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Sword in the Sky Quake

September 633/634 CE

by Jefferson Williams









Introduction & Summary

A number of non-contemporaneous sources1 described an earthquake in Palestine around the start of the Muslim conquest of the Levant, a campaign that took place between 632 and 640 CE but for which it is difficult to ascertain the exact dates of the various battles. These same non-contemporaneous sources1 described the earthquake as occurring during the same year or close in time to when the Rashudin Army first successfully invaded and conquered Palestine - i.e., 633/634 CE. A number of authors noted that a celestial apparition was seen in the sky around the same time as the earthquake and/or the Islamic invasion. The apparition was often described as looking like a "Sword in the Sky", lasting for 30 days, and being a portent of the Islamic invasion. Theophanes and his copyist Anastasius Bibliothecarius described it using the Greek term Docetes (δοxίτης), an obscure possibly unknown term which may or may not have referred to a comet. If it was a comet, which were often viewed as omens of ruin, pestilence, and the overthrow of kingdoms, the earthquake could date to August or September 634 CE when Chinese and Japanese records observed a comet. Two of the authors2 specified that the earthquake struck in September. However, the original source for Theophanes and his copyist Anastasius Bibliothecarius may have been Theophilus of Edessa who earned a living as a professional astrologer. It would seem that if he meant to say comet, he would have used the term comet. Perhaps Docetes (δοxίτης) has an astrological meaning unrelated to a comet.
Footnotes

1 Theophanes, Anastasius Bibliothecarius. Agapius of Menbij, Michael the Syrian, and Bar Hebraeus

2 Michael the Syrian and Bar Hebraeus

Textual Evidence

Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Chronicle of Zuqnin by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre Syriac
Biography

This Syriac text also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin is now thought to have been composed by a monk from the Zuqnin monastery rather than Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the cognomen Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Parts 3 and 4 cover events from 488 - 775 CE. There is apparently a debate over its date of composition with some scholars suggesting it was composed in the 9th century CE rather than the late 8th century CE as the text would indicate - it ends in 775 CE. Harrak (1999) opines on the opening page of his translation that it was composed in 775 CE by a West Syrian Monk - probably Joshua (the Stylite) of the monastery of Zuqnin. If Harrak is correct, this is a contemporaneous source. The work is preserved in a single handwritten manuscript (Cod. Vat. 162), now in the Vatican (shelf mark Vatican Syriac 162).

Eastern Christian 750-775 CE Zuqnin Monastery Pseudo-Dionysius did not mention an earthquake but did write that the stars of the sky fell in such a way that they all shot like arrows toward the north which, he wrote, provided the Romans with a terrible premonition of defeat and of the conquest of their territories by the Arabs while adding that this was in fact what happened to them almost immediately afterwards. The time markers in this specific part of the Chronicle of Zuqnin are frequently inconsistent with known dates of various historical events.
Reconstructed Lost Chronicle Of Theophilus of Edessa Syriac
Biography

Theophilus of Edessa was a medieval astrologer and scholar from Edessa in northern Mesopotamia ( Hoyland, 2011:6). He is said to have translated books from Greek to Syriac - indicating fluency in both languages ( Hoyland, 2011:7). His work later in his life as the court astrologer for Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi indicates fluency in Arabic. Unfortunately, the Chronicle he wrote in Syriac is lost. However, this Chronicle appears to show up in a number of later sources (e.g. Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, and Agapius) and may have been utilized by Theophanes and other Byzantine authors by way of an intermediary.

Chalcedonian Christian Late 8th century CE Edessa ?, Baghdad ?
Comparisons by Hoyland (2011)

Hoyland (2011:94-95) compared passages recounting the earthquake and the celestial apparition by Theophilus' confirmed and possible dependents.

Seismic Effects

  • Theophanes - An earthquake occurred in Palestine
  • Agapius of Menbij - There was a mighty earthquake in this year
  • Michael the Syrian - There was a violent earthquake in the month of September
Celestial Observations
  • Theophanes - there appeared a sign in the heavens, called a comet [Mango and Scott (1997:467) translated this as dokites], in the direction of the south foreboding the Arab conquest. It remained for thirty days, moving from south to north and was sword-shaped
  • Agapius of Menbij - there appeared in the sky a sign, a column of fire, and it began moving from the east to the west and from the north to the south then disappeared
  • Michael the Syrian - a portent in the sky, resembling a sword stretched out from the south to the north. It stayed there for thirty days and it seemed to many that it stood for the coming of the Arabs.
  • Chronicle of Seert - There appeared in the sky something like a lance from south to north and then it extended from east to west, and it remained thus for 35 nights; people saw it as a portent of Arab rule.

Ta'rīkh al-Mawṣil by al-Azdi Arabic
Biography

Mourad (2000:577) provided a biographic sketch of al-Azdi

Abui Isma'il Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Azdi al-Basri is an obscure personality. His name is absent from the known biographical dictionaries. There is one ambiguous exception. In Kitab al-thiqat by Ibn Hibban al-Busti (d. 354/965), a Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Azdi is mentioned as being a traditionist from Basra who transmitted hadiths from 'Asim ibn Hilal al-Basri (d. ca. 185/797) and from 'Abd al-Wahhab ibn 'Ata' al-Basri (d. 204/819).3 Probably the same traditionist is the one mentioned in a chain of authorities (isnad) quoted in Hilyat al-awliya' by Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani (d. 430/1039). There, he is cited as the informant of a certain Yahya ibn Bistam,4 who was also from Basra and who was alive in 214/829.5 One can, therefore, place the life of Muhammad al-Azdi the traditionist in the late second/ eighth and early third/ninth century.

The information found in the two dictionaries is, however, sparse. The Azdi of Futuh al-sham becomes familiar to compilers of histories and biographical dictionaries after the sixth/twelfth century, but only as the author of a book entitled Futuh al-sham. Therefore, it is possible that the traditionist and the author of Futuh al-sham are different Azdis.
Footnotes

3 Ibn Hibban, Kitab al-thiqat (Haydarabad, 1973-83), IX: 84.

4 Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani, Hilyat al-awliyad wa-tabaqdt alasfiyd' (Cairo, 1938), III: 128.

5 According to Ibn Abi Hatim, his father Muhammad (d. 264/878) had met Yahya ibn Bistam in that year: Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi, Kitab al-jarh wa-al-ta'dil (Haydarabad, 1952), IX: 132.

Muslim late 8th to early 9th centuries CE Basra ? This source may mention the celestial apparition. In his translation of the Chronicle of Zuqnin, Harrak (1999:142 n. 4) compared Syriac text stating that the stars of the sky fell in such a way that they all shot like arrows toward the north to Arabic text in al-Azdi. I was unable to find the corresponding section in al-Azdi from an English translation by Lees (1854)
Chronographia Tripartita by Anastasius Bibliothecarius Latin
Biography

Anastasius Bibliothecarius worked as the chief librarian and archivist for the Bishop of Rome and was fluent in Greek. He wrote the historical work "Chronographia Tripartita" in Latin between 871 and 874 CE ( Neil, 1998:42). He was more of a compiler than a writer - copying text from other authors. Textual analysis suggests that Anastasius had access to an earlier version of Theophanes text than the copy of Theophanes that we currently have access to - perhaps what might be termed an 'unfinished' and therefore less redacted copy.

Orthodox (Byzantium) 871-874 CE - accessed an early version of Theophanes Rome Anastasius wrote that in the 24th year of Heraclius (5 Oct. 633 to 4 Oct. 634 CE - note that Theophanes specified the 23rd year of Heraclius) there was another earthquake in Palestine and a sign appeared in the southern sky, something known as docetes, announcing the coming of Arab rule. It remained for thirty days extending from south to north in the shape of a sword.. Specific instances of damage or cities that were affected was not mentioned.
Chronicle of Theophanes Greek
Biography

Theophanes (c. 758/60-817/8) wrote the Chronicle in Greek during the years 810-815 CE as a continuation of George Syncellus' Chronicle. Theophanes' Chronicle covers the period from 284 CE, where the Chronicle of George Synkellos ends, until 813 CE (Neville, 2018:61). Neville (2018:61) notes that Theophanes explains that George had asked him to complete the task of compiling the history and had given Theophanes the materials he had gathered. Neville (2018:61) describes Theophanes' Chronicle as follows:

It is one of few Byzantine texts that is a true chronicle, in that it enumerates every year, and lists events for each year. The entry for each year begins with a listing of the year of the world, the year since the Incarnation, the regnal year of the Roman Emperor, the Persian Emperor, and the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. After the conquest of the Persian Empire, it uses years of the rulers of the Arabs in place of the Persian Emperors. Despite the impression of chronological accuracy, many of these dates are mistaken. Scholars also debate whether these dates were integral to Theophanes’ original Chronicle or were added by a later copyist.
Mango and Scott (1997:xci) characterize Theophanes' Chronicle as a "file" of sources and list at least 17 sources which informed his Chronicle (Mango and Scott, 1997:lxxiv-lxxxii). Hoyland (2011:10) noted that Theophanes made extensive use of an "eastern source" for events in Muslim-ruled lands during the the time period of the 630s-740s and continued to narrate events occurring in Muslim-ruled lands, until ca. 780 either making use of another chronicle for these three decades or, more likely, [] had at his disposal a continuation of the ‘eastern source’. Theophanes' ‘eastern source’ has been the source of much scholarly investigation and debate.

Orthodox (Byzantium) 810-814 CE Vicinity of Constantinople Theophanes wrote that an earthquake occurred in Palestine and there appeared a sign in the heavens called dokites in the direction of the south, foreboding the Arab conquest. It remained for thirty days, moving from south to north, and was sword-shaped. Specific instances of damage or cities that were affected was not mentioned. In typical fashion Theophanes provided a variety of not entirely consistent chronological markers but the earthquake appears to be approximately synchronous with the Muslim conquest of the Levant commonly thought to have begun in A.H. 13 (7 March 634 - 24 Feb. 635 CE) although Donner (2014) in his book The Early Islamic Conquests thinks it more likely that they began in A.H. 12 (18 March 633 - 6 March 634 CE).
Chronicle of Seert Arabic
Biography

The Chronicle of Seert (aka Histoire Nestorienne) was written in Arabic by an anonymous Christian writer. Hoyland (2011:16) examined references in the text and suggests it was composed between 907 and 1020 CE. Only parts of the original text has survived - covering the periods 251-422 and 484-650 CE.

Nestorian Christian probably between 907 and 1020 CE The Chronicle of Seert does not mention an earthquake but does say that there appeared in the sky something like a lance from south to north and then it extended from east to west, and it remained thus for 35 nights.
Book of History by Agapius of Menbij Arabic
Biography

Agapius of Menbij (aka Agapius of Hierapolis) wrote in Arabic in the 10th century CE when he was the Melkite bishop of Manbij (aka Mabbug, Hierapolis Bambyce). Kitab al-‘Unvan (trans. Book of History) is his best known work. The book is divided into two parts with the second part starting with Julius Caesar and extending until the mid 8th century CE.

Melkite 10th century CE Manbij, Northern Syria Agapius of Menbij mentions an earthquake twice in two separate passages separated by a few sentences. In the first passage he wrote that in this year there was a violent earthquake, and the sun was darkened. It is unclear from the text what year "this year" refers to. In the second passage, Agapius wrote that in year 3 of Abu Bakr, there was a violent earthquake in Palestine and for thirty days the ground trembled. Immediately following this earthquake description, Agapius wrote that Abu Bakr died (23 Aug. 634 CE). Depending how one choses to interpret the 3rd year of Abu Bakr, the second passage could lead to dates from 8 June 634 to 7 June 635 CE or from 8 June 634 to 23 Aug. 634 CE.
Synopsis Historion by Cedrenus Greek
Biography

Neville (2018:162-163) provides a succinct description of George Cedrenus (~11th century CE) and Synopsis istorion (aka A Concise History of the World)

In the late eleventh or early twelfth century, extant histories were combined and edited to compile a massive unified history from Creation to 1057, entitled the Synopsis istorion. The opening of the text names its author as George Kedrenos. A poem describing the history, found in a later manuscript of the text, says that George was a proedrus. This history was written after that of John Skylitzes in the late eleventh century, and before our oldest manuscript, which is stylistically dated to the first half of the twelfth.

For the years 811– 1057, the Kedrenos text copied the history by John Skylitzes precisely. For the period prior to 811 it extracts the histories of Pseudo-Symeon, Symeon the Logothete, and George the Monk. For the sixth and seventh centuries he used the Chronicle of Pseudo-Symeon, which was relying on Theophanes.

Although Kedrenos does not provide any independent information about the past, and often clings to the wording of texts he is compiling, his editorial choices can vary the meanings and implications of the stories he preserves. Scott and Maisano argue that his choices regarding the inclusion and framing of his material display his ideas about history.

Orthodox (Byzantium) late 11th or early 12th century CE Anatolia Cedrenus does not mention an earthquake but wrote that after Muhammad's death (8 June 632 CE) a comet appeared which lasted for 30 days extending from south to north, looking like a sword. Cedrenus may have dated this to the 23rd year of Heraclius (5 Oct. 632 to 4 Oct. 633 CE).
Chronicle by Michael the Syrian Syriac
Biography

Michael the Syrian also known as Michael I Rabo and Michael the Great was born in Melitene from a clerical family in 1126 CE (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). He studied at the Monastery of Dayro d-Mor Barṣawmo where he stayed on as a Monk and a Prior. In 1166, he was elected Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church. While acting as Partriach he collected manuscripts of theological and historical content and restored and compiled hagiographical and liturgical works (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition (2011) reports that his canonistic work is partly conserved in later collections, but the greater part is lost, as is his treatise on dualist heresies composed for the Lateran Council. Michael the Syrian is best known for his Universal Chronicle which covered "creation" until 1195 CE (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition (2011) describes Michael's Chronicle and various editions as follows:

The text is not preserved in its entirety, and the layout of Michael’s chronicle was distorted through the process of copying. Chabot’s edition is a facsimile of a documentary copy written for him in Edessa (Urfa) from 1897 to 1899. While the scribes tried to imitate the layout, a number of mistakes were introduced. Its Vorlage, the only extant ms., was written in 1598 by a very competent scribe. It is kept by the community of the Edessenians in Aleppo. In view of the loss of the original, this beautiful manuscript is the best witness for the layout of the chronicle. Fortunately it will soon be made available in print. This ms. was probably the Vorlage for an Arabic translation, which also sought to preserve some of the visual features, while changing others. The Arabic translation has much the same lacunae as the Syriac text. By comparing his version with the Arabic translation preserved in ms. London, Brit. Libr. Or. 4402 (which is one of several Arabic copies), Chabot detected some details lost in the Syriac text. No further research has been done so far on this problem.

The historical material was originally organized in four columns, the first being designated as the ‘succession of the patriarchs’, the second as ‘succession of the kings’, the chronological canon as ‘computation of the years’. No title of the additional column, which contains mixed material, is now known. Chapters with excursus were inserted, which interrupted the system of columns. After an open and abrupt end, six appendices follow. The first appendix is a monumental synopsis of all the kings and patriarchs mentioned. It was supposed to function as a directory. The second appendix is a treatise on the historical identity of the Syrians, who are connected to the Ancient Oriental Empires, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Arameans. When the chronicle was translated into Armenian, in two different translations, in 1246 and 1247, it was transformed according to Armenian interests.
Michael died in 1199 CE.

Syriac Orthodox Church late 12th century CE Probably at the Monastery of Mar Bar Sauma near Tegenkar, Turkey Michael wrote about the earthquake twice in two separate passages specifying two different dates. In the first passage he described a violent earthquake which he dated to September 634 CE. After the earthquake there was a sign in the sky; it appeared in the form of a sword stretching from south to north, and remained for thirty days. To many it seemed to signify the coming of the Taiyayz (Arabs). Specific instances of damage or cities that were affected was not mentioned. In the second passage he described a great earthquake in A.G. 946 (1 Oct. 634 to 30 Sept. 635 CE). At the moment of the earthquake the sun was eclipsed. Although, in his second passage, he mentioned damage to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre due to this earthquake, this was a false synchronicity. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was damaged or destroyed in 614 CE during the Sasanian conquest of Jerusalem. It was restored in 629 CE by Modestus and was intact when Omar took possession of Jerusalem in 637 CE (Le Strange, 1890:202). So, specific instances of damage or cities that were affected was effectively not mentioned in the second passage as well.
The Blessed Collection by George al-Makin Arabic
Biography

al-Makin (1205-1273 CE) was a Coptic Christian, born in Cairo, who wrote in Arabic. He also lived in Damascus where he worked as a military scribe. He retired in Damascus and died there. His sole surviving work is entitled al-Majmu` al-Mubarak (The blessed collection). It was written between 1262 and 1268 CE. The first portion runs from Adam down to the 11th year of Heraclius. The second half is a history of the Saracens, which extends from the time of Mohammad to the accession of the Mameluke Sultan Baybars in 1260 CE.

