Aleppo is a city in Syria, serving as the capital of the Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 4.6 million in 2010, Aleppo was the largest Syrian city before the Syrian Civil War. Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Excavations at Tell as-Sawda and Tell al-Ansari, just south of the old city of Aleppo, show that the area was occupied by Amorites since at least the latter part of the 3rd millennium BC; this is when Aleppo is first mentioned in cuneiform tablets unearthed in Ebla and Mesopotamia, in which it is a part of the Amorite state of Yamhad, is noted for its commercial and military proficiency. Such a long history is attributed to its strategic location as a trading center midway between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia. For centuries, Aleppo was the largest city in the Syrian region, the Ottoman Empire's third-largest after Constantinople and Cairo; the city's significance in history has been its location at one end of the Silk Road, which passed through central Asia and Mesopotamia.
When the Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869, trade was diverted to sea and Aleppo began its slow decline. At the fall of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Aleppo ceded its northern hinterland to modern Turkey, as well as the important railway connecting it to Mosul. In the 1940s, it lost its main access to the sea, Antakya and İskenderun to Turkey; the isolation of Syria in the past few decades further exacerbated the situation. This decline may have helped to preserve the old city of Aleppo, its medieval architecture and traditional heritage, it won the title of the "Islamic Capital of Culture 2006", has had a wave of successful restorations of its historic landmarks. The Battle of Aleppo occurred in the city during the Syrian Civil War, many parts of the city suffered massive destruction. Affected parts of the city are undergoing reconstruction. Modern-day English-speakers refer to the city as Aleppo, it was known in antiquity as Khalpe, to the Greeks and Romans as Beroea. During the Crusades, again during the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon of 1923–1946, the name Alep was used.
Aleppo represents the Italianised version of this. The original ancient name, has survived as the current Arabic name of the city, it is of obscure origin. However, the term Ḥalab might be derived from related to a folktale of Abraham, who milked his sheep to feed the poor. Others have proposed that Ḥalab means "iron" or "copper" in Amorite languages, since the area served as a major source of these metals in antiquity. Another possibility is that Ḥalab means'white', as this is the word for'white' in Aramaic, the local language which preceded regional Arabization; this may explain how Ḥalab became the Hebrew word for milk or vice versa, as well as offers a possible explanation for the modern-day Arabic nickname of the city, ash-Shahbaa, which means "the white-colored mixed with black" and derives from the famous white marble of Aleppo. Abraham is said to have camped on the acropolis which, long before his time, served as the foundation of a fortress where the Aleppo citadel is standing now, he milked his grey cow there, hence Aleppo's name "Halab Al-Shahba".
From the 11th century it was common rabbinic usage to apply the term "Aram-Zobah" to the area of Aleppo, many Syrian Jews continue to do so. Aleppo has scarcely been touched by archaeologists; the site has been occupied from around 5000 BC. Aleppo appears in historical records as an important city much earlier than Damascus; the first record of Aleppo comes from the third millennium BC, in the Ebla tablets when Aleppo was referred to as Ha-lam. Some historians, such as Wayne Horowitz, identify Aleppo with the capital of an independent kingdom related to Ebla, known as Armi, although this identification is contested; the main temple of the storm god Hadad was located on the citadel hill in the center of the city, when the city was known as the city of Hadad. Naram-Sin of Akkad mention his destruction of Ebla and Armani/Armanum, in the 23rd century BC. but the identification of Armani in the inscription of Naram-Sim as Armi in the Eblaite tablets is debated, as there was no Akkadian annexation of Ebla or northern Syria.
