Sir William Smith William Latham Bevan.

The student's manual of ancient geography online

. (page 20 of 82)
Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 20 of 82)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

on the slope of a hill near the coast, with a port named Daphnus,
formed by a jutting rock on which the acropolis stood. Even in
Xenophon's time it was an important place, but it reached its highest
prosperity under the emperors Hadrian and Trajan, the latter of whom

'Av^fAcpot yifi, oUi vpi^Aooroc f^roit. — ^^scB. Prom, 714.
Striduntque caremls
Strictmw Chalylnmi, et fSomaollras ignis anhelat

ViBO. .Eh, Tiil. 4S0.

Jupiter I at Chalybdn omne genus pereat,
£t qni principio sub terra quorere venas
lastitlt, ac ferrl fingere duritiem I Catcll. IxTi. 48.


by Google

160 PONTUS. Book II.

made it the capital of Pontus Cappadocicaa ; it is still, as Trebizond,
one of the most flourishing cities of AsiiEt Minor. Fhflsis f^tood on the
S. side of the river of the same name, and thus within the limits of
Pontus; it was a Milesian colony, and a place of considerable trade :
it possesned a temple of Cybele. In the interior — Amairia, once the
residence of the kings of Pontus, stood on the river Iris; it gave birth
to Mithridates the Great and to the geographer Strabo : it still retains
its ancient name, and is a considerable town. Oomftna Pontica stood
in the upper valley of the same river, and was a commercial entrepdt
for the Armenian trade : it was the chief seat of the worship of Enyo,
whose priests exercised an authority second only to that of the kings :
a few remains of the place have been discovered at Oumenek, Cabira
was situated on the Lycus, some distance above its junction with the
Iris : Mithridates the Great had a palace and treasury there, which
Cn. Pompeius succeeded in capturing: KeooflBtarea was. probably a
later name for the same place, assigned to it in the reign of Tiberius,
a place of ecclesiastical importance as the seat of a coimcil in a.d. 314,
and the birthplace of Gregory Thaumaturgus. Sebaitia was on the N.
bank of the Upper Halys, and was enlarged by Pompey, under the
name of Megalopolis ; the old name, however, returned to it, and still
exists under the form Sitoaa: it was a flourishing place under the
Byzantine emperors.

Of the less important places we may notice— (1 .) on the sea-coast from
W. to E. Aiuxm, a small port at the mouth of the Iris— Themiio^,
at the mouth of the Thermodon, said to have been built by the
Amazons; destroyed by LucuUus — Cotyora, a colony from Sinope,
with a port whence the 10,000 took ship — Argyriai with silver mines —
Oer&ins, a colony from Sinope, visited by the 10,000; the place whence
Lucullus introduced the cherry into Italy — and Apd&mf , a place of
some importance at the mouth of the Acampsis, the reputed burial-
place of Absyrtus. (2.) In the interior — Gasiflra on the Iris, the
ancient residence of the kings of Pontus — FhaiSmon, N. of Amasia,
with hot mineral springs, made a Roman colony by Pompey, with the
name Neapolis^and Zela, on the left bank of the Iris, rendered illus-
trious by the victory of Mithridates over the Romeois, and still more
by that of CSa^sar over Phamaces, reported in the brief despatch,
"Veni, Vidi, Vici."

History. — The history of Pontus commences in b.c. 363, with the
foundation of a sovereignty over many of the Pontic tribes by Ario-
barzanes. His successor, Mithridates II., extended and consolidated
his kingdom, and it prospered under the succeeding sovereigns, until
it reached its greatest extent under Mithridates VI., who reigned from
B.C. 120 to 63. But the wars which he carried on with the Romans
proved fatal to his empire : the western portion was annexed by Pom-
pey to Bithynia, b.c. 65 ; the district between the Iris and HiUys was
given to the Galatian Deiotarus, and hence named Pontus Gnlaticus :
that between the Iris and Pharnacia was subsequently handed over by
M. Antonius to Polemon, and hence named Polemoniacus : and the
eastern portion fell shortly after into the hands of Archelaus, king of
Cappadocia, and was distinguished as Cappadodcus. Pontus was made
a IU>man province, jld. 63: and under Constantine was divided into
Helenopontus in the S.W., and Polemoniacus in the centre and £.

