Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Treatment of Idols in Antioch

I have mentioned idols before in the context of the magical properties that some, right up into the Arab control period, felt that the statues possessed.

In one of his postings Roger Pearse has dug up the evidence for the treatment of these relics of the pagan period. Some of the actions by zealots sounds more akin to the Inquisition than mere iconoclasm. Here is his posting verbatim...


The next statement by Cyril Mango on the subject of the destruction of pagan statues in the lives of the saints is as follows:

At about the same time idols were subjected to popular derision by being hung in the streets of Antioch.

The reference is to the Vita S. Symeonis junioris, the Life of Simeon Stylites the Younger, d. 592, BHG 1689,[1] in the Acta Sanctorum, May, vol. 5, p.371B. The work is very long, in 259 chapters. Anyway, let’s have a look at this text in the Acta version also.

That item is online, and may be found here. It all concerns the actions of a certain Amantius, “judex severus” (=”a severe judge”), who was sent to the East by Justinian to administer punishment to various groups.

"And so it was predicted by Symeon; they had not interceded for four months when a certain man named Amantius [b], greatly concerned in the rule of the East, came to Antioch. He was a literary man, capable in government, strong in reasoning, constant in mind, liberal in mind, and primarily most studious of justice. He acted as much on behalf of virtue as against iniquity, and in both cases with the utmost zeal. Previously when he came to Antioch, he both put down iniquity in the East as much as he could in a similar way, and also more acutely with an sharp sword among those who held positions of authority. So that fear and trembling invaded everyone, when he was approaching: not only men who were nothing and malevolent, but also those for whom life had conjoined probity and good morals might feel dread, so terrible was his presence.

174. Here he arrested and imprisoned many of the pagans and atheists and those dedicated to observing the aspects and conjunctions of the stars, and indeed many standing against the divine providence, and especially carefully sought out the most illustrious. Moreover he collected all their books, from which they drew out false wisdom and novel ideas contrary to the truth; nor those alone, but likewise all the idols, in which they trusted as in the gods. They had made for themselves idols of silver, obviously, and of gold, and they had worshipped those which they had made with their own fingers, as was spoken by Hosea and Isaiah the prophets (Hos. 8:4, Is.2:8). And from the books he started a not inconsiderable fire, throwing them in the flames in the middle of the forum. But he openly demonstrated the impotence and imbecillity of the idols, hanging them up at the cross-roads and in the main streets, proving that they were no more significant than they seemed to be, i.e. works of hand and art; nothing more than the artificers had wanted them to be, so again I shall make use of the words of the prophets. Also a man, whom some time previously had appeared to Simeon in a vision, was standing in the presence of the Governor, called in for investigation; but a certain monk, very like Simeon, seized him from the threat of a justice made mild, when the Governor was called away".

The events recounted belong to 555-6, when Justinian sent Amantius to suppress the Samaritan revolt in Palestine, and then to suppress non-conformists in Antioch, some of whom were labelled as “pagans”.[2]

Update: I have just discovered a long translation from the Life online! It’s somewhat different, but probably from a better text than that of the Latin translation in the Acta Sanctorum — I have no details on the transmission of the text. It may be found in A.D. Lee, Pagans and Christians in Late Antiquity: A Sourcebook, Routledge, 2013, 135-136:

"7.2 Persecution of pagans in sixth-century Antioch: Life of the Younger St Symeon the Stylite 161, 164

The younger Symeon was a holy man who lived on one of the mountains near Antioch (521—92), and the modern editor of his biography considers it to have been written by one of Symeon’s disciples. Although this episode, probably from 555, is couched in high-flown language, the official at the centre of the investigations, Amantius, is known from an independent source which describes his involvement in the suppression of a Samaritan revolt (John Malalas Chronicle p. 487), and suppression of paganism is certainly a general feature of the emperor Justinian’s religious policies, as is book-burning (Maas 1992: ch. 5). Further reading: Trombley 1994: 182-95.

(161) Within a four month period of the holy man predicting all these events, that official arrived. His name was Amantius, and before coming to the city of Antioch, he destroyed many of the unrighteous found en route, so that men shuddered with fear at his countenance. For everywhere he suppressed all evil-doing whether in word or deed, inflicting punishment, including death, on those who had gone astray, so that from then on even those living a blameless life feared his presence. For he removed, as much as was possible throughout the east, all quarrelling, all injustice, all violence, and all wrongdoing. When this had happened, God showed his servant another vision, which he reported to us: ‘A decision has come from God against the pagans (Hellenes) and heretics (heterodoxoi), that this official will reveal the idolatrous errors of the atheists and gather together all their books and burn them.’ When he had foreseen these things and reported them, zeal for God took a hold of that official and after investigating, he found that the majority of the leaders of the city and many of its inhabitants were preoccupied with paganism (hellenismos), Manichaeism, astrological practices, automatism, and other hateful heresies. He arrested them and pur them in prison, and after gathering together all of their books — a huge number — he burned them in the middle of the stadium. He brought our their idols with their polluted accoutrements and hung them along the streets of the city, and their wealth was expended on numerous fines. … (164) … Then the judge took his seat on the tribunal and subjected to special punishments some of them, who had confessed to having committed many terrible crimes on account of their ungodliness; some he ordered to do service in the hospices, while others, who called themselves clerics, he sent to receive instruction in monasteries; still others he sent off into exile, while some he condemned to death. But by imperial command, the majority of them, who pleaded ignorance as an excuse and promised to repent, he released without further investigation. And so it came about that after being corrected, everyone was dispersed and none of them remained in prison, with the exception of one who had caused many disturbances during times of public unrest, on account of which he deserved punishment. So it was an appropriate time to recall the judgements of God and to sing the praises of his inexpressible benevolence towards us".

Few of us will read this account without a shudder. Such trials and punishments for wrong thinking are a sign of a decaying state. The fondness of the Byzantines for religious persecution was a feature of their state as long as they retained any vestige of power. Nothing in the account above is inconsistent with the policies of Justinian towards paganism or heresy.

I don’t know how historical this life is; but on the face of it, we do have clear evidence of Mango’s “derision”; although, if they were made of silver and gold, I suspect that they were not left unattended!