In the Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian Empire period, Aleppo's name appears in its original form as Ḥalab for the first time. Aleppo was the capital of the important Amorite dynasty of Yamḥad; the kingdom of Yamḥad, alternatively known as the'land of Ḥalab,' was one of the most powerful in the Near East during the reign of Yarim-Lim I, who formed an alliance with Hammurabi of Babylonia against Shamshi-Adad I of Assyria. Yamḥad was devastated by the Hittites under Mursilis I in the 16th century BC. However, it soon resumed its leading role in the Levant when the Hittite power in the region waned due to internal strife. Taking advantage of the power vacuum in the region, king of the Hurrian kingdom of Mitanni instigated a rebellion that ended the life of Yamhad last king Ilim-Ilimma I in c. 1525 BC, Parshatatar conquered Aleppo and the city found itself on the frontline in the struggle between the Mitanni, the Hittites and Egypt. Niqmepa of Alalakh who descends from the old Yamhadite kings controlled the city as a vassal to Mitanni and was attacked by Tudhaliya I of the Hittites as a retaliation for his alliance to
The Roman–Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between states of the Greco-Roman world and two successive Iranian empires: the Parthian and the Sasanian. Battles between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic began in 66 BC. Various vassal kingdoms and allied nomadic nations in the form of buffer states and proxies played a role; the wars were ended by the Arab Muslim Conquests, which led to the fall of the Sasanian Empire and huge territorial losses for the Byzantine Empire, shortly after the end of the last war between them. Although warfare between the Romans and Persians continued over seven centuries, the frontier, aside from shifts in the north, remained stable. A game of tug of war ensued: towns and provinces were continually sacked, captured and traded. Neither side had the logistical strength or manpower to maintain such lengthy campaigns far from their borders, thus neither could advance too far without risking stretching its frontiers too thin. Both sides did make conquests beyond the border, but in time the balance was always restored.
Although different in military tactics, the armies of both sides adopted from each other and by the second half of the 6th century they were similar and evenly matched. The expense of resources during the Roman–Persian Wars proved catastrophic for both empires; the prolonged and escalating warfare of the 6th and 7th centuries left them exhausted and vulnerable in the face of the sudden emergence and expansion of the Caliphate, whose forces invaded both empires only a few years after the end of the last Roman–Persian war. Benefiting from their weakened condition, the Arab Muslim armies swiftly conquered the entire Sasanian Empire, deprived the Eastern Roman Empire of its territories in the Levant, the Caucasus and the rest of North Africa. Over the following centuries, more of the Eastern Roman Empire came under Muslim rule. According to James Howard-Johnston, "from the third century BC to the early seventh century AD, the rival players were grand polities with imperial pretensions, able to establish and secure stable territories transcending regional divides".
The Romans and Parthians came into contact through their respective conquests of parts of the Seleucid Empire. During the 3rd century BC, the Parthians migrated from the Central Asian steppe into northern Iran. Although subdued for a time by the Seleucids, in the 2nd century BC they broke away, established an independent state that expanded at the expense of their former rulers, through the course of the 3rd and early 1st century BC, they had conquered Persia and Armenia. Ruled by the Arsacid dynasty, the Parthians fended off several Seleucid attempts to regain their lost territories, established several eponymous branches in the Caucasus, namely the Arsacid dynasty of Armenia, the Arsacid dynasty of Iberia, the Arsacid dynasty of Caucasian Albania. Meanwhile, the Romans expelled the Seleucids from their territories in Anatolia in the early 2nd century BC, after defeating Antiochus III the Great at Thermopylae and Magnesia. In 64 BC Pompey conquered the remaining Seleucid territories in Syria, extinguishing their state and advancing the Roman eastern frontier to the Euphrates, where it met the territory of the Parthians.
Parthian enterprise in the West began in the time of Mithridates I and was revived by Mithridates II, who negotiated unsuccessfully with Lucius Cornelius Sulla for a Roman–Parthian alliance. When Lucullus invaded Southern Armenia and led an attack against Tigranes in 69 BC, he corresponded with Phraates III to dissuade him from intervening. Although the Parthians remained neutral, Lucullus considered attacking them. In 66–65 BC, Pompey reached agreement with Phraates, Roman–Parthian troops invaded Armenia, but a dispute soon arose over the Euphrates boundary. Phraates asserted his control over Mesopotamia, except for the western district of Osroene, which became a Roman dependency; the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus led an invasion of Mesopotamia in 53 BC with catastrophic results. The Parthians raided Syria the following year, mounted a major invasion in 51 BC, but their army was caught in an ambush near Antigonea by the Romans, they were driven back; the Parthians remained neutral during Caesar's Civil War, fought between forces supporting Julius Caesar and forces supporting Pompey and the traditional faction of the Roman Senate.
