Darmowy fragment publikacji:
P aweł Filipc z a k
An introduction to the Byzantine administration
in Syro-Palestine on the eve of the Arab conquest
B Y Z A N T I N A L O D Z I E N S I A
B Y Z A N T I N A L O D Z I E N S I A
Series of the Department of Byzantine History of the University of Łódź
Series of the Department of Byzantine History of the University of Łódź
f o u n d e d b y
f o u n d e d b y
Professor Waldemar Ceran
Professor Waldemar Ceran
B Y Z A N T I N A L O D Z I E N S I A
Paweł Filipc z ak
to the Byzantine administration
in Syro-Palestine on the eve
of the Arab conquest
B Y Z A N T I N A L O D Z I E N S I A
Series of Department of Byzantine History of University of Łódź
founded by prof. Waldemar Ceran in 1997
E D I T O R I A L B O A R D
Mirosław J. Leszka – editor-in-chief
Andrzej Kompa – secretary
R E V I E W E R
dr hab. Jacek Wiewiorowski
Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań
PRO O F R E A D I N G
COV E R DE S IG N A N D L AYOU T
by Sebastian Buzar
T Y PE S E T T I NG
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C H A P T E R I
C H A P T E R I I
C H A P T E R I I I
Index of persons
Index of ethnic and geographic names
The work is an introduction to the topic of the Byzantine administration
in Syro-Palestine in the sixth and seventh centuries (between the reign of Justini-
an and Heraclius). As such, it offers a general review of what the modern scholar-
ship has to say about the issue in question, including some necessary corrections
and additions. In writing the book I tried to use a pellucid and jargon-free lan-
guage. However, the use of plain language, which is usually expected of works
that fall into the “introduction” genre, providing a shallow analysis devoid of
any significant insights into the problem at hand, does not, I hope, apply here.
The work is based on primary sources, although some of the existing sources that
might shed some light on the issue dealt with here are probably omitted from
my analyses. Predominant are literary texts written in Greek, offering the per-
spective of the Byzantines. Arab sources, to which I refer relying on scholarly
literature, remain in the background. I draw heavily on the findings presented
in a great number of articles and monographs, focusing, however, on those that
are most relevant to a specific topic with which I am dealing. If one wanted to
base each of the three parts of this book on all the available literature and on
the greatest possible number of primary sources, striving to resolve every single
issue raised in this book and attempting to deal with the most heated polemics
that these issues have provoked, one would have to write three separate mono-
graphs. Yet I am convinced that the publication of such an introductory guide to
the subject in question is fully justified. In addition to being particularly useful
for students of the history of Byzantium, it should also be of some help to more
I do not offer answers to all important questions that appear in the discussion
of particular aspects of the Byzantine administration in the period under consid-
eration. The work, for example, provides no explanation of the establishment of
the theme system by Emperor Heraclius in Syro-Palestine. On the other hand,
however, I give an account of the scholarly discussion concerning the themes,
presenting the arguments offered by scholars who have covered this issue. Finally,
I also attempt to outline research goals to be pursued with regard to this contro-
versial problem in the future.
The construction of the work is simple. In the first part, devoted to admin-
istrative geography, I reconstruct the administrative divisions in Syro-Palestine,
describe the administrative infrastructure of the cities that served as the capitals
of particular provinces and offer introductory remarks on the deployment of
particular units of the Roman army and on the territorial jurisdiction of military
commanders. In the first chapter the topic is approached from a topographical
angle. A prosopographical perspective is adopted in the second part of the work.
It provides biographical information on Byzantine officials who were entrusted
with the task of administering Syro-Palestine – governors of particular provinc-
es, governors of the Diocese of the East and military commanders stationed in
the region. The third part of the work can be referred to as “conception-related”,
for in giving an account of the changes brought to the imperial administration,
I attempt to reveal the principles and ideas that underpinned the introduction
of these changes.
The construction of the book requires one more explanation. The division
of the imperial administration into civilian and military branches and, conse-
quently, into two distinct hierarchies of public officers as well as into two territo-
rial structures, took hold during the reign of Constantine the Great (306–337).
Although the view of such a bipolar system, held in older literature and suggest-
ing a clear division of authority between different groups of imperial officials,
has recently been subject to revision, the existence of the system is not, in general
outline, denied. I accept it in this book, dividing the first chapter into two parts,
one dealing with a civilian administration (provinces, a diocese and a prefecture)
and the other concerned with a military one (military districts governed by du-
ces). The same pattern is followed in the second part of the book, separating
the governors of particular provinces and of the Diocese of the East (that is, ci-
vilian officials) from the commanders of provincial troops. The adoption of such
a structure is designed to add clarity to the exposition of the topic and should
not be treated as an indication of a poor knowledge of the administrative reali-
ties of the era.