Coptic Christian 1262-1268 CE Damascus (parts may have also been written in Cairo) al-Makin wrote about the earthquake in two separate but virtually identical passages stating in both that there was a great earthquake in Palestine which lasted for 30 days. There is no mention of celestial apparitions in either passage.
Chronicon by Bar Hebraeus Syriac
Biography

Gregorius Abu’l-Faraj (1225/6-1286 CE), commonly known as ‘Bar Hebraeus’ (Bar 'Ebhraya), or the ‘Son of the Jew’, was born in Malatiyah (Melitene) to a Jewish father known as Aaron the Physician (Budge, 1932:xvi-xvii). After the Mongols sacked Malatiyah, the Mongol General Shawer Nawin fell ill and Aaron took care of his condition. This led to the family moving to Antioch where Bar Hebraeus continued his studies and, at the age of 17, became a Jacobite monk and a hermit (Budge, 1932:v). Bar Hebraeus later went to Tripoli in Phoenicia to further his studies and eventually became the Bishop of Gubos. He then moved to Lakabhin where he was also a Bishop and, after that, moved to Aleppo (Budge, 1932:xvii-xviii). In 1264 CE, Bar Hebraeus was elected Maphrian (Primate) of the East (Budge, 1932:xix). Besides his Chronicle, Bar Hebraeus wrote other books on philosophy, religion, grammar, science, and, possibly, medicine. He was also a lecturer in Mathematics and Astronomy (Budge, 1932:vii and wikipedia). His translations of Greek and Arabic texts indicates fluency in multiple languages besides Syriac and, presumably, Hebrew (Budge, 1932:vii). Bar Hebraeus traveled widely and died in Maraga, Persia, and was buried at the Mar Mattai Monastery, near Mosul (Budge, 1932:xxviii-xxxi and wikipedia). He is also known by the Latinized name Abulpharagius.

Bar Hebraeus began his studies to write his Chronicle in the great library at Maraghah only intending to write a history of the last eighty years continuing the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian which ends in 1196 CE (Budge, 1932:v). However, once he completed his 80 year history, he worked backwards, and using the Chronicle of Michael the Great [aka Michael the Syrian] as a foundation, he compiled his great work dealing with the profane history of the world from the Creation to the year of his death in 1286 CE (Budge, 1932:vii).

Syriac Orthodox Church 13th century CE Jazira ? Persia ? Bar Hebraeus wrote that at this time, in the month of ilul (September), an earthquake took place. And a sign, like unto a spear, appeared in the heavens, and it reached from the south to the north, and it remained there for thirty days. It is unclear what time "at this time" refers to. Other chronological clues in the text may date the earthquake to between 8 June 632 and 23 Aug. 634 CE.
The History of the Caliphs by Jalal al-Din As-Suyuti Arabic
Biography

al-Suyuti is presently recognized as the most prolific author in the whole of Islamic literature (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). He was widely read and famous across the Islamic world during his lifetime and was known for extreme self-confidence in his mental abilities (e.g. he had memorized 200,000 hadiths and was a polymath) which mingled with arrogance and created acrimonious relations inside Egypt (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9 (1991:913-916) describes his procedure as scientific in so far as he quotes his sources with precision and presents them in a critical way and states that he cannot be considered as a mere compiler. He may have authored close to a thousand books writing on many subjects (e.g., History, Biography) besides religion and Islamic jurisprudence. as-Suyuti was born in Egypt in 1445 CE and at the age of eighteen taught Shafi'i law at the mosque of Shaykhu and gave juridicial consultations. In 1472 CE, he became a teacher of hadith at the same mosque. In 1486 CE at the age of 40, as-Suyuti retired from public life. By 1501 CE, he had completely isolated himself in his home on Rawda Island in Cairo where he worked on the editing and revision of his literary works. He died there in 1505 CE (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). His book Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes (Kashf as-Salsalah 'an wasf Az-zalzalak) is a valuable reference for historical earthquakes and is one of the earliest extant earthquake catalogs.

The book The History of the Caliphs by as-Suyuti covers the Rashudin Caliphate.

Muslim 15th century CE Cairo al-Suyuti wrote in his book The History of the Caliphs that an earthquake was experienced in Mecca after Muhammad died on 8 June 632 CE and after Abu Bakr died on 23 August 634 CE. Both earthquake reports may be theologically motivated.
Annals by Eutychius Arabic
Biography

Eutychius of Alexandria (877-940 CE) was the Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria. He is known for being one of the first Christian Egyptian writers to use the Arabic language. His writings include the chronicle Row of Jewels (Nazm al-Jauhar) which is also known by its Latin title Eutychii Annales ("The Annals of Eutychius"). It runs from "Creation" to Eutychius' times.

Melkite 1st half of 10th century CE Alexandria, Egypt Background information on the Muslim conquest of the Levant. There is no apparent mention of the earthquake or a celestial apparition but there is material about the battle in Gaza.
Chronicle Ad 724 Syriac
Background and Biography

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 724, which is preserved in a manuscript in the British LIbrary (BM. Add. 14643, fols. 1-57) and is sometimes referred to as Liber Calipharum, is a world chronicle written in Syriac by an anonymous author in the 8th century CE (Brock, 1976). Brock (1976) notes that its entries are not always in chronological order. Affixed to the end of the text is something that may have been added by a later copyist - a list of Caliphs from Mohammed to Yezid II (r. 720-724 CE) along with the lengths of their reigns. This list is thought to have been translated from Arabic for a number of reasons including that it preserves the lengths of the reigns as they are counted in lunar Islamic years ( Penn, 2015:196-197).

Christian Background information - contains a list of the reigns early Caliphs apparently sourced from an original Muslim document. Abu Bakr's reign is listed as lasting 2 years and 6 months (in the lunar Islamic calendar).
The History by Ibn Wāḍiḥ al-Yaʿqūbī Arabic
Biography

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr ibn Yazīd al-Ṭabarī (Arabic: أبو جعفر محمد بن جرير بن يزيد الطبري), also known as al-Tabari was born in Persia ~20 km. south of the Caspian Sea in 839 CE, traveled widely, and died in Baghdad in 923 CE. His historical chronicle History of the Prophets and Kings (Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk) is often referred to as the History of al-Tabari (Tarikh al-Tabari) and was written in Arabic in ~915 CE. Depending on the edition it can contain up to 40 volumes. Gordon et al (2018:3) provide the following biographical information:

al-Ya‘qubi was of notable Iraqi birth and education, and that he spent much of his professional life in the employment of provincial governing families of the late third/ninth-century ‘Abbasid empire. His own statements indicate that he worked in Armenia, perhaps at an early point in his career, and that he took up subsequently with the Tahirid family in the Iranian province of Khurasan. We have no direct evidence, but it seems that [al-Yaqubi] then made his way to Egypt following the fall of the Tahirids around 258/872. There he lent his skills to the administration of the Tūlūnid state (254—292/868—905), which was among the first autonomous regional dynasties to challenge the ‘Abbasid state, founded roughly a century earlier.
Gordon et al (2018:4) describes History of Ibn Wāḍiḥ (aka Ta’rikh al-Yaqubi) as follows:
The Ta’rikh (History)

The text, of which we possess two manuscripts, is a universal chronicle consisting of two parts: a pre-Islamic section covering a variety of empires and peoples that is primarily sequential in organization, and an Islamic-era section that tracks the history of the Islamic polity from the prophet Muhammad's day until roughly 259/872-873.

...

The second half of the History contains a concise narrative of Islamic and Middle Eastern history, beginning with a biography of the Prophet Muhammad and proceeding with his immediate successors (the so-called ‘Rashidun’ caliphs, a designation that does not occur, however, anywhere in these texts), followed by the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid rulers to about 259/873. Throughout, al- Ya'qübi follows a fairly consistent scheme: he begins with each ruler's accession and (often) the horoscope for the date of accession, then provides a brief nar- rative of the major events of his reign; the circumstances of the caliph’s death; a list of the major officials and religious scholars active during his reign; and a brief assessment of his character and male progeny. Ibn Wadih’s employment of horoscopes ought not be viewed as a bow to superstition; instead, it reflects — and, perhaps, champions— the broad cultural tastes of his still Late Antique readership.
Gordon et al (2018:3) also discussed Al-Ya‘qubi’s religious views
Al-Ya‘qubi’s religious views were clearly Shi'ite, but they seem to conform neither to the Imami Shiite tradition that would prevail later, nor to what would become the Zaydi Shrite tradition. ... Writing as he did before ‘classical’ Shi‘ism crystallized, al-Ya‘qubi held religious views that later Muslims likely found difficult to categorize.

Muslim - thought to have had Shi'ite sympathies Late 9th or early 10th century CE Cairo ? Background information - al-Yaqubiʾ dated the death of Abu Bakr to Tuesday 21 Jumādā II A.H. 13 (22 or 23 August 634 CE).
History of the Prophets and Kings by al-Tabari Arabic
Biography

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr ibn Yazīd al-Ṭabarī (Arabic: أبو جعفر محمد بن جرير بن يزيد الطبري), also known as al-Tabari was born in Persia ~20 km. south of the Caspian Sea in 839 CE, traveled widely, and died in Baghdad in 923 CE. His historical chronicle History of the Prophets and Kings (Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk) is often referred to as the History of al-Tabari (Tarikh al-Tabari) and was written in Arabic in ~915 CE. Depending on the edition it can contain up to 40 volumes.

Muslim ~915 CE Baghdad Background information - al-Tabari dated the death of Abu Bakr to Monday 21 Jumādā II A.H. 13 (22 August 634 CE).
Comet The catalog of Ho Peng Yoke (1962) reports Chinese records describing a comet which appeared on 22 or 23 September 634 CE and disappeared on 30 Sept. 634 CE. Japanese records report a comet was seen from the south from approximately 29 Aug. - 27 Sept. 634 CE and another comet was observed from approximately 24th January to 22nd February 635 CE.
Eclipse Paths In his 2nd passage, Michael the Syrian reported that the sun was eclipsed at the same time that there was an earthquake. Agapius of Menbij reported that after Muhammad died there was a a violent earthquake, and the sun was darkened. Observable Eclipses in the region occurred on 12 Feb. 634 CE, 1 June 634 CE, and 19 Aug. 635 CE.
Celestial Sightings Summary
Islamic Conquests
Problems in dating early Islamic conquests

Kennedy (2007:98) discussed chronological problems with dating the early Islamic conquests as follows:

Immediately after Muhammad’s death, the caliph Abū Bakr sent another expedition to Syria, an expedition that marked the beginning of the real conquest of the country. The sequence of events becomes extremely confused at this point. We have a vast mass of traditions about major battles and minor engagements and about the capture of cities. But the truth is that there is no way of reconciling the different chronological schemes that were elaborated by different Muslim editors, and there are very few external sources to give us any sort of guidance. As the great Muslim historian Tabarī complained when he was collecting the conquest narratives, ‘in fact, one of the most annoying things about this study is the occurrence of such differences as the one I have noted above about the date of this battle. Such differences arose because some of these battles were so close together in time’. In the end, we can only be certain that campaigning began in earnest from 632 and that eight years later, in 640, all of Syria was under some sort of Muslim rule with the exception of the coastal city of Caesarea.

Source Commentary
Text (with hotlink) Original Language Biographical Info Religion Date of Composition Location Composed Notes
Chronicle of Zuqnin by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

This Syriac text also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin is now thought to have been composed by a monk from the Zuqnin monastery rather than Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the cognomen Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Parts 3 and 4 cover events from 488 - 775 CE. There is apparently a debate over its date of composition with some scholars suggesting it was composed in the 9th century CE rather than the late 8th century CE as the text would indicate - it ends in 775 CE. Harrak (1999) opines on the opening page of his translation that it was composed in 775 CE by a West Syrian Monk - probably Joshua (the Stylite) of the monastery of Zuqnin. If Harrak is correct, this is a contemporaneous source. The work is preserved in a single handwritten manuscript (Cod. Vat. 162), now in the Vatican (shelf mark Vatican Syriac 162).

Excerpts
English from Harrak (1999)

  • Part 4
  • from Harrak (1999:141-143)
  • Harrak (1999:32-33) noted that the annalistic divisions in the Chronicle have been retained in our translation, and each entry has been introduced with an A.D. (Gregorian) date (in bold), converted from the Seleucid date given in the Chronicle.
620-621 The year nine hundred and thirty-two: The Arabs5a conquered the land of Palestine and the land as far as the great river Euphrates.6a The Romans fled and crossed over to the east of the Euphrates, and the Arabs held sway over them. The first king7a was a man among them named Muhammad, whom they also called Prophet because he turned them away from cults of all kinds and taught them that there was only one God, creator of the universe. He also instituted laws for them because they were much entangled in the worship of demons and cult of idols, mainly the cult of trees. Because Muhammad showed them that God was one, because they vanquished the Romans in war through his direction, and because he instituted laws for them according to their desire, they called him Prophet and Messenger1b of God.

This nation is very lascivious and sensual. Every law instituted for them, be it by Muhammad or by any other God-fearing person, is despised and dismissed if it is not instituted according to their sensual pleasure. But a law which fulfills their wishes /p.150/ and desires, even if it is instituted by a nobody among them, they accept, saying: This has been instituted by the Prophet and Messenger of God. Moreover, it was commanded to him in this manner by God!

Muhammad ruled them for seven years.

621-622 The year nine hundred and thirty-three: Phocas, the Roman Emperor, died. Heraclius reigned in his place for thirty one years.2b

622-623 The year nine hundred and thirty-four: Mar Cyriacus, Bishopt of Amida, died.3b He was succeeded by Mar Thomas.

625-626 The year nine hundred and thirty-seven: The stars of the sky fell4b in such a way that they all shot like arrows toward the north. They provided the Romans with a terrible premonition of defeat and of the conquest of their territories by the Arabs. This was in fact what happened to them almost immediately afterwards.

626-627 The year nine hundred and thirty-eight: Muhammad, King of the Arabs—that is their Prophet—died, and Abu-Bakr ruled over them for five years.5b

628-629 The year nine hundred and forty: Heraclius, the Roman Emperor, began to build the great church of Amida.

631-632 The year nine hundred and forty-three: Abu-Bakr, Caliph6b of the Arabs, died and `Umar succeeded him, for twelve years.1c
Footnotes

5a [Syriac text] This term originally referred to one tribe among the Arabs, the [Arabic text]

6a Impossible date since the first year of Islam corresponds to 622 A.D., when the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina took place.

7a [Syriac text]: Same title in Agapius 457: [Arabic text] "(Muhammad) became their king"

1b [Syriac Text]: Arabic [Arabic text] with the Syriac emphatic ending. On the loan-words from Arabic into Syriac see Harrak in Symposium 1996.

2b James of Edessa 325 [249]: S. 920 (608-609). Elias I 125: S. 921 (609-610). Michael IV 403 [11 400], IV 390 [378] and Agapius 449: Heraclius began to rule in S. 922 (610- 611). Chronique de Seert 527 [207]: Heraclius began to rule on 1 September (for October) S. 922 (610). Chronicon Paschale 698-701 [149-152]: Phocas was killed and Heraclius was crowned emperor on Monday 6 (for 5) October, 14th indiction (610). Same indiction in Theophanes 299: Monday 4 October A.M. 6102 (610).

3b About this anti-Chalcedonian bishop see Michael IV 390-391 [II 379-380].

4b [Syriac Text] : Compare this sentence with [Arabic Text] al-Azdi, 147 and 200.

5b Prophet Muhammad died in June H. 11 (632) and Abu-Bakr ruled for two years: Elias I 130, al-Ya'qubi II 127, 136ff, al-Tabari III 199ff.

6b [Syriac Text] : Lit. "king". When this word refers to caliphs, it is translated as "caliph" for convenience.

1c Michael IV 414 [II 417], Elias I 131, al-Ya'qubi II 138 and al-Tabari III 419ff all date the event to (August) H. 13 (634).

