? One earthquake decided its fate? We suspect though that the factors were twofold. Firstly, the Island was a sector of villas, baths and palaces. Maybe it also had stables (associated with the hippodrome) and garden areas. This implies low density. This also implies the bulk of the population that needed defending were in the other parts of the city. Thus the focus fell there with a priority of defending the majority, even if the task was well-nigh impossible. The imperial palace had not been used much by the emperors as a residence since the days of Valens over 140 years beforehand. 

Then second factor is more prosaic. We have dwelt elsewhere on the possibility that the Island was supplied with its water from an aqueduct that came from the mountains to the north of the city rather than from the system geared to the springs at Daphne that supplied the rest of the city. While the Daphnetic aqueducts contained long surface and underground sections, an aqueduct from the northern mountains would have been elevated across the plain. It also could have been a prime victim of any earthquake. While not mentioned anywhere, it could very well be the case that the Island was left waterless by the earthquake of 526 AD and thus it was a "no-brainer" to rebuild the "mainland" part of the city and cede the Island to the limeburners and scavengers of stone and bricks.

Of course the builders of the Wall of Justinian did not imagine that plague, earthquakes and wars would reduce the city of over 500,000 in the 6th century to little more than 50,000 by the time the Crusaders appeared. The latter number would have easily fitted in a well-defended fortified Island instead of being sprawled across the existing fortified area with its gardens and farms because the walled area by the 11th century was way too large for practical defense. 

When one considers the massive task of demolishing the Island walls, all its remnant buildings (including the hippodrome) and redeploying all this material into the construction of the city walls (so strong they lasted until the mid-19th century), then rebuilding the Island and creating a fortified city on the Island (and part of the mainland) and an unfortified portion for the rest (which seemingly was rather unfortified as evidence for the walls of Tiberius being of much substance are scance) would seem in retrospect to have been a more sensible strategy.  

The road not taken by Justinian was to defend the defensible (i.e. the Island) and instead a grandiose wall-building campaign ultimately left the city more vulnerable, not less. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Theatre Site

Gregoire Poccardi marvels at how the Princeton team could have totally overlooked the theatre site in Antioch. He notes that it is even stranger because Forster in his flying visit in the 1890s identified the site. The Princeton team were supposedly looking for it, but maybe they were not looking too hard. As we noted elsewhere Antioch probably had several theatres. These would have been in all sorts of sizes and with different usages.
However, the city probably did have one main theatre for there are various references to it.  Its location was identified by Poccardi, as per the map below. 

The theatre is at letter T. This is now the block bounded by 4 sk, 5 sk, Bagyolu sk and Cetin Emec Cd on the Google map here.

This is in modern day Antakya is the site of a "park". We use the term loosely because we havent seen such a rugged urban park before. The main consolation is that this hasn't been built over and the town has clearly kept it for "future consideration". Our colleague, Jorgen Christensen-Ernst, ventured forth and took the following pictures recently.

Here is a view of the park from its lower western corner. The site is large enough to have encompassed a substantial theatre, with the implication that any excavation taking in the park and the surrounding streets (which are wider than need be) could reveal the complete structure. 

This is a view of the park from above. One should imagine that one is standing upon the upper tiers of the cavea of the theatre here and that 1500 years of detritus moving downhill has largely filled in the slope of the structure. If the depth of the fill is anything like that in the old town (11 metres) then the lower levels of the theatre (the scenae and orchestra) could be in recognizable and quantifiable condition if the overburden is removed. This would involve losing the park and its stony wastes and dry pond.

This is a view from below showing the steepness above the theatre site (on the right of the street). If one can believe the story of the Persians surprising the locals at play in the theatre then it would have been from these upper slopes that they rained down their arrows on the crowd. 

Poccardi says the theatre would have had a diameter of 120m, thus it almost certianly would have seated more than 10,000 people.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Honorific Columns

Ancient cities were a sea of columns but not all columns were created equal. The kings of the columnar world were the honorific columns for emperors and gods. Antioch had several famous examples of this form. 

