Monday, December 29, 2008

A stadium (?)

Campbell in his report in the AJA of the 1935-36 season of the Princeton dig makes note:

"The site where the theatre of Antioch was believed to be located was thoroughly explored by an extensive excavation which revealed a rebuilt structure of the Byzantine period (possibly fifth century, but more likely sixth, after the earthquake of 526 A.D.). It had an arena, podium and cavea, but there was no stage building. The structure has been provisionally identified as a stadium".

He debunks the idea that this was a theatre and cites this error to the Guide Bleu.

However, he does not elaborate where this structure (the stadium) is. There was a so-called Byzantine Stadium found on the Island, but it did not have nearly as much complexity as the building Campbell describes.

An apsidal building

We shall start this post and apologise in advance for vagueness in the details. This structure was discovered in 1934 and reported by William Campbell in the writeup in the AJA of Jan-March 1936. Our task now will be to find if this ever advanced to any more examination of became one of those projects mouldering in the basement in Princeton.

Here are his comments:

"In the northeast section of the ancient city, not far from the Gate of Saint Paul, the excavation of another large monument was begun. The work was hampered by seepage from springs along the foot of Mount Stauris nearby, but we succeeded in reaching the floor level of the original building in the area explored. This is in an apse with a square exterior constructed of large, finely dressed blocks of native limestone, set dry without clamps; behind it is a pavement of heavy slabs of limestone. The rebuilding of the superstructure and the stratification above the remains gave an unusually clear history of the site from the early Empire through the Middle Ages. There are evidences of minor repairs throughout the Imperial period and of a very severe destruction, probably caused by the earthquake of 526; and of a later reconstruction, both in brick work and in masonry, characteristic of the reign of Justinian. Soon afterward a great holocaust left the place a ruin for all time, and one may ascribe this fire to the invasion of Chosroes, who put the city to fire and sword. In the Middle Ages the apse was used as a pottery kiln for glazed ware, and finally the district became cultivated land."

This sounds rather like the building that Hugh Kennedy links to the "imperial" baths (F).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Miscellaneous Inscriptions

Antioch, as we have noted, is particularly devoid of extant traces. Even without identifiable ruins usually one can come across half buried inscriptions to conjure up some sort of image of a disappeared city. In the case of the former metropolis of Antioch, the absence is particularly embarrassing. The great 19th century chronicler of the Roman Provinces, Theodor Mommsen, made the comment that Antioch has less extant inscriptions than the most insignificant African or Arab village. Ironically, Antakya was little more than an Arab village when he made the comment but we have all come to regrte the veracity of his observation.

This posting is going to be less thematic than most and shall serve as a dumping ground for miscellaneous incsriptions that I stumble upon. It shall be added to in a purely haphazard fashion..

Firstly I found reference to an inscription written up by Paul Perdrizet, the great French fossicker for inscriptions. I couldn't find the original article cited but did find a secondary refernce to it:

Philippe Berger communique un mémoire de M. Perdrizet sur une inscription grecque d'Antioche. M. Perdrizet a pu en restituer le texte, qui est celui, cité par Lucien, d'un oracle en vers, rendu par Alexandre d'Abronotichos, oracle qui obtint un succès prodigieux et qui fut gravi sur toutes les portes pour préserver les maisons de la peste : "Phoebus à la chevelure vierge écarte le nuage de la peste".

Yet another example of the power of superstition in Ancient Antioch.

On a visit in October 1892, Perdrizet came upon the following inscription on the property of Elias Chami. It was on a large limestone slab.


In Perdrizet's opinion the last word is a local usage of the Latin word arca and while meaning "bathtub" in some contexts was seemingly used in the general vicinity of the gulf of Cilicia to denote a sarcophagus. Presumably with which this epitaph was linked or a part of...

He then goes on to relate that a Professor Ronzevalle at the Universite de Ste Joseph in Beirut had discovered an epitaph that was being touted for sale in Paris. The inscription is shown below:

He comments that it shows, in relief, a bearded man half extended on a bed holding in one hand some flowers and in the other a vase. Beneath all this is a garland of flowers.

The word at the end of the second line (and start of the third) implies a connection to Daphne while another example of Graecised Latin occurs with the reference to the circus at the start of the fourth line.