In writing the work, I have encountered some difficulties in trying to main-
tain a fully consistent approach to the spelling of foreign-language names. In
the first chapter I rely on a simplified, that is, devoid of diacritical marks, spelling
of the geographical names of Arab and Turkish origin to be found in Barrington
Atlas of Greek and Roman World (ed. R.J.A. Talbert, Princeton 2000; [while pre-
paring this book I did not have access to Tabula Imperii Byzantini 15. Syria (Syr-
ia Prōtē, Syria Deutera, Syria Euphratēsia), ed. K.-P. Todt, B.A. Vest, vol. I–III,
Wien 2014–2015]. For the sake of consistency, I stick to the simplified spelling
of geographical names later on in the book (hence, for example, Tartous and not
Ṭarṭūs; Tripolis and not Ṭarābulus; Ajnadayn and not Ajnādayn; Yarmuk and
not Al-Yarmūk). However, in some cases such an approach was not possible. In
terms of geographical nomenclature, I found it necessary to preserve a scholar-
ly transcription used by the authors whose views I present in the third chapter
(hence, for example, ajnād of Ḥimṣ or ajnād Filasṭīn). As far as the Arab personal
names are concerned, I apply a full scholarly transcription, following the spelling
used by Encyclopaedia of Islam or – if a given name is missing from EI – follow-
ing the general principles adopted in EI (hence, for example, Muḥammad, and
not Muhammad or Farva Ibn ʽAmr al-Ğuḏāmī, and not Farva Ibn Amr al-Guda-
mi). I use the English versions of the Greek or Latin names of persons, if they
are universally used in anglicised form (hence, for example, Theodore, and not
The Polish edition of this book, in a slightly abridged form, was published as
one of the parts of the monograph Bizancjum i Arabowie. Spotkanie cywilizacji
(VI–VIII w.), ed. T. Wolińska and P. Filipczak, Warszawa 2015, p. 90–176.
Łódź, October 2015
Many individuals have contributed to the creation of this book. Teresa
Wolińska supervised the scholarly project Byzantium and the Arabs. The encoun-
ter of civilization (the sixth to eighth centuries). While participating in this proj-
ect, which generally involved much team effort, I always enjoyed a significant
amount of freedom. Jacek Wiewiorowski wrote a thorough review of the book.
Artur Mękarski carefully translated the text from Polish into English and Mi-
chał Zytka proofread the translation. Mirosław Jerzy Leszka and Andrzej Kom-
pa were of a great assistance in editing the text. Karolina Krzeszewska, Krzysztof
Jagusiak and Zofia Brzozowska relieved me of some of the administrative work
connected with the realization of the project. Monika, Alicja and Adam showed
My great thanks to all of them.
Syro-Palestine. The region of a long and undisturbed coexistence of
the Byzantines and the Arabs, but also – or perhaps above all – of their first and
most important military confrontation. It is from this region, forming some-
thing of a gate to the western world, that the Arabs launched their offensive
against other Byzantine territories, capturing the whole of the North Africa and
a number of more important islands on the Mediterranean Sea1.
The rapid loss of Syro-Palestine by the Byzantines provokes a question
concerning the state of the imperial administration in the region on the eve of
the Arab conquest. In terms of Byzantium’s political history, this “eve” is usually
bound up with the reign of Emperor Heraclius. However, as far as the history of
Byzantine administration is concerned, it needs to be regarded as lasting longer
than the reign of the emperor mentioned above. The provincial administration,
1 See for example R. M a n t r a n, L’expansion musulman VIIe–XIe siècles, Paris 1995,
p. 101–104; H. K e n n e d y, The Great Arab Conquests. How the Spread of Islam changed
the World We Live In, London 2007, p. 145–149; Th. B i a n q u i s, P. G u i c h a r d,
F. M a h f o u d h, La première conquête et ses frontières, [in:] Les débuts du monde musulman
VIIe–Xe siècle. De Muḥammad aux dynastie autonomes, éd. Th. B i a n q u i s, P. G u i c h a r d,
M. T i l l i e r, Paris 2012, p. 109–112. The long held view concerning the first Arab conquest of
Lower and Middle Egypt has recently been subject to revision by P h i l l B o o t h (The Muslim
Conquest of Egypt Reconsidered, TM 17, 2013, p. 639–670).
as it existed in 610, that is, in the year of Heraclius’ accession to power, took
shape in the reign of Justinian I, the last great reformer of state machinery in
the period prior to the Arab conquest. Thus the work covers a timespan of about
one hundred years which preceded the loss of the eastern territories by the Byz-
antines. For clarity’s sake some references are also made to the administrative
reforms introduced at the turn of the third and fourth centuries2.
Works that cover long periods of time are usually cross-sectional in nature,
and so is the text presented below. My first concern here is with the Empire’s
administrative geography. I will try to reconstruct the divisions of the Byzantine
administration and to identify the cities in which both local and state authori-
ties were based. Then, I will turn to carry out a prosopographical analysis of all
biographical information concerning high ranking officials whose jurisdiction
extended over the region of Syro-Palestine: provincial governors, governors of
the Diocese of the East, and military leaders stationed in this region. In present-
ing a cadre of state officials, I found it necessary to follow geographical criteria,
for the separation of civilian and military authority was not always strictly ob-
served in the Empire, and in some of its parts – like, for example, in Arabia – ac-
tually never took hold.