[1] A study exists of the Lives of this saint, but I have not seen it: Doran, Robert. The Lives of Simeon Stylites. Kalamazoo, Mich., 1992. ↩
[2] Matthew Dal Santo, Debating the Saints’ Cults in the Age of Gregory the Great, Oxford, 2012, 201 and nn.191 and 192. The work discusses the political role of the saint, which provoked opposition to his foretellings in various quarters. “Indeed, Symeon’s hagiographer suggested that it was in response to the saints’ prayers that the emperor appointed a governor for the region who violently persecuted those who did not adhere to the empire’s official religion and its Providential economy.” A reference is given to “Van den Ven, La Vie ancienne de S. Symeon le jeune, II, 167-8 n.1.” and to the Life of St Symeon the Younger, cc. 78, 141, 158, 184, 188, 190, 221, 223, 231. See also Peter N. Bell, Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian: Its Nature, Management, and Mediation, Oxford, 2013, 240: “Such survivals help explain the ferocious activities throughout the East of Amantius, whose action against the Samaritans we know of independently.[=Malalas 487] He allegedly found on arrival in Antioch (around 555) the ‘majority of the leaders of the city’, including clerics, preoccupied with ‘”Hellenism”, Manichaeism, astrological practices, automatism and other hateful heresies’. The style of this Life is high-flown; the wrongdoers probably also included Miaphysites—heterodoxoi (heretics) are mentioned—and Christians who used magic in private. Yet the references to the burning of ‘idols with their polluted accoutrements’, recalling the purge of ‘Hellenes’ and the burning of their books and religious paraphernalia in Constantinople in 562, as at Alexandria earlier in the century, suggest that Amantius’ victims included many Pagans. No surprises here: the Life contains numerous further references to prominent Pagans in the city.” ↩
Tags: Mango, Statues


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Antioch & the Eastern Frontier

While recently reading the Atlas of the Roman World by Tim Cornell and John Matthews (FactsOnFile, New York, 1982), I came upon an interesting map of the region of Antioch, which showed not only the Roman roads in the region but also the siting of the string of forts that protected the city and the province of Syria Coele from encroachment by Parthians and Sassanids. Here it is:

The map shows the essentials of the Diocletianic eastern frontier (strata Diocletiana) as reconstructed from the the evidence of the Notitia Dignitatum, field archaeology and aerial surveys. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Palmyrene Period in Antioch

I stumbled upon a map this week which showed clearly the extent of the Palmyrene "empire" at its largest. Here it is:

As can be seen this brief flourishing out of the desert was not only extensive at its most successful moment but it also encompassed Antioch, which was far more central to this "empire" than Palmyra itself.

While there are many books on Zenobia and her family, not many of these mention extensively the effects for Antioch. Thus it is most useful to quote at length from Glanville Downey's "A history of Antioch in Syria: From Seleucus to the Arab conquest", Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1961. Here he offers the political background, where essentially a power vacuum, allowed the Palmyrene vassals of Rome an opportunity to step into the breach and then become over-confident:

"The capture of Valerian in midsummer A.D. 260 and the second taking of Antioch by the Persians later in the same year left Syria and the remainder of the East at the mercy of Persia. Gallienus, who had succeeded Valerian, was fully occupied in the West, and could do nothing against the Persians. One of Valerian's generals, Macrianus, with the support of the praetorian prefect Callistus (nicknamed Ballista), took this opportunity to proclaim his sons Macrianus and Quietus emperors, and Ballista succeeded in driving Sapor back to the Euphrates. Macrianus and Quietus were recognized as emperors in Syria, and they issued coins in Antioch. The emperor Gallienus, however, defeated Macrianus and his son when they tried to establish themselves in Europe. Gallienus himself could not go to the East or send troops, but he now gained support from the prince of Palmyra, Odenath.  

For some years the Palmyrenes, realizing the weakness of the Romans in Syria, had been trying to establish their independence, and Odenath saw an opportunity in the situation that had developed by A.D. 260. He first approached Sapor, but being rebuffed, he decided to support Rome, and proclaiming himself king of Palmyra he marched against Sapor and inflicted a severe defeat on the Persians. Gallienus in gratitude gave Odenath the title of dux and appointed him to the supreme command of the Roman forces in the East. Odenath proceeded to win control of most of the cities of Syria, and defeated Ballista and Quietus, who were killed, late in A.D. 261 or early in 262. Syria was thus nominally brought under the control of Gallienus, though Odenath was the actual master of the East, and it was Odenath and the Palmyrenes who saved the eastern Roman Empire from the Persians. In A.D. 262 Odenath invaded Persia with an army composed of Romans and Palmyrenes, and penetrated as far as Ctesiphon. Gallienus then granted him the title of imperator. In A.D. 266/7, however, a dynastic plot against Odenath was formed, and he was assassinated. He was succeeded, in the government of Palmyra, by his second wife Zenobia and his infant son Waballath. Gallienus, in an effort to check the power of Palmyra, withheld from Waballath the Roman titles that had been conferred on Odenath, so that in theory Waballath was merely king of Palmyra. Zenobia, however, remained in actual control of Syria. 

During this period Antioch was at first for a brief time under the nominal control of the regime of Macrianus, and its mint issued coins for the younger Macrianus and Quietus. After Odenath established himself as master of the East in A.D. 261 and 262, Antioch (with the rest of Syria) came under Palmyrene domination, though it remained nominally under the rule of Gallienus. Coins of Gailienus began to be struck at the mint of Antioch in A.D. 263. 

At about this time Gallienus was assassinated (March A.D. 268) and after a brief interval Claudius II (A.D. 268-270) established himself as emperor. Claudius at once found himself absorbed with checking the Goths in the Balkans, and his only known activity in affairs in the East seems to have consisted of a refusal to grant Waballath the titles that Gallienus had given Odenath. Antioch remained outwardly under the control of Claudius; during his reign, the mint struck only coins in his name, though the types of the coins were apparently influenced by Palmyrene ideas. As Mattingly points out,'" "it suited diplomatists on both sides Roman and Palmyrene - to pretend that the rule of the Roman Emperor continued unabated."

The situation was altered when Claudius died in Sirmium of the plague in January A.D. 270. For a few months his brother Quintillus was recognized as emperor, but Aurelian, a famous general, quickly displaced him. One of Aurelian's first problems was the question of the spreading power of Palmyra. Whether Aurelian at first, being occupied in Italy, felt that he had to make concessions, at least for the time being, or whether Zenobia took the initiative in an attempt to increase her son's power and dignity, is difficult to decide.

