Charax Spasinu

Charax Spasinu, also called Charax Spasinou, Charax Pasinu, Spasinu Charax (Ancient Greek: Σπασίνου Χάραξ), Alexandria (Greek: Ἀλεξάνδρεια) or Antiochia in Susiana (Greek: Ἀντιόχεια τῆς Σουσιανῆς), was an ancient port at the head of the Persian Gulf, and the capital of the ancient kingdom of Characene.

Charax Spasinu
Ancient Greek: Σπασίνου Χάραξ
Hyspaosines
Hyspaosines (209–124 BC), founder and king of Characene, had his capital in Charax.
Charax Spasinu is located in Iraq
Charax Spasinu
Shown within Iraq
LocationIraq
RegionBasra Governorate
(location is related to Maysan)
Coordinates30°53′41″N 47°34′41″E / 30.894692°N 47.578031°ECoordinates: 30°53′41″N 47°34′41″E / 30.894692°N 47.578031°E

Etymology

The name Charax, probably from Greek Χάραξ,[1] literally means "palisaded fort", and was applied to several fortified Seleucid towns. Charax was originally named Alexandria, after Alexander the Great, and was perhaps even personally founded by him. After destruction by floods, it was rebuilt by Antiochus IV (175-164 BC) and renamed Antiochia. It was at this time provided with a massive antiflood embankment almost 4½ km long by Antiochus's governor, Hyspaosines, and renamed "Charax of Hyspaosines."

There is a theory that Charax derives from the Aramaic word Karkâ meaning 'castle', but Charax often attested at several other Seleucid towns with the meaning palisade.

Location of Charax

Charax (Peutinger Map)
The town of Charax Spa. on the 4th century Peutinger map

Charax was located on a large mound known as Jabal Khuyabir at Naysan near the confluence of the Eulaios/Karkheh and the Tigris Rivers as recorded by Pliny.[2]

According to Pliny the Elder:

"The town of Charax is situated in the innermost recess of the Persian Gulf, from which projects the country called Arabia Felix. It stands on an artificial elevation between the Tigris on the right and the Karún on the left, at the point where these two rivers unite, and the site measures two [Roman] miles [3 km] in breadth... It was originally at a distance of 1¼ miles [1.9 km] from the coast, and had a harbour of its own, but when Juba [Juba II, c. 50 BC—c. AD 24] published his work it was 50 miles [74 km] inland; its present distance from the coast is stated by Arab envoys and our own traders who have come from the place to be 120 miles [178 km]. There is no part of the world where earth carried down by rivers has encroached on the sea further or more rapidly..."[3]

The Description of Pliny matches the depiction on the Peuintigener Table.

The Jabal Khuyabir tell is now 1km south of the confluence of the Eulaios/Karkheh and the Tigris Rivers as the river shifted course during a well documented storm event in 1837.[4]

Naysān could be a colloquial Arabic corruption of Maysān, the name of the Characene region during the early Islamic era.[5] First excavations and research started in 2016.[6]

Archaeology

Excavations on the site started in 2016, which revealed that the city was laid out on a grid pattern with housing block 185 by 85 m square. These belong to the largest blocks in the ancient world. Two large public buildings were detected, but are not yet excavated.[7]

History

A history of the Charax can be distilled primarily from ancient texts and numismatic sources,[8] as the city has never been properly excavated.

The city was established by Alexander the Great in 324, replacing a small Persian settlement, Durine.[9] This was one of Alexander's last cities before his death in 323 BC. Here he established a quarter (dēmē) of the port called Pella, named after Alexander’s own town of birth, where he settled Macedonian veterans.[10] The city passed to the Seleucid Empire after Alexander's death, until it was destroyed at some point by flooding.[10]

The city was rebuilt c. 166 BC by order of Antiochus VI Dionysus, who appointed Hyspaosines as satrap to oversee the work.[11] The political instability that followed the Parthian conquest of most of the Seleucid Empire allowed Hyspaosines to establish an independent state, Characene, in 127 BC. He renamed the city after himself.

Charax remained the capital of the small state for 282 years, with the numismatic evidence suggesting it was a multi-ethnic Hellenised city with extensive trading links. The Romans under Trajan annexed the city in AD 116.[12] Characene independence was re-established 15 years later under the rule of Mithridates, a son of the Parthian King Pacoros, during the civil war for the Parthian throne. From this time the coinage from Charax indicates a more Parthian culture.