Concentrating around two key issues, geographical and biographical,
the work is structured in a way which opens up a possibility of obtaining sig-
nificant insights that go far beyond the field of topography or prosopography.
The analysis of these issues serves as the point of departure for the discussion
of some institutional and social changes which, taken together, added up to
the evolution of the administrative system in the sixth and seventh centuries.
It also highlights the need to entirely redefine the category of the Empire’s top
The topic dealt with here is not new. However, a thorough discussion of
the state of research into the problem, the various aspects of which have attracted
scholarly attention since the latter half of the nineteenth century, lies beyond
the scope of this chapter. Suffice it to say that the reforms of territorial adminis-
tration put in place during the reign of Justinian I has been discussed in a great
number of works by authors representing all important centres of Byzantino-
logical studies. Thus this contribution draws heavily on the findings of modern
scholarship, presenting a variety of views (scattered throughout the book) on
the functioning of the Byzantine administration in Syro-Palestine in the period
2 See also H. K e n n e d y, The Last Century of Byzantine Syria. A Reinterpretation, BF 10,
1985, p. 141–183.
The convention adopted here does not require a thorough discussion of pri-
mary sources – I will confine myself to describing their essential characteristics
and to indicating those of them that are most relevant for the topic in ques-
tion. Primary sources are certainly unevenly distributed in chronological terms.
The long reign of Justinian I appears to be well documented, although it, too, is
not without “blank spots”. However, the further towards the seventh century we
move, the smaller the number of the sources on which we can draw becomes, and
those that do exist are usually poor in content. It has been repeatedly stressed in
scholarly literature that there is a poignantly small number of sources originating
from the period of the Arab conquests. It holds true for both Byzantine (Greek,
Latin, or written in Syriac language) and Arab texts3. All the information con-
cerning the provincial administration in Syro-Palestine during the reign of Em-
peror Heraclius is very scarce, and thus difficult to interpret.
What distinguishes the sources in question is their genre diversity. The anal-
ysis of the way in which the provincial administration functioned is based on
classic works of Greek historiography, Church histories, chronicles, imperial
constitutions, hagiographies, rhetorical and theological works, as well as on texts
produced by imperial administration. Among the latter of particular note are
two sources on which I heavily draw in the first chapter of the work.
The first of these sources is entitled Synekdèmos, a title which should be
translated as a fellow-traveller. In its present form, the text, written in around 535
by Hierocles – who was also known as grammaticus, that is, a teacher or a secre-
tary – is actually nothing but a simple list of cities, divided according to prov-
inces in which they were located, with the rank of particular governors attached.
Synekdèmos, although drawing on some earlier official records that are thought
to have been brought into being in the mid-fifth century, is presumed today to
refer to the first years of Justinian I’s reign4. The second work is A Description
of the Roman World (Descriptio orbis romani), attributed to George of Cyprus.
It is a register of provinces, divided into cities and villages that lay within their
borders. The source was once assumed to have come into existence at the end of
3 The problem has recently been raised by H. K e n n e d y: Great Arab Conquest…, p. 2 and
22. In older literature the topic was covered, among others, by W.E. K a e g i, Initial Byzantine
Reactions to the Arab Conquest, [in:] The Expansion of the Early Islamic State, ed. F.M. D o n n e r,
Aldershot 2008, p. 113 [= W.E. K a e g i, Initial Byzantine Reactions to the Arab Conquest, ChH
38, 1969, p. 139–149].
4 See A.H.M. J o n e s, The Cities of Eastern Roman Provinces, ed. M. A v i - Y o n a h et
al., Oxford 1971, p. 514–521; Le Synekdèmos d’Hiéroklès et l’opuscule géographique de Georges
de Chypre, éd. E. H o n i g m a n n, Bruxelles 1939, p. 1–2; T.E. G r e g o r y, ODB II, p. 930 [s.v.
the sixth century. However, more recent studies date it to the beginning of that
century, or, to be more precise, to the period directly preceding Justinian’s rise to
power. According to one theory, Descriptio is based on the information derived
from Hierocles’ work, coupled with some brief geographical and hagiograph-
ical descriptions. According to another, both authors relied on the same set of
official records dating from the mid-fifth century5. In spite of the doubts that
can be raised as to the authorship of these texts and their mutual relations, both
Synekdèmos and Descriptio orbis romani form the basis of the reconstruction of
the administrative divisions of the Byzantine Syro-Palestine in the last century
of its existence6.