Syriac - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
625-626 CE none
  • Years are provided by Harrak (1999:142) who wrote that the annalistic divisions in the Chronicle have been retained in our translation, and each entry has been introduced with an A.D. (Gregorian) date (in bold), converted from the Seleucid date given in the Chronicle.
  • The time markers in this specific part of the Chronicle of Zuqnin are frequently inconsistent with known dates of various historical events.
Seismic Effects
  • an earthquake wasn't mentioned
Celestial Observations
  • The stars of the sky fell in such a way that they all shot like arrows toward the north. They provided the Romans with a terrible premonition of defeat and of the conquest of their territories by the Arabs. This was in fact what happened to them almost immediately afterwards.
Locations
  • none specified
Sources
Sources according to Harrak (1999)

Part 3

Harrak (1999:28) noted the following about sources in Part 3

The sources of Part III have already been identified by Witakowski,2 and they are given in the footnotes of the present translation where appropriate. The second part of the Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus is the major source of Part III.3 ... Thus in Part III, our Chronicler was a mere copyist, writing down existing statements even in the first person.
Footnotes

2 Witakowski, OrSu 40 (1991) pp. 252ff.

3 See Van Ginkel, John of Ephesus: A Monophysite Historian in Sixth-Century Byzantium

Part 4

Harrak (1999:28-32) noted the following about sources in Part 4

In the introduction to Part IV, he bemoans the fact that he was unable to find "reliable" sources dealing with the period between A.D. 586, which ends the Ecclesiastical History of John of Ephesus, and the year A.D. 775, "apart from some bits and pieces". Despite the Chronicler's claim that he used few sources, Conrad has recently suggested that Part IV is a composition of four layers, each composed by a different author.6a In support of his conclusion, Conrad noticed two misplaced events within the chronological frame of Part IV, the first being the earthquake in Edessa of 717-718, which was placed after the entry for the year 731-732, and the second being the shooting stars episode of 742-743, which was placed after the account of the year 748-749. In these misplacements as well as in the Chronicler's supposed mistranslations of the Arabism musawwadah (even though he knew Arabic),1b Conrad saw a change of authors.

The reasons Conrad gives for his conclusion that Part IV is comprised of four layers are open to question.2b First, misplacing events is a common phenomenon in Part IV, even in the section which has been assigned to the Chronicler by common scholarly consent (see below).3b So, for example, the event of 760-761 (the rebuilding of Malatya of Cappadocia by the Arabs) was placed after an event in 763-764 (epidemic of horses). The flood of the Tigris which occurred in 762-763 was placed after 764-765, the year in which Severus, Bishop of Amida, died. This lack of concern for precise chronological sequence cannot be ascribed to a change of author or authors but must be attributed to the Chronicler himself, who, furthermore, explicitly states in his introduction that he was unconcerned about such trivia: "It is of no consequence to intelligent and God-fearing people if an event is dated one year earlier or one or two years later ..."4b This unorthodox practice of our Chronicler is vividly pointed up by parallel accounts in Syriac, Greek and Arabic, which have been noted in the present translation, and which offer dates of events often at variance with the Chronicler's.

Second, the Chronicler clearly understood the Arabism musawwadah, despite the fact that he partially mistranslated it. In the passage where we find the Arabism, he writes as follows about the 'Abbasids: "All their clothes were black ... and for this reason they were called musawwadah."5b Yet, he failed to give a literal translation of this Arabism into Syriac, translating it simply "black" instead of "black-cloaked", as did Theophanes, the 9th-century Byzantine historian, who more aptly translated it as [Greek text].6b Near the end of his work, our Chronicler committed a genuine mistake, when he confused an Arabic case ending, by rendering Arabic 'yn fin 'bny flny instead of 'yn fin 'bnw flny "where is so-and-so son of so-and-so?".7b

Although it is not possible to determine precisely at what point in Part IV we should begin speaking of the Chronicler's uniquely personal contribution, one can start at least from folio 128 onward. In this folio the Chronicler wrote about the death of the Ummayad Caliph Hisham and the political upheaval that followed it; he dated these events to S. 1055 (A.D. 743-744). He then wrote an account about a famine and a bubonic plague that occurred in Syria in the year Hisham died. It is revealing that in his description of the mid-8th-century plague, the Chronicler used the lengthy narrative of John of Ephesus about the Great Plague of Justinian's reign as a model. Though he had previously copied verbatim the account of John of Ephesus for Part III of his Chronicle, in Part IV, the Chronicler reproduced John's outline, leading ideas, and individual expressions, including even the jeremiad, from John's account of the Great Plague. In other words, John's account was used by our Chronicler as a kind of mould into which he poured his own information about the plague that occurred during his own lifetime.

...

In light of the various pieces of information we have been able to uncover, the Chronicler seems to have composed the history of the period between 743 and 775. The fact that in 775 A.D. he wrote from memory about events dated as early as 743 A.D. means that his contribution covered the history of at least 32 years, using oral and personal information. This span of time is well within the range of human memory. The early section of Part IV, comprising events dated to the 7th and early 8th centuries, may well be based on written sources of some kind, as well as on oral tales about holy men. The written items were mostly lists of dates that furnished the Chronicler with conflicting data, about which he himself complains, as we have noted above. Palmer has given some indication as to the nature of the sources from which the Chronicler drew information about the 7th century,1c but nothing more can be said about their authors.

In addition to the scant written sources and oral traditions used in the early portion of Part IV, the Chronicler had recourse to "old people" and other eyewitnesses, including himself, as sources of information for most of Part IV. This explains why his information is so plentiful and often very detailed. Sometimes he explicitly refers to his oral sources1d and at least on one occasion hints at his personal skepticism, when he valiantly attempts to justify their testimony. Such is the case of the rainbow reported to have been seen by some, turned upside down. The Chronicler felt obliged to add the note: "If someone does not want to believe this matter, let him search in the preceding chapters where he will find an occurrence just like it."2d He also discloses when and where he was himself witness to an event, as in the following passage dealing with Christians who apostatised to Islam: "I was in Edessa at this time for some event that took place there ... "3d

Some 58 folios out of the 179 of Codex Zuqninensis were devoted to the writing Part IV of the Chronicle. To write his own personal contribution, the Chronicler filled 51 out of the 58 folios of Part IV. In other words, nearly 29% of the entire Chronicle and almost 88% of Part IV is the author's own contribution.
Footnotes

6a Conrad, "Syriac Perspectives on Bilad al-Sham During the Abbasid Period," 24-26.

1b See below p. 179. 2

2b Hoyland, Seeing Islam as Others Saw it, chapter 8, also expressed doubt about Conrad's conclusion.

3b Tisserant noticed the same phenomenon in other parts of the Chronicle; Codex, xii. 4

4b See below p. 139. 5

5b See below p. 179. 6

6b See below p. 178 n. 1.

7b See below p. 330 and n. 11.

1c See Palmer, The seventh Century in the West-Syrian Chronicles, 69f.

1d See below p. 212. 2

2d See below p. 213. The earlier information is found in Chabot, Chronicon I, 263:20-21 and Chronicon II, 4:7-12 (below p. 39).

3d See below p. 328.

Background Information
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre vs. Dionysius of Tell-Mahre

Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre and Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre are not the same work nor were they composed by the same author. Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is largely lost. It only exists in fragments. Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is extant. Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre is also known as the Chronicle of Zuqnin as it is thought to have been composed by a monk at the monastery of Zuqnin before it was falsley attributed to Dionysius of Tell-Mahre - hence the reason why the author is referred to as Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. To complicate matters further, Chabot (1895) published a French translation of Annals by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre which he mistakenly titled Annals by Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. Well, it was actually titled Annals by Denys of Tell-Mahre which is another name for Dionysius of Tell-Mahre.

Online Versions and Further Reading
Online versions including the supposed autograph (original copy)

The sole surviving manuscript at the Vatican (Cod. Vat. 162) - This manuscript is claimed by some to be the autograph - the first draft of the manuscript. No further recension, or copy, is known.

Annals Part by Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre in Syriac at archive.org

References

Harrak (2017:xvi) notes major sources identified in Parts I and II of the Zugnin Chronicle had been discussed in great detail by Witakowski.

Witakowski, Study, p. 124-135

Witakowski, "The Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Second Part of his Chronicle," in J.O. Rosenqvist (ed.), AEIMΩN Studies Presented to Lennart Ryden on his Sixty-Fifth Birthday (Uppsala, 1996), pp. 181-210

Witakowski, "Sources of Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre for the Christian Epoch of the First Part of his Chronicle," in G.J. Reinink and A.C. Klugkist (eds.), After Bardaisan: Studies on Continuity and Change in Syriac Christianity in Honour of Professor Han J.W. Drijvers (Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters en Department Oosterse Studies, 1999), pp. 329-366.

Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre at syri.ac

Wikipedia page for the Zunqin Chronicle - many links and references

Notes
Parallels with Al-Azdi

Harrak (1999:20-21) notes the following about parallels between the Chronicle of Zuqnin and al-Azdi

At least one scholar has compared the contents of Part IV of the Chronicle of Zuqnin with that of Tarikh al-Mawsil, written by the Arab historian al-Azdi (died in 945). Dr. F. `Umar1 has called attention to the fact that both histories deal with the political, social, and economic conditions of the same region, Mosul and the Jazira. He further noted that both authors were opposed to the `Abbasid central authority, as were the authors of other local histories, such as the History of Tabaristan, History of Sijistan, History of Bukhara, etc. Both authors moreover agreed that overtaxation and extortion of the 'Abbasid agents were responsible for the migration of the peasantry into the cities, a fact which led to the disintegration of the Jazira, which had an economy based on agriculture. Dr. `Umar also noted that, while the Chronicle of ZucinIn concentrated on the economy of the Jazira, al-Azdi stressed the political history of that region, and sometimes of other regions as well.

There can be no doubt that the Chronicler of Zuqnin and al-Azdi have certain characteristics in common. In addition to the fact that both wrote local histories, their histories are of an annalistic type, the only difference being that al-Azdi used a lunar calendar, whereas the Chronicler of Zuqnin used the Seleucid calendar, which is solar. Accordingly, both authors divided the narrations of the events, when these lasted more than one year, into separate entries. In addition to arranging the material in this manner (e.g. "in year such and such, so and so died / or did this and that"), both authors sub-divided the information for a single year, if it proved to be rather long, into sections with titles. Sometimes such short annalistic entries are strikingly similar, even in wording. An example is the parallel event of the shooting of the stars, which are not only dated to the same year (Seleucid 1076 = H. 147 = A.D. 764-765), but also share very similar (in part cognate) wording: [Arabic text] = {Syriac text] "the stars were `dropping' ".2

Furthermore, both authors were compilers of existing sources, oral as well as written, but al-Azdi normally identified his sources, whereas the Chronicler typically did not. But they certainly agreed that the people of the Jazira and Mosul suffered oppression at the hands of the `Abbasids. Thus, the violence of Haran al-Rashid directed at Mosul as described by al-Azdi3 echoes the same behavior of Abu 'Awn, an `Abbasid agent appointed by al-Mansur, toward the people of the Jazira, which our Chronicler describes.1 Al-Azdi's negative assessment of Yihyah son of Said al-Harshi,2 a governor of Mosul appointed by al-Rashid, is reminiscent of the generally negative opinion the Chronicler had about Musa son of Musab, whom al-Mansur appointed governor of Mosul and the Jazira.

Nonetheless, the two authors differ in their aim and manner of writing. Al-Azdi is a writer who made a serious attempt at transmitting historical information he received from his oral sources.3 He seldom let his own bitterness toward people or individuals interfere. The worst of what is reported about the `Abbasids came not from his pen, but from the lips of an Arab: "By God, a liar is he who claims that these (Abbasids) are Muslims."4 The Chronicler, on the other hand, was an ardent moralist for whom the purpose of history writing was not to furnish information about events, but to have his readers participate in them, in all their dramatic details. He criticised, not to say vilified, everyone who, in his estimation, had committed wrong, whether Umayyad, `Abbasid or a cleric from his own church. What mattered to him was not the religious affiliation of the wrongdoer but the wickedness of his actions. Our Chronicler tended to paint in deep black and pure white, with very little in between. Thus, he called al-Mansur "a tyrannic ruler" and other choice epithets, as seen above, but he described his brother `Abbas as a "merciful and peace-loving man",5 though both were Arabs and Muslims.

Footnotes

1 'Umar, al-Da'wah, 45.
2 al-Azdi 200, Chabot, Chronicon II, 222:26.
3 al-Azdi 284.

1 See below p. 318f.
2 al-Azdi 286-287.
3 See al-Azdi 250:5-6.
4 al-Azdi 151:13-14.
5 See below p. 232.

Reconstructed Lost Chronicle Of Theophilus of Edessa

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Theophilus of Edessa was a medieval astrologer and scholar from Edessa in northern Mesopotamia ( Hoyland, 2011:6). He is thought have been born in Edessa in ~695 CE and died in Baghdad in ~785 CE. He is said to have translated books from Greek to Syriac - indicating fluency in both languages ( Hoyland, 2011:7). His work later in his life as the court astrologer for Abbasid Caliph al-Mahdi indicates fluency in Arabic. Unfortunately, the Chronicle he wrote in Syriac is lost. However, this Chronicle appears to show up in a number of later sources (e.g. Michael the Syrian, Chronicon Ad Annum 1234, and Agapius of Menbij) and may have been utilized by Theophanes ( Hoyland, 2011:7-10).

Excerpts
English from Hoyland (2011)

  • from Hoyland (2011:94-95)
  • Hoyland, 2011:94-95 quotes what he believes may be Theophilus' dependents on the topic of the earthquake and the comet below while noting earlier that such an event could have been widely reported orally and textually and thus derived from a variety of sources.
An earthquake and a sign in the heavens184

Theophanes: An earthquake occurred in Palestine and there appeared a sign in the heavens, called a comet [Mango and Scott (1997:467) translated this as dokites], in the direction of the south foreboding the Arab conquest. It remained for thirty days, moving from south to north and was sword-shaped.

Agapius: There was a mighty earthquake in this year and there appeared in the sky a sign, a column of fire, and it began moving from the east to the west and from the north to the south then disappeared. There was a mighty earthquake in Palestine and for thirty days the earth shook and there was a major plague in various places.

Michael the Syrian: There was a violent earthquake in the month of September and afterwards a portent in the sky, resembling a sword stretched out from the south to the north. It stayed there for thirty days and it seemed to many that it stood for the coming of the Arabs.

Chronicon Ad Annum 1234: not recorded

Cf. Chron Siirt XCIV, 580: There appeared in the sky something like a lance from south to north and then it extended from east to west, and it remained thus for 35 nights; people saw it as a portent of Arab rule.

{Forced conversion of Jews: MSyr: At this time King Heraclius ordered that all the Jews who were found in the lands of the Roman Empire should be baptised and become Christians. For this reason the Jews fled Roman territory. They came first to Edessa; expelled violently once again from this place, they fled into Persia. A great number of them received baptism and became Christians.)185
Footnotes

184 Theophanes, 336: Agapius, 454|469 (Abu Bakr, year 3/634-35): Msyr 11.IV, 413/414. Cf. Chron Zugnin, 150 (sign in sky presaging Arab conquests). Msyr dates the earthquake to September AG 945/634 and the comet immediately after it. Only Agapius, 469, and Msyr 11.V, 414/419, mention the plague.

185 This is only in Msyr 11.IV, 413/414; it perhaps comes from Sergius of Rusafa, but was omitted by TC as it shows Heraclius in a bad light. Heraclius' decree against the Jews appears in a number of sources in connection with his prediction/dream about the Roman Empire being overrun by a circumcised people: see my Seeing Islam, 218. re Fredegar, 153; cf. Chron Siirt CI, 600; Eutychius. 129 (re Palestinian Jews); Sebeos, 134 (re Edessan Jews). On the forcible conversion of Jews at this time see Dagron and Deroche, 'Juifs et chretiens' 28-38.

Seismic Effects from Theophilus' possible dependents
  • Theophanes - An earthquake occurred in Palestine
  • Agapius of Menbij - There was a mighty earthquake in this year
  • Michael the Syrian - There was a violent earthquake in the month of September
Celestial Observations from Theophilus' possible dependents
  • Theophanes - there appeared a sign in the heavens, called a comet [Mango and Scott (1997:467) translated this as dokites], in the direction of the south foreboding the Arab conquest. It remained for thirty days, moving from south to north and was sword-shaped
  • Agapius of Menbij - there appeared in the sky a sign, a column of fire, and it began moving from the east to the west and from the north to the south then disappeared
  • Michael the Syrian - a portent in the sky, resembling a sword stretched out from the south to the north. It stayed there for thirty days and it seemed to many that it stood for the coming of the Arabs.
  • Chronicle of Seert - There appeared in the sky something like a lance from south to north and then it extended from east to west, and it remained thus for 35 nights; people saw it as a portent of Arab rule.
Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Issues of chronology in Theophilus' Lost Chronicle

Hoyland (2011:19) discusses issues of chronology in Theophilus' Lost Chronicle

THEOPHILUS’ CHRONICLE

From a comparison of Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius it becomes immediately apparent that their notices for the seventh and eighth century follow a chronological order. A few are misplaced, but the intention was clearly to progress through history from some point in the past up until the author’s own day. Yet it is also evident from the frequency with which Dionysius and Agapius either begin a notice with ‘at this time’ or else disagree with each other on dating that Theophilus’ work was not annalistic and was indeed rather sparing with dates.63 This is an important point, for modern scholars often rely upon Theophanes for ascertaining the date of an event. But it is because he is writing an annalistic work that he puts notices under specific years, not necessarily because these notices were dated in the sources he is using. And in the case of the notices on eastern affairs, Theophanes often had to place them just where he thought best.