In AD 221–222, an ethnic Persian, Ardašēr, who was satrap of Fars, led a revolt against the Parthians, establishing the Sasanian Empire. According to later Arab histories he defeated Characene forces, killed its last ruler, rebuilt the town and renamed it Astarābād-Ardašīr[13] The area around Charax that had been the Characene state was thereon known by the Aramaic/Syriac name, Maysān, which was later adapted by the Arab conquerors.[14]

Charax continued, under the name Maysan, with Persian texts making various mention of governors through the fifth century and there is mention of a Nestorian Church here in the sixth century. The Charax mint appears to have continued through the Sassanid empire and into the Umayyad empire, minting coin as late as AD 715.[5]

Charax was finally abandoned during the 9th century because of persistent flooding and a dramatic decrease in trade with the west.

Economy

The original Greek town was enlarged by an Arabian chieftain, Spasines, and afterward named Spasines and Charax Spasinou after him.[15] It was a major trading center of late antiquity as evidenced by the hoards of Greek coins recovered during excavations there.[16]

Although it was nominally a vassal of the Seleucids and, later, the Arsacids, it seemed to have retained a considerable degree of autonomy at times. It became a centre for Arab trade, largely controlled by the Nabataeans, at least until they became assimilated by the Romans in AD 106.

Charax was a rich port with ships arriving regularly from Gerrha, Egypt, India, and beyond. Trajan observed the ships bound for India during his visit while Strabo calls the city an emporium[17] and Pliny notes that the city was a centre of trade for rare perfumes[18] and was also a centre for pearl diving. It was also the beginning of the overland trade route from the Persian Gulf to Petra and Palmyra and also into the Parthian Empire[19]

Coins

Prior to the invasion of Trajan[20] Charax minted coins of a Hellenistic type while after the invasion the coinage was of a more Parthian character. Charax minted coin through the Sassanid empire and into the Umayyad Caliphate, minting coin as late as AD 715.

Notable persons

It was visited in AD 97 by the Chinese envoy, Gan Ying 甘英, who referred to it as 干羅 (Pinyin: Gànluò; reconstructed ancient pronunciation *ka-ra), who was trying to reach the Roman Empire via Egypt but, after reaching the Persian Gulf was convinced to turn back by the Parthians.[21]

In AD 116, the Roman Emperor Trajan visited Charax Spasinu – his most recent, easternmost and shortest-lived possession. He saw the many ships setting sail for India, and wished he were younger, like Alexander had been, so that he could go there himself.

Isidore of Charax, a 1st-century geographer, came from Charax Spasinu.

Robert Eisenman contends that it was this city, and not the better-known Antioch in which Paul established his first church.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ "JSONpedia - Charax Spasinu". jsonpedia.org.
  2. ^ Pliny VI 39
  3. ^ Pliny the Elder (AD 77). Natural History. Book VI. xxxi. 138-140. Translation by W. H. S. Jones, Loeb Classical Library, London/Cambridge, Mass. (1961).
  4. ^ Vanessa M.A. Heyvaert, Jan Walstra, Peter Verkinderen, Henk J.T. Weerts, Bart Ooghe, The role of human interference on the channel shifting of the Karkheh Riverin the Lower Khuzestan plain (Mesopotamia, SW Iran), Quaternary International 251 (2012) 52.
  5. ^ a b Characene and Charax,Characene and Charax Encyclopaedia Iranica
  6. ^ Moon, Jane; Campbell, Stuart; Killick, Robert. "CHARAX SPASINOU 2016 ENGLISH REPORT".
  7. ^ Moon, Jane; Campbell, Stuart; Killick, Robert. "CHARAX SPASINOU 2016 ENGLISH REPORT".
  8. ^ O. Mørkholm, "A Greek coin hoard from Susiana", in Acta Archæologica, 1965, vol. 36, p. 127-156.
  9. ^ Jona Lendering, Charax at Livius.org
  10. ^ a b Pliny, 6.31.138
  11. ^ Pliny, 6.31.139
  12. ^ Dio Cassius, 78.28
  13. ^ Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Ṭabarī I
  14. ^ Yāqūt, Kitab mu'jam al-buldan IV and III
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-14. Retrieved 2006-10-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Bibliography Page 37". www.parthia.com.
  17. ^ Strabo - Geography Book XV, Chapter 3
  18. ^ Pliny Nat. Hist.12:80
  19. ^ Isidore of Charax, The Parthian Stations.
  20. ^ Dio Cassius, 78.28
  21. ^ Hill (2009), pp. 5, 23, 240-242.