An analysis of normative sources typifies every scholarly contribution de-
voted to the issues of imperial administration. These sources include, first of all,
legal acts (edicts, amendments to the existing laws, digests) issued both by Jus-
tinian and, less commonly, by other rulers, especially his successors. Scholars rely
on these acts for determining the titles held by provincial governors, for recon-
structing the shape of local government during the reign of Justinian I and, above
all, for determining changes that occurred in the Diocese of the East. Normative
sources, more than any other kind of evidence, reflect the evolution of admin-
istrative system towards the end of antiquity. Legal sources are also used to re-
construct the way in which the authorities planned to reform the institutions
of local administrations. Scholarly literature emphasises the fact that a great
number of imperial institutions should be regarded as having “ideal” rather than
5 See A.H.M. J o n e s, The Cities…, p. 515–516; Synekdèmos, p. 49–50; A. K a z h d a n,
ODB II, p. 837–838 [s.v. George of Cyprus].
6 Cf. the list of sources on administrative geography of the Late Roman Empire:
A.H.M. J o n e s, The Later Roman Empire 284–602. A Social, Economic and Administrative
Survey, vol. III, Oxford 1964, p. 381. See also R. B r ü n n o w, A. von D o m a s z e w s k i, Die
Provinzia Arabia auf Grund zweier in den Jahren 1897 und 1898 unternommen Reisen und
der Berichte früherer Reisender, Strassbourg 1909, vol. III, p. 256–263 with the detailed list of
the provinces in the Early and Later Roman Empire in the Middle East, and with accurate list of
sources on administrative geography.
7 E. W i p s z y c k a, Źródła normatywne świeckie (The Secular Normative Sources),
[in:] Vademecum historyka starożytnej Grecji i Rzymu (Vade mecum for the Historian of
the ancient Greece and Rome), vol. III, Źródłoznawstwo późnego antyku, ed. E. W i p s z y c k a,
Warszawa 1999, p. 614; J. W i e w i o r o w s k i, Stanowisko prawne rzymskich dowódców wojsk
prowincjonalnych – duces w prowincjach Scythia Minor i Moesia Secunda (The Legal Status of
the Roman Military Commanders. Duces in the provinces of Scythia Minor and Moesia Secunda),
Poznań 2007, p. 20; i d e m, Sądownictwo późnorzymskich wikariuszy diecezji (The Judicary of
Diocesan Vicars in the Later Roman Empire), Poznań 2012, p. 33–34.
Inscriptions form a specific part of the source material used in this chapter.
New inscriptions, discovered in situ in different countries of the Middle East, are
increasing in number. Older inscriptions, on the other hand, undergo the pro-
cess of new reconstruction, which in turn yield new interpretations. Those orig-
inating in the area of Syro-Palestine are to be found in a number of corpuses
containing epigraphic material from all over the Empire8, but, of course, the col-
lections of inscriptions coming from the region of Syria are most important9.
Nowadays, the largest corpus of inscriptions, whose scholarly value can hardly be
overrated, is the series Les inscriptions grecques and latines de la Syrie, which has
been intermittently published since 1929 (along with Inscriptions de la Jordanie
which form an integral part of the whole collection)10.
8 Cf. Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum (eds. A. B ö c k h, J. F r a n z, E. C u r t i u s,
A. K i r c h o f f, vol. I–IV, Berlin 1828 –1859; Supplementum Epigraphicum Graecum (published
annual from 1923; the current editors: A. C h a n i o t i s, Th. C o r s t e n, R.S. S t r o u d,
J.H.M. S t r u b b e, Leyden); Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, mainly vol. III. Supplementum.
Inscriptionum Orientis et Illyrici Latinarum
supplementum, ed. Th. M o m m s e n,
O. H i r s c h f e l d, A. D o m a s z e w s k i, Berlin 1902 (reprint Berlin 1961–1967).
9 Cf. Inscriptions grecques and latines de la Syrie (ed. W.H. W a d d i n g t o n, Paris 1870;
reprint: Rome 1968 [Syria], Hildesheim 1972 [Asia Minor]); Syria. Publications of the Princeton
University Archaeological Expeditions to Syria in 1904–1905 and 1909. Division III, Greek
and Latin Inscriptions in Syria, Section A, Parts 1–7. Southern Syria, eds. H.C. B u t l e r,
E. L i t m a n n, D. M a g i e, D. R e e d S t u a r t, Leyden 1907–192; Division IV, Semitic
Inscriptions, Sections A-D, ed. E. L i t t m a n n, Leyden 1914–1949. Inscriptions from Palestina
Tertia. Vol. I a. The Greek Inscriptions from Ghor es-Safi, eds. Y.E. Meimaris, K.I. Kritikakou-Ni-
kolaropoulou, Athens 2005; Inscriptions from Palestina Tertia. Vol. I b. The Greek Inscriptions
from Ghor es-Safi. Supplement (Khirbet Qazone, Feinan), eds. Y.E. Meimaris, K.I. Kritikakou-Ni-
kolaropoulou, Athens 2008; Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae. A multi-lingual corpus
of the inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad, vol. I (Jerusalem), ed. M.M. Cotton et al.,
Berlin–New York 2010; vol. 1/2 (Jerusalem), ed. H.M. Cotton et al., Berlin–Boston 2012; vol.