Russell Sturgis in "A dictionary of architecture and building biographical historical, and descriptive" published in 1901 ranks three of Antioch's columns as worthy of mention. The first was one of Theban granite surmounted by a statue of Tiberius, in the centre of the Forum of Antioch, in gratitude for the magnificent public structures of this emperor (especially the double columnar street colonnades). Lassus speculates that the round plaza on the Colonnaded Street that he excavated under the Al Nejjar Mosque was the site of this statue rather in the Forum.
Sturgis also mentions another one of porphyry at Antioch, erected under Caligula as a talisman against earthquakes. It may be this that is referred to in the Vatican's Arab text in its regaling of the various superstitions of the city. 
The final column of note was one of immense size with a statue of Valentinian erected to him by his brother Valens. This almost certainly was at the Forum of Valens. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Tribes

There were 18 tribes or wards (phylae) in Antioch. The individual phylae were led by an epimeletes (or supervisor/overseer/governor). The phylae were used as electoral divisions for sending representatives to the Bouleterion (city council) for the civic administration.

Sir William Ramsey comments in the Journal of Hellenic Studies (Vol XXXVIII, 1918, pg 185),: "Certainly in various cases the tribes in a Hellenic city of Greece or Asia Minor had an ethnic character, and one nationality was often enrolled in a special tribe. This classification was often carried out in a very arbitrary fashion; e.g. Josephus mentions that all the Jews in Syrian Antioch were enrolled in the tribe Makedones, which was of course the most honourable of all in a Seleucid city".

This is the only reference to the name of one of the tribes that we have seen, excepting the possibility that some of the benefactors of the Fuller's Canal were also the names of tribes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chrysostom's Brush with the "Magic" Police

Robert Wheler Bush relates in his The Life and Times of Chrysostom:

"A most severe decree against all who directly or indirectly practised any arts of magic, or who were in possession of any books of a magical character, had been passed by Valentinian and Valens. This decree was being enforced at this time with great rigour and cruelty at Antioch. Those charged— often times on the most frivolous grounds—with any complicity with such practices were liable to exile, torture, and even death. Soldiers were employed in carefully searching for suspected persons, and dragging them before the legal tribunals. Informers, too, abounded on every side. And not only soldiers and informers, but judges also were eager to court imperial favour by carrying out the decree with rigour and severity. No age or sex escaped. The prisons, not only in the capital, but also at Antioch, were filled with persons of all ranks and professions charged with offenses connected with magical rites, or with having in their possession books either actually bearing on magic or supposed to bear upon it. Men, in their terror, destroyed their whole libraries in order to avoid all suspicion.

When such was the state of feeling at Antioch in connection with magic, it happened that one day Chrysostom and a friend were walking on the outskirts of the city, in the gardens by the banks of the Orontes, towards the chapel of the martyr Babylas. As they were proceeding along the margin of the river, they saw some leaves of a book floating down the stream. In emulous sport they tried to catch the leaves as they passed along upon the surface of the water. They succeeded in securing some of them, when, to their consternation, they discovered that they were filled with magical signs and symbols. At this critical moment a soldier was observed approaching them. What could they do with those fatal leaves ? Should they hide them about their persons, or cast them back again into the river? If they hid them, the soldier might prosecute a search, and discovery might lead to the most fatal consequences ; if they threw them into the river again, the soldier might see the act, recover the leaves, and fasten a charge upon them for having had such a book in their possession. They hesitate in alarm as to their course of conduct, rapidly weighing and balancing in their mind the probable effect of either line of action. At last they determine to commit those perilous leaves once more to the river. Fortunately for them their conduct was unobserved by the soldier, who passed on in ignorance both of their terror and of what they had done. They thus escaped; but the fears of Chrysostom were greatly excited by the event, and he could not refrain from attributing his escape to the merciful providence of God".

