Antioch on the Orontes (]

The population was estimated by Chrysostom at about 100,000 people at the time of Theodosius I. Between 252 and 300, ten assemblies of the church were held at Antioch and it became the seat of one of the four original patriarchates, along with Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Rome (see Pentarchy). Today Antioch remains the seat of a patriarchate of the Oriental Orthodox churches. One of the canonical Eastern Orthodox churches is still called the Antiochian Orthodox Church, although it moved its headquarters from Antioch to Damascus, Syria, several centuries ago (see list of Patriarchs of Antioch), and its prime bishop retains the title "Patriarch of Antioch," somewhat analogous to the manner in which several Popes, heads of the Roman Catholic Church remained "Bishop of Rome" even while residing in Avignon, France in the 14th century.

4th to 6th centuries

During the 4th century, Antioch was one of the three most important cities in the eastern Roman empire (along with Alexandria and Constantinople), which led to it being recognized as the seat of one of the five early Christian patriarchates (see Pentarchy).

When the emperor Julian visited in 362 on a detour to Persia, he had high hopes for Antioch, regarding it as a rival to the imperial capital of Constantinople. Antioch had a mixed pagan and Christian population, which Ammianus Marcellinus implies lived quite harmoniously together. However Julian's visit began ominously as it coincided with a lament for Adonis, the doomed lover of Aphrodite. Thus, Ammianus wrote, the emperor and his soldiers entered the city not to the sound of cheers but to wailing and screaming.

Not long after, the Christian population railed at Julian for his favour to Jewish and pagan rites, and, outraged by the closing of its great church of Constantine, burned down the temple of Apollo in Daphne. Another version of the story had it that the chief priest of the temple accidentally set the temple alight because he had fallen asleep after lighting a candle. In any case Julian had the man tortured for negligence (for either allowing the Christians to burn the temple or for burning it himself), confiscated Christian property and berated the pagan Antiochenes for their impiety.

Julian found much else about which to criticize the Antiochenes. Julian had wanted the empire's cities to be more self-managing, as they had been some 200 years before. However Antioch's city councilmen showed themselves unwilling to shore up Antioch's food shortage with their own resources, so dependent were they on the emperor. Ammianus wrote that the councilmen shirked their duties by bribing unwitting men in the marketplace to do the job for them.

The city's impiety to the old religion was clear to Julian when he attended the city's annual feast of Apollo. To his surprise and dismay the only Antiochene present was an old priest clutching a chicken.

The Antiochenes in turn hated Julian for worsening the food shortage with the burden of his billeted troops, wrote Ammianus. The soldiers were often to be found gorged on sacrificial meat, making a drunken nuisance of themselves on the streets while Antioch's hungry citizens looked on in disgust. The Christian Antiochenes and Julian's pagan Gallic soldiers also never quite saw eye to eye.

Even Julian's piety was distasteful to the Antiochenes retaining the old faith. Julian's brand of paganism was very much unique to himself, with little support outside the most educated Neoplatonist circles. The irony of Julian's enthusiasm for large scale animal sacrifice could not have escaped the hungry Antiochenes. Julian gained no admiration for his personal involvement in the sacrifices, only the nickname "axeman", wrote Ammianus.

The emperor's high-handed, severe methods and his rigid administration prompted Antiochene lampoons about, among other things, Julian's unfashionably pointed beard. In reply Julian was even supposed to have established a Library of Antioch in 361. [ [ Private Libraries in Ancient Rome] This may have existed into the sixth century.Fact|date=June 2008

Julian's successor, Valens, who endowed Antioch with a new forum, including a statue of Valentinian on a central column, reopened the great church of Constantine, which stood till the Persian sack in 538 by Chosroes.

In 387, there was a great sedition caused by a new tax levied by order of Theodosius I, and the city was punished by the loss of its metropolitan status.

Justinian I, who renamed it Theopolis ("City of God"), restored many of its public buildings after the great earthquake of 526, whose destructive work was completed by the Persian king, Khosrau I, twelve years later. Antioch lost as many as 300,000 people. Justinian I made an effort to revive it, and Procopius describes his repairing of the walls; but its glory was past.

Antioch gave its name to a certain school of Christian thought, distinguished by literal interpretation of the Scriptures and insistence on the human limitations of Jesus. Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia were the leaders of this school. The principal local saint was Simeon Stylites, who lived an extremely ascetic life atop a pillar for 40 years some 65 km east of Antioch. His body was brought to the city and buried in a building erected under the emperor Leo.