References

  • Casson, Lionel. 1989. The Periplus Maris Erythraei. (Translation by H. Frisk, 1927, with updates and improvements and detailed notes). Princeton, Princeton University Press.
  • Hill, John E. (2009) Through the Jade Gate to Rome: A Study of the Silk Routes during the Later Han Dynasty, 1st to 2nd Centuries CE. John E. Hill. BookSurge, Charleston, South Carolina. ISBN 978-1-4392-2134-1.
  • Nodelman, S. A. 1960. "A preliminary history of Characene." S. A. Nodelman. Berytus 13 (1960), pp. 83–123.
  • Potts, D. J. 1988. "Arabia and the Kingdom of Characene." In: Araby the Blest: Studies in Arabian Archaeology. Edited by D. T. Potts. The Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of Copenhagen. 1988. Museum Tusculanum Press, pp. 137–167.
  • O. Mørkholm, "A Greek coin hoard from Susiana", in Acta Archæologica, 1965, vol. 36, p. 127-156.
Al-Bubsairy

Al-Bubsairy (البوبصيري ) is a village on the Shatt El Arab in Iraq, inhabited by Marsh Arabs.

It is located at 30°53'48.5"N 47°32'16.9"E, south of Al Qurnah, and in Al-Qurna District.

Ananias of Adiabene

Ananias of Adiabene (; c. 15 BCE – c. 30 CE) was a Jewish merchant and mendicant proselytizer, probably of Hellenistic origin, who, in the opening years of the common era, was prominent at the court of Abinergaos I (Abennerig), king of Characene. He was instrumental in the conversion to Judaism of numerous native and foreign inhabitants of Charax Spasinu. This city, the capital of Characene, was situated at the confluence of the two arms of the Tigris and was at the time a great mercantile center.

Among Ananias' most prominent converts were several women of high position at the court, particularly the princess Symacho, the king's daughter. This princess married Izates bar Monobaz, a young prince who had been sent to Abennerig's court by his parents, Monobaz I and Helena, the rulers of Adiabene. Through his wife, Izates' attention was directed to Ananias, with whom he formed an acquaintance that eventually ripened into a strong attachment. Around the year 18 CE, Ananias won the prince over to the Jewish faith. Moreover, Izates was named as successor to the throne by Monobaz, who, in so doing, passed over his elder sons. Upon his accession (about 22), Izates, in order to show his genuine attachment to the new religion, declared his determination to undergo the rite of circumcision. Helena opposed this, fearing that the adoption of foreign ceremonies might arouse against the young king the indignation of his pagan subjects. Ananias, who had come to Adiabene with Izates, supported Helena's contention, arguing that such a step on the part of the king would endanger the life of his Jewish instructor, and, further, that circumcision was not vital to the fulfilment of the Jewish religion and the worship of God.

Izates seemed convinced by the latter argument, until there came to his court another Jew, Eleazar, who, in contradistinction to Ananias' Hellenic leniency, was a rigorous legalist from Galilee. He persuaded Izates to undergo the rite. Ananias and Helena were strongly agitated when Izates disclosed his action, but the trouble they predicted did not immediately ensue. Whether Ananias made further converts in Izates' country is not stated.

In his book, "James the Brother of Jesus," Robert Eisenman contends that this person is the same as the Biblical Ananias from the book of Acts.

Characene

Characene (Ancient Greek: Χαρακηνή), also known as Mesene (Μεσσήνη) or Meshan, was a state founded by the Iranian Hyspaosines within the Parthian Empire located at the head of the Persian Gulf. Its capital, Charax Spasinou (Χάραξ Σπασινού), was an important port for trade between Mesopotamia and India, and also provided port facilities for the city of Susa further up the Karun River. Characene was mainly populated by Arabs, who spoke Aramaic as their cultural language. All rulers of the principality had Iranian names.