However, they maintained relations with Pompey, after his defeat and death, a force under Pacorus I assisted the Pompeian general Q. Caecilius Bassus, besieged at Apamea Valley by Caesarian forces. With the civil war over, Julius Caesar prepared a campaign against Parthia, but his assassination averted the war; the Parthians supported Brutus and Cassius during the ensuing Liberators' civil war and sent a contingent to fight on their side at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC. After the Liberators' defeat, the Parthians invaded Roman territory in 40 BC in conjunction with the Roman Quintus Labienus, a former supporter of Brutus and Cassius, they swiftly overran the Roman province of Syria and advanced into Judea, overthrowing the Roman client Hyrcanus II and installing his nephew Antigonus. For a moment, the whole of the Roman East seemed lost to the Parthians or about to fall into their hands. However, the conclusion of the second Roman civil war soon revived Roman strength in Asia. Mark Antony had sent Ventidius to oppose Labienus, who had invaded
Procopius of Caesarea was a prominent late antique Byzantine Greek scholar from Palaestina Prima. Accompanying the Byzantine general Belisarius in Emperor Justinian's wars, Procopius became the principal Byzantine historian of the 6th century, writing the History of the Wars, the Buildings, the Secret History, he is classified as the last major historian of the ancient Western world. Apart from his own writings, the main source for Procopius's life is an entry in the Suda, a Greek encyclopaedia written sometime after 975, which discusses his early life, he was a native of Caesarea in the province of Palaestina Prima. He would have received a conventional elite education in the Greek classics and rhetoric at the famous school at Gaza, he may have attended law school at Berytus or Constantinople, became a lawyer. He evidently knew Latin. In 527, the first year of the reign of the emperor Justinian I, he became the legal adviser for Belisarius, a general whom Justinian made his chief military commander in a great attempt to restore control over the lost western provinces of the empire.
Procopius was with Belisarius on the eastern front until the latter was defeated at the Battle of Callinicum in 531 and recalled to Constantinople. Procopius witnessed the Nika riots of January, 532, which Belisarius and his fellow general Mundus repressed with a massacre in the Hippodrome. In 533, he accompanied Belisarius on his victorious expedition against the Vandal kingdom in North Africa, took part in the capture of Carthage, remained in Africa with Belisarius's successor Solomon the Eunuch when Belisarius returned east to the capital. Procopius recorded a few of the extreme weather events of 535–536, although these were presented as a backdrop to Byzantine military activities, such as a mutiny in and around Carthage, he rejoined Belisarius for his campaign against the Ostrogothic kingdom in Italy and experienced the Gothic siege of Rome that lasted a year and nine days, ending in mid-March 538. He witnessed Belisarius's entry into the Gothic capital, Ravenna, in 540. Both the Wars and the Secret History suggest that his relationship with Belisarius cooled thereafter.
When Belisarius was sent back to Italy in 544 to cope with a renewal of the war with the Goths, now led by the able king Totila, Procopius appears to have no longer been on Belisarius's staff. As magister militum, Belisarius was an "illustrious man", he thus belonged to the mid-ranking group of the senatorial order. However, the Suda, well informed in such matters describes Procopius himself as one of the illustres. Should this information be correct, Procopius would have had a seat in the Constantinople's senate, restricted to the illustres under Justinian, it is not certain. Many historians—including Howard-Johnson and Greatrex—date his death to 554, but there was an urban prefect of Constantinople called Procopius in 562. In that year, Belisarius was brought before this urban prefect; the writings of Procopius are the primary source of information for the rule of the emperor Justinian I. Procopius was the author of a history in eight books on the wars prosecuted by Justinian, a panegyric on the emperor's public works projects throughout the empire, a book known as the Secret History that claims to report the scandals that Procopius could not include in his sanctioned history.