Moving on to Victor Chapot's observations in the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, Année 1902, Volume 26, Numéro 1. He noted the following inscription:
This was described as being located in the courtyard of a Catholic convent. It was a stone that had previously been lodged in the wall of the stage of the theatre "intacte a droite". His translation into Latin is given at the right and refers to an unnamed functionary who had been quaestor, probably around AD 18-19, to the ill-fated Germanicus (who was murdered in Antioch by "witchcraft") and this functionary was later a legate of the Emperor Tiberius. The fate of this stone would be interesting to discover as it would seem to be the only inscription from the theatre to have survived until "recent" times.

Chapot's next inscription is also linked to the theatre (by proximity if nothing else). He describes its location as 500-600 metres from the modern "city" of Antakya in an olive grove to the left of the road to Aleppo (the old Colonnaded Street), in the neighbourhood of the theatre. It is on a very worn stone surrounded be a cartouche. This one he only translates into lowercase Greek. The image is below:

His last offering is an inscription on the rock through which the water conduit from Daphne had been dug, however at the eastern end of the city near the Gate of Saint Paul above the ruins of the convent of St Paul and St Peter. He states that it is also in the neighbourhood of the "deux grandes figures rupestres".. one of which would seem to be the Charonion.

In this case also he only converts the text into lowercase Greek.






The Porta Canis (Dog Gate)

While we have dealt elsewhere with the subject of the gates of the city, we are somewhat fascinated by the so-called Dog Gate (Porte du chien in the Crusader Age). In the excavation report for the first season of the Princeton team, they refer to having discovered the bridgehead of this gate/bridge complex. They report that it was still called the Bab el Kelb (or Dog Gate in Arabic) by the locals. However the map below from the 19th century shows it as the Bab el-Jenêneh. Clara ten Hacken's translation of an Arab manuscript mentions a Bab al-Ginan (or Gate of the Gardens), which makes some sense.


Over the last 800 years it hasn't had much use as it was a gate that really led nowhere. The city walls had become redundant and the market-gardens and orchards were spread both without and within.


However, in the Siege during the First Crusade the site was a hotly contested one due to the existence of the bridge over the old silted up branch of the river which was nevertheless a swampy territory which filled up due to a nearby spring. This made the old channel an obstacle for the beseigers. In the excerpt below (from Dictionnaire historique, géographique et biographique des croisades by Edouard d' Ault-Dumesnil, 1852) we see that the Crusaders tried to destroy this obviously very solid structure to stop the beseiged from sallying forth and making havoc in the Crusaders camp (which must have been somewhere in the vicinity of the hippodrome/palace complex):


"Les assiégeants entreprirent aussi de rompre un pont qui ètait bàti sur un marais, en face
de la porte de Chien, et par lequel les infidèles faisaient des sorties sur les troupes du comte de Toulouse. Ce pont résista par sa grande solidité à tous les efforts qui furent faits pour le démolir, et on ne trouva d'autre moyen, pour arrêter les sorties, que de construire une grande tour, où les pèlerins s'entassèrent comme des abeilles dans leur ruche, suivant l'expression de Robert le Moine. Mais les assiégés mirent le feu à cette tour, et la réduisirent en cendres. Le lendemain, les chrétiens établirent trois balistes avec lesquelles ils lancèrent des quartiers de roche. Ces machines furent encore détruites par les Turcs. Les chrétiens se décidèrent alors à trainer, à force de bras, d'énormes morceaux de rochers devant la porte même, et à les y accumuler tellement qu'il ne fût plus possible de l'ouvrir."

En Poccardi's improved street layout for the Island, he orients the Dog Gate & bridge with the east side of the hippodrome and proposes that the thoroughfare crossing the bridge was one of the four porticoed avenues that Libanius speaks of as joining at the Tetrapylon of the Elephants.

Tower of Antiooti


William Ainsworth in his 1842 report of his visit to the city speaks of virtually nothing except an inscription he found on the "north tower". He included the above illustration. This does not look like the Cassas' image of the outside of the Beroea Gate so we have to presume it was the Porta Canis. It would be great to confirm that it was the latter as we have no images of this structure in its original format. The depression in front could be the old riverbed of the silted up branch.