Charax

Charax (Χάραξ) may refer to:

Charax, alternate name of Acharaca, an ancient oracle site in Lydia, Anatolia

Charax, alternate name of Tralles, an ancient city in Lydia, Anatolia

Charax (Corsica), ancient site in Corsica

Charax (Lesser Armenia), ancient site in Lesser Armenia (now in Turkey)

Charax (Media Atropatene), ancient site in Media Atropatene (now in Iran)

Charax (Thessaly), ancient site in Thessaly, Greece

Charax Alexandri, ancient site in Phrygia, Anatolia

Charax, Crimea, the largest Roman military settlement excavated in the Crimea

Charax Spasinu, an ancient port at the head of the Persian Gulf

Charax Sidae or Anthemusias, an ancient Mesopotamian town Seleucia in Mesopotamia

Charax, Rhagiana, a Seleucid and Parthian city in the province of Rhagiana, in the area nearby modern-day Rey

Charax, Bithynia, an ancient Greek town in Turkey and possible location of the death of Constantine the Great

Cape Charax, or possibly Cape Lithinon, a promontory at the southernmost point of the island of Crete

Charax (genus), a genus of fish in the family Characidae

Daqin

Daqin (Chinese: 大秦; pinyin: Dàqín; Wade–Giles: Ta4-ch'in2; alternative transliterations include Tachin, Tai-Ch'in) is the ancient Chinese name for the Roman Empire or, depending on context, the Near East, especially Syria. It literally means the "great China", Qin (Chinese: 秦; pinyin: Qín; Wade–Giles: Ch'in2) being the name of the founding dynasty of the Chinese Empire. Historian John Foster defined it as "the Roman Empire, or rather that part of it which alone was known to the Chinese, Syria". In various texts its capitals were given as Antioch and Constantinople, with no clear descriptions of the city of Rome. Its basic facets such as laws, customs, dress, and currency were explained in Chinese sources. Its medieval incarnation was described in histories during the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) onwards as Fulin (Chinese: 拂菻; pinyin: Fúlǐn)河=Putlen, which Friedrich Hirth and other scholars have identified as the Byzantine Empire. Daqin was also commonly associated with the Syriac-speaking Nestorian Christians who lived in China during the Tang dynasty.

Chinese sources describe several ancient Roman embassies arriving in China, beginning in 166 AD and lasting into the 3rd century. These early embassies were said to arrive by a maritime route via the South China Sea in the Chinese province of Jiaozhi (now northern Vietnam). Archaeological evidence such as Roman coins points to the presence of Roman commercial activity in Southeast Asia. Later recorded embassies arriving from the Byzantine Empire, lasting from the 7th to 11th centuries, ostensibly took an overland route following the Silk Road, alongside other Europeans in Medieval China. Byzantine Greeks are recorded as being present in the court of Kublai Khan (1260–1294), the Mongol ruler of the Yuan dynasty in Khanbaliq (Beijing), while the Hongwu Emperor (r. 1368–1398), founder of the Ming dynasty, sent a letter of correspondence to Byzantine emperor John V Palaiologos.

Generations of Noah

The Generations of Noah or Table of Nations (Genesis 10 of the Hebrew Bible) is a genealogy of the sons of Noah and their dispersion into many lands after the Flood, focusing on the major known societies. The term nations to describe the descendants is a standard English translation of the Hebrew word "goy", following the c. 400 CE Latin Vulgate's "nationes", and does not have the same political connotations that the word entails today.The list of 70 names introduces for the first time a number of well known ethnonyms and toponyms important to biblical geography such as Noah's three sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, from which were derived Semites, Hamites and Japhetites, certain of Noah's grandsons including Elam, Ashur, Aram, Cush, and Canaan, from which the Elamites, Assyrians, Arameans, Cushites and Canaanites, as well as further descendants including Eber (from which "Hebrews"), the hunter-king Nimrod, the Philistines and the sons of Canaan including Heth, Jebus and Amorus, from which Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites.