The above is a rather embellished version in the Victorian taste. The more basic bones of the story, as related in Florent Heintz's essay on circus curse tablets ,is to be found in Patrologia Graeca Vol 60 pg 275.

The whole little incident is interesting as it gives the rather odious Chrysostom an almost human aspect, well at least as a child/teen.

It is also interesting to note they were wandering along the Orontes bank near the shrine of Saint Babylas that was identified as being on the right bank of the river, opposite the imperial palace.

The timing is also interesting for it is around the time of the "witch hunt" (quite literally) that was let loose with particular ferocity in Antioch by Valens in his fear that magic was being used to divine when his reign would come to an end. These events are well described in the essay "Les procès d’Antioche de 371/2 (Ammien Marcellin 29.1-2) : un cas de persécution religieuse?" by Éric Fournier.

Bath C

The only bath of substance fully delineated as yet in Antioch is the so-called Bath C. It adjoined a "Byzantine hippodrome" as some have termed it, which looks more like a grandiose palestra.
Justify Full

Above is a floor plan of Bath C. This bath stood on the Island in relative proximity to the Imperial Palace. It was fully excavated by the Princeton team and represented the most complex and substantial building found in the project. The building was around 40 metres wide and sixty metres deep from the street facade. Poccardi posits that the blocks on the Island (by utilising the "temple" as a form of measuring stick) were around 107m x 35.5m. Thus the complex of the baths/palestra were a big deviation to the usual street plan. Uggeri speculates that the stadium/palestra might have been part of the Seleucid Regia (palace). As no excavations took place on the southern side of the exercise field, this remains a possibility meriting further investigation. Bath C is certainly luxurious enough to have been part of a complex for the powers that be.

While the floor plan was clear, it was however stripped down to its foundations by subsequent looters of building material leaving little idea of what its vertical dimensions might have been.


Christine Kondoleon's excellent catalogue for the exhibition Antioch: the Lost Ancient City included several computer-generated reconstructions of these baths produced by the Boston architect and graphic artist, James Stanton-Abbott. This work, and the images, were commissioned by the Worcester Museum of Art to accompany its exhibition than ran in 2000-2001. The major essay on Antioch's baths in the catalogue is by Fikrit Yegul of University of California Santa Barbara.

The first reconstruction below (click to enlarge) reproduces and enlivens the floorplan shown above. None of the other baths found in Antioch had such a strictly symmetrical layout as these baths. This is not to say that there were not other baths in this format. Not enough has been excavated of Bath F to preclude that it did not originally have a very formalised layout. This version also adds some more detailed mosaic features. The hot rooms (caldaria) are to the left in this plan. Notice that the mosaics shown here differ from those in the floor plan. above. This was done by "reusing" images of other Antioch mosaics to give an impression of how the floors really looked rather than just using pure geometrical designs as a filler.

The second image of Bath C from the catalogue is an axonometric view of the bath complex with the wall height projected up to the level of the column capitals. this brings the building alive and gives an idea of how it might have appeared to one of the bath's clientele as they progressed through the rooms.


The ruins complex was so scoured of remains by looters that no indication remains of how the roof and ceilings may have appeared (for instance whether there may have been an open space over the octagonal pool in what was probably the frigidarium). The octagonal pool measured 9.5 m x 9.5 m x 1 m . This pool had a significantly larger capacity (c. 70.8 m3) than the pools in the cistern-fed private bathhouses of earlier periods.

Though none are shown in the octagonal room (as no evidence survived to justify them), one might consider some columns may have existed there and presumably both the
frigidarium and main caldarium had high rooflines than some of the smaller rooms in the complex. The main baths in Rome, while on a much vaster scale had vaulted and coffered ceilings in these types of rooms.

The other key source on this subject is the report in Volume I of Antioch-on-the-Orontes by Elderkin and Stillwell. This relates the discovery and excavation of the baths. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they did not advance much in putting the baths (or much else they excavated) into an urban context by advancing onto the street in front of the baths and investigating the adjoining buildings. Was the baths structure on one of the four radiating avenues that Libanius speaks of?


Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Circus Curse Tablet

The guru on circus curses is undoubtedly Dr Florent Heintz who wrote his thesis at Harvard on "Agonistic Magic in the Late Antique Circus". He is now an expert on Egyptian antiquities at Sotheby's in New York. Several years ago when he was associated with the Worcester Museum (that off-the-beaten track Mecca for Antiochophiles) he wrote the article "Magic Tablets and the Games at Antioch" (page 163) in Christine Kondoleon's excellent catalogue for the exhibition Antioch: the Lost Ancient City.

Interestingly he starts off his thesis by invoking the chariot race scene from the film Ben Hur in which some of the drivers are seen acting out magic rituals to try and gain themselves an advantage in the race.

Below can be seen one of the circus curse tablets found ,by the Princeton team in the 1930s, rolled up in a drain along the central barrier and turning post of the Antioch hippodrome. This is currently to be found at the Princeton University Art Museum (inv. 3603-I57). This was made of a thin piece of lead which was rolled up and secreted in a location where it could do most "harm" or "good" depending on one's point of view. This example dates from the late fifth or early sixth century AD.

Dr Ana Maria Vazquez Hoys,the Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at UNED (Spain) writes on this specific example:

"Curse tablets and binding spells were quite popular in ancient Antioch, especially at the chariot races. To impress their emperor, charioteers would try to make their rivals' chariots overturn directly opposite the imperial box, and a curse tablet was one of the methods for accomplishing this. This curse tablet opens with a long invocation of divine epithets and magical names; it is addressed to Hecate and other deities of the Underworld. Then the curse itself: "Bind, lay waste, and overturn the horses of the Blue [faction]."

This is followed by 36 Greek names of horses. Usually curses aimed at circus competitors target the charioteers as well as the horses; this is an exception to the rule. By the end of the fourth century, chariot racing had been transformed from a contest of horses and drivers to one of magicians. All this was a risky business, as magic was against Roman law and severely punished. The Blue and Green factions, mentioned in this curse, were imperially sponsored organizations that took over the staging of public entertainment in the East in the fifth century AD; less curse tablets were found after this time than before".

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Obelisk (?)

The Patriarch of Antioch, Euphrasius, had a varied end. Normally we do not deal with the Christian history of the city as it paralleled (and maybe partly caused) the city's decline. However in looking at the obscure subject of the obelisk in the circus the name of the patriarch appears.

The versions are various. All have one thing in common in that he died during the massive earthquake of 526 AD. We initially heard that he was crushed while conducting a service at the Golden Octagon when some part of the structure fell upon him. More recently we see it related in Humphrey's Roman Circuses that he was killed and buried by the falling obelisk that stood on the central barrier running along the circus. Presumably he had taken shelter there (like Trajan in 115 AD) when the earthquake hit.

Then we stumbled on The Chronicle of Pseudo-Dionysius (or the Zuqnin Chronicle) as edited by Witold Witakowski. This book is a Syriac historiographical work dating from the end of the eighth century. The work is written from the point of view of a religious dissident, (he was a Monophysite) whose personal experience as a persecuted monk in his native Mesopotamia, as well as his later life in Constantinople, make the chronicle an interesting and offbeat source. In his version the rescuers found the body of Euphrasius "... was found in a cauldron of pitch used by wineskin makers, who worked beneath his episcopal residence. When the residence collapsed and fell, he happened to fall into the cauldron. The whole of his body sank down in it and he was cooked in the pitch. His head was found (hanging, as if he had) fainted, outside the rim of the cauldron. Thus he was recognised from his face while his bones were found stripped of their flesh in the pitch".

We have to chuckle as this end would have suited a martyr but for a bishop going about his daily business it was scarcely one of the usual hazards of the job. However the author notes "for the believers however it was a wonderful thing for they remembered the impudence of his evil deeds, his cruel plans, persecution and pillage which he had done". Being a fitting end, in the author's opinion, might imply some embellishment, including moving the place of death and the means! It is hard to figure out why the Patriarchal Palace should also have doubled as a wineskin factory. Boiling pitch would have made the place insufferably odorous.