A German invasion of Italy, and a rebellion in Rome in A.D. 271 suggested to Zenobia that this was a favorable moment to make a final break with the Roman Empire and to assert the complete independence of Palmyra; and at some time between ix March and 28 August A.D. 271 this was done. Waballath took the title of Augustus and had appropriate coins struck at the mints of Antioch and Alexandria. Simultaneously there appeared coins in which Zenobia was styled Augusta.

Aurelian took action in the summer of A.D. 271, sending the future emperor Probus to reconquer Egypt, which the Palmyrenes had occupied. Later in the same year Aurelian himself proceeded by way of the Danube and Byzantium to Asia Minor, which he reconquered in the early part of A.D. 272. A substantial force of the Palmyrene army under command of the general Zabdas and accompanied by Zenobia herself, was waiting in Antioch, which Aurelian could be expected to make his first objective in Syria.

Aurelian, apparently planning to circle about Antioch and cut the escape route to the south, did not approach the city by the direct Pagrae-Antioch road, but took the route which skirted the eastern side of the Lake of Antioch. From this he would reach (via the road to Gindarus) the Antioch-Beroea road, along which he could move on Antioch from the east. Somewhere along the Antioch-Beroea road east of the crossing of the Orontes at Gephyra (mod. Djisr el-Hadid) the Romans encountered a large force of Palmyrene cavalry. This seems to have represented a major part of the Palmyrene forces at Antioch, dispatched by Zabdas when he learned of the Romans' approach.

On learning that he would have to face the Palmyrene cavalry, Aurelian detached his infantry and sent it across the Orontes, presumably because he knew that it could not stand against the Palmyrene horse. He ordered his cavalry, which he knew was inferior to the enemy's, not to offer battle at once, but to simulate withdrawal, so that the Palmyrenes might be worn out with the heat and the weight of their heavy armor. The Romans fell back along the highway toward Immae, a village which lay in the direction of Beroea, and when it was seen that the Palmyrenes were fatigued, the Romans turned on them and won a complete victory. Those of the Palmyrenes who could do so, escaped to Antioch. Zabdas probably realized that the people of the city, on learning of the disaster, would rise in favor of Aurelian, whose clemency during his recovery of Asia Minor had doubtless become known in Antioch; besides, knowledge of the superior power of the Roman army would turn the local population against the Palmyrene regime. Zabdas therefore, in order to gain time and to prevent any attempt by the inhabitants to interfere with his withdrawal, immediately after the battle let it be known that he had defeated and captured Aurelian, and paraded through the streets a man who resembled the emperor. The trick succeeded, and Zabdas and Zenobia were able to flee from Antioch that same night with the remainder of their forces, leaving a rear guard behind them. Evidently they went by the road which led through Daphne to Seleucobelus and then to Apamea, whence they could have gone via Epiphania to Emesa. 

Apparently Aurelian had not been able to occupy this road. The Palmyrene rear guard established itself on a height above Daphne, probably that on the left of the road (as one goes south) which rises above the valley where the springs are located. Occupation of this position would slow down, at least, the Roman pursuit of Zenobia and her people. On the next day, when he learned of Zenobia's flight, Aurelian gave up his plans for an infantry assault on Antioch and entered the city, receiving an enthusiastic welcome from the inhabitants. Finding that many people had fled the city in fear of punishment for their having sided with Zenobia, the emperor proclaimed an amnesty and had copies of the proclamation circulated in the surrounding areas, upon which the refugees returned. It is a tribute to the strength of Aurelian's military discipline that he was able to keep his troops from plundering the city. The Palmyrene rear guard was easily dislodged from its stronghold at Daphne and annihilated. Aurelian then issued such orders as were necessary concerning the internal affairs of the city". 

What Downey does not mention is that Odenath (and his son by a previous marriage) appears to have been murdered in Antioch, showing how the city had become one of the dual poles of Palmyrene power. Gayle Young in here thesis "WORTHY WARRIOR QUEEN:PERCEPTIONS OF ZENOBIA IN ANCIENT ROME", Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., 2009 maintains: 

"...Odaenathus did not have long to savor his remarkable victories or his elevation to King of Kings. He was killed shortly afterwards in Antioch by a relative, along with his elder son and heir, Herodes. There was some speculation in the ancient histories that the Emperor Gallienus, becoming fearful of the Palmyra’s military might, conspired to have Odaenathus secretly assassinated. The inconsistent SHA* first blames the king’s death on revenge by Persian gods, but then states that it was a conspiracy orchestrated by Zenobia to ensure that her son, rather than Herodes, inherited the throne. Zonaras, writing in the 12th century from sources now lost to us, has the most credible version of the murder, stating the royal father and son were killed by the king’s disgruntled nephew who had been punished for misbehaving during a family hunting expedition". Apparently, Zonaras contends that, while hunting with the king, the nephew killed beasts before the king had a chance to do so - a breach of etiquette that led to his brief imprisonment. When he was released, the nephew killed the king and Herodes with a sword during a family dinner.

Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Volume III: The Two Valerians, The Two Gallieni, The Thirty Pretenders, The Deified Claudius, The Deified Aurelian. Translated and edited by David Magie. Cambridge: Loeb Classical Library, 1932.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An Anecdote on Antiochene Superficiality

I was reading the note by Peter van Nuffelen and Lieve Van Hoof, No Stories for Old Men. Damophilos of Bithynia in Julian's Misopogon on www.academia.edu and had to confess that the story in the first paragraph he relates a story from Julian's Misopogon that gave an amusing picture of the supposed superficiality of the Antiochene populace:

"According to an anecdote that could be found in a compilation of Damophilus of Bithynia but that was ultimately derived from the Life of Cato the Younger of Plutarch, Cato was once approaching Antioch when he saw the ephebes lined up outside the city. Ostensibly embarrassed as befits a philosopher's modesty, but also flattered, he reproached his friends for having secretly announced his arrival to the city and thus caused this formal welcome. Yet when he came close, the gymnasiarch ran up to him and asked ‘Stranger, where is Demetrius?’ The welcome was thus intended not for the modest and austere Cato but for a rich slave of Pompey. Cato could only utter ‘o unhappy city’ and turned his heels. For Julian, the Antiochene fervour for a rich slave is additional proof of the innate depravity of Antioch, which clearly predated his own presence in the city".