He records an inscription in Greek, which would seem to imply that this is from ancient rather than Crusader times. It reads:

Xpovy K 6va re rrpos f 06pav vevevKO ra MeSaiv rerev ei rvv crrparbv i6iya re TWV TOV

This he translates as:

Sunk to ruin by time and tumult, * * * *
Medon had hastily built
With haste and difficulty the army of the * * * *
The Tower.

Forster in 1898 reports that the gate had been dismantled and its parts had been reused to build Ibrahim Pascha's notorious barracks (which were the ruin of many a solid Antioch surviving remnant). "Der Stein ist seitdem zersagt und zum Bau der Caserne Ibrahim Paschas verwendet worden. Ein Stuck, den Anfang der 4 Zeilen enthaltend, 0.53m lang, 0.37 hoch, befindet sich jetzt in der untersten Lage einer Freitreppe im Hofe, wo er von Renan kopiert worden ist, danach, in besserer Gestalt bei Le Bas-Waddington, Voyage archeologique, Incr.III, 1 n.2712) veroffentlich".

Therefore the inscription survived in the new structure in an obscure position but he had ferreted out its location. He also noted there was more to read than Ainsworth had found. Our colleague, Jorgen Christensen-Ernst asked his friend Ulrik Poss at the University of Copenhagen to help with the text and the latter has translated this passage as:

Χρονω κλονω τε προς φθοραν νενευκοτα (ε)ρδειν Θεος μεδων τετευχει συν ταχει σπουδηι στρατον μογω τε των οικητορων τον πυργον

God the Protector has caused an army in speed and the inhabitants with labour to build the tower that due to age and martial uproar had leaned upon its destruction

Poss comments: "I therefore still regard τετεύχει as taking an accusative with an infinitive. The I take στρατὸν as subject of ἔρδειν, τὸν πύργον as object and to it the conjunct participle νενευκότα.

I feel that this makes better sense.But still, the text is rather fragmentary".

The Porta Canis features in history as one of the main points of assault in the First Crusade. At that time the bridge connecting to the then defunct Island was still in existence. The Orontes branch had silted up by then but the old ditch had become a swamp. In 1934, the excavations revealed the bridgehead of the old bridge at the Porta Canis.

Below can be seen a photo of the ruins of the gate taken in November 2008, looking towards Mt Silpius.




Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rey's detailed map of the city walls

We discussed elsewhere the excellent publication by Guillaume Rey called "Etude des Monuments de l'architecture militaire des Croises en Syrie" of 1871. In the book there is a splendid map dating from the 1850s (we believe) which may predate the destruction wrought by Ibrahim Pascha. Its too large to merge together or show in its original format across two pages so we divided it in half and include it (click to enlarge) in a special posting here:

This map shows the position of the towers on the wall. It also shows two springs (including that of "Olympias" at the Beroea Gate). It is intesting to note that the St George's Gate is not in line with the Colonnaded Street (or its predecessor). How this gate came to be the principal egress to the southwest instead of the Daphne/Cherubim gate is not something we have ever seen explained. Neither have we seen any image of the St George's Gate before its demolition.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Tychaeum

The Tyche of Antioch was one of the most famous cultural exports of the ancient city. Other cities created their own Tyches but Antioch's remained the most famous. The goddess was worshipped in the form of a statue, the best extant version of which is in the Vatican Museum (see below). This is a Roman copy after a Greek bronze original of the 1st century BC. The original is attributed to Eutychides of Sicyon in Achaea, a Greek sculptor of the latter part of the 4th century BC, who was a pupil of Lysippus.


The official image of the goddess most definitely stood in a temple structure. It had a tetrastyle format, somewhat like a baldachin. Most versions show two pairs of columns at each corner and a shallow arch framing the statue. There is almost always a form of urn on the roof and a flying ram above. Though the ram is not part of the structure. On the best specimen we have seen, the columns appear to have Corinthian capitals.

This is the only building (leaving aside the walls and gates) that we know of for which images of the time exist. And there is no shortage of representations of the structure as it was repeated innumerable times on the city's coins. So many of these exist, and they generally appear the same, that it seems likely that conjecture is not required in this sole case, and that what you see is what you would have got, visiting Antioch in the first few centuries of Roman rule in Antioch.