Procopius's Wars or History of the Wars is his most important work, although less well known than the Secret History. The first seven books seem to have been completed by 545 and may have been published as a unit, they were, updated to mid-century before publication, with the latest mentioned event occurring in early 551. The eighth and final book brings the history to 553; the first two books—often known as The Persian War —deal with the conflict between the Romans and Sassanid Persia in Mesopotamia, Armenia and Iberia. It details the campaigns of the Sassaniad shah Kavadh I, the 532'Nika' revolt, the war by Kavadh's successor Khosrau I in 540, his destruction of Antioch and deportation of its inhabitants to Mesopotamia, the great plague that devastated the empire from 542; the Persian War covers the early career of Procopius's patron Belisarius in some detail. The Wars’ next two books—known as The Vandal or Vandalic War —cover Belisarius's successful campaign against the Vandal kingdom that had occupied Rome's provinces in northwest Africa for the last century.
The final four books—known as The Gothic War —cover the Italian campaigns by Belisarius and others against the Ostrogoths. It includes accounts of the 1st and 2nd sieges of Naples and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd sieges of Rome; the last book describes the eunuch Narses's successful conclusion of the Italian campaign and includes some coverage of campaigns along the empire's eastern borders as well. The Wars was influential on Byzantine historiography. Histories, a continuation of Procopius's work in a similar style, was undertaken by Agathias in the 570s. Procopius's now famous Anecdota known as Secret History was discovered
The Order of Preachers known as the Dominican Order, is a mendicant Catholic religious order founded by the Spanish priest Dominic of Caleruega in France, approved by Pope Honorius III via the Papal bull Religiosam vitam on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as Dominicans carry the letters OP after their names, standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers. Membership in the order includes friars, active sisters, affiliated lay or secular Dominicans. Founded to preach the Gospel and to oppose heresy, the teaching activity of the order and its scholastic organisation placed the Preachers in the forefront of the intellectual life of the Middle Ages; the order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers. In the year 2017 there were 5,742 Dominican friars, including 4,302 priests; the Dominican Order is headed by the Master of the Order Bruno Cadoré. A number of other names have been used to refer to its members.
In England and other countries the Dominican friars are referred to as "Black Friars" because of the black cappa or cloak they wear over their white habits. Dominicans were "Blackfriars", as opposed to "Whitefriars" or "Greyfriars", they are distinct from the Augustinian Friars who wear a similar habit. In France, the Dominicans were known as "Jacobins" because their convent in Paris was attached to the Church of Saint-Jacques, now disappeared, on the way to Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas, which belonged to the Italian Order of Saint James of Altopascio Sanctus Iacobus in Latin, their identification as Dominicans gave rise to the pun that they were the "Domini canes", or "Hounds of the Lord". The Dominican Order came into being in the Middle Ages at a time when men of God were no longer expected to stay behind the walls of a cloister. Instead, they travelled among the people, taking as their examples the apostles of the primitive Church. Out of this ideal emerged two orders of mendicant friars: one, the Friars Minor, was led by Francis of Assisi.
Like his contemporary, Dominic saw the need for a new type of organization, the quick growth of the Dominicans and Franciscans during their first century of existence confirms that the orders of mendicant friars met a need. Dominic sought to establish a new kind of order, one that would bring the dedication and systematic education of the older monastic orders like the Benedictines to bear on the religious problems of the burgeoning population of cities, but with more organizational flexibility than either monastic orders or the secular clergy; the Order of Preachers was founded in response to a perceived need for informed preaching. Dominic's new order was to be trained to preach in the vernacular languages. Dominic inspired his followers with loyalty to learning and virtue, a deep recognition of the spiritual power of worldly deprivation and the religious state, a developed governmental structure. At the same time, Dominic inspired the members of his order to develop a "mixed" spirituality.
They were both active in preaching, contemplative in study and meditation. The brethren of the Dominican Order were urban and learned, as well as contemplative and mystical in their spirituality. While these traits affected the women of the order, the nuns absorbed the latter characteristics and made those characteristics their own. In England, the Dominican nuns blended these elements with the defining characteristics of English Dominican spirituality and created a spirituality and collective personality that set them apart; as an adolescent, he had a particular love of theology and the Scriptures became the foundation of his spirituality. During his studies in Palencia, Spain, he experienced a dreadful famine, prompting Dominic to sell all of his beloved books and other equipment to help his neighbors. After he completed his studies, Bishop Martin Bazan and Prior Diego d'Achebes appointed Dominic to the cathedral chapter and he became a Canon Regular under the Rule of Saint Augustine and the Constitutions for the cathedral church of Osma.