From what I gather the authors' paper is unpublished in the conventional sense and thus shows the evolution of academia.edu into a forum for serious papers to get to the end users without having to pass the traditional gatekeepers. One of our recent frustrations has been that some conferences with Antioch themes held in 2010 and 2011, which we have tried to get the papers from, are advised as still being compiled by the academic publishing houses. This is ridiculous as the papers as presented are generally in publishable form when they are first presented. This is just an example of torpor. Fortunately some academics are forthcoming with their works and ideas before the dead hand of academic publishing has its way with their works. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tztetzes on the Naming and Founding of Antioch

In John (Ioannes)  Tzetzes' work,  Chiliades 7.167  we have related a story (sourced from Pausanias) on the founding, naming and initial construction at the Antioch site: 

ὡς Παυσανίας γράφει μὲν ᾽Αντιοχείας κτίσει, / κτίζεται ᾽Αντιόχεια Νικάτορι Σελεύκωι, / κατά τινας εἰς ὄνομα πατρὸς σφοῦ ᾽Αντιόχου, / (170) Λουκιανῶι δ᾽ εἰς ὄνομα υἱέος ᾽Αντιόχου, / τὸν ὃν Σωτῆρα ἔλεγον ... / (174) ταύτην τὴν ᾽Αντιόχειαν Σέλευκος κτίζει πόλιν, / καὶ ἄλλας ἑβδομήκοντα καὶ τέσσαρας δὲ πόλεις. / τοὺς δ᾽ ἀμαθῶς ᾽Αντίοχον λέγοντας ταύτην κτίσαι / ᾽Ατταῖός τε καὶ Περιττᾶς, ᾽Αναξικράτης ἅμα / ἐλέγξουσι σαφέστατα καὶ δείξουσι ληροῦντας, / σὺν οἷς ᾽Ασκληπιόδωρος δὲ οἰκέτης τυγχάνων, / (180) οὓς τότε Σέλευκος ποιεῖ κτισμάτων ἐπιστάτας.

"As Pausanias writes on the foundation of Antioch, Antioch was founded by Seleukos Nikator,/according to some, as the namesake of his own father Antiochos,/(170) but according to Lucian, as the namesake of his son Antiochos, the one whom they called Soter . . . /(174) Seleukos founded that city of Antioch as well as seventy-four other cities./But as for those who foolishly claim that it was Antiochos who founded the city,/Attaios and Perittas, as well as Anaxikrates/will refute them most wisely and will expose them to be nonsensical,/(alongside whom Asklepiadoros happened to be a fellow-slave/ (180) and whom at the time Seleukos made the supervisors of his buildings)".

The Elusive Dom(n)inos

Oh the frustration! Should one search for the scantily recorded historian of Antioch called variously Domninos or Dominos (and try to narrow down the search by adding Antioch), one is veritably deluged with returns on virtually every branch of the similarly named pizza chain within a significant radius of Antioch, California. Is this the final indignity of this poor man?!

I must confess that I had never heard of him before now either. However, while reading the journal Greek, Roman and Byzantium Studies, Vol 50, No 3 (2010) The Introduction of the Antiochene Olympics: A Proposal for a New Date by Sofie Remijsen when I stumbled across the passage:

"... focus reflects Malalas’ own attachment to the place and his main source, the otherwise unknown Domninos, fourth- or fifth-century author of a work on Antiochene history". 

The reference to this source comes from:

 E. Jeffreys, “Malalas’ Sources,” in E. Jeffreys (ed.), Studies in John Malalas (Sydney 1990) 167–216, esp. 178–179, 203–205.

which I tracked down... here is what Jeffreys had to say:

"Domninos: unidentified historian. [See: Bourier, 1899, passim.]

Preface: included in the list of authorities consulted; IV §24, Bo 88: Phaidra's affair took place 52 years after Pasiphae's death; V §67, Bo 142: on the statue of Orestes, The Runaway'; §25, Bo 208: Antioch's walls rebuilt 122 years after the city's foundation; X §10, Bo 235: Dornninos recorded Tiberius' building activity in Antioch; X §51, Bo 266: on the length of Apollonios of Tyana's life (and all his other activities?); X[ §4, Bo 273: on the rituals on Trojan's arrival at Antioch; XII §9, I3o 287: on the amphithales at Antioch; XII §26, Bo 297: on Valerian's Persian Wars (contrasted with Philostratos' account); XII §44, Bo 310: Domninos on Diocletian and the Olympic festival.

Domninos is an otherwise unknown historian, considered by Bourier to be one of Malalas' main sources. His work clearly dealt with Antiochene history, with especial emphasis on its legendary past (as exemplified by the narratives on Orestes). He is interested in the buildings and statues of Antioch (e.g. his account of 'The Runaway' and Apollonios' talismans). It is tempting to attribute the narrative earlier in the chronicle on Amphion and Zethos to Domninos on the grounds that the statues of these two are mentioned under Trojan. He is also concerned with _civic rituals, e.g. the Olympic games, the welcome to Trajan, the role of the amphithales. His work would seem to have given some information on military history (e.g. on Valerian's campaigns), perhaps on that which particularly affected Antioch. Some of his sources, e.g. Pausanias, can be shown to be embedded in material which must be derived from Domninos (13ourier, 1899). Bourier assumes that Domninos' history was available to the end of XIV (cf. the table on p. 198 below), but we must remember that Malalas' last citation of Domninos Occurs in XII. Though perhaps if Domninos is to be associated with references to Antiochene buildings then as the last significant notice is to the Basilica of Anatolius, at XIV §13, Bo 360, this may be an indication that the work extended at least to the reign of Theodosius IL Since nothing else is known of Domninos, assimilation to the bishop named DOMTIOS in the mid-fifth century is pure guesswork. Domnos would represent the conflict between pagan/Hellenic views and Christianity that is a leit-motif of Malalas' chronicle, but this does not in fact advance our understanding of the situation very much. It might also be suggested, following an inspection of PLRE 2 (cf. PW 5, cols. 1521-5), that the Domninos who came from Larissa not far from Antioch and was a philosopher in Athens in the mid-fifth century might be an attractive candidate; this writer's extant works, however, and the references to him elsewhere show that his interests lay entirely with mathematics and he would seem to have nothing in common with the homonymous Antiochene historian. Note that Patzig (1901) wanted to coalesce Domninos and Nestorianos into one; this, however, simply means removing the question of the structure of the chronicle away from Malalas and back one generation, still leaving the same of rationale to be answered. On the question of the substantial amount of material on the Trojan war, which Bourier attributes to Domninos - might it not be more logical to attribute to Domninos only the Orestian narrative, based largely on Euripides (from V §65 onwards) and with a strong Syrian connection, leaving the DiktysiSisyphos sections to have been added by Malalas? However shadowy Domninos remains, it must nevertheless be accepted that an Antiochene history attributed to him lies behind much of the early books of Malalas".