This is a coin of Trebonnius Gallus (and Volusian). For some unknown reason the coins of this rather obscure emperor (he reigned 251-53 AD) are those that predominate in using the Tychaeum image.


The exact site of this shrine is unidentified but we have seen suggestions that it stood very near to the riverbank.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Cherubim Gate

The famed Cherubim Gate was, supposedly, where the Colonnaded Street arrived at the the inner wall. It was in line with the Daphne Gate on the outer (Theodosian) wall. Originally the Cherubim Gate was the main gate in the southern wall until Theodosius II decided to enclose the burgeoning suburb that had sprung up outside between the wall Tiberius built and the course of the Phryminus watercourse. We have seen reference to a "Golden" Gate but its not clear if that was the alternative name for the outer or inner gate.

Downey wrote an extensive essay on the Cherubim gate in the Jewish Quarterly review. The Cherubim themselves and their transfer was the subject of a seldom quoted 1961 note by W. L. Duliere in the admittedly obscure journal, Zeitschrift fur Religions- und Geistesgeschichte. Both of these authors relied upon two historical sources. These sources were Malalas (and a mirror version in the Chronicon Paschale.. which may have just used the same source material) and the other was the biographer of Saint Symeon Stylites. The first accounts (Malalas/Chronicon) are just a relation of the history of the gate while the hagiographic version talks about visions and a demonic struggle entered into by the saint in the vicinity of the "wall" of the Cherubim.


The gate was located near the Jewish quarter (see Wilber's map above) and it was reputed that Titus had erected the Cherubim (or copies thereof) looted from the Temple in Jerusalem "before" the gate, hence its name. Its location is still undefined.


The Cherubim were angel-like figures (it is believed) that were affixed to the top of the Ark of the Covenant (see artistic rendering above) in which the tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain were kept. The Book of Exodus 25:18-20 describes their creation: "And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. "And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat". The original Ark was lost and a new one was not created for the Herodian Third Temple. Some scholars see a connection between these figures and the enormous winged figures at decorated Assyrian palaces at Nineveh and elsewhere.

As is well-known the Jewish War ended in 70 AD with the fall of Jerusalem, the sack of the city, the dispersal of the populace and the destruction of the Third Temple built by Herod. The Roman victors carried off the spoils. The Menorah, the Table of Shewbread (both of gold) and the Temple trumpets are amongst the booty displayed in the triumphal procession shown in a relief (shown below) of the Arch of Titus in the Forum in Rome.


The Malalas version relates that "Titus, having celebrated a triumph for his victory, departed for Rome; and Vespasian from the Jewish spoils built in Antioch the Great the so-called Cherubim before the gate of the city. For there he fixed the bronze Cherubim which he found found fixed in the Temple of Solomon; and when he destroyed the Temple he took them thence and carried them to Antioch with the Seraphim, celebrating the triumph for the victory over the Jews which had taken place in his reign, setting up above a bronze statue in honour of the Moon with four bulls facing Jerusalem, for he had taken it at night when the moon was shining." Here the Cherubim are set "before the gate" not upon it. What the Seraphim are is not clear... and the Moon and bulls grouping is rather garbled.

In the Stylites tale (written after 592 AD), the biographer relates that a devil made a vistation to the city. Downey reports this as: "the Destroyer went to the gate which is at the south [of the city], which leads out toward Daphne, and there arose from the so-called Cherubim, and as far as the Rhodion, in all the quarter which is called Kerateia, a great cry, and weeping, and much lamentation...". The text elsewhere suggests that the Cherubim may have been on a section of "the old wall" (i.e. that of Tiberius). This leaves us wondering if the Cherubim was a sculpture in the round or maybe a relief. The passage is also interesting because it mentions the Kerateia quarter (supposedly the main Jewish quarter) and the Rhodion. Whether the latter was a building or the district in which the settlers from Rhodes (back at the time of the city's founding) had based themslves is not clear. The Kerateion quarter is mentioned in Malalas in relation to the burning of the city by Chosroes as one of the parts of the city that survived relatively intact.