What the start and end point were for Theophilus is a difficult question. Since he is quoted as saying that there were 5197 years separating Adam from Seleucus, Theophilus is usually thought to have made Creation his starting point. But this is hardly cogent, for as an astrologer he would often have been obliged to make chronological calculations, or it could well be that he prefaced his chronography with some such computation.64 Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius are clearly dependent on a common source from the notice on Abu Bakr’s despatch of four generals in 634 onwards.
Footnotes

63 Theophilus may have proceeded by simply narrating events, arranging his entries in chronological order as far as possible and occasionally giving synchronisms after the fashion of Eusebius; e.g. ‘In the year 34/35/37 of the Arabs, 10/13 of Constans and 9 of ‘Uthman. Mu'awiya prepared a naval expedition against Constantinople’ (Theophanes. 345; Agapius. 483; Msyr 1 l.XI, 430/445; Chmn 1234, 274).

64 Agapius. 455. gives a calculation of the years from Adam before proceeding to relate amr al- ‘arab/'the affairs of the Arabs’, but it seems somewhat corrupt. Conrad, ‘The Mawâli, 388, is perhaps the most recent to state, without explanation, that Theophilus' chronicle began with Creation.

Mango and Scott (1997:lxxxiv n. 104) discuss the possible calendar used by Theophilius.
The Chronography of Gregory Abu '1-Faraj. . . known as Bar Hebraeus, trans. E. A. W. Budge, i (London, 1932,1, 116. Cf. A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Liteiatur (Bonn, 1922), 341-2. Note that Theophilos appears to have used the Byzantine era, since he calculated AG as starting in 5197 from Adam: Budge, 40 [39]; F. Nau, ROC 4 (1899), 327.
The references are
Excerpt from Budge (1932:40)
And SELEUCUS reigned alone over SYRIA, and over all GREATER ASIA, and BABYLON as far as INDIA, for twenty-one years. And with him began the reckoning by the years of the GREEKS (i.e. the Era of the Greeks) which we SYRIANS use, even though it be called after ALEXANDER. SELEUCUS built ANTIOCH, and SELEUCIA, and LATAKIA, and APAMEA, and URHAI (EDESSA), and BEROEA, and PILAS, and GERMANIKI, which iS MAR'ASH.

From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to EUSEBIUS, iS 4,889 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to ANDRONICUS, is 5,083 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to GIWARGI (GEORGE) the most ex-cellent Elder, is 5,085 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to AFRICANUS, is 5,083 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to THEOPHILUS of EDESSA, is 5,197 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to JACOB of EDESSA, is 5,149 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to GEORGE, bishop of the Arab peoples, is 4,929 years
From ADAM to SELEUCUS, according to ANIANUS, is 5,180 years and 10 months.

And with this last the Greek Septuagint agreeth. The reckoning which the Greeks use in our time agreeth with that of THEOPHILUS of EDESSA. Now if we add to 5,197 years the complete years of SELEUCUS, and one month to the complete months of the incomplete year, which beginneth with the FIRST TESHRIN (OCTOBER), there are gathered together for US the complete solar years from ADAM, and the months from the incomplete year which beginneth with 'ILUL (SEPTEMBER). What then in respect of the day which remaineth (?), the tenth of 'ILUL [of the] year of the GREEKS 1587 ? Let us add five thousand one hundred and ninety-seven to one thousand five hundred and eighty-six, and their total is six thousand seven hundred and eighty-three ; then add to the eleven months one month and they become twelve months. Let us add then one year to the complete years, and they become six thousand seven hundred and eighty-four. And we say that the tenth of 'ILUL belongeth to the incomplete year, that is to say, the year six thousand seven hundred and eighty-five.
Excerpt from Nau (1899:327)
In another place (Hist. Dyn., p. G3 of Pococke's translation) Bar-Hebreus tells us that Theophilus of Edessa placed the beginning of the Era of the Seleucids in the year 5197 of the world. The same author (Book of the Ascension of the Spirit, p. 199) tells us again: "Nowadays, the people around us use six chronologies. One, which the Greeks use, starts from Adam. There are various opinions to his knowledge,the most famous,in our time, reproduces that of Theophilus of Edessa. The chronology of Theophilus, who thus placed the birth of N.-S. the year 5508 5197 H-- 311), is based on the text of the Septuagint.

JW: Nau's years of 5508 and 311 may be a year off. The starting date for the Byzantine reckoning of the Anno Mundi Calendar is 1 Sept. 5509 BCE. The starting date for Macedonian reckoning of the A.G. calendar is 1 Oct. 312 BCE. Add 5197 to 312 and you arrive at 5509 BCE. This suggests that Theophilius of Edessa made use of Byzantine reckoning of the A.M. calendar ( which was the standard of the time and Macedonian reckoning of the A.G. calendar (which was standard among Syriac writers of the time - Sebastian Brok, personal communication, 2021)

Ta'rīkh al-Mawṣil by al-Azdi

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Mourad (2000:577) provided a biographic sketch of al-Azdi

Abui Isma'il Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Azdi al-Basri is an obscure personality. His name is absent from the known biographical dictionaries. There is one ambiguous exception. In Kitab al-thiqat by Ibn Hibban al-Busti (d. 354/965), a Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Azdi is mentioned as being a traditionist from Basra who transmitted hadiths from 'Asim ibn Hilal al-Basri (d. ca. 185/797) and from 'Abd al-Wahhab ibn 'Ata' al-Basri (d. 204/819).3 Probably the same traditionist is the one mentioned in a chain of authorities (isnad) quoted in Hilyat al-awliya' by Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani (d. 430/1039). There, he is cited as the informant of a certain Yahya ibn Bistam,4 who was also from Basra and who was alive in 214/829.5 One can, therefore, place the life of Muhammad al-Azdi the traditionist in the late second/ eighth and early third/ninth century.

The information found in the two dictionaries is, however, sparse. The Azdi of Futuh al-sham becomes familiar to compilers of histories and biographical dictionaries after the sixth/twelfth century, but only as the author of a book entitled Futuh al-sham. Therefore, it is possible that the traditionist and the author of Futuh al-sham are different Azdis.
Footnotes

3 Ibn Hibban, Kitab al-thiqat (Haydarabad, 1973-83), IX: 84.

4 Abu Nu'aym al-Isfahani, Hilyat al-awliyad wa-tabaqdt alasfiyd' (Cairo, 1938), III: 128.

5 According to Ibn Abi Hatim, his father Muhammad (d. 264/878) had met Yahya ibn Bistam in that year: Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi, Kitab al-jarh wa-al-ta'dil (Haydarabad, 1952), IX: 132.

Excerpts
English translation of the Chronicle of Zuqnin by Harrak (1999)

  • In his translation of the Chronicle of Zuqnin, Harrak (1999:142 n. 4) compared Syriac text stating that the stars of the sky fell in such a way that they all shot like arrows toward the north to Arabic text in al-Azdi. I was unable to find the corresponding section in al-Azdi from an English translation by Lees (1854)
  • Part 4
  • from Harrak (1999:141-143)
  • Harrak (1999:32-33) noted that the annalistic divisions in the Chronicle have been retained in our translation, and each entry has been introduced with an A.D. (Gregorian) date (in bold), converted from the Seleucid date given in the Chronicle.
625-626 The year nine hundred and thirty-seven: The stars of the sky fell4 in such a way that they all shot like arrows toward the north. They provided the Romans with a terrible premonition of defeat and of the conquest of their territories by the Arabs. This was in fact what happened to them almost immediately afterwards.
Footnotes

4 [Syriac Text] : Compare this sentence with [Arabic Text] al-Azdi, 147 and 200.

Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Manuscripts and Copies in Print

Mourad (2000:578) discussed manuscripts and copies in print

The two surviving manuscripts of Azdi's Futuh al-sham are now in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, nos. Arabe 1664 and 1665. They comprise 82 and 149 folios, respectively. The first manuscript was copied in Jerusalem on 22 Dhu al-Hijja 613 (21 April 1217) by a Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghassani.6 The second, which is clearer than the first, was copied on 1 Dhu al-Qa'da 764 (12 August 1363).7 Arabe 1664 refers to Azdi's text under the title Kitab mukhtasar futuh al-sham li-l-Waqidi (Synopsis of the Conquests of Syria by Waqidi) by Abu Isma'il Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah al-Azdi al-Basri. But this title does not appear in the other manuscript, and it seems that it was added later by one of the owners of that manuscript.

Azdi's Futuh al-sham also exists today in two editions. The first was published in Calcutta in 1854 by William N. Lees, who edited the work, with the title Kitab futuh al-Sham, on the basis of one slightly damaged manuscript found in India. A few pages at the beginning of that manuscript are missing or badly worm-eaten,8 as are another three pages in the body of the text, and few pages at the end of it.9 The second edition was published in Cairo in 1970 by 'Abd al-Mun'im 'Amir. 'Amir, not aware of the presence of the two manuscripts at the Bibliotheque Nationale, claimed to have found another manuscript in Damascus in a private library and to have based his new edition, entitled Ta'rikh futuh al-sham, on it.10 'Amir described the manuscript he found as complete, compared to the incomplete one Lees had published.11 However, by comparing both editions, it is clear that 'Amir copied Lees' text, concocting a few additions to make it appear different and more complete.12 Apparently, neither of the two manuscripts at the Bibliotheque Nationale seems to have been the one used by Lees, because they both contain the folios that are missing from his edition. In this study, Lees' edition is used as a base, and the other two manuscripts are referred to only when necessary.

Footnotes

6 Azdi, Futuh al-sham (MS. Arabe 1664 in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris), f. 83a(5-8). Henceforth, Azdi (M1).

7 Azdi, Futuh al-sham (MS. Arabe 1665 in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris), f. 149a(5-8). Henceforth, Azdi (M2).

8 The worm-eaten part at the beginning of the text is reproduced by Lees at the end: see Kitab futuh al-sham, ed. William N. Lees (Calcutta, 1854), appendix, 1-3. Henceforth, Lees.

9 About the condition of the manuscript which Lees used, see Lees, preface, v-vii; and for the three missing pages in the body of the text, see Lees, 90 (n. 2), 120 (n. 2), 178 (n. 2).

10 Azdi, Ta'rikh futuh al-sham, ed. 'Abd al-Mun'im 'Amir (Cairo, 1970). Henceforth, 'Amir.

11 About the manuscript 'Amir claimed to have found, see his introduction, 1-m.

12 After comparing both edited texts, I found them nearly identical in almost every respect. Both begin and end in the same manner; and curiously, the worm-eaten parts are in most cases identical in both texts. 'Amir also borrowed the footnotes and comments of Lees without acknowledgment. The differences, however, are mainly verbal; in a few instances lines or chains of authorities either are dropped from or added to 'Amir's edition. 'Amir neglected to refer to the missing folios of Azdi's manuscript, and interestingly enough, by comparing the mysterious additions that he makes in lieu of these missing folios with the respective passages in the two manuscripts of the Bibliotheque Nationale, it is obvious that they do not match: compare 'Amir, 102(4)-103(12) to Azdi (M1), 28b(12)-29a(9) and Azdi (M2), 52a( 1)-53a(8); 'Amir, 137(2-8) to Azdi (M1), 38b(16)-39a(15) and Azdi (M2), 69b(l)-70a(10). Moreover, the addition in 'Amir, 257(13)-259(6), does not figure, on the one hand, in either of the two manuscripts and, on the other hand, is not even in accord with the preceding section in his edition. Thus it is clear that 'Amir copied the text of Lees. For general comments on 'Amir's edition, see Akram D. al-'Umari, Dirasat tarikhiyya (Medina, 1981), 70-71, 76-79; Conrad, 29-32.

Chronographia Tripartita by Anastasius Bibliothecarius

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Anastasius Bibliothecarius worked as the chief librarian and archivist for the Bishop of Rome and was fluent in Greek. He wrote the historical work "Chronographia Tripartita" in Latin between 871 and 874 CE ( Neil, 1998:42). He was more of a compiler than a writer - copying text from other authors. Textual analysis suggests that Anastasius had access to an earlier version of Theophanes text than the copy of Theophanes that we currently have access to - perhaps what might be termed an 'unfinished' and therefore less redacted copy.

Excerpts
English from Niebuhr (1828)

In the 24th year of Heraclius, Abu Bakr sent out four generals who were shown the way by the (local) Arabs. They captured Ran and the entire region of Gaza. Finally, a small contingent of soldiers arrived from Caesarea in Palestine. They engaged in battle but their leader was killed along with 300 soldiers. The Arabs won a decisive victory and returned with many captives and booty.

In the same year there was another earthquake in Palestine and a sign appeared in the southern sky, something known as docetes, announcing the coming of Arab rule. It remained for thirty days extending from south to north in the shape of a sword.

Latin from Niebuhr (1828)

Anno imperii Heraclii 24 cum misisset Ahubacharus praetares quattuor, qui ducti fuerant, ut praetuli, ab Arabibus, venerunt atque ceperuut Ran et totam regionem Gazae, tandemque aliquando cum venisset a Caesarea Palaestinae cum militibus paucis, inito bello perimitur primus cum exercitu, qui trecentorum erat virorum, et multis captivis acceptis et exuviis plurimis reversi sunt cum vlctorla splendida.

Porro eodem anno terrae motus factus est in Palaestina, et apparuit signum, quod dicitur docetes, in caelo contra meridiem, praenuntians Arabum potentatum. perduravit autem diebus triginita, extensum a mesembria usque ad arctum; erat autem in modum gladii.

Latin from Niebuhr (1828) - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
5 Oct. 633 to 4 Oct. 634 CE 24th year of Heraclius none
18 March 633 - 24 Feb. 635 CE the same year Abu Bakr sent out the 4 generals (i.e. the start of the Arab Conquests) none
  • Muslim conquest of the Levant commonly thought to have begun in A.H. 13 (7 March 634 - 24 Feb. 635 CE) although Donner (2014) in his book The Early Islamic Conquests thinks it more likely that they began in A.H. 12 (18 March 633 - 6 March 634 CE).
? a small contingent of soldiers arrived from Caesarea in Palestine. They engaged in battle but their leader was killed along with 300 soldiers. The Arabs won a decisive victory and returned with many captives and booty. none
  • The battle is the first one described after Abu Bakr sent out the four armies from Medina in ~633/634 CE. Anastasius states that the Muslim army captured Ran and all of Gaza. Theophanes says they captured Hira and all of Gaza. Hira, located in Mesopotamia, was captured by the army of Khalid ibn al Wahid in ~633 CE. Mayerson (1964) associates Ran with Pharan in the Sinai suggesting that the army of 'Amr b. al-'As approached Gaza from the southeast via the Sinai rather than directly across the Negev from their base in Aila (Aila capitulated to Islamic rule in 630 CE while Mohamed was still alive). Because Pharan and all of Gaza makes more geographic sense than Hira and all of Gaza, it may be that a later copyist unfamiliar with the geography of this part of the world altered Theophanes' text to change Ran to Hira.

    Another difference is Theophanes says that the Byzantine contingent that fought in Gaza was headed by a patrician named Sergius. Anastasius does not provide a name for the leader. Mayerson (1964) speculates that 7th century destruction evidence from Avdat was caused by the Muslim army as it marched back from it's victory in Gaza towards the Araba or Aila however other sites in the Negev besides Avdat may contain evidence for a 7th century earthquake.
Seismic Effects
  • there was another earthquake in Palestine
Celestial Observations
  • a sign appeared in the southern sky, something known as docetes
  • It remained for thirty days extending from south to north in the shape of a sword
Locations
  • Palestine
Sources
Anastasius's Sources

Anastasius's work was compiled from the Greek writings of Theophanes, Nicephorus, and George Syncellus ( Neil, 1998:45). As discussed below by Neil (1998:46), Anastasius had access to an older copy of Theophanes Chronographia that we don't have.

Anastasius' Chronographia consisted of excerpts of the Chronographia of Theophanes57 which extended up to the year 813, the Opuscula historica of Patriarch Nikephoros58 and the Chronicle of George Synkellos59. Anastasius' Chronographia Tripertita has been edited by de Boor,60 who found that, while it is an often inconsistent rendition of the Greek, Anastasius' version of Theophanes' Chronographia was based on an early and more reliable version of the original than now survives.61 For this reason, it has been useful in some places for establishing the original text where the direct transmission offers a degenerate version, although Anastasius unfortunately does not provide a full translation of his original.62
Footnotes

57 Ed. C. de Boor, Theophanis Chronographia, v. 1 (Leipzig, 1883); recently translated with commentary by C. Mango and R. Scott, The Chronicle of Theophanes the Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern History, AD 284-813 (Oxford, 1997).