In the book, Untersuchungen zur römischen Kaisergeschichte, Volumes 1-3 edited by Max Büdinger, there is some more elaboration with references to "Die Chronographie des Domninos, seine Universalegeschichte mit Antiochenischem horizont und einseitiger Berucksichtigung der antiochenishen Stadtchronik".

In the book, La littérature grecque by Pierre Batiffol, Lecoffre, 1901, the author makes the following comments: 

"Domninos est cité par Jean Malalas (PG, t. xcvu, p. 172, 324, 361, 404, 433), lui encore comme un « très sage chronographe ». L'antiquité grecque et romaine et l'histoire de l'empire marquent seules dans les citations faites par Malalas. Il était probablement d'Antioche (p. 241 et 413), mais il ne semble pas qu'il ait été chrétien".

Coming right out of left-field there is some potential that Domninos was a fiction of Malalas. Sulochana R. Asirvatham her Jacoby entry on Pausanias of Antioch comments: "Of the seventy-five sources whom Malalas cites, those whom we possess are misrepresented frequently enough to suggest that Malalas was paraphrasing at best. Even worse is the apparent presence of a number of fictional authors in his text: for example, five universal histories that Malalas quotes repeatedly but which are not attested elsewhere, in addition to Eustathius whom he mentions infrequently. One of the unattested universal historians deemed fictional by Treadgold is ‘Domninus’, whom H. Bourier saw as one of Malalas’s main authors (believing in fact much of fragments 10 and 11 belonged to Domninus and not Pausanias (H. Bourier, Uber die Quellen der ersten vierzehn Bücher des Johannes Malalas (Augsburg 1899-1900), 9-12)".

The source for Treadgold is  W. Treadgold, The Early Byzantine Historians (New York, NY 2007), 235-56.

It seems that this lost work (if it ever existed) would be a major addition to our Antioch knowledge should it ever resurface in all or part. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

More on Pausanias

I have previously written on Pausanias and his lost work back in 2010 here. While reading Glanville Downey's magisterial work on the history of the city, A History of Antioch in Syria: From Seleucus to the Arab Conquest, Princeton University Press, 1974, I found that he had dedicated  a few pages to the subject of lost sources including Pausanias. This is what he has to say on Pausanias: 

"The best known ancient account of the foundation of Antioch is the lost Αντιοχειασ Κτισιζ of Pausanias, which was used and mentioned by later writers. The quotations seem to suggest that Pausanias' work included a history of Antioch, whether as a part of the Κτισιζ or as a separate composition is not clear. There were a number of writers named Pausanias in antiquity, and modern scholars were for some time uncertain whether the Pausanias who wrote on Antioch was to be identified with the much better known Pausanias the periegete, whose work is preserved. The evidence seemed to most students to indicate that these two writers named Pausanias were not identical, but then the question arose as to whether the writer on Antioch was the Pausanias who was called Pausanias of Damascus. Opinion on this question varied, and indeed the evidence is very slender." A recent study by Aubrey Diller of the whole problem of the authors named Pausanias, based on a much better collection of material than was previously assembled, has shown that the writer on Antioch is to be separated from Pausanias of Damascus, and that he is not to be identified with the other writers so named who are known in other connections. While  the evidence is not extensive, it appears that Pausanias' work on Antioch is to be dated either in the second or the fourth century after Christ".

A periegete, by the way, is a wanderer or voyager. 

Downey also notes that Malalas quotes Pausanias (38.15; 197.17; 203.22; 204.2, 8; 248.15), as he does many other writers, but this does not necessarily mean that Malalas used Pausanias directly. he contends that Malalas may have taken the information from an intermediate source, while giving the impression that he was making a direct quotation. 

Richard Forster, cites passages which, he states, prove that Libanius made use of Pausanias' work in writing his oration, In praise of Antioch, the Antiochikos. Downey states that it is likely that Libanius did derive some of his material from Pausanias, whether directly or indirectly; but the passages cited by Forster are of such a generalized character that it may be doubted whether they are by themselves as convincing as Forster believed.

Aubrey Diller's work, "The Authors Named Pausanias," TAPA 86 (1955) 268-279, through the wonders of someone lifting it from JSTOR and putting it online, is now available for general reading only 57 years after first being published. It is an interesting piece, as it discusses the many (or maybe not so many) different personages that may have been called Pausanias and written his major work. 

Interestingly Diller did not cite a previous work which like his own tried to enumerate the various Pausanias characters in the ancient world. This work, The topography of Athens and the Demi, Volume 1, by William Martin Leake, published by J Rodwell in 1841 contains an Appendix IV (pages 475-76) dedicated to the Pausanias alternatives. It is available on Google Books (which Diller obviously did not have access to...).

Leake states: "Again, I. Tzetzes and I. Malala refer, as well as Stephanus, to a Pausanias who wrote a work on the foundation of Antioch (Αντιοχειασ Κτισιζ ) which agrees with the mention of Antioch, the Orontes, and Daphne, by the Periegetes of Greece; the article Δωποζ in Stephanus accords equally with his notice of some of the most remarkable places in Judaea. Malala describes Pausanias as a χπονογραφοζ which concurs with the references in Tzetzes and Stephanus, to the extent of shewing that the work on Syria was chiefly historical".

The Sources for Malalas

Glanville Downey regards Malalas as one of the most informative later sources on Antioch. In his book he dedicates a sub-section specifically to the sources that Malalas used. One of these, Domninus, we have discussed previously here. On the sources, Downey has this to say:

"The acta urbis. The sixth-century chronicler loannes Malalas, ..........., cites among his sources the names of four writers, all of whose works are lost, namely Pausanias (already discussed), Domninus, Timotheus, Theophilus. Our information concerning these writers is very scanty; according to the citations in Malalas, Domninus, and Pausanias each wrote a chronicle that was largely or primarily concerned with Antioch, while the others seem to have composed world-chronicles in which Antioch was mentioned. Malalas' citations sound as though he used these sources directly, but it is possible that he drew upon them only at second hand. Malalas also quotes the acta urbis (τα ακτα τηζ ρολεωζ, 443.20) as a source of his information concerning the earthquake of A.D. 528, and it is clear in any case that some of his information could well have come from local official records, though we are not sure precisely how the information would have reached him. We have not enough information to know whether there were acta urbis at Antioch for the whole of the Roman period, and we do not know know which kind of official records of local events might have been kept during the Seleucid period".  