So what were these Cherubim in Antioch?
The original ones had been olive wood covered with gold but the Antioch version were supposedly of bronze. Downey does not feel that these were in the Holy of Holies of the Temple (which was empty anyway) but in one of the courts outside the main sanctuary. Clearly if they did not have to be carried as part of the Ark then they could have expanded significantly in size. Certainly if they were too small they would scarcely have been worth naming the gate after. We know that the Beroea Gate was a sizable structure so presumably the Cherubim gate mirrored the other gate. Giving egress to the busy road to Daphne and down to the port of Seleucia it must have been equally as grand. If set atop the gate the Cherubim grouping might have been a large sculptural piece indeed.

Downey engages in some discussion as to why the Cherubim should have gone to Antioch while the other Temple accoutrements went to Rome. For a start the artifacts on the Arch of Titus were made of gold and while not pocket-sized they were relatively portable. The size of the Cherubim is not known, but they may have been too unwieldy to figure in the Triumph. They were also made only of copper or bronze if the reports can be believed so thus did not have the same "meltdown value" as the other loot. (The Menorah and Table were not melted down though but deposited in the Temple of Peace in Rome and stayed there for hundreds of years until carried off by the Vandals, and later reportedly rescued and moved to Constantinople).

Why Antioch? Both authors posit that the Cherubim were installed on the gate in the city wall less for their artistic contribution but to stand as an ongoing reminder to the large and sometimes fractious Jewish population in Antioch that Rome was in charge. They could alternatively have been sent to Alexandria to serve the same purpose but it might have been too inflammatory a gesture there where the Jewish population made up 25% or more of the population. In Antioch the Jewish population had been troublesome in the more recent past and yet only measured by most accounts around 10% of the population.

Installing the Cherubim in the Kerataion district was seen by both recent authors as an affront to the local population. This however is speaking in hindsight and without any contemporary Jewish comment on the reaction to the artefact being installed to support it. We do not know the real answer. In some ways it may have been comforting to know that the last surviving "souvenir" of the Temple was in close proximity.

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I would add a thought that has long intrigued me, even before coming to the subject of Antioch, and that is how prohibition against "graven images" (so specifically outlawed in the Commandments) meshed with the Cherubim and other representations in the Temple (like the calves that supported the Sea of Bronze, which bring uncomfortable parallels with the Golden Calf) and the images that scholars have noted on the base of Menorah (see image above on Titus's Arch). Iconoclasm in Jewish law did not obviously extend to some of the decoration of the Temple itself. Ironically, we have seen a suggestion that it was with the arrival of the Arabs in Antioch in the 600s that the Cherubim "image" may finally have been destroyed because they took the prohibition against images more seriously than those who had controlled the city beforehand.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Baths

This section of the Antiochepedia is a work in progress where we shall add notes as we go along (similar to the Temples' coverage). Thus at any given time it may seem to not encompass the topic in full, as we hope it eventually shall.

The baths at Antioch were a central feature of the life of the city. When emperors wanted to punish the city they frequently resorted to closing the baths as a means of having the most immediate effect on the population.

Antioch was famous (or infamous) for its bathing establishments. Chrysostom saw them as part and parcel of the iniquity of the city and Julian was also moved to comment upon the local populations' prioritisation of this feature of the urban lifestyle. The baths were a mixture of large and small establishments. Each of the 18 wards had its own baths, but many of these must have been small and funded with resources of the individual ward. Possibly some of those unearthed by the Princeton team were of this origin. The excavations of the 1930s had their best successes with public buildings when it came to baths.

Emperors frequently tried to impress the local populace by building establishments that were worthy of mention in the historical texts of the day. None has been unearthed as yet that even vaguely match the grandeur of the baths in Rome like those of Caracalla or Diocletian (and presumably Trajan) with their vast acreages and soaring halls. The most complete bath of substance yet discovered in Antioch is the so-called Bath C. It adjoined a "Byzantine hippodrome" as some have termed it, which looked more to me like a grandiose palestra.


Above is a floor plan of Bath C (click to enlarge). This stood on the Island is 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. 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.

Below is a plan of Bath E which was located in close proximity to the Hippodrome on the Island. This has been called the Bath of Diocletian in some versions.