Arab period

In 637, during the reign of the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, Antioch was conquered by the Arabs in the caliphate of al-Rashidun during the Battle of Iron Bridge. The city became known in Arabic as أنطاكيّة Antākiyyah. Since the Umayyad dynasty was unable to penetrate the Anatolian plateau, Antioch found itself on the frontline of the conflicts between two hostile empires during the next 350 years, so that the city went into a precipitous decline.

In 969, the city was recovered for the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas by Michael Burza and Peter the Eunuch. In 1078, Armenians seized power until the Seljuk Turks captured Antioch in 1084, but held it only fourteen years before the Crusaders arrived.

Crusader era

The Crusaders Siege of Antioch caused the city to suffer much during the First Crusade. Although it contained a large Christian population, it was ultimately betrayed by Islamic allies of Bohemund, prince of Taranto who, following a massacre of the Turkish garrison, became its lord. It remained the capital of the Latin Principality of Antioch for nearly two centuries. It fell at last to the Egyptian Mamluk Sultan Baibars, in 1268, after another siege. In addition to the ravages of war, the city's port became inaccessible to large ships due to the accumulation of sand in the Orontes river bed. As a result, Antioch never recovered as a major city, with much of its former role falling to the port city of Alexandretta (Iskenderun).


Few traces of the once great Roman city are visible today aside from the massive fortification walls that snake up the mountains to the east of the modern city, several aqueducts, and the Church of St Peter (St Peter's Cave Church, Cave-Church of St. Peter), said to be a meeting place of an early Christian community. [ [ Sacred Destinations] retrieved July 1, 2008] The majority of the Roman city lies buried beneath deep sediments from the Orontes River, or has been obscured by recent construction.

Between 1932 and 1939, archaeological excavations of Antioch were undertaken under the direction of the "Committee for the Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity," which was made up of representatives from the Louvre Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Worcester Art Museum, Princeton University, and later (1936) also the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University and its affiliate Dumbarton Oaks.

The excavation team failed to find the major buildings they hoped to unearth, including Constantine's Great Octagonal Church or the imperial palace. However, a great accomplishment of the expedition was the discovery of high-quality Roman mosaics from villas and baths in Antioch, Daphne and Selecia. One mosaic includes a border that depicts a walk from Antioch to Daphne, showing many ancient buildings along the way. The mosaics are now displayed in the Hatay Archaeological Museum in Antakya and in the museums of the sponsoring institutions.

A statue in the Vatican and a number of figurines and statuettes perpetuate the type of its great patron goddess and civic symbol, the Tyche (Fortune) of Antioch – a majestic seated figure, crowned with the ramparts of Antioch's walls, with the river Orontes as a youth swimming under her feet.

In recent years, what remains of the Roman and late antique city have suffered severe damage as a result of construction related to the expansion of Antakya. In the 1960s, the last surviving Roman bridge was demolished to make way for a modern two-lane bridge.Fact|date=May 2007 The northern edge of Antakya has been growing rapidly over recent years, and this construction has begun to expose large portions of the ancient city, which are frequently bulldozed and rarely protected by the local museum.

Notable people

*John Chrysostom (349-407) Patriarch of Constantinople
*George of Antioch


External references

* Karl Otfried Müller, "Antiquitates Antiochenae" (1839)
* Albin Freund, "Beiträge zur antiochenischen und zur konstantinopolitanischen Stadtchronik" (1882)
* R. Forster, in "Jahrbuch" of Berlin Arch. Institute, xii. (1897)

ee also

* Other cities of the ancient world named Antiochia
* Ignatius of Antioch
* Theophilus of Antioch
* Antiochene rite
* Siege of Antioch
* List of traditional Greek place names
* "The Martyr of Antioch"
* Antakya Archaeological Museum
* "The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch"

External links

* [ Richard Stillwell, ed. "Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites", 1976:] "Antioch on the Orontes (Antaky), Turkey"
* [ Antioch (Antakya)] Includes timeline, maps, and photo galleries of Antioch's mosaics and artifacts
* [ Antakya Museum] Many photos of the collection in Antakya's museum, in particular Roman mosaics
* [ Ancient City of Antioch] Map
* [ The Church of Antioch]
* [ The Catholic Church of Antioch]
* [ Antiochepedia - Musings Upon Ancient Antioch]

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