2 (Caesarea and the Middle Coast), ed. W. Ameling, Berlin–Boston 2011; vol. 3 (South Coast),
ed. W. Ameling, Berlin–Boston 2014.
10 See above all: D. F e i s s e l, Chroniques d’épigraphie byzantine 1987–2004, Paris 2006,
p. 157–285 (a detailed list of epigraphic publications pertaining to the region of the Diocese of
the East, divided according to geographical criteria into particular provinces and cities); Guide de
l’épigraphiste. Bibliographie des épigraphies antiques et médiévales, éd. F. B é r a r d, D. F e i s s e l,
N. L a u b r y, P. P e t i t m e n g i n, D. R o u s s e t, M. S è v e et al., Paris 2010, p. 80–85
(contains bibliographic records of inscription corpuses, including the selection of inscriptions
originating from particular cities and regions of Syro-Palestine); p. 170–172 (contains a separate
list of works on juridical epigraphics); p. 250–252 (contains a separate list of the most important
works on the Late Roman Empire). See also G. G r e a t r e x, S.N.C. L i e u, The Roman Eastern
Frontier and the Persian Wars. Part II AD 363–630. A Narrative Sourcebook, London – New
York 2002, p. 238–245 (a short review of epigraphic sources).
C H A P T E R
The Units of Civilian Administration
Syria Prima. Beginning in the reign of Septimius Severus (193–211),
a larger part of northern Syria was occupied by the province known as Celesyria
(Syria Coele). This province was then divided into two smaller units Syria I (Syria
Prima) and Syria II (Syria Secunda) – during the first years of Theodosius II’s
reign (408–450), probably between 413 and 4171. The newly established prov-
ince – Syria Prima – covered a region extending from the Mediterranean Sea,
through the Amanus Mountains and the plains of the lower and middle Orontes,
to Limestone Massif in the Syrian interior2.
1 J. B a l t y, Sur la date de création de la Syria Secunda, Sy 57.2–4, 1980, p. 465–481. See also
G.A. H a r r e r, Studies in the History of the Roman Province of Syria, Princeton 1915, p. 87–90.
2 Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, ed. R.J.A. T a l b e r t, Princeton 2000,
p. 67, 68, 102. Concerning the geography and historical geography of Syria Prima and Syria
The provincial governor held the rank of consular (consularis) and resided in
Antioch (Antakya, Turkey)3. The governor’s seat, probably from the reign of Em-
peror Zeno (474–491) and certainly in the first two or three decades of the sixth
century, was located in the old building of Commodus’ bathhouse, near Valens’
forum4. The forum lay on the left-bank area of the city, north-east of the oldest
Hellenistic district, which had been built by the city’s founder, Seleucus I Nica-
tor5. A bronze statue of Constantine the Great was erected in front of the consu-
lar building during Constantine’s reign and it is reported that this statue was still
standing during the first decades of the sixth century6.
In addition to Antioch, the following cities lay within Syria Prima’s admin-
istrative borders: Seleukeia Pieria (Samandağ, Turkey), Laodicea (Lattaquié,
Syria), Gabala (Jebele, Syria), Paltos (Arab el-Moulk, Syria), Beroia (Alep, Syria)
and Chalcis ad Belum (Qinnesrin, Syria)7.
Secunda, see also classic title: R. D u s s a u d, La Topographie historique de la Syrie antique et
médiévale, Paris 1927, p. 165–246; 413–446.
3 Synekdèmos, p. 39; Descriptio, p. 62. I am basing the modern localisation of the places listed
in Synekdèmos, Descriptio orbis romani and (later) in Notitia Dignitatum, on maps in Barrington
Atlas… (maps 67–71), indices to the maps (Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World.
Map-by-Map Directory, vol. II, ed. R.J.A. Talbert, Princeton–Oxford 2000, p. 1027–1074), old,
but nonetheless precise commentaries of Eduard Böcking to his edition of Notitia Dignitatum
(Notitia Dignitatum, ed. E. B ö c k i n g, Bonnae 1853 [reprint: La Vergne 2009, p. 341–395]),
as well as from the internet site Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire edited by Johan Åhlfeldt from
the Lund University (imperium.ahlfeldt.se). In the case of some Palestinian names I consulted
also TIR.IP and K. G u t w e i n, Third Palestine. A Regional Study in Byzantine Urbanization,
4 C o n s t a n t i n e V I I P o r p h y r o g e n i t u s, De insidiis, 35 (p. 166–167) contains
the account of the riots staged by circus factions in about 484, which suggests that the praetorium
of the governor was situated near Valens’ forum, see P. F i l i p c z a k, Władze państwowe wobec
zamieszek fakcji cyrkowych w Antiochii w świetle Kroniki Jana Malalasa (State Authorities
towards Factional Unrest in Antioch in the Light of the Chronicle of John Malalas), PZH 2004,
6, p. 35–49. J o h n M a l a l a s, XIII, 30 offers the account of Valens’ building investments
which includes the statement that “now” (transl. E. J e f f r e y s, R. S c o t t , p. 184), that is,
during Malalas’ stay in Antioch (from his birth in about 490 to 540 at the latest) praetorium
was situated in the building called Commodion. See also G. D o w n e y, A History of Antioch in
Syria: from Seleucos to the Arab Conquest, Princeton 1961, p. 405–406, 633–634.