In a footnote to the Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius Scholasticus it is noted that
pseudo-Zacharias and Malalas have him thrown by the convulsion into a vat of boiling wax (a sticky end indeed) while the Chalcedonian writer Marcellinus comes has him crushed by an obelisk in the hippodrome (this being the source for Humphrey).

No further information is forthcoming on this obelisk. A number of circuses did have them on the central barrier. The Circus Maximus had several which have now migrated to other parts of Rome. The genuine article of course came from Egypt, so we are left to wonder whether Antioch's obelisk was an Egyptian import and what happened to it after it had fallen. Was it irretrievably smashed or was it moved somewhere else in the city when the Island was abandoned and the hippodrome was cannibalised for building materials for the expanded city walls? As it was probably of granite, if it was like the other obelisks from Egypt, it would not have been fodder for the limeburners who did so much damage to the marble and limestone of the city as parts were abandoned.

It may still await discovery, though it is most certainly not still to be found at the hippodrome.









Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Jewish Quarter(s)

Antioch was on of the great cities of the Jewish diaspora even before the diaspora happened. The Jewish community rapidly coalesced around the new empire in which they found themselves in the wake of Alexander's death and the carve-up of his former "domains" amongst his generals. Antioch was the capital of the Seleucid kingdom and this covered Judea. Antioch was an epicentre of politics and commerce and the community started to grow with the city.

The chief sources for discussion of these themes are:
  • Carl Kraeling's article "The Jewish Community in Antioch" in the Journal of Biblical Literature (Vol 51, no.2 June 1932 pp 130-160).
  • Samuel Krauss' article "Antioche" in the Revue des Etudes Juives 45 (1902, pp 27-49)
  • A. Kasher's article "The Rights of the Jews of Antioch on the Orontes" in Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research (vol 49 1982 pp 69-85)
and on the more narrowly focused theme of the Gate of the Cherubim (nevertheless important for siting the community):
  • Glanville Downey's article "The Gate of the Cherubim at Antioch" in the Jewish Quarterly Review (pp 167-177)
  • W.L. Duliere's article "Les Cherubins du troisieme Temple a Antioche" in the Zeitschrift fur Religions- und geistegeschichte (1961, XIII Jahrgang, Heft 3 pp 201-219)
Then there are the sources on the Ashmunit synagogue/shrine that I cite in my comments on that issue.

Firstly I would like to give the opinion that the Jewish community did not have a "ghetto" in Antioch. As is well-known that whole concept of ghettoization did not develop until the Middle Ages (or later) in Venice. Theoretically the Jews of Antioch were free to live wherever they liked in the city (at least we have never heard of any restrictions). Moreover it should be remembered that Antioch was one of the very centres of hellenizing corruption that spurred the Maccabean Revolt.

What was "hellenization" if not assimilation? Ancient Antioch should be looked at as somewhat akin to Berlin in the 1920s: a whole gamut of different degrees of Jewishness and assimilation. Thus the most "orthodox" would have been gathered closest to the synagogues and other community facilities required to maintain the lifestyle of a religious community with strict dietary and other behavioural laws, while the most assimilated would have positioned themselves wherever their lifestyle and social status (or business or political activity) deemed most convenient for them to be. Thus some of the lavish villas of the mountain slope, the Island or Daphne may have belonged to well-off assimilated families. There is also evidence for agricultural Jewish communities, some devoted to the cultivation of rice on the Plain of Antioch.

We might also note the historical oddity that as Christianity grew in the city, there were criticisms thrown against some of the Christians, by their leaders, that they were overly fond of attending Jewish festivals (as the pagan element also seemed to enjoy doing). If Antioch was anything it was a party town and the newly converted Christians clearly didn't want to miss out on a festival no matter who was holding it! This is not a sign of a walled-off isolated community.