Edgar Schenck, then a junior member of the team from Princeton, was given the task in 1933 of excavating Bath D on the Island. This stood in close proximity to the presumed site of the Tetrapylon of the Elephants. Here he discovered the Hermes Mosaic, that was in a large portico surrounding a court approximately 90 m. square, which adjoined the calidarium of the bath, but was not a part of it. This portico is truly stunning in its size. To our knowledge little else has been published on the baths besides Schenck's article in the American Journal of Archaeology in 1937. The photo below shows a view across the corner of the portico.


It is interesting to note how shallowly buried the site is (25 centimetres), like much of the Island. In fact the mosaics had been damaged by plowshares and plant roots. Below we reproduce Schenck's reconstruction of part of of the portico.

Stinespring's translation of the Arab text from the Vatican includes the following: "....the architects made their beginning at the temple named after Mars situated east of the Arch of Fishes; and they held a fine festival of him (Mars) and planned (to repeat) it every year in his honor. And nearby they built a great bath, and in this was hot water which came forth from the mountain and (flowed along) the bed of a stream. And the people could enter it at the (annual) occasions of the festival without cost." This might be the substantial bathing facility discovered in the 1930s and termed Bath F.

The two best sources on the bathing culture are Fikrit Yegul, the Professor of ancient art and architecture at UCSB, who wrote an excellent article in Christina Kondoleon's catalogue of the Lost Antioch exhibition, and Catherine Saliou, a French academic who has written extensively on Antioch and nearby cities. Her focus was on the dichotomy between the summer and winter baths of the city.

We would also note that Antioch was a different place to Rome. Commentators have mentioned the lesser role of frigidaria in the Antioch establishments. Saliou divides the baths by seasonal usage. It seems that the summer baths were grouped on the slopes of the mountain with views over the city. These sound more like the public pools of modern day cities than the hammans of the modern Middle East, which almost certainly have their roots in the "winter" baths.

The great advantage that Antioch had over so many other Roman cities was its copious sources of water in close proximity (4-5 miles), particularly the springs at Daphne from which Hadrian built his aqueduct. The aqueduct skirted the lower slopes of the mountain (both above and below ground) and could bring enough water to provide the baths, public fountains and the private homes on the system.

On the specific establishments:

Boucher comments upon the reigns of Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla: "Some new buildings were constructed, as the public bath Severianum and another, probably beyond the river, called Livianum from a former owner of the site, and established by the magistrates, on Severus' suggestion, from surplus revenues".

Catherine Saliou quotes Malalas as indicating that the Golden Octagon was built over the demolished "thermes de Philippe". The location is not known. We discuss the Octagon's possible locations in our article on the subject.

Adolf Holm in his History of Greece reports Posidonius' remark, that the inhabitants of Antioch in their luxury used the gymnasiums as baths, alludes to the fact that they were the first to combine bathing establishments with grounds for physical and intellectual exercises, in other words that they were the originators of the thermae established on such a grand scale in later Rome.

Fikret Yegul states that Agrippa built two baths, one in the quarter named after him and another near a spring in a lush quiet setting on the slopes of Mt Silpius. To support this latter baths he quotes Malalas 222.17. 20). We wonder whether these might just be one and the same baths.

He also enumerates a list of other baths, including those of Julius Caesar, Tiberius, Domitian, Trajan/Hadrian, Commodus, Septimius Severus, Diocletian, Valens and Governor Olbia. He gives conjectural positions on a map of the city. As we already noted Bath E has been thought to be the baths of Diocletian, but Yegul's map has them nearby but on the other (as yet unexcavated side) of Hippodrome. We have seen comments elsewhere (Kennedy) that Bath F was believed to those of Tiberius and yet Yegul has the baths of Tiberius outside the city walls in a zone thought to be that of Agrippa's new town. He cites these as being served by a mountian spring called the Olympias though this sounds rather like the Spring of Saint Paul which we had heard of being the source of the Baths of Agrippa.

Anyway, he goes on to note (according to Malalas 263.11-17) that the Baths of Domitian were located on the lower slopes of the mountain in the more southern quarter near the amphitheater of Julius Caesar. The Baths of Trajan (which were rebuilt by Hadrian after the earthquake of 115 AD) were the first connected to a major aqueduct (which is now named after Hadrian) according to Malalas 276.1-3, 277.20, and 278.19. He places the Baths of Commodus (the Commodion) near the Forum of Valens in close proximity to the Plethron and Xystos (which we have dealt with elsewhere).