As Christianity took over the Roman world, it adopted the idea that all the world's peoples were descended from Noah. But the tradition of Hellenistic Jewish identifications of the ancestry of various peoples, which concentrates very much on the East Mediterranean and the Near East and is described below, became stretched and its historicity questioned. Not all Near Eastern people were covered, and northern peoples important to the Late Roman and medieval world, such as the Celtic, Slavic, Germanic and Nordic peoples were not covered, nor were others of the world's peoples, such as sub-Saharan Africans, Native Americans and peoples of Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Far East and Australasia. A variety of arrangements were devised by scholars in order to make the table fit, with for example the Scythians, who do feature in the tradition, being claimed as the ancestors of much of northern Europe.According to Joseph Blenkinsopp, the 70 names in the list express symbolically the unity of humanity, corresponding to the 70 descendants of Israel who go down into Egypt with Jacob at Genesis 46:27 and the 70 elders of Israel who visit God with Moses at the covenant ceremony in Exodus 24:1–9.

Hyspaosines

Hyspaosines (also spelled Aspasine, c. 209 BC - 11th June 124 BC) was an Iranian satrap installed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and later the first King (before 127-124 BC) of Characene (Mesene/Meshun). Hyspaosines is mainly known from coins, but also appears in texts of cuneiform script (in the Babylonian astronomical diaries).

Izates bar Monobaz

Izates II (Ἰζάτης), son of Monobaz (Μονόβαζος), or Izates bar Monobaz (also known as Izaates, Persian: ایزد‎ or Hebrew: זוטוס בן מונבז‎) (ca. 1-55 CE). Izates was a king of the Parthian client kingdom of Adiabene who became a proselyte to Judaism. He was the son of Queen Helena of Adiabene and King Monobazus I of Adiabene. Queen Helena was also said to be the wife of King Abgarus of Edessa and thus the queen of Edessa too.During his youth Izates was sent by his father to the court of King Abinergaos I of Characene in Charax Spasinu. While in Charax Izates became acquainted with a Jewish merchant named Ananias, who familiarized him with the tenets of the Jewish religion, in which he became deeply interested. Izates married King Abinergaos' daughter Symacho who had been converted to Judaism through the efforts of Ananias. His mother had been previously won over to Judaism without his knowledge. On returning home and ascending the throne on the death of his father (c. 31 CE), Izates discovered the conversion of his mother; and he himself intended to adopt Judaism, and even to submit to circumcision. He was, however, dissuaded from this step both by his teacher Ananias and by his mother, but was ultimately persuaded thereto by another Jew, Eleazar.For some time Izates enjoyed peace; and he was so highly respected that he was chosen as arbitrator between the Parthian king Artabanus III and his rebellious nobles (c. 39 CE). But when several of Izates' relatives openly acknowledged their conversion to Judaism, some of the nobles of Adiabene secretly induced Abia, an Arab king, to declare war against him. Izates defeated his enemy, who in despair committed suicide. The nobles then conspired with Vologases, King of Parthia, but the latter was at the last moment prevented from carrying out his plans, and Izates continued to reign undisturbed for a total of twenty-four years.

Izates died around 55 CE. His mother Helena survived him for only a short time. He left twenty-four sons and twenty-four daughters. Izates was succeeded by his older brother Monobaz II, who sent Izates' remains and those of Queen Helena to Jerusalem for burial.

List of cities founded by Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great founded, or substantially re-established, or renamed, several towns or cities.

They are (with present-day locations):

Alexandropolis Maedica, in Thrace, modern Bulgaria.

Alexandria in Troas, modern Dalyan in Turkey.

Alexandria by the Latmus, possibly Alinda, Turkey.

Alexandria near Issus; İskenderun in Turkey preserves the name, but probably not the exact site.

Tyre, Lebanon.

Gaza City, Palestine.

Alexandria, Egypt.

Alexandria Ariana, now Herat, Afghanistan.

Alexandria Prophthasia, perhaps Farah, Afghanistan.

Alexandria Arachosia, now Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Alexandria on the Caucasus, now Bagram, Afghanistan.

Alexandria Eschate, at or close to modern Khujand, Tajikistan.

Alexandria on the Oxus, probably Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan.

Six cities north of the Oxus, one of which may be Termez, Uzbekistan.

Alexandria in Margiana, formerly Merv, Turkmenistan.

Arigaeum, modern Nawagai, Bajaur, Pakistan.

Nicaea and Alexandria Bucephalous (Bucephala), somewhere in modern Punjab, Pakistan.