At the age of twenty-four or twenty-five, he was ordained to the priesthood. In 1203, Dominic de Guzmán joined Diego de Acebo on an embassy to Denmark for the monarchy of Spain, to arrange the marriage between the son of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and a niece of King Valdemar II of Denmark. At that time the south of France was the stronghold of the Cathar movement; the Cathars were a heretical neo-gnostic sect. They believed that matter was evil and only the spirit was good; the Albigensian Crusade was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism in Languedoc, in southern France. Dominic saw the need for a response that would attempt to sway members of the Albigensian movement back to mainstream Christian thought. Dominic became inspired into a reforming zeal after they encountered Albigensian Christians at Toulouse. Diego saw one of the paramount reasons for the spread of the unorthodox movement- the representatives of the Holy Church acted and moved with an offensive amount of pomp and ceremony.
In contrast, the Cathars led ascetic lifestyles. For these reasons, Diego suggested that the papal legates begin to live a reformed apostolic l
Manbij is a city in the northeast of Aleppo Governorate in northern Syria, 30 kilometers west of the Euphrates. In the 2004 census by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Manbij had a population of nearly 100,000; the population of Manbij is Arab, with Kurdish and Chechen minorities. Many of its residents practice Naqshbandi Sufism. Coins struck at the city before Alexander's conquest record the Aramean name of the city as Mnbg. For the Assyrians it was known as Nappigu; the place appears in Greek as Pliny tells us its Syrian name was Mabog. As a center of the worship of the Syrian goddess Atargatis, it became known to the Greeks as the Ἱερόπολις'city of the sanctuary', as Ἱεράπολις'holy city'; this worship of Atargatis was immortalized in De Dea Syria which has traditionally been attributed to Lucian of Samosata, who gave a full description of the religious cult of the shrine and the tank of sacred fish of Atargatis, of which Aelian relates marvels. According to the De Dea Syria, the worship was of a phallic character, votaries offering little male figures of wood and bronze.
There were huge phalli set up like obelisks before the temple, which were ceremoniously climbed once a year and decorated. The temple contained a holy chamber into. A great bronze altar stood in front, set about with statues, in the forecourt lived numerous sacred animals and birds used for sacrifice; some three hundred priests served the shrine and there were numerous minor ministrants. The lake was the centre of sacred festivities and it was customary for votaries to swim out and decorate an altar standing in the middle of the water. Self-mutilation and other orgies went on in the temple precinct, there was an elaborate ritual on entering the city and first visiting the shrine; the Arameans called the city "Mnbg". Manbij was part of the kingdom of Bit Adini and was annexed by the Assyrians in 856 BC; the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III renamed it built a royal palace. The city was reconquered by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III in 738 BC; the sanctuary of Atargatis predate the Macedonian conquest as it seems that the city was the center of a dynasty of Aramean priest-kings ruling at the end of the Achaemenid Empire.
The fate of Abd-Hadad is not known but the city came under the Macedonian empire, prospered under the rule of the Seleucids who made it the chief station on their main road between Antioch and Seleucia on the Tigris. The temple was sacked by Crassus on his way to meet the Parthians; the coinage of the city begins in the 4th century BC with the coins of the priest-kings followed by the Aramaic series of the Macedonian and Seleucid monarchs. They show Atargatis either as riding on a lion, she continues to supply the chief type during imperial Roman times, being shown seated with the tympanum in her hand. Other coins substitute the legend Θεᾶς Συρίας Ἱεροπολιτῶν Theas Syrias Ieropoliton within a wreath. In the 3rd century, the city was the capital of Euphratensis province and one of the great cities of Syria. Procopius called it the greatest in that part of the world, it was, however, in ruinous state when Julian gathered his troops there before marching to his defeat and death in Mesopotamia. Sassanid Emperor Khosrau I held it to ransom after Byzantine Emperor Justinian I had failed to defend it.
The Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid restored Manbij at the end of the 8th century, making it the capital of al-Awasim. Afterward, the city became a point of contention between the Byzantines and Turkic groups; the Arab chieftain Salih ibn Mirdas captured it circa 1022, making Manbij, along with Balis and al-Rahba, the foundation of his future Mirdasid emirate. At the time, Manbij was one of the most important fortresses in northern Syria. In 1068, the Byzantine emperor Romanos Diogenes captured it, defeated the Mirdasids and their Bedouin allies, killed the city's inhabitants and plundered the surrounding countryside. Romanos withdrew due to a severe shortage of food and supplies; the Crusaders never captured Manbij during their 11th–12th century invasions of the Levant, but the Latin archbishopric of Hierapolis was reestablished in the town of Duluk by 1134. By 1152, Duluk and Manbij were captured by the Zengids under Nur ad-Din, who reconstructed and strengthened the city's fortress; the Ayyubid sultan, conquered it from its Zengid lord, Qutb ad-Din Inal, in 1175.
In 1260, the Mongols under Hulagu destroyed Ayyubid Manbij, abandoned by its then-Turkmen inhabitants. Manbij's ruins are extensive but belong to the period of its history. Most of the monuments of Manbij are gone due to it being a strategically important place being located at a group of crossroads unlike Cyrrhus whose bishop was under Manbij. Henry Maundrell who visited Mambij in 1699 noticed a rock with large busts of a male and a female with two eagles below them. Another rock had three figures sculpted in low relief. Volney who visited the place in 18th century mentioned. Alexander Drummond noticed walls of a square building which he said was Atargatis' temple and a base in the building which he identified as an altar. Travellers in the 19th century had recorded some of its ancient remains, but now all of them, including Atargatis' temple, its sacred lake, Roman baths, Roman theatres and churches built by the Byzantine Empire as well as madrassas built in the medieval era, have been destroyed.
The sacred la
Palmyra is an ancient Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period, 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. Palmyra's wealth enabled the construction of monumental projects, such as the Great Colonnade, the Temple of Bel, the distinctive tower tombs. Ethnically, the Palmyrenes combined elements of Amorites and Arabs; the city's social structure was tribal, its inhabitants spoke Palmyrene, 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 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, 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 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, the ancient site became available for excavations. During the Syrian Civil War in 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant destroyed large parts of the ancient city, recaptured by the Syrian Army on 2 March 2017; the name "Tadmor" is known from the early second millennium BC. Aramaic Palmyrene inscriptions; the etymology of the name is unclear. The Greek name Παλμύρα is first recorded by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century AD, it was used throughout the Greco-Roman world. It is believed that "Palmyra" derives from "Tadmor" and two possibilities have been presented by linguists. According to the suggestion by Schultens, "Palmyra" could have arisen as a corruption of "Tadmor", via an unattested form "Talmura", changed to "Palmura" by influence of the Latin word palma, in reference to the city's palm trees the name reached its final form "Palmyra"; the second view, supported by some philologists, such as Jean Starcky, holds that Palmyra is a translation of "Tadmor", which had derived from the Greek word for palm, "Palame".
An alternative suggestion connects the name to the Syriac tedmurtā "miracle", hence tedmurtā "object of wonder", from the root dmr "to wonder". Michael Patrick O'Connor suggested that the names "Palmyra" and "Tadmor" originated in the Hurrian language; as evidence, he cited the inexplicability of alterations to the theorized roots of both names. According to this theory, "Tadmor" derives from the Hurrian word tad with the addition of the typical Hurrian mid vowel rising formant mar. According to this theory, "Palmyra" derives from the Hurrian word pal using the same mVr formant. Palmyra lies 215 km northeast of Damascus, in an oasis surrounded by palms. Two mountain ranges overlook the city. In the south and the east Palmyra is exposed to the Syrian Desert. A small wadi crosses the area, flowing from the western hills past the city before disappearing in the eastern gardens of the oasis. South of the wadi is Efqa. Pliny the Elder described the town in the 70s AD as famous for its desert location, the richness of its soil, the springs surrounding it, which made agriculture and herding possible.