58 Ed. C. de Boor, Nicephori Archiepiscopi Constantinopolitani Opuscula Historica, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1880). It is also edited in the version of I. Bekker, Sancti Nicephori Patriarchae Constantinopolitani Breviarum Rerum post Mauricium gestarum (Bonn, 1837; repr. Ann Arbor, 1988). This covers the seventh and eighth centuries from the death of Emperor Maurice. Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople (806-815), was a continuator of Theophylact Simocatta.

59 George Synkellos' Chronicle covers the history of the world from creation up to the rule of Diocletian. It is edited by C. de Boor, Georgii monachi chronicon, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1904; 2nd ed. with corrections by P. Wirth, Stuttgart, 1978).

60 De Boor, v. 2 (Leipzig, 1885).

61 De Boor, v. 2, pp. 401-435. Mango and Scott, op. cit., pp. xcvi f. draw our attention to the existence of two late ninth-century manuscripts of Theophanes, one of which was wrongly dated to the late tenth century by de Boor, and the other not used by him at all. These also offer an inferior text to that consulted by Anastasius.

62 De Boor, v. 2, pp. 413-415.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Chronicle of Theophanes

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Theophanes (c. 758/60-817/8) wrote the Chronicle in Greek during the years 810-815 CE as a continuation of George Syncellus' Chronicle. Theophanes' Chronicle covers the period from 284 CE, where the Chronicle of George Synkellos ends, until 813 CE (Neville, 2018:61). Neville (2018:61) notes that Theophanes explains that George had asked him to complete the task of compiling the history and had given Theophanes the materials he had gathered. Neville (2018:61) describes Theophanes' Chronicle as follows:

It is one of few Byzantine texts that is a true chronicle, in that it enumerates every year, and lists events for each year. The entry for each year begins with a listing of the year of the world, the year since the Incarnation, the regnal year of the Roman Emperor, the Persian Emperor, and the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch. After the conquest of the Persian Empire, it uses years of the rulers of the Arabs in place of the Persian Emperors. Despite the impression of chronological accuracy, many of these dates are mistaken. Scholars also debate whether these dates were integral to Theophanes’ original Chronicle or were added by a later copyist.
Mango and Scott (1997:xci) characterize Theophanes' Chronicle as a "file" of sources and list at least 17 sources which informed his Chronicle (Mango and Scott, 1997:lxxiv-lxxxii). Hoyland (2011:10) noted that Theophanes made extensive use of an "eastern source" for events in Muslim-ruled lands during the the time period of the 630s-740s and continued to narrate events occurring in Muslim-ruled lands, until ca. 780 either making use of another chronicle for these three decades or, more likely, [] had at his disposal a continuation of the ‘eastern source’. Theophanes' ‘eastern source’ has been the source of much scholarly investigation and debate.

Excerpts
English from Mango and Scott (1997)

A.M. 6124 [A D 631/2]

Year of the divine Incarnation 624
Herakleios, emperor of the Romans (31 years), 23rd year
Abouhacharos, leader of the Arabs (3 years), 2nd year
Sergius, bishop of Constantinople (29 years), 24th year
Modestus, bishop of Jerusalem (2 years), 2nd year
George, bishop of Alexandria (14 years), 14th year

In this year Aboubacharos sent four generals1 who were conducted, as I said earlier, by the Arabs and so came and took Hera2 and the whole territory of Gaza.3 At length, Sergius arrived with some difficulty with a few soldiers from Caesarea in Palestine. He gave battle and was the first to be killed along with his soldiers, who were 300.4 Taking many captives and much booty, the Arabs returned home after their brilliant victory.a

At the same time an earthquake occurred in Palestine; and there appeared a sign in the heavens called dokites in the direction of the south, foreboding the Arab conquest. It remained for thirty days, moving from south to north, and was sword-shaped.b
Footnotes

1 According to Syriac sources (as in note a), the four generals were sent respectively against Palestine, Egypt, Persia, and the Christian Arabs. Arabic sources also speak of four commanders: Donner, Conquests, 113 ff. The traditional date is AH 13 (634).

2 Ήραν, accusative (var. Ήραν, Ran Anast.). Caetani, Annali, ii. 1143 n. I, thinks this is a confused reference to al-Hira, the Lakhmid capital in Iraq, which was captured by Khälid b. al-Walid in 633. Cf. Chr. Seert, 260. P. Mayerson, TAPA 95 (1964), 161, suggests that it refers to Pharan in Sinai. Kaegi, Conquests, 90, takes it to mean simply 'camp' (hira), i.e. one occupied by Arab guards in the neighbourhood of Gaza. See also L. I. Conrad, ByzF 15 (1990), 30. [JW: Anastasius calls this place Ran - Mayerson, TAPA 95 (1964) mentions this name and equates it with Pharan

3 Not Gaza itself, which was taken in June/July 637: A. Guillou, BCH 81 (1957), 396-404

4 Possibly he had 300 Romans, the rest being Samaritans. The death of Sergios (called a candidatus) is mentioned in Doctr. Jacobi, v. 16, and, rather obscurely, by Nik. 20. II, who calls him Σέργιος ό κατά Νικηταν, if that is, indeed, the same person.

a Cf. Mich. Syr. ii. 413 ; Chr. 1234, 189-90 . Both tell a similar story: Sergius, styled a patrician, raises a force of 5,000 including (or composed of) Samaritans, who defect; he escapes from battle, falls off his horse three times, then is killed. No mention of either Hera or Gaza. Condensed account in Agapios, 193-4 , 208-9.

b Cf. Mich. Syr. ii. 41 4 (nearly the same text; earthquake in Sept. AG 945); Agapios, 194; Ps.-Dion. Chron. 5 (AG 937, stars moving north, presaging Arab conquest); Chr. Seert, 260.

English from Turtledove (1982) - embedded



Chronology

Although Theophanes, in typical fashion, provides a variety of not entirely consistent chronological markers, the earthquake appears to be approximately synchronous with the Muslim conquest of the Levant commonly thought to have begun in A.H. 13 (7 March 634 - 24 Feb. 635 CE) although Donner (2014) in his book The Early Islamic Conquests thinks it more likely that they began in A.H. 12 (18 March 633 - 6 March 634 CE).
Chronology Table

Date Range (wide constraint) Reference Corrections Notes
1 Sept. 631 - 31 Aug. 633 CE A.M.a 6124 extra year added - see Notes
  • Since Theophanes A.M.a are thought to be have often been a year too low during the periods A.M.a 6099-6204 (607-712 CE) and A.M.a 6219-6266 (727-774 CE), the years are expanded to add an extra year
  • Year starts in September - using Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronism MB.
  • Grumel’s synchronisms - MA and MB

    Author Inconsistencies
    Theophanes Grumel (1934:407), Proudfoot (1974:373-374), and others have pointed out that Theophanes A.M.a in the years A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265 are frequently a year too low. The indictions, however, are thought by many more likely to be correct.

    Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms
    Synchronism Explanation
    MA Theophanes’s indictions begin in March - the start date for A.M.a
    MB Theophanes’s indictions begin in September after the March starting date for A.M.a
    Note: Outside of Egypt, Indictions began on 1 September
    Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms by time period
    Synchronism Years A.M.a (approx.) Date Range CE Historical Markers
    MA ? - 6102 ? - 5 Oct. 610 until the end of the reign of Phocas (ruled 23 Nov. 602 – 5 Oct. 610 CE)
    MB 6102 - 6206 5 Oct. 610 - 3 June 713 starting with the reign of Heraclius (ruled 5 Oct. 610 – 11 Feb. 641 CE) and ending right before the start of the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE)
    MA 6206 - 6220 4 June 713 CE - 24 March 728 starting with the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE) until A.M.a 6220
    MB 6221 - 6266 1 Sept. 728 - 31 Aug. 774 A.M.a6221 - 6266
    MA 6267 - ? 25 March 774 - ? A.M.a6267 - ?
    Martin (1930:12-13) states the following:
    The indiction runs from Sept. 1st, the Alexandrian A.M. from March 25th, but Theophanes probably dates the latter for calendar purposes from Sept. 1st2, to correspond with the Indiction.
    ...
    In two periods (607-714 and 726-774) the A.M. and the indictions do not correspond 3. It was formerly supposed that the Indictions were most likely to be correct, and therefore they must be made the foundation for a true chronology. But a suggestion was made by Bury (Later Roman Empire, II, p. 425). and worked out by Hubert (Byzant. Zeitschrift, VI, pp. 491 sqq.), that in 726 Leo III raised double taxes and put two indictions in one year, while in 774 or 775, Constantine remitted a year's taxation and spread one indiction over two years. This suggestion has been generally accepted. On the other hand, it is purely conjectural. Ginis (Das Promulgationsjahr d. Isuar. Ecloge. Byz. Zeitsch., XXIV, pp. 346 sqq.) would trace the error to Theophanes having confused the April of Indiction 10 (Sept. 1st, 726, to Aug. 31st, 727), with April of the 10th regnal year of Leo (March 25th, 725, to March 24th, 726). E.W. Brooks (Byz. Zeitsch., VIII, pp. 82 sqq.) explains the error by differences in the chronological systems of the sources used by Theophanes.

  • Ambraseys (2009) discussed Theophanes chronology for the earthquake
    Theophanes places the earthquake in a.M. 6124 in the 23rd year of Heraclius (September 632 to August 633). Note that in this period Theophanes’s indictions begin in the September after the March starting the a.M.; Grumel’s ‘synchronism MB’ (Grumel 1934, 401ff.). Because Mango and Scott dismiss Grumel’s interpretation, the a.M. in their edition is a year too low (September 631 to August 632), Effectively Grumel’s ‘synchronism MA’ (Theoph. 1997, 467) and therefore inconsistent with the Heraclius a.23. Furthermore it would put the death of Abu Bakr and the succession of Omar (‘Umar) Khalif in the following year in AD 633, whereas this happened in AD 634.
  • calculated using CHRONOS
25 March 632 to 24 March 633 CE Year of the divine Incarnation 624 none
5 Oct. 632 to 4 Oct. 633 CE 23rd year of Roman Emperor Herakleios none
8 June 633 to 7 June 634 CE The 2nd year of Arab ruler Abu Bakr none
  • Abu Bakr's rule began on 8 June 632 CE (the day Mohammed died)
  • calculated using CHRONOS
1 Jan. 633 to 30 Dec. 634 CE 24th year of Bishop of Constantinople Sergios none
1 Mar. 631 to 30 Mar. 632 CE 2nd year of Bishop of Jerusalem Modestus none
? 14th year of Bishop of Alexandria George none
18 March 633 - 24 Feb. 635 CE the same year Abu Bakr sent out the 4 generals (i.e. the start of the Arab Conquests) none
  • Muslim conquest of the Levant commonly thought to have begun in A.H. 13 (7 March 634 - 24 Feb. 635 CE) although Donner (2014) in his book The Early Islamic Conquests thinks it more likely that they began in A.H. 12 (18 March 633 - 6 March 634 CE).
? Death of Patrician and General Sergios in battle none
  • Anastasius' very similar passage does not give a name to the military leader who fought this battle.
? At length, Sergius arrived with some difficulty with a few soldiers from Caesarea in Palestine. He gave battle and was the first to be killed along with his soldiers, who were 300.4 Taking many captives and much booty, the Arabs returned home after their brilliant victory.a
Footnotes

4 Possibly he had 300 Romans, the rest being Samaritans. The death of Sergios (called a candidatus) is mentioned in Doctr. Jacobi, v. 16, and, rather obscurely, by Nik. 20. II, who calls him Σέργιος ό κατά Νικηταν, if that is, indeed, the same person.

a Cf. Mich. Syr. ii. 413 ; Chr. 1234, 189-90 . Both tell a similar story: Sergius, styled a patrician, raises a force of 5,000 including (or composed of) Samaritans, who defect; he escapes from battle, falls off his horse three times, then is killed. No mention of either Hera or Gaza. Condensed account in Agapios, 193-4 , 208-9.

none
  • The battle is the first one described after Abu Bakr sent out the four armies from Medina in ~633/634 CE. Anastasius states that the Muslim army captured Ran and all of Gaza. Theophanes says they captured Hira and all of Gaza. Hira, located in Mesopotamia, was captured by the army of Khalid ibn al Wahid in ~633 CE. Mayerson (1964) associates Ran with Pharan in the Sinai suggesting that the army of 'Amr b. al-'As approached Gaza from the southeast via the Sinai rather than directly across the Negev from their base in Aila (Aila capitulated to Islamic rule in 630 CE while Mohamed was still alive). Because Pharan and all of Gaza makes more geographic sense than Hira and all of Gaza, it may be that a later copyist unfamiliar with the geography of this part of the world altered Theophanes' text to change Ran to Hira.

    Another difference is Theophanes says that the Byzantine contingent that fought in Gaza was headed by a patrician named Sergius. Anastasius does not provide a name for the leader. Mayerson (1964) speculates that 7th century destruction evidence from Avdat was caused by the Muslim army as it marched back from it's victory in Gaza towards the Araba or Aila however other sites in the Negev besides Avdat may contain evidence for a 7th century earthquake.

Seismic Effects
  • an earthquake occurred in Palestine
Celestial Observations
  • there appeared a sign in the heavens called dokites in the direction of the south
  • It remained for thirty days, moving from south to north, and was sword-shaped
Locations
  • Palestine
Sources
Source Discussions

Natural phenomenon in Theophanes

Conterno (2014:106-107) considers the following regarding reports of natural phenomenon in Theophanes:

However, in examining this type of information two aspects must be kept in mind: on the one hand the fact that they represented the main content of the chronological lists linked to the city archives, on the other hand the fact that events of this type could very likely be the subject of independent recording by several sources and, especially in the case of the most impressive phenomena, their memory could also be passed down orally for a long time. The importance of the registers of the archives of Antioch and Edessa in relation to the Syriac and Greek chronicles was highlighted by Muriel Debié. As emerges from one of his studies, in fact, the registers of documents kept in the city and patriarchal archives - the so-called "archive books" - probably also contained annotations, in calendar or annalistic form, of the most relevant local events, references to which they could be contained in the documents and administrative acts themselves: construction of buildings, destruction due to wars or fires and floods, natural disasters and exceptional events of various kinds (plagues, famines, eclipses and other astronomical phenomena ...)

From these registers, short chronological lists were extracted and circulated independently and from which authors of both Greek and Syriac chronicles could draw, as can be seen from the testimony of Giovanni Malalas. To these must also be added the episcopal lists, lists of rulers and lists of synods and councils, and it is precisely to these thematic lists, which circulated independently and in different versions, that the material centered on Edessa, Antioch and Amida which is found in the later chronicles. According to Debié, any dating discrepancies found in the various chronicles can be attributed, on the one hand, to the fact that the chroniclers had different lists available and often crossed the data from the lists with those taken from other chronicles; on the other hand, the probable difficulties encountered by chroniclers in matching the different dating systems or in obtaining absolute datings from chrono related logies, or even to their precise intention to modify the chronological data for ideological reasons. Debié therefore hypothesizes a large production and circulation of these lists, which in fact constituted a concrete form of scheduling relevant events at the local level, primarily for practical purposes. Being instruments of use rather than compositions of a historiographical nature, they were not intended to cover very large periods, but were rather relatively short clips. An aspect that emerges clearly from his study, moreover, is that in these lists the relative chronology was just as and perhaps more important than the absolute one, since the fixing of memorable facts and their concatenation was essentially aimed at establish reference points for the chronological location of other events.

Theophanes' 7th and 8th century Sources

The 'Eastern Source'

Karcz (2004), citing Brooks (1906:587), Proudfoot (1974), and Mango and Scott (1997) introduced a theory by a number of historical researchers that Theophanes' source was a Palestinian or Syrian Melkite monk who wrote in Greek (or translated a Syriac text to Greek) not long after 780 CE. Brooks (1906:587) and others suggest that Theophanes, Michael the Syrian, Nicephorus and others may have shared the same source thus accounting for the similarity in various Christian accounts of these earthquakes. Hoyland (2011:7-10) suggests that Theophanes also made use of the Lost Chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa - who was a contemporaneous source for the earthquakes. Brooks (1906) suggested that Theophanes also made use of a chronicler who wrote not long after 746, whoin there is some reason to identify with John the son of Samuel, though we cannot positively assert that he was not Theophilus of Edessa. Current scholarship seems to favor Theophilus over John Son of Samuel. Some think George Syncellus who Theophanes was a continuator of could be the eastern source since he may have once lived in Palestine.