A more expansive examination of Malalas' sources is given by Peter van Nuffelen in his paper:

Malalas and the chronographic tradition

in L. Carrara, M. Meier, C. Radtki, eds., Die Weltchronik des Johannes Malalas – Quellenfragen, Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2017, 261-272

which is available on academia.edu here.   

Lost Sources (besides Pausanias)

Also in Downey's book are mentioned lost sources besides Pausanias. Of these he says: 

"In the preserved literature we encounter traces of several other books concerned with Antioch or Syria. One of the early works is the ιστορικα υρομνηματα of Euphorion of Chalcis (born ca. 275 B.c.), who was a librarian of the royal library at Antioch under Antiochus the Great (224-187 B.C.); this apparently dealt with the history of Antioch and the Seleucid kings. Euphorion's work seems to have been a forerunner of the great history of Posidonius of Apamea, in fifty-two books (now lost), which was a source of material (including information about Antioch) for the geographer Strabo. Another great historical work in which Antioch played a part was the compilation of Nicolaus of Damascus. In the time of Antiochus IV (176-146 B.c.) Protagorides of Cyzicus wrote a treatise "On the Festivals in Daphne" The work of Athenaeus of Naucratis "On the Kings of Syria" doubtless contained material on Antioch." 

The Greek title of Protagorides' work is  Περὶ Δαφνικω̂ν ἀγώνων. He appears to be known only because of Athenaeus of Naucratis's mentions of him. In fact he says: "But Protagorides of Cyzicus, in the second book of his  treatise on the Assemblies in Honour of Daphne, says, "He touched every kind of instrument, one after another, castanets, the weak-sounding pandurus, but he drew the sweetest harmony from the sweet monaulos". This implies that Protagorides wrote more than one volume on the subject of Daphne.

I have discussed Euphorion previously here

An academic paper on the note "On the Kings of Syria" by Paola Ceccarelli can be found here.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Donald Wilber - Spy/Archaeologist

A topic that has recently been gaining more attention in recent years has been the role of archaeologists and academics in intelligence work (read spying). One of the prominent members of the 1930s' expeditions of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch was Donald Wilber. He has been mentioned in this blog chiefly for his role in drawing what is commonly used as the definitive map of Ancient Antioch (though we are quite partial to the versions of Poccardi and Uggeri). What other skills Wilber brought to the expedition we do not know, but he was definitely attached for many years to Princeton University which long had a history of providing intelligence personnel to the US government. As anyone who has seen the film, "The English Patient" knows archaeologists that can draw maps have other uses in tense international situations. 

Where exactly did Wilber fit in? Well it should be remembered that while the US did not receive a "piece" on Turkey in the initial carve-up of the Ottoman Empire, it was very involved in the process and had almost ended up as the most favoured party to block out European powers. Moreover, the Alexandretta Mandate that the French held remained one of the most unstable parts of the region, as Turkey gradually consolidated and the French and British entrenched themselves in Syria/Lebanon and Irak respectively. Thus the issue is whether the US would be interested in having someone on the ground taking notes. Such interest was proved useful when eventually Turkish agitation resulted in the "plebiscite" of 1938 by which the Mandate (with its Alawite majority) was passed from France to Turkey. This was the last diplomatic coup for Ataturk on the eve of his death.

Donald Newton Wilber was born on November 14, 1907 in Wisconsin and died on February 2, 1997 in Princeton, New Jersey.  Wilber's specialties were the ancient and modern Middle East. He received his A.B. (1929), M.F.A., and Ph.D. (1949) from Princeton University, where he was the first student to receive a doctorate in architectural history. Wilber wrote histories, travelogues and commentaries on Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. 

His book Iran Past and Present, was published in nine editions. Wilber also collected oriental rugs, and was president of the Princeton Rug Society for many years.  His book on Timurid architecture is regarded a major work. Wilber was a founder of the Princeton Rug Society. Wilber had a long association with and a financial interest in Oriental Rug Review.  

Meanwhile pursuing these academic interests, Wilber served as a United States intelligence officer with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and was an active participant in the power struggles of nations, especially during the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union in Iran after World War II. He is best known as the architect of the CIA project "Operation Ajax", a successful plot to overthrow the government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq. The plot replaced Iran's first democratically elected leader with the monarchy of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.

His memoir, which partially recounts his role in the coup, is titled: Adventures in the Middle East and Iran, Past and Present and Iran Past
As the principle planner of Operation Ajax, Wilber deeply resented the way he was treated in Kim (well really, Kermit) Roosevelt's book, Counter Coup: The Struggle for the Control of IranIn 1957, Wilber founded Middle East Research Associates, meant to be a vehicle for Don to cash in on his knowledge of the oil region. This was not known to be a CIA front. However, the venture was never a great success (which probably proves it wasn't a CIA front!). 

Don Wilber was definitely a renaissance man, combining author, scholar, adventurer and spy.  It is interesting to contrast this type of deep knowledge of the "target" location with the slipshod way that intelligence is conducted these days with technology expected to mask real knowledge of the location in which the spy operates. This is only recently evidenced again by the US diplomat with the "bad wig" incident that caused another ruction in Moscow. 

While Wilber's later role in Iran is well documented it would be very interesting to know more about what exactly he was doing in Antakya between the wars. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mithra(s) in Antioch

I have written in the past of the possibility of a Mithraic shrine in Antioch here. As the city was a major military base it makes sense that there should be one of more Mithraeums in the vicinity. 

In thinking about the theme some more I went back to the most extensive research on the theme of temples and cults in the city, namely Fred Norris' masterwork "Antioch as a Religious Center. I. Paganism before Constantine" published in ANRW, Teil II, Band 18, Berlin, Walter de Gruyter, 1990.

In this work he has to say:"Libanius has a legend which credits Cambyses with setting up a shrine to Mithra in Antioch. In accordance with the plan of his treatise, he most likely knew of the influence of the god in the city, and wanted to give it a proper place in his oration of praise to Antioch. Unfortunately this is the only reference to Mithra in the Antiochene literature. Since the Campus Martius was not thoroughly excavated, we can only suggest by analogy that Roman troops worshiped Mithra in Antioch as they did elsewhere.".