5 O. M ü l l e r, Antiquitates Antiochenae. Commentationes duae, Gottingae 1839, p. 109–
110; G. D o w n e y, A History of Antioch…, p. 632–640.
6 J o h n M a l a l a s, XIII, 3. G. D o w n e y, A History of Antioch…, p. 349, n. 144.
7 Synekdèmos, p. 39; Descriptio, p. 63. On Syro-Palestinian cities, including Phoenicia
and the region of Euphrates, see for example: E. H o n i g m a n n, Historische Topographie von
Nordsyrien im Altertum, ZDPV 46, 1923, pp. 149–193 ; V. C h a p o t, La frontière de l’Euphrate
de Pompée à la conquéte Arabe, Roma 1967, p. 269–326; A.H.M. J o n e s: The Cities of Eastern
Part I. The Units of Civilian Administration
Syria Secunda. In terms of the area it occupied, Syria Secunda was the larg-
est Roman province in Syria. It covered the area of northwest, central and eastern
Syria, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea in the west, the coastal range of
the Bargylus Mountains through the plain of the middle Orontes in the interior,
to the Syrian Desert in the east8.
The provincial governor, holding the title of praeses9 and, from around
535, consular (consularis)10 was based in Apamea on the Orontes (today Qa-
laat el-Moudiq, Syria)11. The consular residence was established in the so-called
House of the Triclinus, built on a rectangular plan, standing in the south-eastern
part of the city. It was equipped with a ceremonial hall (with a total area of about
110 square metres) paved with floor mosaics representing a great hunt. One of
the mosaics portrays the virtue of courage that characterises the emperor or his
provincial representative. It is accompanied by an inscription, which refers to
this figure as the “greatest Apellion” (although it does not name his office). As
shall be demonstrated in the prosopographical part of this chapter, such a term
was often used in epigraphic material with regard to imperial officials (comes,
dux, praeses). It can be argued that in 539 this Apellion, although now unknown,
served as the governor of the province and that he resided at this time in the House
of the Triclinus. A complex of private bathhouses, in addition to a number
Roman Provinces, ed. M. A v i - Y o n a h et al., Oxford 1971, p. 226–294; M. A v i - Y o n a h,
Gazetteer of Roman Palestine, Jerusalem 1976; Y. T s a f i r, L. D i S e g n i, J. G r e e n, Gazetteer,
[in:] TIR.IP, p. 53–263; M. S a r t r e, D’Alexandre à Zénobie. Histoire du Levant antique
IVe siècle av. J.-C. – IIIe siècle ap. J.-C., Paris – Beyrouth 2001, passim (mainly p. 639–733);
G. C o h e n, The Hellenistic Settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin and North Africa, Berkeley –
London 2006, p. 71–222; The abridged bibliography on the cities of Syro-Palestine can be
found also in M.A. C a s a n o v a, A. E g e a V i v a n c o s, Selección bibliográfica sobre La Siria
romano-cristiana, AnC 15, 1998, p. 27–37; see also the monumental work with bibliography
of 1300 archaeological places in Syria and Lebanon – G. L e h m a n n, Bibliographie der
archäologischen Fundstellen und Surveys in Syrien und Libanon, Rahden 2002.
8 Barrington Atlas…, p. 67, 68, 102.
9 Synekdèmos, p. 39 (the rank of the governor given in the source, in Greek – ἡγεμών –
may mean a governor of any rank. Hegemons are often identified with presidents (praesides)
of provinces. See H.J. M a s o n, Greek Terms for Roman Institutions. A Lexicon and Analysys,
Toronto 1974, p. 144). See also A Greek English Lexicon, ed. H.G. L i d d e l l, R. S c o t t et al.,
Oxford 1996, p. 762 [s.v. ἡγεμόνεια]. Cf. CIC, Novellae, VIII (consularis).
10 B. K ü b l e r, RE IV/7, col. 1142 [s.v. consularis].
11 Synekdèmos, p. 39; Descriptio, p. 63. On the topography of the city from the Hellenistic
to the Arab period, see J. B a l t y, J.Ch. B a l t y, Le cadre topographique et historique, [in:]
Colloque Apamée de Syrie. Bilan des recherches archéologiques 1965–1968. Actes du colloque
tenu à Bruxelles les 29 et 30 avril 1969, éd. J. B a l t y et al., Bruxeles 1969, p. 29–51. However,
the work contains no information concerning the seats of either local or state administration.
of other rooms, formed an integral part of this residence, which is believed to
have been constructed around 539, during the reign of Justinian I12.