Pontus is but seldom noticed in the Bible : Jews from that province
were present at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts ii. 9) ; the
Jewish Christians were addressed by St. Peter (1 Pet. i. 1); and Aquila
was a native of that country (Acts xviii. 2).


by Google

Libanua, or Lebanon.



I. Syria. § 1. Boundaries and natural diyisions. § 2. Mountains.
§ 3. Rivers. § 4. Political divisions. § 5. Towns ; history. II.
Phcenicia. § 6. Boundaries, &c. § 7. Qeographical position. § 8.
Mountains and rivers. §9. Inhabitants; towns; history. § 10.
Colonies. III. Arabia. § 11. Boundaries and natural divisions.
§ 12. Mountains. § 13. Inhabitants. § 14. Divisions; towns;
islands ; history.

I. Syria.

§ 1. Syria, in itfi widest extent, comprised the \vhole of the
eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea from Cilicia in the N. to the
Arabian desert in the S., and extended eastward to the Euphrates.
From this, however, we must except the southern region of Pales-
tine, and the strip of coast occupied by Phoenicia ; its boundaries
may then be more accurately defined thus : in the W. the Mediter-
ranean Sea down to near Aradus, and thenceforward the range of
Libanus; on the S. an imaginary line, leaving Libanus opposite
Sidon, and stretching across the desert somewhat S. of Damascus
and Palmyra, to the Euphrates near Thapsacus ; on the N.W. the
range of Amanus ; on the N. Taurus, separating it from Cappadocia ;
and on the E. the Euphrates, separating it from Mesopotamia. It


by Google

162 SYEIA. Book U.

is naturally divided into the following three f^arts— (1.) the coast
district ; (2.) the upjier valley of the Orontes between the ranges of
Libanus and Antilibanus, to which the name of Coele-Syria, t. e.
" hollow Syria," was properly applied ; and (3.) the extensive desert
which intervenes between these ranges and the Euphrates. These
districts diflfer widely in climate, character, and productions ; thickly-
wooded mountains and well-watered plains characterise the two
former ; while the third consists of a series of plateaus rising to
about 1500 feet above the sea, and traversed by undulating hills,
devoid of interest, and, in the absence of artificial irrigation, impro-
ductive. ITie inhabitants were a Semitic race, allied to the Phoe-
nicians, Hebrews, and Assyrians. *

f 2. The mountain system of Syria is very distinctly marked :
the range of Aminni, after skirting the Mediterranean coast closely
in the neighbourhood of Issus, sinks at the spot where the road
leaves the coast and crosses by the Portae Syriae, but rises again in
the heights of Pteria, which take a westerly direction and form a
considerable promontory. S. of this, the range is broken by the
plain of the Orontes, but is resumed in the maritime range of
OMim (which culminates in a conical peak 5000 ft. high completely
clothed with forest), as well ac in the more inland range of Borgylni,
Ntuiairyeth, which is carried on to the border of Phceriicia. Here
the chain is again broken by the valley of the Elcutherus, to the S.
of which the range of Ubaam rises, and runs in a long imbroken
line to the border of Palestine, llie parallel ridge of AntOibaaiii
is separated from it by the river Leontes, and forms the connecting
link with the ranges which traverse the whole length of Palestine.
Of all the Syrian mountains, Libanus, more familiar to us under the
Scriptural name of Lebanon, is the most magnificent. It derives its
name from its whitened appearance, arising partly from the snow
which lingers in some spots all the year round, and partly from the
natural colour of the rock. Its greatest elevation is about 10,000
feet. In former times it was clothed with forests of cedar and fir,
which supplied the materials for the Temple at Jerusalem ; a single
grove, containing about 400 trees, of which 12 bear marks of great
antiquity, is generally regarded as the representative of the ** cedars of
Lebfuion :'* this grove is situated in the high slopes of the mountain
near Tripoli ; the tree still exists, however, in other parts. Antili-
banus terminates southwards in the well-known peak of Hermon at
an elevation of about 10,000 feet ; this will bo described in a future