Alexandria on the Hyphasis; Hyphasis is the modern Beas River, India.

Alexandria on the Indus, possibly Uch, Pakistan, and another town on the Indus.

Patala and Xylinepolis, unknown, possibly near Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan.

Alexandria in Orietai near Rhambacia, possibly Bela, Pakistan.

Alexandria Carmania, unknown location in Iran.

Alexandria in Susiana, later Charax Spasinu, Persian Gulf.

Alexandria in Opiania, Ghazni, Afghanistan.

Nikephorion, present day Raqqa in Syria. Isidore of Charax, in the Parthian Stations, writes that it was a Greek city, founded by Alexander the Great.

List of places named after people

There are a number of places named after famous people. For more on the general etymology of place names see toponymy. For other lists of eponyms (names derived from people) see eponym.

Maysan Governorate

Maysan Governorate (Arabic: ميسان‎, translit. Maysān) is a governorate in southeastern Iraq, bordering Iran. Its administrative centre is the city of Amarah. Prior to 1976 it was known as Amara Province.

Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.The Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.

Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthian Empire. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with western parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, the eastern regions of Mesopotamia fell to the Sassanid Persians. The division of Mesopotamia between Roman (Byzantine from AD 395) and Sassanid Empires lasted until the 7th century Muslim conquest of Persia of the Sasanian Empire and Muslim conquest of the Levant from Byzantines. A number of primarily neo-Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene, Osroene, and Hatra.

Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC. It has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture".

Naysān (Iraq)

Naysān (also known as Jabal Khayabar and Naisān) is a tell and an archaeological site in Maysan Governorate, southern Iraq.

Palmyra

Palmyra (; Palmyrene: Tadmor; Arabic: تَدْمُر‎ Tadmur) is an ancient Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period, and documents first mention the city in the early second millennium BC. Palmyra changed hands on a number of occasions between different empires before becoming a subject of the Roman Empire in the first century AD.

The city grew wealthy from trade caravans; the Palmyrenes became renowned as merchants who established colonies along the Silk Road and operated throughout the Roman Empire. Palmyra's wealth enabled the construction of monumental projects, such as the Great Colonnade, the Temple of Bel, and the distinctive tower tombs. Ethnically, the Palmyrenes combined elements of Amorites, Arameans, and Arabs. The city's social structure was tribal, and its inhabitants spoke Palmyrene (a dialect of Aramaic), while using Greek for commercial and diplomatic purposes. Greco-Roman culture influenced the culture of Palmyra, which produced distinctive art and architecture that combined eastern and western traditions. The city's inhabitants worshiped local Semitic deities, Mesopotamian and Arab gods.

By the third century AD Palmyra had become a prosperous regional center. It reached the apex of its power in the 260s, when the Palmyrene King Odaenathus defeated Persian Emperor Shapur I. The king was succeeded by regent Queen Zenobia, who rebelled against Rome and established the Palmyrene Empire. In 273, Roman emperor Aurelian destroyed the city, which was later restored by Diocletian at a reduced size. The Palmyrenes converted to Christianity during the fourth century and to Islam in the centuries following the conquest by the 7th-century Rashidun Caliphate, after which the Palmyrene and Greek languages were replaced by Arabic.

Before AD 273, Palmyra enjoyed autonomy and was attached to the Roman province of Syria, having its political organization influenced by the Greek city-state model during the first two centuries AD. The city became a Roman colonia during the third century, leading to the incorporation of Roman governing institutions, before becoming a monarchy in 260. Following its destruction in 273, Palmyra became a minor center under the Byzantines and later empires. Its destruction by the Timurids in 1400 reduced it to a small village. Under French Mandatory rule in 1932, the inhabitants were moved into the new village of Tadmur, and the ancient site became available for excavations. During the Syrian Civil War in 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) destroyed large parts of the ancient city, which was recaptured by the Syrian Army on 2 March 2017.