Palmyra began as a small settlement near the Efqa spring on the southern bank of Wadi al-Qubur. The settlement, known as the Hellenistic settlement, had residences expanding to the wadi's northern bank during the first century. Although the city's walls enclosed an extensive area on both b
The Diocletianic or Great Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods; the persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan has traditionally marked the end of the persecution. Christians had always been subject to local discrimination in the empire, but early emperors were reluctant to issue general laws against the sect, it was under the reigns of Decius and Valerian, that such laws were passed. Under this legislation, Christians were compelled to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution.
After Gallienus's accession in 260, these laws went into abeyance. Diocletian's assumption of power in 284 did not mark an immediate reversal of imperial inattention to Christianity, but it did herald a gradual shift in official attitudes toward religious minorities. In the first fifteen years of his rule, Diocletian purged the army of Christians, condemned Manicheans to death, surrounded himself with public opponents of Christianity. Diocletian's preference for activist government, combined with his self-image as a restorer of past Roman glory, foreboded the most pervasive persecution in Roman history. In the winter of 302, Galerius urged Diocletian to begin a general persecution of the Christians. Diocletian was wary, asked the oracle of Apollo for guidance; the oracle's reply was read as an endorsement of Galerius's position, a general persecution was called on February 24, 303. Persecutory policies varied in intensity across the empire. Whereas Galerius and Diocletian were avid persecutors, Constantius was unenthusiastic.
Persecutory edicts, including the calls for universal sacrifice, were not applied in his domain. His son, Constantine, on taking the imperial office in 306, restored Christians to full legal equality and returned property, confiscated during the persecution. In Italy in 306, the usurper Maxentius ousted Maximian's successor Severus, promising full religious toleration. Galerius ended the persecution in the East in 311, but it was resumed in Egypt and Asia Minor by his successor, Maximinus. Constantine and Licinius, Severus's successor, signed the Edict of Milan in 313, which offered a more comprehensive acceptance of Christianity than Galerius's edict had provided. Licinius ousted Maximinus in 313; the persecution failed to check the rise of the Church. By 324, Constantine was sole ruler of the empire, Christianity had become his favored religion. Although the persecution resulted in death, imprisonment, or dislocation for many Christians, the majority of the empire's Christians avoided punishment.
The persecution did, cause many churches to split between those who had complied with imperial authority, those who had remained "pure". Certain schisms, like those of the Donatists in North Africa and the Meletians in Egypt, persisted long after the persecutions; the Donatists would not be reconciled to the Church until after 411. Some historians consider that, in the centuries that followed the persecutory era, Christians created a "cult of the martyrs", exaggerated its barbarity; such Christian accounts were criticized during the Enlightenment and afterwards, most notably by Edward Gibbon. Modern historians, such as G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, have attempted to determine whether Christian sources exaggerated the scope of the Diocletianic persecution. From its first appearance to its legalization under Constantine, Christianity was an illegal religion in the eyes of the Roman state. For the first two centuries of its existence and its practitioners were unpopular with the people at large. Christians were always suspect, members of a "secret society" whose members communicated with a private code and who shied away from the public sphere.
It was popular hostility—the anger of the crowd—which drove the earliest persecutions, not official action. In Lyon in 177, it was only the intervention of civil authorities that stopped a pagan mob from dragging Christians from their houses and beating them to death; the governor of Bithynia–Pontus, was sent long lists of denunciations by anonymous citizens, which Emperor Trajan advised him to ignore. To the followers of the traditional cults, Christians were odd creatures: not quite Roman, but not quite barbarian either, their practices were threatening to traditional mores. Christians rejected public festivals, refused to take part in the imperial cult, avoided public office, publicly criticized ancient traditions. Conversions tore families apart: Justin Martyr tells of a pagan husband who denounced his Christian wife, Tertullian tells of children disinherited for becoming Christians. Traditional Roman religion was inextricably interwoven into the fabric of Roman society and state, but Christians refused to observe its practices.
In the words of Tacitus, Christians showed "hatred of the human race". Among the more credulous, Christians were thought to use black magic in pursuit of revolutionary aims, to practice incest and cannibalism. Nonetheless, for the first two centuries of the Christian era, no emperor issued general laws against the faith or its Church; these persecutions were carried o