I 8. The most important river in Syria is the Orantef*^ which rises

JaTenml uses the name of (he Orontes af equivalent to Syria :
In Tiberim deflaxit Orontes.— .S<7f. Hi. 62.


by Google


between the ranges of Libanus and Antilibanus, not far from the
Leontes, and takes a N. conrse until it reaches the neighbourhood
of Antioch ; there it sweeps round to the W., and again to the S.W.
until it joins the sea ; its modem name, el-Aiy, " the rebellious,"
may have reference to these sudden alterations in its course. The
scenery of the lower course of the river is not unlike that of our own
Wye. llie upper course of the Litany also falls within the limits
of Syria. There are numerous coast-streams of but little import-
ance. In the interior the rivers of Damascus — the well-known
" Abana and Pharpar " of the Bible (2 K. v. 12), though small, are
very valuable ; the first was named Chrysorrhoas, " golden-flowing,"
by the Greeks, and is now the Barada ; the second was of less im-
portance, and is now named ^o^re^^UKy; the former rises in Anti-
libanus, the latter in Henhon ; they flow in an easterly direction
across the plain of Damascus, communicating to it its extraordinary
fertility and beauty, and fall into two lakes to the E. of the town.

§ 4. Syria was divided into the following 10 districts — Comma-
gine, in the extreme N. between Taurus and the Euphrates ; Cyr-
xlieititoe, between Amanus and the Euphrates ; Pi«iU, about the
mountain of the sai^e name ; Selendf, about Antioch ; Chaljboiiltis,
thence to the Euphrates ; 01ialdi6{oe to the S.W. ; Apamine, stretch-
ing away from ApamSa towards the S.E. ; Palmyrine, along the
southern frontier about Palmyra ; Laodiofinef westward about Lao-
dioea in Ccele-Syria; and Caiimi, on the sea-coast about Mount
Casius. In addition to these we must notice the Biblical AUl§ne,
a district on the eastern slopes of Antilibanus about the town Abila,
which, at the time of our Saviour's birth, belonged partly to Philip,
and partly to Lysanias (Luke iii. I), and which was handed over to
Herod Agrippa by Caligula.

§ 5. The towns of Syria were of two classes — (1.) the ancient
Biblical towns, which owed their importance partly to military and
partly to commercial considerations, such as Dmnascus, Tadmor,
Hamath, and the towns commanding the passages of the Eu-
phrates— Samosata and Thapsacus ; and (2.) the towns which were
called into existence by the Syrian raonarchs, such as Antioch, Se-
leucia, Apamea, Zeugma. Occasionally the old towns A^ere entirely
rebuilt, at all events highly adorned, either by the Seleucidae, as was
the case with Epiphania (the ancient Hamath), Beroea (Chalybon),
and Hellopolis (Bambyce), or at a later period by the Roman em-
perors or governors, as was the case with Hellopolis and Palmyra.
The towns of the first class are situated in the south, those of the
second class for the roost part in the north of the country. Da-
mascus was the chief town of the former class ; but Antioch was
the capital of the country after it was raised to an independent


by Google

164 SYRIA. Book II.

Kuiiifi of llUmyra.