Parthian Empire

The Parthian Empire (; 247 BC – 224 AD), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran. Its latter name comes from Arsaces I of Parthia who, as leader of the Parni tribe, founded it in the mid-3rd century BC when he conquered the region of Parthia in Iran's northeast, then a satrapy (province) under Andragoras, in rebellion against the Seleucid Empire. Mithridates I of Parthia (r. c. 171–138 BC) greatly expanded the empire by seizing Media and Mesopotamia from the Seleucids. At its height, the Parthian Empire stretched from the northern reaches of the Euphrates, in what is now central-eastern Turkey, to eastern Iran. The empire, located on the Silk Road trade route between the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin and the Han dynasty of China, became a center of trade and commerce.

The Parthians largely adopted the art, architecture, religious beliefs, and royal insignia of their culturally heterogeneous empire, which encompassed Persian, Hellenistic, and regional cultures. For about the first half of its existence, the Arsacid court adopted elements of Greek culture, though it eventually saw a gradual revival of Iranian traditions. The Arsacid rulers were titled the "King of Kings", as a claim to be the heirs to the Achaemenid Empire; indeed, they accepted many local kings as vassals where the Achaemenids would have had centrally appointed, albeit largely autonomous, satraps. The court did appoint a small number of satraps, largely outside Iran, but these satrapies were smaller and less powerful than the Achaemenid potentates. With the expansion of Arsacid power, the seat of central government shifted from Nisa to Ctesiphon along the Tigris (south of modern Baghdad, Iraq), although several other sites also served as capitals.

The earliest enemies of the Parthians were the Seleucids in the west and the Scythians in the east. However, as Parthia expanded westward, they came into conflict with the Kingdom of Armenia, and eventually the late Roman Republic. Rome and Parthia competed with each other to establish the kings of Armenia as their subordinate clients. The Parthians soundly defeated Marcus Licinius Crassus at the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, and in 40–39 BC, Parthian forces captured the whole of the Levant except Tyre from the Romans. However, Mark Antony led a counterattack against Parthia, although his successes were generally achieved in his absence, under the leadership of his lieutenant Ventidius. Various Roman emperors or their appointed generals invaded Mesopotamia in the course of the ensuing Roman–Parthian Wars of the next few centuries. The Romans captured the cities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon on multiple occasions during these conflicts, but were never able to hold on to them. Frequent civil wars between Parthian contenders to the throne proved more dangerous to the Empire's stability than foreign invasion, and Parthian power evaporated when Ardashir I, ruler of Istakhr in Persis, revolted against the Arsacids and killed their last ruler, Artabanus V, in 224 AD. Ardashir established the Sassanid Empire, which ruled Iran and much of the Near East until the Muslim conquests of the 7th century AD, although the Arsacid dynasty lived on through the Arsacid Dynasty of Armenia, the Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, and the Arsacid Dynasty of Caucasian Albania; all eponymous branches of the Parthian Arsacids.

Native Parthian sources, written in Parthian, Greek and other languages, are scarce when compared to Sassanid and even earlier Achaemenid sources. Aside from scattered cuneiform tablets, fragmentary ostraca, rock inscriptions, drachma coins, and the chance survival of some parchment documents, much of Parthian history is only known through external sources. These include mainly Greek and Roman histories, but also Chinese histories, prompted by the Han Chinese desire to form alliances against the Xiongnu. Parthian artwork is viewed by historians as a valid source for understanding aspects of society and culture that are otherwise absent in textual sources.

Silk Road

The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes that connected the East and West. It was central to cultural interaction between the regions for many centuries. The Silk Road primarily refers to the terrestrial routes connecting East Asia and Southeast Asia with East Africa, West Asia and Southern Europe.

The Silk Road derives its name from the lucrative trade in silk carried out along its length, beginning in the Han dynasty (207 BCE–220 CE). The Han dynasty expanded the Central Asian section of the trade routes around 114 BCE through the missions and explorations of the Chinese imperial envoy Zhang Qian. The Chinese took great interest in the safety of their trade products and extended the Great Wall of China to ensure the protection of the trade route.Trade on the Road played a significant role in the development of the civilizations of China, Korea, Japan, the Indian subcontinent, Iran/Persia, Europe, the Horn of Africa and Arabia, opening long-distance political and economic relations between the civilizations. Though silk was the major trade item exported from China, many other goods were traded, as well as religions, syncretic philosophies, sciences, and technologies. Diseases, most notably plague, also spread along the Silk Road. In addition to economic trade, the Silk Road was a route for cultural trade among the civilizations along its network.In June 2014, UNESCO designated the Chang'an-Tianshan corridor of the Silk Road as a World Heritage Site. The Indian portion is on the tentative site list.