Syria Secunda comprised the following cities, along with their associated ter-
ritories: Epiphaneia (Hama, Syria), Areth(o)usa (Restan, Syria), Larissa (Shaizar,
Syria), Mariamme (Mariamin, Syria), Balanea (Baniyas, Syria), Raphaneai (Raf-
niye, Syria) and Seleukobelos (Jisr es-Shoghour, Syria)13.
Euphratensis (Euphratensia). This province was formed in the first half of
the fourth century, during the reign of Diocletian (284–305), or, more proba-
bly, towards the end of the 30s of the fourth century, during the reign of Con-
stantine I (306–337), or the beginning of the reign of Constantius (337–361)14.
Euphratesia was carved out of the eastern part of Celesyria, situated along
the Euphrates river. It occupied a vast area on the right bank of the central part
of the river, at the point at which it takes on the shape of a bow bent westwards.
Geographically, the lands are part of northern Mesopotamia, eastern Syria and
south-eastern Asia Minor15. The governor of the province, holding the rank of
praeses, was based in Hierapolis (Membidj, Syria)16. The location of government
buildings remains unknown, as none of them survive17.
Euphratesia comprised the following cities: Cyrrhus (Nebi Ouri, Syria), Sa-
mosata (Samsat, Turkey), Doliche (Dülük, Turkey), Zeugma (Belkis, Turkey),
Germanikeia (Kahramanmaraş, Turkey), Perre (Pirun, Turkey), Nicopolis (İs-
lahiye, Turkey), Skenarchia (the identification of that place is uncertain and it
is sometimes, probably erroneously, equated with the city of Eski-Meskene/Ba-
12 J. B a l t y, La grande mosaïque de chasse du triclinius, Bruxelles 1939, p. 35;
V. V e r h o o g e n, Apamée de Syrie aux Musées royaux d’art et d’histoire, Bruxelles 1964, p. 14;
J. B a l t y, La grande mosaïque de chasse des Musées royaux d’art et d’histoire et sa datation, [in:]
Colloque Apamée de Syrie…, p. 131; J.Ch. B a l t y, Palais et maisons d’Apamée, [in:] Les maisons
dans la Syrie antique du IIIe millénaire aux débouts de l’islam. Pratiques et représentations de
l’espace domestique. Actes du colloque International (Damas, 27–30 juin 1992), éd. C. C a s t e l,
M. A l - M a q d i s i, F. V i l l e n e u v e, Beyrouth 1997, p. 283–295; i d e m, Apamée: Mutations
et permanences de l’espace urbain, de la fondation hellénistique à la ville romano-byzantine, BEO
52, 2000, p. 179–180.
13 Synekdèmos, p. 40; Descriptio, p. 63.
14 For more on the circumstances and the chronology of the establishment of this province
see P. F i l i p c z a k, The Imperial Administration in Syria during the Reign of Diocletian and
Constantine the Great. The Problem of Establishment of the Province Euphratensia, [in:] Saint
Emperor Constantine and Christianity. Proceedings of International Conference Commemorating
the 1700th Anniversary of the Edict of Milan, ed. D. B o j a n o v i c, vol. I, Niš 2013, p. 217–227.
15 Barrington Atlas…, p. 67, 102. Cf. also R. D u s s a u d, Topographie…, p. 447–480.
16 Synekdèmos, p. 40; Descriptio, p. 63. Cf. also CIC, Novellae, VIII (praeses).
17 G. G o o s s e n s, Hiérapolis de Syrie. Essai de monographie historique, Louvain 1943,
Part I. The Units of Civilian Administration
lis, Syria – it is possible that this region is one of north-eastern Syria inhabited
by the Arabs Skenitai), Salton Erazigenon/Salgenoratixenon (Abu Hanaya, Syr-
ia), Syrima (or Ourima, the identification of the city is uncertain, it is sometimes
identified either with the ancient Antioch on the Euphrates, Syria) and Europos
(Jerablous/Cerablus, also Carchemish, Turkey)18.
Theodorias. The province of Theodorias comprised a territory taken from
the earlier provinces of Syria Prima and Syria Secunda. Carved out from Syria
Prima were the two coastal cities of Paltus and Gabala, as well as Laodicea – lo-
cated in the interior part of the country and elevated to the position of the cap-
ital of the new province. The city of Balanea, also incorporated into the new
province, was detached from Syria Secunda. Theodorias stretched over a narrow
strip of coast lying at the foot of the Bargylus mountains19. Synekdèmos and
Malalas do not inform us of the exact rank of the governor of the province20,
but in the Novel VIII he is described as consular21; it is not possible to identify
government buildings on the ancient city’s plan, nor can any such constructions
be found among monuments that survive to this day22.