Proudfoot (1974)'s discussion of the 'Eastern Source'

Proudfoot (1974:405-409) summarized Brook's pioneering work on Theophanes' eastern source in several run on sentences (only the first part is shown below)

Exposition of this source might profitably be preceded by discussion of the pioneer studies of Brooks towards identification of the common source underlying much of the seventh and early eighth century narratives of Theophanes and Michael the Syrian, the development and the corroboration of this work in the light of more recently published primary sources and of other chronicle traditions, and its contribution to the emerging perspective of a single Byzantino-Syriac tradition for the historiography of the seventh century. A Monophysite Syriac chronicle extending to 746 written soon after that date by the otherwise unknown John son of Samuel and citing an unknown chronicle composed 724-31 (wherein much of the more detailed material was attributable to a source written either within or on the frontier of the Caliphate before 717) (2) was transmitted to Theophanes through the intermediary of a Melchite monk of Palestine writing in Greek c. 780 whose work was brought to Constantinople in 813 after the dissolution of the Syrian monasteries and the dispersal of their personnel, and to Michael the Syrian through Denis of Tellmahre -writing c. 843-6, while the chronicle dated to 724-31 was one of the sources of the monk of Karthamin whose work was written c.785 and continued as the Chronicon ad 846 pertinens (3). The last notice Theophanes drew from the Melchite continuator of the common source was apparently (780) the persecution of Christians by al-Mandi (775-85) the first caliph of the Abbasid jihad ...

Sources and textual variations of the Chronicle of Theophanes according to Mango and Scott (1997)

Mango and Scott (1997:lxxiv-xcviii) state the following about Theophanes' sources

SOURCES

Except for an indeterminate part of its final section the Chronicle of Theophanes can best be viewed as a file of extracts borrowed from earlier sources. These have been subjected in varying degrees to a process of abbreviation and paraphrase (see below, p. xciff.), but no attempt has been made to impose a stylistic uniformity to the resultant text. On the contrary, peculiarities of diction and style, from the archaic to the vernacular, that were present in the sources have, more often than not, been left untouched. An extreme case is provided by the borrowings from the iambic poems by George of Pisidia, many of which retain their metrical form. Unfortunately, this telltale diversity cannot be fully conveyed in translation and can only be sensed in the original.
...
It should be noted that, unlike the Syriac chroniclers, who are often scrupulous in naming their authorities, Theophanes hardly ever does so.
...
2. An eastern (Syriac) chronicle. Theophanes is unique among Byzantine chroniclers in his direct use of a foreign source, which makes up a major part of his narrative for the seventh and eighth centuries. The credit for proving this fact is due to E. W. Brooks,101 whose acute remarks admit of further elaboration thanks to the subsequent publication to texts not available to him, in particular the Chronicle of 1234 and Agapios of Membidj.

There can be little doubt that the source used by Theophanes (for the sake of simplicity we shall speak of a single source, although there may have been more than one) was a Greek translation of a chronicle written in Syriac. That this translation was made in the East is indicated, amongst other clues, by the use of Macedonian months, which was traditional in Syria—Palestine: these occur between 6126 and 6242. It is also evident that this source in its final form was a product of Melkite circles. It is difficult to determine its place of origin, since there are divergent pointers to Edessa, Antioch, Emesa, and Palestine. But even if the final redaction was Melkite, the source incorporated a good deal of material common to the Syrian Jacobite tradition, as represented notably by Michael the Syrian and the Chronicle of 1234.

The identification of the eastern passages (which, for the reader's convenience, we have distinguished by a different font) is not always beyond dispute. Setting aside some cases of overlap as early as the fourth century (discussed below), the passages in question start with the Persian invasion in the reign of Phokas (Am 6099), become more or less continuous from AD 630 onwards, and extend at least to AD 780.

If we wish to go further and try to identify Theophanes' eastern source, we find ourselves in deep waters. It is known that Michael's Chronicle (completed in 1195) was chiefly based for the period 582-842 (i.e. books x. 2I-xii) on that of Dionysios of Tel-Mahre, who is also acknowledged to have been the source of the Chronicle of 1234, the latter being independent of Michael. But Dionysios died in 845 and his Chronicle, which is lost except for a few fragments,102 could not, therefore, have been the source of Theophanes. The latter must have been already incorporated in Dionysios.

The next point to notice is that whereas Theophanes' eastern source extended to at least 780, his correspondence with Michael (as with Chr. 1234) stops in about 750, as already stressed by Brooks. The relationship of the various texts we have been discussing, setting aside Agapios, can, therefore, be expressed by the following schema:
Schema on the eastern source Schema for the 'eastern source'

Mango and Scott (1997:lxxxiii)

With regard to the postulated Chronicle of 750, it ought to correspond to the work of one of the six authors cited by Dionysios in his Preface, which is reproduced by Michael (ii. 358). Their respective claims have been examined by Brooks, who, after eliminating four of them as being too early, too late, or otherwise unsuitable, was left with two candidates, namely a certain John son of Samuel and Theophilos of Edessa, expressing a preference for the former. Since nothing whatever is known concerning John son of Samuel, we shall be none the wiser if we ascribe to him the Chronicle of 750. Theophilos of Edessa, who is specifically mentioned as a source by Agapios of Membidj (whose work belongs to the same nexus of sources),103 is a more attractive candidate. He was a Melkite, an 'astrologer', and a favourite of the Caliph al-Mahdi. In addition to his historical interests, he also translated the Iliad and the Odyssey into Syriac. He died in 785.104 Recently a detailed case has been made for Theophilos' authorship of the 'Chronicle of 75O,105 which may be accepted as a working hypothesis. That, however, still leaves open the identity of the eastern source for the period 750-80, which does not appear to offer any close parallels either with the Syriac tradition or with Agapios, whose published text breaks off in the second year of al-Mahdi (AD 776/7). One possible solution would be to suppose that whoever translated Theophilos into Greek wrote the post-750 narrative in addition to being responsible for a number of other entries in the pre-750 section, which, although of eastern derivation, are unique to Theophanes.
...
the Latin translation of Anastasius (also edited by de Boor)127 assumes considerable importance. This was made in Rome between 871 and 874 in the interests of John Immonides, who was then compiling his historico-ecclesiastical encyclopaedia.128 The Greek manuscript Anastasius had before him may have been acquired in the course of his mission to Constantinople in 869-70 and was probably similar in content to some of the extant Greek manuscripts, since it also included part of Synkellos and the Chron. syntomon of Nikephoros (like f and o). It was, however, of much better quality than the entire Greek tradition, except a and b. Unfortunately, Anastasius did not translate it in full: he made only short excerpts down to the death of Theodosios II, fuller ones to the death of Justinian I, but from the accession of Justin II (and even more closely from that of Maurice) he provided a full translation.

As long as it was believed that the oldest manuscript of Theophanes was not earlier than the late tenth century it was possible to speculate, in view of the undoubted superiority of Anastasius, that the chronicler's text underwent considerable deterioration between c.850 and 950. The view that de Boor's Theophanes was not the 'real' Theophanes was argued at length by a Russian clergyman, P. G. Preobranskij,129 who thought that the authentic text had to be reconstructed with the help of A[nastasius] as well as d = Paris. gr. 1710 (of which he had a much higher opinion than did de Boor) and later compilers, notably Kedrenos130 and pseudo-Symeon,131 who allegedly had access to a better tradition than we do. It was further suggested that the preserved Theophanes represented an inferior edition made at the time of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who, undoubtedly, had a keen interest in the Confessor, as shown by the lengthy extracts he included in his De administrando imperio.132 Besides, Constantine believed that Theophanes was related to him through his mother Zoe.
...
The deterioration of the Greek text by comparison with Anastasius must, therefore, have taken place much earlier, towards the middle of the ninth century, that is as soon as it was published, and can best be explained on the assumption that the Chronicle enjoyed a wide diffusion from the start. The fact that the same scribe (or, at any rate, the same scriptorium) made two copies, c and o, seems to indicate something like mass production, which one may be tempted to localize in the monastery of Megas Agros. Palaeographically these two manuscripts belong to a much discussed group, which has been christened 'tipo Anastasio'.133 It may be worth noting that another important member of the group (Paris. gr. 1470 + 1476) has been attributed to Bithynia on the basis of its ornament,134 a conclusion that has been tentatively endorsed in a recent study.135 The chronicler George the Monk, who was probably active in the second half of the ninth century,136 used Theophanes in a version that appears to have been rather distinctive. At about the same time the Chronicle, including its Preface, was extensively plagiarized by the author of the Life of the probably imaginary St Theodore of Chora,137 a monastery which, incidentally, had close links with Palestine. Further research in this direction may prove fruitful.

In sum, we do not wish to claim that the text we have translated is the 'definitive' Theophanes. There may be room for further improvement of the text, but that can only be done in the context of a new edition, an undertaking that will require many years of labour.
Footnotes

101 BZ 15 (1906), 578-87. Cf. N. Pigulevskaja, JOBG 16 (1967), 55-60, for Theophanes' relation to Ps.-Dionysios. A useful survey of Syriac historical sources for the 7th cent. is given by S. P. Brock, BMGS 2 (1976), 17-36. See now also L. I. Conrad, ByzF 15 (1990), 1-44; R. Hoyland, 'Arabic, Syriac and Greek Historiography in the First Abbasid Century', Aram, 3 (1991), 217-39; Palmer, Seventh Century, esp. 96 ff. (by R. Hoyland).

102 An attempt to reconstruct it is made by Palmer, Seventh Century, III ff.

103 PO viii. 525

104 The Chronography of Gregory Abu 'l-Faraf . known as Bar Hebraeus, trans. E. A. W. Budge, i (London, 1932), 116. Cf. A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur (Bonn, 192.2), 341-2. Note that Theophilos appears to have used the Byzantine era, since he calculated AG as starting in 5197 from Adam: Budge, 40 [39]; F. Nau, ROC 4 [1899], 327.

105 L.I. Conrad, The Conquest of Arwad' in A. Cameron and L.I. Conrad, eds., The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East, i (Princeton, 1992), 317-401.

127 Along with Theophanes, ii. 31 ff.

128 See G. Arnaldi, 'Anastasio Bibliotecario', Dizionario biogr. degli Italiani, iii (1961), 25-37, with further bibliography.

129 Letopisnoe povestvovanie sv. Feofana Ispovednika (Vienna, 1912). This work, which is not only very scarce but practically unreadable, was not well received. See critical review by F. Uspenskij, VizVrem 22 (1916), 297-304, and the somewhat more cautious one by E. W. Brooks, BZ 2.2 (1913), 154-5.

130 On whom see Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica, i. 273-5. The part of Kedr. that concerns us here is still only available in the uncritical Bonn edn. (1838).

131 The major part of this work, contained in cod. Paris. gr. 17I2, remains unpublished. See A. Markopoulos, [H Xpovoypaslita Tov greek text which did not trancribe well], diss. Ioannina, 1978, esp. 111 ff.

132 Notably DAI, 22.9 ff. and 25.3 ff.

133 E. Follieri, 'La minuscola libraria dei secoli IX e X', in La Paleographie grecque et byzantine, Colloques internat. du CNRS, 559 (Paris, 1977),144-5.

134 K. Weitzmann, Die byzantinische Buchmalerei des 9. and so. Jahrhunderts (Berlin, 1935), 40, 43.

135 L. Perria, 'La minuscola "tipo Anastasio" ', in G. Cavallo et al., eds., Scritture, libri e testi nelle aree provinciali di Bisanzio (Spoleto, 1991), i. 316.

136 See above, n. 34.

137 Ed. C. Loparev, De S. Theodoro monacho hegumenoque Chorensi, Zapiski Klass. Otd. Imp. Russk. Arkheol. Obsc;. I (1904), suppl. 1-16. Its dependence on Theophanes was demonstrated by T. Schmit, Kahriye Dzami, IRAIK II (1906), 9 ff., who supposed (p. 16) that the author of the Life used either a fuller redaction of Theophanes or one of the latter's sources.

Online Versions and Further Reading Notes
Theophanes' Calendaric Inconsistencies

Author Inconsistencies
Theophanes Theophanes used the Alexandrian version of the Anno Mundi calendar even though it was out of favor at the time and would be obsolete by the 9th century CE. He did so because his Chronicle was a continuation of George Syncellus Chronicle which itself used the Alexandrian version of the Anno Mundi calendar. Proudfoot (1974:374) noted that the problem of whether Theophanes regarded the year as commencing on March 25 according to the Alexandrian world-year or on September 1 according to the Byzantine indiction cycle has not been resolved with [] clarity.
Theophanes Grumel (1934:407), Proudfoot (1974:373-374), and others have pointed out that Theophanes A.M.a in the years A.M.a 6102-6206 and A.M.a 6218-6265 are frequently a year too low. The indictions, however, are thought by many more likely to be correct.

Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms
Synchronism Explanation
MA Theophanes’s indictions begin in March - the start date for A.M.a
MB Theophanes’s indictions begin in September after the March starting date for A.M.a
Note: Outside of Egypt, Indictions began on 1 September
Grumel's (1934:398-402) synchronisms by time period
Synchronism Years A.M.a (approx.) Date Range CE Historical Markers
MA ? - 6102 ? - 5 Oct. 610 until the end of the reign of Phocas (ruled 23 Nov. 602 – 5 Oct. 610 CE)
MB 6102 - 6206 5 Oct. 610 - 3 June 713 starting with the reign of Heraclius (ruled 5 Oct. 610 – 11 Feb. 641 CE) and ending right before the start of the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE)
MA 6206 - 6220 4 June 713 CE - 24 March 728 starting with the reign of Anastasios II (aka Artemios) (ruled from 4 June 713 – 4 June 715 CE) until A.M.a 6220
MB 6221 - 6266 1 Sept. 728 - 31 Aug. 774 A.M.a6221 - 6266
MA 6267 - ? 25 March 774 - ? A.M.a6267 - ?
Martin (1930:12-13) states the following:
The indiction runs from Sept. 1st, the Alexandrian A.M. from March 25th, but Theophanes probably dates the latter for calendar purposes from Sept. 1st2, to correspond with the Indiction.
...
In two periods (607-714 and 726-774) the A.M. and the indictions do not correspond 3. It was formerly supposed that the Indictions were most likely to be correct, and therefore they must be made the foundation for a true chronology. But a suggestion was made by Bury (Later Roman Empire, II, p. 425). and worked out by Hubert (Byzant. Zeitschrift, VI, pp. 491 sqq.), that in 726 Leo III raised double taxes and put two indictions in one year, while in 774 or 775, Constantine remitted a year's taxation and spread one indiction over two years. This suggestion has been generally accepted. On the other hand, it is purely conjectural. Ginis (Das Promulgationsjahr d. Isuar. Ecloge. Byz. Zeitsch., XXIV, pp. 346 sqq.) would trace the error to Theophanes having confused the April of Indiction 10 (Sept. 1st, 726, to Aug. 31st, 727), with April of the 10th regnal year of Leo (March 25th, 725, to March 24th, 726). E.W. Brooks (Byz. Zeitsch., VIII, pp. 82 sqq.) explains the error by differences in the chronological systems of the sources used by Theophanes.

Chronicle of Seert

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

the Chronicle of Seert (aka Histoire Nestorienne) was written in Arabic by an anonymous Christian writer between the 9th and 11th centuries CE. Hoyland (2011:16) examined references in the text and suggests it was composed between 907 and 1020 CE. Only parts of the original text has survived - covering the periods 251-422 and 484-650 CE.

Excerpts
English from Hoyland (2011)

There appeared in the sky something like a lance from south to north and then it extended from east to west, and it remained thus for 35 nights; people saw it as a portent of Arab rule.

Seismic Effects
  • There is no mention of an earthquake
Celestial Observations
  • There appeared in the sky something like a lance from south to north and then it extended from east to west, and it remained thus for 35 nights
Locations
  • none specified
Online Versions and Further Reading

Book of History by Agapius of Menbij

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Agapius of Menbij (aka Agapius of Hierapolis) wrote in Arabic in the 10th century CE when he was the Melkite bishop of Manbij (aka Mabbug, Hierapolis Bambyce). Kitab al-‘Unvan (trans. Book of History) is his best known work. The book is divided into two parts with the second part starting with Julius Caesar and extending until the mid 8th century CE.

Excerpts
English from Vasilev (1909)

In this year there was a violent earthquake, and the sun was darkened . . . 32

[Mohammed being dead, Abu-Bekr] succeeded [him and reigned for two years. . . He sent four generals . . . with troops: [one in Palestine, another] in Egypt, the third in Persia and the fourth against the Christian Arabs. |209 As for the one that Abu-Bekr sent to Palestine, he met a Greek patrician named Sergius, killed him with all his companions and plundered their camp. The other three (generals) were victorious and returned to Yathrib.

In year 3 of Abu-Bekr, there was a violent earthquake in Palestine; for thirty days the ground trembled. In the same year, there was a strong epidemic in various places.

