Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Visualising Antioch - a major breakthrough

Some time ago a comment was left on a post that referred to a project that the commenter was working on to create a recreation, using CAD/CAM software, of the city of Antioch in its glory days. The commenter was I think in Japan or Thailand but could never get any more detail as they never left an email address.

Now up pops a comment from Dr.Kayhan KAPLAN, at Hatay's Mustafa Kemal University, on one of my weekend postings that indicates that he has recreated the city from four different angles using computer graphics. Frankly it is a major contribution to visualising the city and a great start to the task of making Ancient Antioch real for people for whom a  map is a mystery. 

The recreation is obviously modeled on Wilber's map. I now subscribe to the Poccardi and Uggeri visions of a longer pointed island towards the southern end rather than Wilber's "roundish" island.

Some comments I would note:
  • The river branches are wider than I suspect they were. 
  • I have my doubts about the amphitheater on the Island (this would seem to have been on the mountain slopes where the recreation also shows another amphitheater) 
  • The aqueducts (there were two) ran partly underground on the slopes of Mt Silpius so weren't always visible from a bird's eye view. 
  • Most evidence seems to suggest the palace was parallel to the hippodrome and abutted it along own side rather than being at a 45 degree angle as portrayed here
  • The street patterns of the Island are clearly shown to be at a different angle to the rest of the city which is as Poccardi theorises
  • The blocks of the city don't seem to be as dense as they probably were (or as many of in number, over 200 in some estimations) to accommodate 400-500,000 inhabitants. 
  • The palace recreation is clearly based on Split which is entirely understandable and does a great service in making the loggia facing the suburbs (as per Libanius) make sense
  • I doubt the area outside the Gate of the Cherubim was as extensive or as rural as portrayed
  • I also think the walls along the Orontes branch running through the city were probably much lower and less important than shown here. With the Theodosian rebuild they became more important.
This is truly a great job and certainly something the raises the challenge of getting some real digs going to underpin this vision. In the good old days, Dr Kaplan might have been cheered along the Colonnaded Street for this job!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some Aqueduct Views

JCE has been out and about in the spring weather and sent me some recent photos of the remains of one of the aqueducts that fed the city with water from the springs at Daphne. 

By way of contrast we include a postcard from around 1900 that shows part of the aqueduct.

The Niebuhr Map

JCE came across this map (click to enlarge) from Niebuhr and kindly sent it to me. He was visiting the Danish Institute in Damascus and found the Danish translation of Carsten Niebuhr's journeys in the Middle East (German 1774) which includes this map of Antioch. Thus it is from the second half of the 18th century. 

Accurate in detail but seems to compact the non-urban part of the city within the old walls. Not as good as Rey's map but still a useful snapshot of a point in time. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

John Lydus on the Disasters of the AD 520s

I stumbled across this book "Joannis Laurentii Lydi Philadelpheni De magistratibus reipublicae Romanae" which is a Latin translation of John Lydus (John the Lydian) a court official of the Byzantine Empire. Most is a relating of procedures relating to magistrates but in a a digression he talks about the disasters of Antioch in the AD 520s. Here is his text from Book Three - Chapter 54:

His quoad Persas, innumeris vero aliis bellis coortis, in posterum literatis ad praefecturam aditus non patuit. Pecunia autem opus erat, neo sine ea quidquam eorum, quae oportebat, fieri poterat. Ac ne quid in evertenda pristina felicitate praetermitteretur, exsultantes terramque findentes motus Seleuci Antiochiam radicitus eruerunt, super jacenti colle urbem tegentes; nullo ut discrimine montis urbisque locis relicto, totum valles et scopuli occuparent, qui praeterfluenti urbem Orontae umbram quondam praebuerant. Immensam itaque auri copiam effundere praefectus cogebatur, quo elatae ruina moles, quae in excelsa aviaque juga intumuerant, interim auferrentur: etenim periculosum erat, Syrorum principem urbem dejectam negligere. Cum autem multo labore et pecuniae vi artiumque ope quasi ex erebo urbs enasceretur, Justino fato fungente, fatalis Chosroes per Arabiam cum innumerabili exercitu in Syrias irruit, ipsamque nuper collapsam urbem, facilem sibi, ut pote apertam, superatu visam, bello captam, infinita caede patrata, combussit; signis autem, queis ornata erat, cum tabulis, lapidibus picturisque omnibus una ablatis, totam in Persas Syriam abegit. Neque vero agricola aut collator fisco relictus erat : et tributum quidem nullum imperatori inferebatur; at militem sustentare praefectus cogebatur, omnesque consuetos reipublicae sumtus praebere, qui non tantum Syrorum tributa, quae quidem sola magni imperantibus momenti erant, amisisset, sed addere insuper sumtus numero majores cogeretur, cum in captas urbes, tum in collatores, si quos elapsos Persarum vinculis in desertis admirabilium quondam locorum errare contingeret.

The Dig at the Daphne Bridge

My colleague in Antakya, Jorgen Christiansen-Ernst is constantly on the lookout for ad hoc excavations and developments with relation to the historic sites. Interestingly he came across a dig going on at the south side of the city. 

It would appear that some municipal workers doing some canalisation work at the corner northwest of the barracks (Uğur Mumcu Caddesi) came across a bridge that might have been that which led from the Daphne Gate across the Phyrminos stream and then on to Daphne. 

The preservation of the arch looks exceptionally good. The road surface can be seen at the top of the photo above and it is not very much higher than the top of the bridge suggesting that some judicious excavations in the district might uncover the Daphne Gate itself. 

JCE feels that this bridge is the one seen northwest of the barracks in the aerial photos taken in the 1930s that were published in the article (Survivances urbains) of Gregoire Poccardi page 98 (seen below).