Antiochia was gituated at the westAn extremity of a fine alluvial plain
on the left bank of the Orontes, near the spot where that river enters
the defile that conducts it to the sea. Its position was well chosen for
a great capital. It had easy access to the sea by the defile just noticed,
to Lower Syria and Egypt by the valley of the Orontes, to Cilicia by
the pass commanded by the Portse Syria), and to Mesopotamia by
various routes across the desert. It was founded i^.c. 300 by Seleucus
Kicator, and named after his father Antiochus. It was reg\ilarly laid
out in streets intersecting each other at right angles, and adorned with
temples and public buildings by successive kings, particularly by Anti-
ochus Soter. A new quarter was added by Seleucus Callinicus on an
island in the river, which was joined to the shore by five bridges; and
another by Antiochus Epiphanes on the side adjacent to the mountain.
It was subsequently much adorned by the Roman emperors. Antioch
is chiefiy interesting from its associations with eaa*ly Christian history.
A chui'ch was founded there by fugitive disciples from Jerusalem (Acts
xi. 19), and there the honoured name of "Chiistian" first came into
use. It was for some time the head-quarters of St. Paul, whence he
started on his two first apostolic journeys. Afterwards it became the
seat of a patriarchate which ranked with Constantinople and Alex-
andria. Its capture by the Persians under Sapor, a.d. 260, is other-
wise the most prominent event in its history. Soleooia, SeUfkieh, sur-
uamed Pieria, was an important maritime city, situated on a plain be-
tween Mount Pieria and the sea, about six miles N. of the mouth of
the Orontes. It was built by Seleucus Nicator, and served as the port
of Antioch. The harbour was excavated out of the plain, and con-
nected with the sea by a canal. St. Paul sailed from here to Cyprus
(Acts xiii. 4). An immense tunnel led from the upper part of the city
to the sea. Laodiofo, Ladikiyeh, sumamed ad Mare, stood on the sea-


by Google

Chap. X. TOWNS. 166

coast S. of Seleucia> with an excellent harbour, and surrounded by a
rich vine-gi*owing country : it was built by Seleucus Nicator, and fur-
nished with an aqueduct by Uerod the Qreat, of which a fragment still
remains ; it was partly destroyed by Cassius, B.C. 43, in his war with
Dolabella. Apamfia, in the valley of the Orontes, owed its prosperity
to Seleucus Nicator, who named it after his wife Apama, and established
a commissariat station there ; its ruins testify to its former magnificence.
Spiphania was the name given probably by Antiochus Epiphanes to
the ancient Hamath, on the Orontes. EmSta, Humst was situated near
the Orontes, on a large and fertile plain, and was celebrated for a templf
of the Sun. HeliopoliB, Baalbek, in Coele-Syria, must have been one of
the chief towns of Syria, although unmentionod in early history. It
stood at the neck of the elevated ground whence the Orontes and Litany
flow in different directions ; and, as the high road of commerce followed
these rivers, it was undoubtedly an important place of trade. In what
age the worship of the Sun, to which the town owes its name, was first
introduced we know not. The magnificent edifices, so beautiful even
in their ruins, were probably erected in the age of the Antonines, but
the platform on which the great temple stands is of older date, and
prol^ly of PhcBnician origin. The chief buildings remaining are three
temples, distinguished as the '* Great Temple," the " Temple of
Jupiter," and the ** Circular Temple." Julius Oiesar made Heliopolis
a colony, and Trajan consulted its oracle before entering on his Parthian
expedition. DainaMTOfl stands on a plain, about a mile and a half from
the lowest ridge of Antilibanus, at an elevation of about 2200 feet above
the sea. This plain, watered by the rivers Abana and Pharpar, is well
clothed with vegetation and foliage. The town now stands on |)oth
bfuiks of the Abana, but it was formerly confined to the south bank.
Damascus lb frequently noticed in the Bible, and its history may be
almost said to be the early history of Syria itself. It derives a special
interest, however, from its connexion with St. Paul's life. Near it he
was converted, and in its synagogues he first preached; the "street
called Straight," in which he lodged, is still the principal one in Da-
mascus. Palmfra, "the city of palms," lies about 140 miles N.E. of
Damascus, in the heart of the desert, where it served as an entrepot for
the caravan trade. Its position is somewhat elevated above the plain,
and the supply of water is comparatively scanty. The history of this
place from the days of Solomon to the Christian era is a blank. Appian
tells us that*M. Antony designed an attack upon it; and it is noticed
by Pliny. About a . d. 1 30 it submitted to Rome, and was made a colony
with the name AdrianOpolii by Hadrian, who adorned it with the beauti-
ful buildings the remains of which still strike the traveller with wonder.
Under Odenathus and his widow Zenobia, Palmyra attained an imperial
dignity ; but after the defeat of Zenobia and the capture of Palmyra by
Aurelian, a.d. 273, it fell into decay, in spite of the attempt at resto-
ration made by Diocletian. Of the ruins the Temple of the Sun is the
finest; the Great Colonnade is also a striking object, 150 out of the
1500 columns originally erected still remaining. The tombs of this
place are also peculiar — lofty towers divided into stories.