He also mentions the baths of Septimius Severus and the Livianum. He places the former near the branch of the Orontes separating the bulk of the city from the Island. He cites Malalas as attributing no less than five bathing establishments to Diocletian. We already mentioned the discrepancy of views about whether Bath E is one of these. The Baths of Governor Olbia he places next to the basilica of Rufinus near the Hellensitic Agora, somewhere in the vicinity of the Forum of Valens. We remain unconvinced of the Agora being where he, and others, put it. We cannot grasp why the Hellensitic Agora (which may be associated with the Regia which we deal with elsewhere) isn't inside the original "Old City" of Seleucus.

It is relevant to also quote Roland Martin, who wrote a supplement to Festugiere's work. This insert was an archaeological commentary on Libanius' Antiochikos. He says of the Libanius' mention of the baths " l'abondance des etablissements de bain constitue un de les aspects les plus notables d'Antioche, revele par les textes (K.O.Muller, Antioch. Antiq., passim) et confirme par les fouilles. De nombreuses installations ont ete rencontrees para les sondages. Dans la Nouvelle Ville seule, pas moins de cinq edifices balneaires ont ete reperes: les bains A, B, C, D et E parmi lesquels se trouvent les thermes de Diocletian, construit pres de l'hippodrome (Malalas); ce pourraient etre les bains E ou C."

This speculates that either Bath E or C might be those of Diocletian.

He then goes on to interpret Libanius' cryptic comment on the baths being "suspended in the airs" metewra :des deux sens du mot, le plus repandu est "a ciel ouverte" (cf. R.Martin, Rev. Phil., 1957, p.66-72) et pourrait s'appliquer a des piscines ouvertes, par opposition aux etablissements fermes ou chauffes, precedemments cites. Le deuxieme sens "a ciel ouverte", "surelevee" parait mieux convenir a la suite de l'expression. Il faudrait alors entendre des piscines amenegees sur terrasses, dispositif convenant peut-etre a des bains prives, mais non atteste pour des bains publics".

This raises again the issue of hillside baths.

Downey in his piece on the Antiochikos cites Evagrius (VI, 8) as mentioning baths at Antioch designed especially for use in the summer or in the winter. He comments that such establishments seem to have been fairly common, perhaps especially in the East; (Amer. Journ. Archaeol- ogy 41: 200, n. 3, 1937, and Antioch 2: 208, n. 13; 211, n. 25.).

Clive Foss in Syria in Transition comments that Bath F, a large bath of the lavish kind that adorned Roman cities, stood near the wall below the slopes of the acropolis. It bears a mosaic with an inscription that calls it the demosion and shows that it was restored from the foundations in 538 AD at which time a pavement of opus sectile was also added. The restoration had hardly been finished when the whole building was destroyed by fire in 540 AD and abandoned. However, we note that Bath F was nowhere near the acropolis, it was off to the west of the colonnaded street on the way to the Beroea Gate and on the flatlands, not on any slope.

He also comments of Bath C that it was ruined in an earthquake and then looted for building material with a limekiln being installed in the ruins to break down the material. He notes that Bath A, near the Orontes, was filled with debris and rubble walls.

Saliou reports that Caligula sent two senators, Pontius and Varius, to occupy themselves with the rebuilding of the city. Varius apparently orchestrated the construction of a baths which had his name (the Ovarion). A complex of official buildings was built around it and the whole area eventually took his name. She cites Malalas as the source and sites the district "near the ramparts, along the Orontes". It is not clear if this zone is on the Island (probably the far north end that has never been looked at much) or somewhere near where the northern stretch of the walls meet the river (and its branch). Saliou speculates that the interpretations of the PIANA part of the Megalopsychia mosiac may be referring to this district and not the Taurian Gate as others have guessed.