Abu-Bekr died; and after him reigned Omar, son of Khattab, for twelve years, from the 946 year of Alexander and the thirteenth year of the Arabs. [JW: A.G. 946 (1 Oct. 634 to 30 Sept. 635 CE), A.H. 14 (7 March 634 - 24 Feb. 635 CE)]

In the first year of his reign, he sent troops against al-Balqa, captured Basra, many cities and large fortresses and then returned to Yathrib.

In year 2 [of his reign], Khalid, son of al-Walid, [went] with many troops on al-Balqa and . . . 33 in Persia. Khalid encountered . . . troops of the Greeks and destroyed them. . . . (Heraclius) went out from Menbidj and |210 sent . . . against Khalid and he killed . . . Arabs. . . Damascus. Then Heraclius left Menbidj .. . . Souriyah, which is Syria (ach-Cham), and learned with certainty that the Arabs had conquered it.
Footnotes

32. The following four lines are illegible. A few words can be read, suggesting that they concern the death of Mohammed and the transmission of power to Abu Bekr. Cf. Elmacinus, 9-10, 15.

33. The following six lines are illegible. A translation is given of whatever can be read.

English from Hoyland (2011)

There was a mighty earthquake in this year and there appeared in the sky a sign, a column of fire, and it began moving from the east to the west and from the north to the south then disappeared. There was a mighty earthquake in Palestine and for thirty days the earth shook and there was a major plague in various places.

English from Vasilev (1909) - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
8 June 634 to 7 June 635 CE
or
8 June 634 to 23 Aug. 634 CE
In year 3 of Abu-Bekr, there was a violent earthquake in Palestine none
  • Abu Bakr's rule began on 8 June 632 CE.
  • Abu Bakr died on 23 Aug. 634 CE - a little over 2 months into the 3rd year of his reign.
  • Immediately after mentioning an earthquake in year 3 of Abu-Bekr, Abu Bakr's death is mentioned.
  • calculated using CHRONOS
Seismic Effects
  • In this year there was a violent earthquake
  • In year 3 of Abu-Bekr, there was a violent earthquake in Palestine; for thirty days the ground trembled
Celestial Observations
  • the sun was darkened - Vasilev (1909) translation
  • there appeared in the sky a sign, a column of fire, and it began moving from the east to the west and from the north to the south then disappeared - Hoyland (2011) translation
Locations
  • Palestine
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Agapius of Menbij - Part 1

Agapius of Menbij - Part 2

Agapius of Menbij - Part 2 - Translator's introduction

Vasilev, A. (1909) Agapius, Universal History - online open access at tertullian.org

Hoyland (2011:35) states that these are machine translations from Vasilev's French translation.

Synopsis Historion by Cedrenus

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Neville (2018:162-163) provides a succinct description of George Cedrenus (~11th century CE) and Synopsis istorion (aka A Concise History of the World)

In the late eleventh or early twelfth century, extant histories were combined and edited to compile a massive unified history from Creation to 1057, entitled the Synopsis istorion. The opening of the text names its author as George Kedrenos. A poem describing the history, found in a later manuscript of the text, says that George was a proedrus. This history was written after that of John Skylitzes in the late eleventh century, and before our oldest manuscript, which is stylistically dated to the first half of the twelfth.

For the years 811– 1057, the Kedrenos text copied the history by John Skylitzes precisely. For the period prior to 811 it extracts the histories of Pseudo-Symeon, Symeon the Logothete, and George the Monk. For the sixth and seventh centuries he used the Chronicle of Pseudo-Symeon, which was relying on Theophanes.

Although Kedrenos does not provide any independent information about the past, and often clings to the wording of texts he is compiling, his editorial choices can vary the meanings and implications of the stories he preserves. Scott and Maisano argue that his choices regarding the inclusion and framing of his material display his ideas about history.

Excerpts
English from Becker (1838)

After Mohammed died, a comet appeared which lasted for 30 days extending from south to north, looking like a sword, and announcing the Arab invasion.

Latin from Becker (1838)

Postquam Muchumetus ille dirus mortem obiit, media die visus est cometa, quem a trabis forma Graeci dociten nominant, Arabum praenuntians imperium, duravit dies triginta, a meridie ad septentrionem pertingens. habuit gladii formam.

Latin from Becker (1838) - embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
after 8 June 632 CE After Muhammad died, a comet appeared none
5 Oct. 632 to 4 Oct. 633 CE ? 23rd year of Roman Emperor Heraclius ? none
Celestial Observations
  • a comet appeared which lasted for 30 days extending from south to north, looking like a sword
Online Versions and Further Reading

Chronicle by Michael the Syrian

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Michael the Syrian also known as Michael I Rabo and Michael the Great was born in Melitene from a clerical family in 1126 CE (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). He studied at the Monastery of Dayro d-Mor Barṣawmo where he stayed on as a Monk and a Prior. In 1166, he was elected Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church. While acting as Partriach he collected manuscripts of theological and historical content and restored and compiled hagiographical and liturgical works (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition (2011) reports that his canonistic work is partly conserved in later collections, but the greater part is lost, as is his treatise on dualist heresies composed for the Lateran Council. Michael the Syrian is best known for his Universal Chronicle which covered "creation" until 1195 CE (Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, 2011). Dorothea Weltecke in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition (2011) describes Michael's Chronicle and various editions as follows:

The text is not preserved in its entirety, and the layout of Michael’s chronicle was distorted through the process of copying. Chabot’s edition is a facsimile of a documentary copy written for him in Edessa (Urfa) from 1897 to 1899. While the scribes tried to imitate the layout, a number of mistakes were introduced. Its Vorlage, the only extant ms., was written in 1598 by a very competent scribe. It is kept by the community of the Edessenians in Aleppo. In view of the loss of the original, this beautiful manuscript is the best witness for the layout of the chronicle. Fortunately it will soon be made available in print. This ms. was probably the Vorlage for an Arabic translation, which also sought to preserve some of the visual features, while changing others. The Arabic translation has much the same lacunae as the Syriac text. By comparing his version with the Arabic translation preserved in ms. London, Brit. Libr. Or. 4402 (which is one of several Arabic copies), Chabot detected some details lost in the Syriac text. No further research has been done so far on this problem.

The historical material was originally organized in four columns, the first being designated as the ‘succession of the patriarchs’, the second as ‘succession of the kings’, the chronological canon as ‘computation of the years’. No title of the additional column, which contains mixed material, is now known. Chapters with excursus were inserted, which interrupted the system of columns. After an open and abrupt end, six appendices follow. The first appendix is a monumental synopsis of all the kings and patriarchs mentioned. It was supposed to function as a directory. The second appendix is a treatise on the historical identity of the Syrians, who are connected to the Ancient Oriental Empires, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Arameans. When the chronicle was translated into Armenian, in two different translations, in 1246 and 1247, it was transformed according to Armenian interests.
Michael died in 1199 CE.

Excerpts
English from Ambraseys (2009) - Both passages

'In the year 945 of the Greeks, there was a violent earthquake, in the month of ilul, and after the earthquake there was a sign in the sky; it appeared in the form of a sword stretching from south to north, and remained for thirty days. To many it seemed to signify the coming of the Taiyayz (Arabs)' (Mich. Syr. xi. 4/ii. 414).
`At this time [a.S. 946 (Arabs' defeat of Theodoric), before the fourth year of Omar] there was a great earthquake, and at the moment of the earthquake the sun was eclipsed. In this earthquake the church of the Resurrection and that of Golgotha fell, together with many other places. Modestus, the Chalcedonian bishop, rebuilt them. ’ (Mich. Syr. xi. 5/ii. 419)

English from Chabot (1899-1910) - 1st passage

CHAPTER [IV]. — Of the invasion of the Taiyayê (Arab) in the countries of the Romans and the Persians; and of the union that Athanasius made with the people of Tagrit.

We have shown above how, from the beginning of the Arab Empire, they were going to take captives, plunder, steal, ambush, invade and destroy countries, during the whole life of Muhammad.

When Muhammad died, Abu Bekr succeeded him, and sent four generals: one to Palestine, another to Egypt, the third to Persia and the fourth against the Taiyaye (Arab) Christians. And all returned victorious1a

He who went to Palestine marched against Caesarea2. The Patrician Sergius, who was there, gathered an army of Romans and Samaritans, of about five thousand infantry, and prepared to fight against the Taiyayê (Arabs). When the battle took place, the Taiyayê were better armed and stronger than the Romans. They first massacred all the Samaritans. The Patrician, seeing the people who were with him dying, turned his back and fled. The Taiyayê passed them to the edge of the sword, pursued them, and cut them like reapers (cut) the ears of corn. [412] Suddenly, the Patrician fell from his horse; those who were with him gathered together and put him back on horseback, and he continued to flee. Soon after, he fell a second time, and those who followed him put him back on his horse again and he went on. Then he fell for the third time, and as those who followed him hastened and wanted to raise him up, he said to them, Leave me alone, and save yourselves, lest you drink with me the chalice of death which God has sent upon our empire, in his great wrath of justice. They left him and fled. The pursuers soon arrived and found him lying; he was killed with a saber blow. — The Taiyaye pursued the Romans until evening; scarcely a few Romans escaped, and let Caesarea know (the thing).

The Taiyayê triumphed with similar victories wherever [413] they went: their terror seized kings and their armies.

In the year 945 of the Greeks, there was a violent earthquake, in the month of îlul, and after the earthquake, there was a sign in the sky; it appeared in the form of a sword extending from south to north, and remained for 30 days. It seemed to many that it signified the coming of the Taiyayê1b.

At that time, the Emperor Heraclius ordered that all the Jews who were in all the countries of the Roman Empire should become Christians. For this reason the Jews fled from the lands of the Romans; they came first to Edessa; having been violated again in this place, they fled to Persia. Many of them received baptism and became Christians. — This chapter is over.
Footnotes

1a. The chronology of our author is very confused with regard to the first conquests of the Arabs. Compare on this topic : De Goeje, Mémoire sur la conquête de la Syrie, 2nd ed., Leide, 1900.

2. Cf. Theoph., ad ann, 624; and, Hist. du Bas-Emp., LVIII, § xiv.

1b. Theoph., ad. app. 624.

English from Chabot (1899-1910) - 2nd passage

CHAPTER [V]. — From the time of the beginning of the Arab Empire or Taiyayê; of the death of Blessed Patriarch Mar Athanasis..

[414] In the year 946 (of the Greeks), 24 of Heraclius, and 13 of the Taiyayê (Arabs), Abu Bakr died, after having reigned two years. —After him 'Umar the son of Khattab reigned. He sent a force to Arabia; they seized Bosra and destroyed other towns.

... [Aside] [414] At that time [ ]there was a great earthquake; and at the moment of the shaking, the sun was obscured. In this earthquake, the Church of the Resurrection, that of Golgotha, and many other places fell. Modestus, the Chalcedonian bishop1, rebuilt them.
Footnotes

1. From Jerusalem.

English Translation by Bedrosian (1870-1871) of an Armenian version of Michael the Syrian

  • Bedrosian (1870-1871)
  • There is no earthquake in this version of Michael the Syrian but there is a discussion of early Islamic conquests where Byzantine General general Sargis is mentioned.
Background
Background

Michael the Syrian's Chronicle was also translated into Armenian twice in the first half of the 13th century. Over 60 Armenian manuscripts have survived. These manuscripts are, however, abridged and edited. The fact is we don't have an original copy of Michael the Syrian's Chronicle. We have multiple differing versions. The excerpt below was translated into English from Classical Armenian editions found in Jerusalem by Robert Bedrosian in the years 1870 and 1871.

[ 124 ]

In the meantime Heraclius added to his wickedness by marrying his brother's daughter, Martina, in his old age. She gave birth to a son of impiety named Heracleonas.

Muhammad, after ruling over many lands for seven years, died. Muhammad tyrannized over many districts preaching a religion according to his own wishes, and establishing laws as he willed. Then rule of the kingdom was taken by Abu Bakr for two years and five [or, seven] months.

After Abu Bakr, 'Umar ruled. He sent many captives to Arabia [g303]. He took Basra from a Syrian prince, and destroyed numerous cities. ['Umar] sent a large army to Persia and found them in turmoil since some supported Yazdgird [III, 632-651] as king and others supported Ormazd. Eventually Ormazd was slain and Yazdgird reigned. The Arab (Tachik) army, after taking a great deal of booty and prisoners , turned back. On the way home they struck at the Byzantine army and its general Sargis. And they strengthened against both Byzantium and Persia, and became a great power.

French from Chabot (1899-1910) - 1st passage

CHAPITRE [IV]. — De l'invasion des Taiyayê dans les pays des Romains et des Perses; et de l'union qu' Athanasius fît avec les gens de Tagrit.

Nous avons montré précédemment plus haut, comment, dès le commencement de l'empire des Arabes, ils partaient faire des captifs, piller, voler, tendre des embûches, envahir et détruire les pays, pendant tout la vie de Mohammed.

Quand Mohammed fut mort, Abou Bekr lui succéda, et envoya quatre généraux : un en Palestine, un autre en Egypte, le troisième en Perse et le quatrième contre les Taiyayê chrétiens. Et tous revinrent victorieux1a

Celui qui alla en Palestine marcha contre Césarée2. Le patrice Sergius, qui s'y trouvait, rassembla une armée de Romains et de Samaritains, d'environ cinq mille fantassins, et se prépara à combattre contre les Taiyayê. Quand eut lieu la bataille, les Taiyayê furent mieux armés et plus forts que les Romains, Ils massacrèrent tout d'abord tous les Samaritains. Le patrice, voyant périr le peuple qui était avec lui, tourna le dos et s'enfuit. Les Taiyayê les passaient au fil de l'épée, les poursuivaient, et les coupaient comme des moissonneurs (coupent) les épis. [412] Tout à coup, le patrice tomba de son cheval; ceux qui étaient avec lui s'assemblèrent et le remirent à cheval, et il continua à fuir. Bientôt après, il tomba une seconde fois, et ceux qui le suivaient le remirent de nouveau à cheval et il continua. Puis il tomba pour la troisième fois, et comme ceux qui le suivaient s'empressaient et voulaient le relever, il leur dit : Laissez-moi, et sauvez-vous vous-mêmes, de peur que vous ne buviez avec moi le calice de la mort que Dieu a envoyé sur notre empire, dans sa grande colère de justice. Ils le laissèrent et s'enfuirent. Les poursuivants arrivèrent bientôt et le trouvèrent gisant; il fut tué d'un coup de sabre. — Les Taiyayê poursuivirent les Romains jusqu'au soir; quelques Romains à peine échappèrent, et firent savoir (la chose) à Césarée.

Les Taiyayê triomphèrent par de semblables victoires partout où [413] ils allèrent : leur terreur s'empara des rois et de leurs armées.

En l'an 945 des Grecs, il y eut un violent tremblement de terre, au mois d'îloul, et après le tremblement, il y eut un signe dans le ciel; il se présenta sous la forme d'un glaive s'étendant du sud au nord, et demeura pendant 30 jours. Il sembla à plusieurs qu'il signifiait la venue des Taiyayê1b.

A cette époque, l'empereur Heraclius prescrivit que tous les Juifs qui se trouvaient dans tous les pays de l'empire des Romains se fissent chrétiens. Pour ce motif, les Juifs s'enfuirent des pays des Romains; ils vinrent d'abord à Édesse; ayant été de nouveau violentés en cet endroit, ils s'enfuirent en Perse. Un grand nombre d'entre eux reçurent le baptême et devinrent chrétiens. — Ce chapitre est fini.
Footnotes

1a. La chronologie de notre auteur est fort confuse en ce qui concerne les premières conquêtes des Arabes. Comp. sur ce sujet : De Goeje, Mémoire sur la conquête de la Syrie, 2" éd., Leide, 1900.

2. Cf. Theoph., ad ann, 624; et, Hist. du Bas-Emp., LVIII, § xiv.

1b. Theoph., ad. ann. 624.

French from Chabot (1899-1910) - 2nd passage

CHAPITRE [V]. — De l' époque du commencement de l' empire des Arabes ou Taiyayê; de la mort du bienheureux patriarche Mar Athanasis..

[414] En l'an 946 (des Grecs), 24 d'Heraclius, et 13 des Taiyayê, mourut Abou Bekr, après avoir régné deux ans. — Après lui régna 'Omar fils de Khattâb. Il envoya une troupe en Arabie; ils s'emparèrent de Bosra et détruisirent d'autres villes.