Antioch and its Lake

An important feature (and economic engine) of Ancient Antioch was its lake. The Lake of Antioch (Turkish: Amik Gölü) was a large freshwater lake in the basin of the Orontes River, located to the north-east of the ancient city. The lake was drained during a period from the 1940s-1970s and now is the site of cotton farms and Hatay's airport.

The water body was located in the centre of Amuq Plain on the northernmost part of the Dead Sea Transform and historically covered an area of some 300-350 square kilometres, increasing during flood periods. It was surrounded by extensive marshland. The 14th century Arab geographer Abu al-Fida described the lake as having sweet water and being twenty miles (32 km) long and seven miles wide.

Sedimentary analysis has suggested that the lake was formed, in its final state, in the past 3000 years by episodic floods and silting up of the outlet to the Orontes. This dramatic increase in the lake's area had displaced many settlements during the classical period; the lake became an important source of fish and shellfish for the surrounding area and the city of Antioch.

As Scott Redford notes in his paper, Trade and Economy in Antioch and Cilicia in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries, Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks: "The extensive canal system in the Amuq Plain that had contributed so much to the wealth of Roman Antioch declined in the early Byzantine era, although some canals seem to have been in use through the early Islamic period. But the lush riverine environments of the medieval Amuq contributed to a thriving pisciculture. Several freshwater bodies of water were used to farm eels - indeed the export of dried eels from Antioch under the principality was so profitable that their sale was given as a gift to monasteries".   

Once again we have a story of disaster brought about by Turkey's mistaken grasp of modernisation. Draining and reclamation of areas around the lake commenced in 1940, in order to free land for growing cotton and to eliminate malaria. A major drainage project, channeling the lake's tributary rivers (the Karasu, the ancient Labotas, and the 'Afrin, the ancient Arceuthus/Arxeuthas) directly to the Orontes was undertaken from 1966 by the State Hydraulic Works, with further works completed by the early 1970s; by this time the lake had been completely drained, and its bed reclaimed for farmland with the Hatay Airport having been constructed in the centre of the lakebed.

There have increasingly been reports that the draining has caused severe environmental damage. Reclaimed and irrigated land has been affected by increasing soil salinity, and productivity has fallen. Despite the drainage works, many areas still regularly flood, requiring constant maintenance of drainage canals and further decreasing the productivity of the reclaimed farmland, while the water table has fallen dramatically. The fall in underground water levels has been implicated in causing an increasing amount of subsidence and serious damage to buildings.

Changing the environment and bringing about unexpected side-effects is not only a modern problem. As Redford notes: "In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, expansion of olive and wine cultivation into the foothills of the Jabal Aqra, and to a  lesser extent the Amanos, had led to massive deforestation around Antioch. As the population declined in the late fifth to sixth centuries, settlement retreated to the Amuq plain, where increased alluviation caused by the deforestation had earlier encouraged the development of a large new lake in the middle of the Amuq. This deforestation also resulted in the landslides and floods that have led some to misperceive Antioch as a "lost city" buried under the alluvium". 

However, we would be amongst those that perceive Antioch as a "lost city" as the depth of overburden and accumulated layers in the centre of the old city is 11 metres at least and material descending from the mountains clearly has played a part in entombing the ancient city so deep as to be well-nigh inaccessible.  

The loss of the lake had bigger effects than just subsidence though as it destroyed significant bird breeding grounds and a migratory stop-over/destination. If it hadn't been for the airport being sited there the best thing would have been to let the lake reappear and submerge the cotton farms.  

Some Commentary on Antioch (and Daphne) by Ioannis Phocas

As I have noted frequently  eyewitness reports of Ancient Antioch are rare things indeed. I stumbled upon one a while back and didn't post on it because we weren't sure exactly how valuable it is. I am not even sure how I wandered some serendipitous path to get to it.

However, it is probably worth placing a record here in readable script. The piece in question is  Ioannis Phocae's Compendiaria descriptio castrorum et urbium. Unlike my usual practice I didn't write down the source when I found it but I suspect that it is Migne, Patrologia graeca, tom. 133. The original is in Greek with a Latin side-by-side translation.  

The full title of the work is Compendiaria Descriptio: Castrorum & Urbium, ab urbe Antiochia usque Hierosolymam; nec non Syriae, ac Phoeniciae, & in Palestina sacrorum locorum. As we can tell from this title, the work covers not just Antioch, but really the whole Eastern Coast on the Mediterranean. John Phocas was apparently a Cretan monk who went on a pilgrimage to Palestine in the year 1177.   

We have extracted here only the part until the author heads off to cover Laodicea.

"II, Extabat, tum cum erat ad Orontam Antiochi Theopolis, theatrorum magnitudine, stoarii splendoribus, templorum structuris, copia item civium, & divitiarum magnificentia, superba ac tumens lateque caeteras fere orientales urbes exsuperabat: sed tempus, ac vis barbara, beatitatem illius exhausit; licet conspicua adhuc sit, & turrium altitudine, & propugnacolorum validitate; & pratorum ac florum omnigena foecunditate, & in plures partes sese dividentitium aquarum sibilis; cum placide fluvius circumfluat urbem & cingat, & molli tactu ejus turres circumplectatur in super e Castilli fontis fluentis egregie irrigatur, cujus aquae, torrentium instar, pelluntur, & frequentibus fulcorum rivis urbem universam perfundunt, eamque fluxibus aspergunt; operarum copia, & conditoris magnificentia, ex illius fontibus per montes ad ipsani civitatem laticibus corrivatis. Hic fama per orbem vulgatum Daphnes suburbium, proceris omne genus arboribus exornatum, & mons est maxime nobilis; quem admirandus Simeon in habitationem adaptavit. Hisce finitimus est mons Maurus & Scopulus, in quibus antiquitus multi Deo addictissimi viri, Deum conquierentes, invenerunt, & ad haec tempora perdurant, &, laudatorum montium pulchritudine pellecti, silvas inhabitant. Castalius fons, inter duos colles exiliens, ex ejus, qui in mare procurrit, ima parte, eximia quaedam aquarum irrigua evomit, in quo praegandis assurgit porticus, cursum fontis concamerans; hinc aquae affluenter prolienetes, in duos rivos dividuntur; earum una pars per altissimos ductus, veluti fulcos, corrivata, aeque ac aerus fluvius ex parte dextra superiorique in Urbem influit, altera, sinistris fonti locis campestribus exundans, in paliudibus superstgnat, universaq, Daphnes prata irrorat; demum laevis Orontis fluentis immiscetur. Mons vero admirandus inter urbem & mare elatus, res egregia ac sectabilis, & advenientium oculis deliciu, conspicitur namque urbi Rosoque conterminus, utrisque e partibus, monte, scopulo, Caucasoque constringitur. Orontes fluvius innumeris inflexionum vorticibus ad pedes montis profluit, & in mare aquas immittit. In montis hujusce vertice magnus ille vir, tranquille vitam agens, & in corde ascensiones disponens, corpore sublimis extollitur, & cum ipso corpore aethereus fieri, interque Deum & homines medius esse, contendit. At qua ratione Deo dedito viro ista res admiratione digna evenerit, ipse dicam. Lapidacrum opera summitate montis admirandi alte excavata, Monasterium ex uno conflatum compaginatumque lapide exstruxit: in media Monasterii inter excisos lapides sua sponte nata columna gradus appinxit, super petram, ut sacro eloquio traditur, pedibus firmatis, versus exorientem solem Templum pulcherrimum Deo erexit, in quod discipulos convocabat: atque ita sub dio ipse commorans, illi tota nocte in templo stantes, ut decebat sanctos, debitum Deo cultum offerebant." 