An issue to consider that we have not seen aired elsewhere relates to the water supply to the Island. As we have seen there were a plethora of baths there. Beyond the five already uncovered there was also probably a bathing complex at the Imperial Palace and maybe more smaller baths on the unexplored northern end of the Island. How did they get water? We see three options:
  • ground water, which the excavations attest is plentiful due to the high water table
  • river water - did they use giant waterwheels to lift the water as Antakya still employed until last century
  • aqueduct water - was there an extension of the main city aqueduct that ran out to the Island jumping over the river branch to service this area and its baths? If there wasn't then this area would have been the "disadvantaged" part of the city considering how highly the inhabitants prized their running (and pure) water supply. Where might this have been? Was it destroyed in an earthquake and cannibalised for stone?
Aqueduct water would provide pressure (for fountains etc.) whereas the other two means would not.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Spring of Olympias

This water source seems to have varied names. There also may be different versions of where it is located. For us the site is near the Beroea Gate, in fact just within it.

Libanius in his Antiochikios says:

"For after the battle at Issus and the flight of Darius, Alexander, who possessed part of Asia, but desired the rest of it, since he thought little of what he had already won, but instead looked toward the ends of the earth, came to this region, and pitched his tent near the spring which now, through his work, has the form of a shrine, though its only adornment then was its water; and refreshing his body there after his toils he drank the cold clear sweet water of the spring. The sweetness of the drink reminded Alexander of his mother's breast; and he said to his companions that everything that was in his mother's breast was in the water too; and he gave his mother's name to the spring.....Alexander however did not put our spring into a contest with other waters, but declared it equal to the milk of Olympias. So great was the pleasure which he found in these streams. Wherefore he at once adorned the spot with a fountain and with such of the other appropriate details as were possible on such a campaign, which he was conducting in the swiftest possible manner; and he began to build a city, since he had found a spot which was capable of giving scope to his own magnificence."


This commentary is regarded as fanciful in some commentaries, notably Norman, as being a tenuous attempt by the Antiochenes to link the city's foundation back to Alexander, even though the city was founded decades after his death.

In our commentary on the Vicus Agrippae, mention is made of the quarter built, and named for, Marcus Agrippa which was built outside the Beroea Gate. There were also baths built by him on a lush site with a spring on the slopes of Mt Silpius. This might have been realted to the famed spring.

The traveller, Tinco Martinus Lycklama, in 1866 records of the spring: "Nous nous reposâmes une demi-heure auprès de la belle fontaine que les Arabes appellent Aïn-el-Taouil (la Longue) et qui se trouve en dehors de la porte ombragée par un platane gigantesque sous lequel un cafetier turc s'est établi, dans un enfoncement occupé jadis par le gardien de cette entrée".

Michaud confirms this in 1831 when he says:

"Une source d'eau pure, ombragée par trois grands platanes, embellit le voisinage de la porte de Saint-Paul. Un Turc s'est établi là , offrant aux passans et aux oisifs le café et la pipe. Ainsi placé au bord du chemin d'Antioche et d'Alep, à côté d'une fontaine et eous de frais ombrages, le cafetier de Bab-Boulos ne perd point ses journées ; des musulmans désœuvrés vont chaque jour jouer aux dames ou aux échecs sous les grands platanes. La fontaine voisine de la porte de Saint-Paul est mentionnée dans la chronique de Guillaume de Tyr."

Below can be seen Cassas's bucolic view of the inside of the Beroea Gate and the pool of the spring that Lycklama refers to.

Muller comments in Antiquitates Antiochensis:

"Eundem hunc fontem esse crediderim, qui nomine S. Pauli ab historicis cruciatarum expeditionum et recentioribus celebratur, in urbis parte orientali maxime insignis".

In support of this he cites:

"Willermus I, 10. IV, 13. 14. M. Sanuti III, 5, 4 Monkonys apud Dapper. 1.1. La Roque p. 202., qui huic stagno longitudinem CG, latitudinem C pedum tribuit. Niebuhr T. III. p. 16. Ex hoc aliisque fontibus Orientalis partis palus rigabatur, cui ad portam Canis pons lapideus, egregio opere factus, superstructus erat".

Thus the spring's run-off was probably the cause of the swamp that formed in the bed of the silted up arm of the river, which bedevilled the beseiging Crusaders.

We note that much of the commentary on the water sources of Antioch refer to the aqueducts fed by the springs at Daphne. No mention is made that water may have been sourced from the north of the city where this spring lay. According to one of our modern day sources the spring at the Beroea Gate still exists and feeds the city water supply. We can't see why it shouldn''t have, at least in part, back in ancient times served a similar purpose, if only for the residential areas and baths in the immediate vicinity.