Sino-Roman relations

Sino-Roman relations comprised the mostly indirect contact, flow of trade goods, information, and occasional travellers between the Roman Empire and Han Empire of China, as well as between the later Eastern Roman Empire and various Chinese dynasties. These empires inched progressively closer in the course of the Roman expansion into the ancient Near East and simultaneous Han Chinese military incursions into Central Asia. Mutual awareness remained low, and firm knowledge about each other was limited. Only a few attempts at direct contact are known from records. Intermediate empires such as the Parthians and Kushans, seeking to maintain lucrative control over the silk trade, inhibited direct contact between these two Eurasian powers. In 97 AD, the Chinese general Ban Chao tried to send his envoy Gan Ying to Rome, but Gan was dissuaded by Parthians from venturing beyond the Persian Gulf. Several alleged Roman emissaries to China were recorded by ancient Chinese historians. The first one on record, supposedly from either the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius or his adopted son Marcus Aurelius, arrived in 166 AD. Others are recorded as arriving in 226 and 284 AD, with a long absence until the first recorded Byzantine embassy in 643 AD.

The indirect exchange of goods on land along the Silk Road and sea routes included Chinese silk, Roman glassware and high-quality cloth. Roman coins minted from the 1st century AD onwards have been found in China, as well as a coin of Maximian and medallions from the reigns of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius in Jiaozhi in modern Vietnam, the same region at which Chinese sources claim the Romans first landed. Roman glassware and silverware have been discovered at Chinese archaeological sites dated to the Han period. Roman coins and glass beads have also been found in Japan.

In classical sources, the problem of identifying references to ancient China is exacerbated by the interpretation of the Latin term Seres, whose meaning fluctuated and could refer to several Asian peoples in a wide arc from India over Central Asia to China. In Chinese records, the Roman Empire came to be known as Daqin or Great Qin. Daqin was directly associated with the later Fulin (拂菻) in Chinese sources, which has been identified by scholars such as Friedrich Hirth as the Byzantine Empire. Chinese sources describe several embassies of Fulin arriving in China during the Tang dynasty and also mention the siege of Constantinople by the forces of Muawiyah I in 674–678 AD.

Geographers in the Roman Empire such as Ptolemy provided a rough sketch of the eastern Indian Ocean, including the Malay Peninsula and beyond this the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea. Ptolemy's Cattigara was most likely Óc Eo, Vietnam, where Antonine-era Roman items have been found. Ancient Chinese geographers demonstrated a general knowledge of West Asia and Rome's eastern provinces. The 7th-century AD Byzantine historian Theophylact Simocatta wrote of the contemporary reunification of northern and southern China, which he treated as separate nations recently at war. This mirrors both the conquest of Chen by Emperor Wen of Sui (reigned 581–604 AD) as well as the names Cathay and Mangi used by later medieval Europeans in China during the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty and Han-Chinese Southern Song dynasty.

Timeline of ancient Greece

This is a timeline of Ancient Greece from its emergence around 800 BC to its subjection to the Roman Empire in 146 BC.

For earlier times, see Greek Dark Ages, Aegean civilizations and Mycenaean Greece. For later times see Roman Greece, Byzantine Empire and Ottoman Greece.

For modern Greece after 1820, see Timeline of modern Greek history.

Washukanni

Washukanni (also spelled Waššukanni or Vasukhani) was the capital of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni, from around 1500 BCE to the 13th century BCE. Its precise location is unknown. A proposal locates it under the largely unexcavated mound of Tell el Fakhariya, near Tell Halaf in Syria, but this idea was rejected by Edward Lipinski. Its etymology in Sanskrit, which was used by the Mitanni, is "Vasukhani", वसुखानी, the "mine of wealth" as the Vasu are the gods who are wealth-givers.The city is known to have been sacked by the Hittites under Suppiluliuma I (reigned c. 1344–1322 BCE) in the first years of his reign, whose treaty inscription relates that he installed a Hurrian vassal king, Shattiwaza. The city was sacked again by the Assyrian king Adad-nirari I around 1290 BCE, but very little else is known of its history.

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