Of the less important towns we may briefly notice— Chaldf, the
coital of Chalcidice, S.K. of Antioch; Chalybon, or BercM (as it
was named by Seleucus after the Macedonian town), representing
the modem Aleppo, on the road between Hierapolis and Antioch ;
Hierapolifi the "Holy City," so named from its being a seat of the
woi-stup of Astarte, an emporium between Antioch and the Euphrates;


by Google

160 SYRIA. Book II.


its earlier name, Bambyce, was changed to the Greek name by Seleucus
Nicator ; Thapt&CQf , sometimes considered as a Syrian, sometimes as
an Arabian town; as its position attached it rather to the former coun-
try we shall notice it here ; the most frequented passage of the Euphrates
was opposite Thapsaciis, probably near Deir ; it was here that the
armies of Cyrus the younger, of Daiius, and his competitor Alexander
the Qreat, crossed the river; Zeugma, deriving its name from the
bridge of boats across the Euphrates at this point; the town was founded
by Seleucus Nicator to secure the passage of the river from the capital,
Antioch; it stood opposite Apamea or Bir ; and lastly, Samos&ta, in
Commagene, which commanded the most northein passage between
Cappadocia and Mesopotamia.

History. — The history of Syria, as an independent country, com-
mences with the establishment of the dynasty of the Seleucidse, li.c.
81*2. Seleucus Nicator, the first of that dynasty, acquired nearly all
the provinces of the old Persian empire. His successors gradually lost
these vast possessions : his son, Antiochus Soter (280-261) lost a great
part of Asia Minor by the establishment of the eovereignties of Bithynia
and PergamuB. Under Antipchus Theos (261-246 j Parthia and Bactria
revolted^ Seleucus II. (246-226) in vain attempted to recover these
possessions. Antiochus the Great (223-187) was not more succeesfql
against those remote countries, and suffered a further loss of Palestine
And Coele-Syria : in addition to this he was defeated by the Romans at
Magnesia (ac. 190), and was obliged to yield up all the provinces


by Google


within Taurus to the king of Pergamus. Thenceforward the empire of
Syria rapidly sank, and was gradually reduced to the limits of Syria
Proper and Phcenicia. It became a Roman province in B.C. 65.


§ 6. The limits of PluRkioU are clearly defined on the W. and E.
by the natural boundaries of the Mediterranean Sea and Mount
Lebanon ; on the N. and S. they are not sa decided ; in the latter
direction it intruded for a considerable distance into Palestine,
terminating below Mount Carmel, about nddway between C«esarea
and Doraj, in the former direction the boundary touched the sea
somewhere N. of Ar&dus. It had a length of 120 and an average
breadth of 12 miles. Hie coimtry, though not extensive, was fertile
and varied in its productions. While the lowlands yielded corn
and fruit, the sides of Lebanon wore an inexhaustible storehouse of
timber for ship-building. The purple shell-fish and tlie materials
for the manufacture of glass were sources of great wealth.