However, the subject of this note is the identifiable districts. With an estimated Jewish population of 60,000 at its peak (according to Kraeling) the Jewish community must have been congregated in part but certainly with other members living all over the city.

The area that is most clearly associated with the community is the Kerateion which was either just inside, or just outside, the Cherubim Gate. Now 60,000 people was 10-15% of the total population of the city. Thus we are not talking here of a block or two but of a very large group of people that grouped together would occupy a large territory. There is no indication that the Jewish community was any more, or less, crowded than the rest of the populace. Thus a whole swathe of the southern part of the city may have constituted the Jewish quarter, both within and without the walls. In our comments on the destruction by Chosroes it was noted that the quarter was the one area spared destruction in the fire that his troops started. Was this because it was outside the wall?

I have to think that the name Kerateion harks back to the very founding of the city when various Greek groups were settled in the city and their districts were named after their homelands. Thus it would seem that the district was most likely inside the Cherubim Gate (which is where Wilber's map put it) rather than an unwalled suburb (until the Theodosian Wall enveloped it).

The second Jewish area that is mentioned (and this also dates back to the Seleucid period) is the community at Daphne. I shall not go into the history of this but most of the authors date this group back a very long way. How densely populated was Daphne? It can't really have been very dense if it was to maintain its Arcadian splendour. Thus its population (pagan, Jewish or otherwise) may never have been more than a few thousand in total, with villas and upscale residences predominating. I might remind that the "theatre" (or was it the theatron) at Daphne was supposedly built on the site of the synagogue. There clearly was a community there but did it make up more than a few hundred or few thousand out of the larger number in the vicinityof Antioch?

Then there is Kraeling's theory that there was a third community. In one moment Kraeling discusses Herod the Great's role in constructing the Colonnaded Street. He takes issue with Forster's suggestion that the street went southward out of the town towards "the Jewish community at Daphne" but instead argues that the street was paved and adorned with porticos towards the northeast due to there being a Jewish community at the far northern extremity of the city. We quote:

"Marcus Agrippa, it will be recalled, improved a section along Silpius east of the town, and Marcus was known as a friend of Herod the Great and a friend of the Jews. There is nothing improbable in the supposition that Herod's building operations, and those of Agrippa, had some relation one to the other, and that both, affecting as they then did the Eastern suburbs of the Seleucid city had some immediate relation to a people or a cause in which both donors were interested. We therefore submit the hypothesis that the object of the joint enterprise was that of improving and connecting with the city a Jewish settlement of the XXXX or "plain" of Antioch. This will not preclude the existence or subsequent establishment of other similar colonies still farther out in the plain, but it will explain the tradition that the churches and sites connected with the early Christian apostles all lie in the extreme eastern part of the Justinian city, and that the Plethrion, built under Didius Julianus in the eastern portion of the Tiberian development, was constructed on the site of a house owned and inhabited by a Jew Asabinus".

Thus Kraeling associates the Vicus Agrippae with a secondary Jewish district, gives a rationale for Herod's street-building in that direction and also explains why the initial concentration of the Christian community was concentrated at the far north-east of the walled city. Something here to ponder which might eventually be helped by some more concerted exploration of the area that was between the St.Paul and the Beroea gates (or beyond) which seemed to be the area of the Agrippan settlement.

We would question the Plethron comment however as this was not in the "eastern" portion of the city but in the very centre, in proximity to the Forum of Valens. The Jewish community was not a ghetto in Antioch and thus just because Asabinus' house was subject to an ancient form of eminent domain it does not mean that he actually lived in the Jewish district.

Once again none of the areas mentioned here as likely locations for the Jewish quarters have been excavated with any thoroughness so the evidence still remains buried. The Vicus Agrippae would not be difficult to tackle and the Daphne area needs a lot a more work. The Kerateion, alas, lies under modern Antakya, and tantalisingly out of reach.