Interesting things in this text are the description of Daphne and comments on the water situation in general. He seems very impressed by the aqueducts.

The most novel thing though is the reference to the names of the mountains at Daphne as Maurus and Scopulus, mentions that we have not seen in any other source.  


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Siting of the Acropolis

I must admit to being a subscriber to the traditional view that the acropolis of Antioch was well within the city, in most likelihood just above the theatre on a spur that ran out from the lower slopes of the mountain. My intrepid colleague, Jorgen Christensen-Ernst, likes to challenge the traditional though and he is on the spot in Antakya all the time. Their have been no excavations at the acropolis (as with virtually everywhere else in the city) so no-one can say definitively either way.

Jorgen did however recently stumble upon some references that he believes might signal that the acropolis was much much higher up and that, in fact, it occupied the place where the fortress now sits perched upon the mountain. An argument against such a siting is that the acropolis would have been well-nigh inaccessible to anyone in the population except those with the fortitude of a mountain goat. Certainly before the major walls were built (which was NOT under the Seleucids) that would have put the acropolis outside the city fortifications. A caveat that offers a pro case for the fortress as the site is the city of Priene where the acropolis is so vertiginously elevated that it is pretty much out of sight of the city way down below. 

In defence of the fortress option, Jorgen found two references in the book Asianic Elements in Greek Civilisation: The Gifford Lectures, 1915–1916, Edinburgh by William Mitchell Ramsay in which the author states: "That there was a Katoikia called Koloe in the neighbourhood is certain from the inscription on the accompanying monument, which is in many respects the most important of all. Despite the resemblance of the ancient Koloe to the modern Koula, the late Byzantine evidence shows that Koula was understood as the Turkish, and probably old Anatolian, kula, kale, a fort or castle.

There is a distinction now made between koula, tower, and kala or kale, strong place, fortress. The term koula, kula, is explained by Ducange, Notae in Alexiadem, p. 621, as applied by the Greeks to all acropoleis. The acropolis of Antioch on the Orontes was called Koula by Anna Comnena, ii. pp. 89 f, and Kala is mentioned as a strong tower on the west side, by Scylitzes in Niceph. Phocam, quoted by Ducange, loc. cit., which shows that the words are practically identical. In all probability the words are variants of an old Anatolian word, taken over by the Turks; but H. Kiepert in a letter to me preferred to consider them early Turkish words".

We would note that Anna Comnena lived from 1083 to 1153. In her childhood Antioch was still under Arab rule and then passed to Crusader rule. Its hard to believe that she actually ever went to Antioch, so her observations are most likely second-hand.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Some New Views from the 18th Century

While trawling through the website of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (gallica.bnf.fr) I came across a collection of engravings that we had no seen before. My first suspicion was that these related to some other Antioch (e.g. ad Cragum) but the inclusion of an internal view of the ramparts of this "Antioch" gave us some confidence that the artist, François-Marie Rosset (1752-1824), was sketching Antioch on the Orontes in these images dating from 1790. He had left France as part of a diplomatic/scientific mission to Syria in June 1781, arriving in Aleppo in September. Presumably the intervening period is when he passed through Antioch.

The interesting thing though was these images did not contain just the same-old, same-old but had three etchings of structures that I had never seen before that definitely looked like it came from the city's antique phase or at least late antique period.
Here they are:

The first three are the novel ones. The second one has a look that might imply that it is at Daphne due to the water springing from the base of the structure. The other two have the look of either an arcaded portico or a ruined basilica/church. Or they could be older than the Christian period or they could be a total fantasy. Another thought strikes me that they could be the Bab Boulos (Beroea Gate) which did have a spring/pond in front of it according to other images. These structures in the Rosset works though do have a more ethereal look than the images of the Beroea gate I have seen previously, as the gate was arched but also fairly massive and solid.  

More information on Rosset and his wanderings (if indeed he ever visited the city) would maybe solve the mystery.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Benjamin of Tudela

Benjamin was a wandering Spanish rabbi in the 12th century who roamed as far as Jerusalem (returning to Spain in 1173 AD) and in the process wrote a sort of travel guide to the sights seen.

Benjamin of Tudela in the Sahara, in the XIIth century. Engraving by Dumouza, XIXst century


He makes a brief mention of Antioch: "Thence it is two days' journey to Antioch the Great, situated on the river Fur (Orontes), which is the river Jabbok, that flows from Mount Lebanon and from the land of Hamath. This is the great city which Antiochus the king built. The city lies by a lofty mountain, which is surrounded by the city-wall. At the top of the mountain is a well, from which a man appointed for that purpose directs the water by means of twenty subterranean passages to the houses of the great men of the city. The other part of the city is surrounded by the river. It is a strongly fortified city, and is under the sway of Prince Boemond Poitevin, surnamed le Baube. Ten Jews dwell here, engaged in glass-making, and at their head are R. Mordecai, R. Chayim, and R. Samuel. From here it is two days' journey to Lega, or Ladikiya, where there are about 100 Jews, at their head being R. Chayim and R. Joseph". 

Footnotes to this text elaborate that by "10 Jews" he actually met heads of families, so the community would have been a multiple of this number.

An interesting thing to note is that seemingly the aqueduct system was still functioning at this time. 

A source for Jewish communities under the Byzantine Empire is here