Phoenice/Phoenice Paralia. The province Phoenicia (Phoenice), once also
known as Phoenician Syria (Syria Phoenice), was established during the reign of
Septimius Severus. At this time it was a large administrative district which, in
addition to the coastal area of Phoenicia proper, also covered an area of cen-
tral and eastern Syria23. In the reign of Diocletian, the province was divided into
two smaller ones: Augusta Libanensis, occupying the central and eastern part of
Syria, and Phoenice encompassing the coastal territory24. The reign of Theodosi-
us I brought with it a change in the name of both administrative units, leaving
their respective territories intact. The first province became Phoenicia Lebanese
(Phoenice Libanensis) and the second became Phoenicia Maritime (Phoenice
Maritima). This division continued until the reign of Justinian I, but sources
from the period usually refer to Phoenicia Maritima as Phoenicia Paralia25 or
18 Synekdèmos…, p. 40; Descriptio, p. 63. Cf. R. D u s s a u d, Topographie…, p. 126–136.
19 Barrington Atlas…, p. 68.
20 J o h n M a l a l a s, XVIII, 39; Descriptio, p. 63.
21 CIC, Novellae, VIII.
22 J. S a u v a g e t, Le plan de Laodicée-sur-Mer, BEO 4, 1934, p. 81–114. J.-P. R e y -
C o q u a i s indicates a significant role of the harbour, see Laodicée-sur-mer et l’armée romaine.
À partir de quelques inscriptions, [in:] The Roman and Byzantine Army in the East. Proceedings of
a Colloqium Held at the Jagiellonian University, Kraków in September 1992, ed. E. D ą b r o w a,
Kraków 1994, p. 149–163.
23 J.-P. R e y - C o q u a i s, Syrie romaine de Pompee à Diocletien, JRS 68, 1978, p. 61–62.
24 Ibidem, p. 62.
25 Descriptio, p. 66.
simply Phoenicia (Phoenice)26. The province extended along the Mediterranean
coast, between Tyre (Es-Sur, Lebanon) in the north and Arad (Arwad, Syria) in
The province, with Tyre as its capital, was governed by a consularis28. Schol-
arly literature provides no information about where he resided, or where local
government buildings were located29. It can only be presumed that these buildings
were situated within the so-called imperial city, that is, in a district which lay in
the southern part of Tyre (in the area known as the Egyptian harbour). An alley
flanked with columns led to this district, and thermal baths and public buildings
were located in its vicinity30. As in the rest of the Empire, the city’s political life
was centred here around the hippodrome. Its impressive ruins survive to this day
in the eastern part of the city, the best preserved of which is the southern part of
the hippodrome, encompassing its main entrance and the stands for local officials31.
The province of Phoenicia comprised the following cities: Ptolemais (Acre,
Israel), Sidon (Saida, Lebanon), Berytus (Beirut, Lebanon), Byblos (Jbeil, Leba-
non), Botrys (Batrun, Lebanon), Tripolis (Tripoli/Tarabulus, Lebanon), Arca
(Arqa, Lebanon), Orthosia (Ard Artousi, Lebanon), Antarados (Tartus, Syria),
Constantia (identified as Antarados), Pogonas (its location remains unidentified
– it may have been Gun/Dijon, near Akka) and Paneas (also known as Caesarea
Philippi, today Banias, Israel)32.
Phoenicia Lebanese (Phoenice Libanensis). This administrative unit was
established during the reign of Theodosius I (379–395) replacing the province
Augusta Libanensis. It encompassed the territory of the Bekaa valley, the An-
ti-Lebanon mountain range along with the Hermon mountain massif, the valley
of the river Barada and the Damascus oasis, the western banks of Lake Tiberias
and the vast open spaces of the Syrian Desert33.
26 Synekdèmos, p. 40.
27 Barrington Atlas…, p. 69, 102. Cf. R. D u s s a u d, Topographie…, p. 7–36.
28 Synekdèmos, p. 40; Descriptio, p. 66. Cf. also CIC, Novellae, VIII.
29 See a number of reports (Chronique) on the excavation work published by M. C h é c h a b
in BMB 6, 1942–1943, p. 86; 8, 1946–1948, p. 160–161; 9, 1949–1950, p. 108; 18, 1965,
p. 112–113) and the paper by this author Tyr à l’époque romaine. Aspects de la cité à la lumière
des textes et des fouilles, MUSJ 38, 1962, p. 13–40. See also R. B u r n s, Monuments of Syria. An
Historical Guide, London–New York 1999, p. 149–151.
30 All of these spots can be clearly seen in the aerial photos of Tyre which were “imposed”
on the plan of the ancient city. See N. J i d e j i a n, Tyr à travers les ages, transl. D. H a l a r d -
J i d e j i a n, Beyrouth 1996 [two large black and white photos included prior to the title page].
31 Ibidem, p. 188–195.
32 Synekdèmos, p. 41; Descriptio, p. 66.
33 Barrington Atlas…, p. 68, 69, 102. Cf. also R. D u s s a u d, Topographie…, p. 276–290.
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