Name, — The name ''Phconicia*' is probably derived from the Greek
word ^oiyt^ — "palm-tree" — which grew abuudantly on its soil, and
was the emblem of some of its towns. It has also been connected with
^(f^il—^the red dye" — which formed one of its most important pro-

§ 7. The causes which cc»mbined to render this country the earliest
seat of extended commerce are connected partly with its position
relatively to other nations, and partly with the internal capacities of
the country itself. Phopnicia was well adapted to become the en-
trei)6t of European and Asiatic commerce. Centrally situated on
the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, it was the point which
the trade of Palmyra, Babylon, the Persian Gulf and India, Bactria,
and China, would naturally seek. ITie shores of Europe were easily
accessible from it Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes, the Cyclades, were so
many stepping-stones to Greece, as were Chios, Lesbos, and Lemnos,
to the Euxine ; Sicily and Sai*dinia were stages on the route to
Spain and the Pillars of Hercules ; the open Atlantic thence
invited to the shores of northern Europe. Equally favourable was
its position relatively to Africa. Egypt and the Red Sea were
easily accessible ; Cyrene and Carthage answered to the peninsulas
of Greece and Italy ; and from the Pillars of Hercules the shores of
Western Africa were open to them. But these advantages In the
position of Phcenicia would probably have been lost if the country
itself had not possessed peculiar advantages for the prosecution of
trade. It may be observed then, that it was protected from intru-
sion at its rear by the lofty barrier of Lebanon intervening between
it and the open plains of Asia, and at its sides by the spurs which
that chain sends forth to the immediate neighbourhood of the sea.


by Google


Though easily accessible from the north and south, Phoenicia was
still no thoroughfare. The high-road from Eg^^pt to Antioch, which
followed the sea-coast as far as Tyre, turned inland from that point,
and followed the valleys of the Leontes and Orontes between the
ranges of Libanus and Antilibanus. Lastly, the coast is sufficiently
broken to supply several harbours amply large enough for the re-
quirements of early commerce.

§ 8. llie physical features of Phoenicia are easily described ; the
range of Lebftnon or libKnus runs parallel to the coast, throwing out a
number of spurs in that direction, which break up the whole country
into a succession of valleys. Some of these spurs run into the sea
and form promontories, of which the most important are — 11ieii«Pro-
tOpon, Ras-eS'Shekah, Ptool AUnim, Uas^l-Ahiad^ S. of Tyre, and
Oanniliim, Carmel : the latter will be hereafter described ; Album
rises to a height of 300 ft., and intercepts the coast road, which was
originally carried over it by a series of steps, hence called Climax
Tyriorum, " the Tyrian Staircase ;" a roadway was afterwards cut
through the solid rock. Another Climax of a similar character
existed in the north, about 25 miles below ITieu-Prosopon. The
rivers are necessarily short ; the principal streams from N. to S.
are — the Sleuthinif, Nahr-el-Kebir, which drains the plain between
Bargylus and Libanus — and the Lsontet, Kasimieh or Litaniy which
rises between the ranges of Libanus and Antilibanus, and flowing
for the greater part of its course towards the S.W., turns sharply
round towards the W. and gains the sea near Tyre. ITie small
stream Adfinii, Nahr el Jbrahim, which joins the sea near Byblus,
derives an interest from its connexion with the legend of the death
of Adonis, who is said to have been killed by a wild boar on Libanus.
The blood-red hue of the water in time of flood may have given
origin to the story.*

§ 9. The Phoenicians of historical times were undoubtedly a
Semitic nation. Their language bears remarkable affinity to the
Hebrew, as evidenced by an inscription discovered at Mai-seilles in
1845, of which 74 words out of 94 are to be found in the Bible.
The Mosaic table, however, describes Canaan. as the son of Ham
(Gen. X. 15), and connects that race with the Egyptians and other
Hamitic nations. We must therefore assume, either that there was
a later immigration, or that the Phoenicians left their original seats

Online LibrarySir William Smith William Latham BevanThe student's manual of ancient geography → online text (page 20 of 82)