... [414] A cette époque, il y eut un grand tremblement de terre; et au moment de la secousse, le soleil s'obscurcit. — Dans ce tremblement de terre, l'église de la Résurrection, celle du Golgotha, et beaucoup d'autres lieux, tombèrent. Modestus, l'évêque chalcédonien1, les rebâtit.
Footnotes

1. De Jérusalem.

English Translation by Bedrosian (1870-1871) of an Armenian version of Michael the Syrian - embedded



French from Chabot (1899-1910) - 1st passage - embedded



French from Chabot (1899-1910) - 2nd passage - embedded



Syriac from Chabot (1899-1910) - 1st passage - embedded

  • Book XI Chapter IV
  • assumed to be on pages 412-413
  • hand copied manuscript which shows some of the original layout
  • appears to be the manuscript which was written for Chabot between 1897 and 1899 CE in Edessa
  • ordered right to left
  • Chabot (1899-1910)
  • from archive.org


Syriac from Chabot (1899-1910) - 2nd passage - embedded

  • Book XI Chapter V
  • assumed to be on page 414
  • hand copied manuscript which shows some of the original layout
  • appears to be the manuscript which was written for Chabot between 1897 and 1899 CE in Edessa
  • ordered right to left
  • Chabot (1899-1910)
  • from archive.org


Chronology
A.G. 945 Account
Year Reference Corrections Notes
Sept. 634 CE in the month of ilul A.G. 945 none
  • A.G. 945 spanned 1 Oct 633 to 30 Sept. 634 CE
  • ilul in the Syriac calendar corresponds to September
  • This dates the earthquake to Sept. 634 CE
  • calculated using CHRONOS
A.G. 946 Account
Year Reference Corrections Notes
1 Oct. 634 to 30 Sept. 635 CE A.G. 946 none
5 Oct. 633 to 4 Oct. 634 CE year 24 of Heraclius none
7 March 634 - 24 Feb. 635 CE year 13 of the Taiyayê (Arabs) - i.e., A.H. 13 none
incorrect date of 614 CE In this earthquake the church of the Resurrection and that of Golgotha fell none
Seismic Effects

A.G. 945 Account
  • there was a violent earthquake
A.G. 946 Account
  • there was a great earthquake
  • In this earthquake the church of the Resurrection and that of Golgotha fell, together with many other places. - false synchronicity1
Footnotes

1 the church of the Resurrection (i.e., the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) was damaged or destroyed in 614 CE during the Sasanian conquest of Jerusalem. It was restored in 629 CE by Modestus. It was intact when Omar took possession of Jerusalem in 637 CE (Le Strange, 1890:202).

Celestial Observations

A.G. 945 Account
  • after the earthquake there was a sign in the sky; it appeared in the form of a sword stretching from south to north, and remained for thirty days
A.G. 946 Account
  • at the moment of the earthquake the sun was eclipsed
Locations

A.G. 945 Account
  • none specified
A.G. 946 Account
  • Jerusalem - In this earthquake the church of the Resurrection and that of Golgotha fell, together with many other places - false synchronicity1
Footnotes

1 the church of the Resurrection (i.e., the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) was damaged or destroyed in 614 CE during the Sasanian conquest of Jerusalem. It was restored in 629 CE by Modestus. It was intact when Omar took possession of Jerusalem in 637 CE (Le Strange, 1890:202).

Sources
Michael's Sources

Hoyland, 1997:416-419 notes that Michael explicitly cites Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source who in turn cited Theophilus of Edessa as a source. Ambraseys (2009) suggests that Michael used Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre as a source and may have also used Elias of Nisibis as a source. Brooks (1906) wrote the following about Michael the Syrian's sources:

For the period 582—843 the work of Michael is mainly based on that of Dionysius the patriarch1 [JW: the real Dionysius of Tell Mahre], whom he probably reproduces almost in full, and we find also mention of James of Edessa and John the Stylite of Litarba 2.
Brooks (1906) went on to add:
To sum up, Michael used Dionysius (843—6), and Theophanes used a Palestinian Melchite author who wrote in Greek not long after 780, while both of these last used a chronicler who wrote not long after 746, whoin there is some reason to identify with John the son of Samuel, though we cannot positively assert that he was not Theophilus of Edessa.

Online Versions and Further Reading

The Blessed Collection by George Al-Makin

Aliases

Aliases in Arabic
Jirjis al-Makīn جرجس امكين
Ibn al-ʿAmīd بن العميد
George Elmacin (Anglicized)
Georgius Elmacinus (Latin)
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

al-Makin (1205-1273 CE) was a Coptic Christian, born in Cairo, who wrote in Arabic. He also lived in Damascus where he worked as a military scribe. He retired in Damascus and died there. His sole surviving work is entitled al-Majmu` al-Mubarak (The blessed collection). It was written between 1262 and 1268 CE. The first portion runs from Adam down to the 11th year of Heraclius. The second half is a history of the Saracens, which extends from the time of Mohammad to the accession of the Mameluke Sultan Baybars in 1260 CE.

Excerpts
First Passage from Ambraseys (2009)

There was a great earthquake in Palestine for thirty days and also a great plague arose in the same place.' (al-Mak. HS. i. 2/19).

Second Passage from Ambraseys (2009)

`There was a great earthquake in Palestine which lasted thirty days. The shock was violent and was followed by a great plague.' (al-Mak. HM. i. 2/20).

Seismic Effects
  • There was a great earthquake in Palestine which lasted thirty days
  • The shock was violent
An earthquake lasting 30 days could describe an extended period of aftershocks however 30 days is how long some other authors say the celestial apparition described as a "Sword in the Sky" lasted.

Locations
  • Palestine
Sources
Sources

The Wikipedia entry on al-Makin states that Al-Makin made extensive use of Al-Tabari.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Chronicon by Bar Hebraeus

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Gregorius Abu’l-Faraj (1225/6-1286 CE), commonly known as ‘Bar Hebraeus’ (Bar 'Ebhraya), or the ‘Son of the Jew’, was born in Malatiyah (Melitene) to a Jewish father known as Aaron the Physician (Budge, 1932:xvi-xvii). After the Mongols sacked Malatiyah, the Mongol General Shawer Nawin fell ill and Aaron took care of his condition. This led to the family moving to Antioch where Bar Hebraeus continued his studies and, at the age of 17, became a Jacobite monk and a hermit (Budge, 1932:v). Bar Hebraeus later went to Tripoli in Phoenicia to further his studies and eventually became the Bishop of Gubos. He then moved to Lakabhin where he was also a Bishop and, after that, moved to Aleppo (Budge, 1932:xvii-xviii). In 1264 CE, Bar Hebraeus was elected Maphrian (Primate) of the East (Budge, 1932:xix). Besides his Chronicle, Bar Hebraeus wrote other books on philosophy, religion, grammar, science, and, possibly, medicine. He was also a lecturer in Mathematics and Astronomy (Budge, 1932:vii and wikipedia). His translations of Greek and Arabic texts indicates fluency in multiple languages besides Syriac and, presumably, Hebrew (Budge, 1932:vii). Bar Hebraeus traveled widely and died in Maraga, Persia, and was buried at the Mar Mattai Monastery, near Mosul (Budge, 1932:xxviii-xxxi and wikipedia). He is also known by the Latinized name Abulpharagius.

Bar Hebraeus began his studies to write his Chronicle in the great library at Maraghah only intending to write a history of the last eighty years continuing the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian which ends in 1196 CE (Budge, 1932:v). However, once he completed his 80 year history, he worked backwards, and using the Chronicle of Michael the Great [aka Michael the Syrian] as a foundation, he compiled his great work dealing with the profane history of the world from the Creation to the year of his death in 1286 CE (Budge, 1932:vii).

Excerpts
English from Budge (1932)

After Mahammad, Abu Bakr [ruled] for two years. This [Khalifah] sent forth four captains of hosts, [one] to Palestine, [one] to Egypt, [one] to Persia, [and one] to Arabia against the Christian Arabs. The captain who came to Palestine marched against Caesarea. Then Sargi (Sergius) Patricius collected from among the Rhomaye and from among the Shamraye (Samaritans) an army of about five thousand foot soldiers. And when the Arabs joined battle with the Rhomaye they were victorious, and they destroyed first of all the Shamraye. And when Patricius saw that the people who were with him were defeated, he turned his back [in flight]. And the Arabs pursued the Rhomaye, and they mowed them down as reapers mow the standing crops. Now it happened that Sargi (Sergius) fell from his horse, and his servants gathered together and set him on it again. And again he fell, and again they set him on his horse. And again he fell, for the third time. And when his servants wanted to set him on his horse again, he said unto them, ‘Save yourselves, and leave ye me that I may die by myself without [100] even you being with me’. And thus the Arabs overtook him and killed him, and they returned with victory. And in a similar manner those captains of hosts who had gone to the other regions returned with victory. And the fear of the Arabs fell upon all kings.

And at that time the Persians evacuated Egypt and Palestine, and all the countries of the Rhomaye. And Shahrbaraz sent Heraclius and he took an army with him and he killed Kardigan ; and then he reigned one year and was killed. And after him Baram, the daughter of Kesru, reigned for a few months and died. And then her sister Zadimidukht reigned. And many [others] reigned [after her] in a period of two years. And at this time the natives of Edessa whom Kesru had carried off into captivity returned from Persia. And Heraclius transgressed the Law and took Martina, his brother’s daughter, to wife, and begat by her an illegitimate son Herakluna. At this time, in the month of ilul (September), an earthquake took place. And a sign, like unto a spear, appeared in the heavens, and it reached from the south to the north, and it remained there for thirty days. This manifestly made known the victory of the Arabs.

After Abu Bakr, Omar bar-Khattab [ruled] ten years.

English from Budge (1932) -embedded



Chronology
Year Reference Corrections Notes
September in the month of ilul (September), an earthquake took place none
  • Year not specified
after 8 June 632 CE The account takes place after the death of Muhammad none
before 23 Aug. 634 CE The account takes place before Umar began ruling none
  • Umar began ruling on 23 Aug. 634 CE
false synchronicity Heraclius transgressed the Law and took Martina, his brother’s daughter, to wife, and begat by her an illegitimate son Herakluna. At this time, in the month of ilul (September), an earthquake took place none
  • Heraclius married his niece Martina in 613 CE or the 620s CE.
  • Bar Hebraeus may be creating this juxtaposition of a "sinful marriage" with an earthquake to hint to the reader that the earthquake was caused by Heraclius' "sinful marriage".
Seismic Effects
  • an earthquake took place
Celestial Observations
  • a sign, like unto a spear, appeared in the heavens, and it remained there for 30 days
Locations
  • none specified
Sources
Sources

  • The Library at Maraghah, which Bar Hebraeus used to write Chronicon, contained many Syriac, Arabic, and Persian manuscripts, and also, of course, contemporary documents dealing with the extraordinary events which took place in the thirteenth century (Budge, 1932:vii).

Online Versions and Further Reading

The History of the Caliphs by Jalal al-Din As-Suyuti

The History of the Caliphs by عبد الرحمن بن كمال الدين أبي بكر بن محمد سابق الدين خضر الخضيري الأسيوطي

Aliases

Aliases Arabic
Al-Suyuti
As-Suyuti
Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti
Abu 'l-Fadl 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr ibn Muhammad Djalal al_Din al-Khudayri
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

al-Suyuti is presently recognized as the most prolific author in the whole of Islamic literature (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). He was widely read and famous across the Islamic world during his lifetime and was known for extreme self-confidence in his mental abilities (e.g. he had memorized 200,000 hadiths and was a polymath) which mingled with arrogance and created acrimonious relations inside Egypt (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9 (1991:913-916) describes his procedure as scientific in so far as he quotes his sources with precision and presents them in a critical way and states that he cannot be considered as a mere compiler. He may have authored close to a thousand books writing on many subjects (e.g., History, Biography) besides religion and Islamic jurisprudence. as-Suyuti was born in Egypt in 1445 CE and at the age of eighteen taught Shafi'i law at the mosque of Shaykhu and gave juridicial consultations. In 1472 CE, he became a teacher of hadith at the same mosque. In 1486 CE at the age of 40, as-Suyuti retired from public life. By 1501 CE, he had completely isolated himself in his home on Rawda Island in Cairo where he worked on the editing and revision of his literary works. He died there in 1505 CE (E. Geoffroy in Encyclopedia of Islam v. 9, 1991:913-916). His book Clearing up the Description of Earthquakes (Kashf as-Salsalah 'an wasf Az-zalzalak) is a valuable reference for historical earthquakes and is one of the earliest extant earthquake catalogs.

The book The History of the Caliphs by as-Suyuti covers the Rashudin Caliphate.

Excerpts
1st Earthquake - English from Clarke (1995)

Al-Hakim narrated in his Mustadrak that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said:
When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, Makkah was shaken with an earthquake and Abu Quhafah heard that and said, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, has died.’ He said, ‘A momentous thing. Who has undertaken the command after him?’ They said, ‘Your son.’ He said, ‘Are Banu 'Abd Manaf and Banu al-Mughirah contented with that?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘No-one may put down what they raise up and no-one may raise up what they put down.’
Al-Waqidi narrated in a variety of ways that 'A’ishah, Ibn Umar, Sa'id ibn al-Musayyab and others relate that Abu Bakr was pledged allegiance on the day that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, on Monday the 12th night of Rabi al-Awwal in the eleventh year of the Hijrah [JW: 7 June 632 CE].

2nd Earthquake - English from Clarke (1995)

Ibn Sa'd narrated that Said ibn al-Musayyab said that Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, prayed over Abu Bakr between the grave (of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the minbar, and said four takbirs over him.

He narrated that Urwah and al-Qasim ibn Muhammad said that Abu Bakr left as his last wish to A’ishah that he should be buried by the side of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. When he died, they dug a grave for him and put his head at the shoulder of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the niche (wherein the body was laid) touuched the grave of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.

He narrated that Ibn Umar said: Umar, Talhah, Uthman and Abd ar-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr got down into Abu Bakr’s grave (to place the body in the niche). He narrated by many different routes that he was buried at night.

He narrated that Ibn al-Musayyab said that when Abu Bakr died, Makkah was shaken by an earthquake, and so Abu Quhafah said, What is this?’ They said, ‘Your son has died.’ He said, ‘A great misfortune! Who has undertaken the command after him?’ They said, ‘Umar.’ He said, ‘His companion.’

1st Earthquake - English from Clarke (1995) -embedded

  • see page 58 half way down the page starting with Al-Hakim narrated in his Mustadrak that Abu Hurayrah
  • from Clarke (1995:58)
  • from archive.org


2nd Earthquake - English from Clarke (1995) - embedded

  • see page 75 halfway down the page starting with Ibn Sa'd narrated that Said ibn al-Musayyab said
  • from Clarke (1995:75)
  • from archive.org


Chronology
1st Earthquake
Year Reference Corrections Notes
8 June 632 CE When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, Makkah was shaken with an earthquake none
  • Muhammad died on 8 June 632 CE
  • Account may be theologically motivated
2nd Earthquake
Year Reference Corrections Notes
23 August 634 CE when Abu Bakr died, Makkah was shaken by an earthquake none
  • Abu Bakr died on 23 August 634 CE
  • Account may be theologically motivated
Seismic Effects

1st Earthquake
  • Makkah was shaken with an earthquake
2nd Earthquake
  • Makkah was shaken with an earthquake
Locations

1st Earthquake
  • Mecca
2nd Earthquake
  • Mecca
Notes and Further Reading
References

Sprenger (1843). "As-Soyuti's work on Earthquakes, ." Journal of The Asiatic Society of Bengal 12(141): 741-749.

Nejjar, S. (1973-1974). Traité du tremblement de terre / Jalal ad-Din as-Suyut'i ; trad. annotée [de l'arabe] de Saïd Nejjar. Rabat, Cahiers du centre universitaire de la recherche scientifique.

Al-Sadani, A. (1971). (Jalal-Eddine Al-Suyouti) Kasff Al-Salsala Wa Wasf Al-Zalzalah, in Arabic. Rabat, Morocco.

Clarke, A. (1995) The History of the Khalifahs who Took the Right Way: Being a Translation of the Chapters on Al-Khulafa' Al-Rashidun from Tarikh Al-Khulafa', Synergy Books.

References from the Encyclopedia of Islam

al-Suyuti's biography, written by his disciple 'Abd al-Kadir al-Shadhili, Bahdjat al-adbidin bitardjamat Djaldl al-Din (mss. in London, Dublin, Kuwayt)

Shams al-Din al-Dawudi, Taradjamat al-Suyuti (ms. Tubingen)

Nadjm al-Din al-Ghazzi, al-Kawakib al-sa'ira bi-a'ydn al-mi'a a al-'ashira, Beirut 1945, i, 226-31.

E.M. Sartain, Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti - remains the most complete study in a Western language

eadem, Jalal al-Din as-Suyuti's relations with the people of Takrur, in JSS, xvi (1971), 193-8.

S. Abu Djib mentions several studies in Arabic (op. cit., 331-2).

In his Muhammad's birthday festival (Leiden 1993, 45-70), N.J. Kaptein presents and translates al-Suyuti's fatwa which validates the practice of the mawlid nabawi

Annals by Eutychius

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Eutychius of Alexandria (877-940 CE) was the Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria. He is known for being one of the first Christian Egyptian writers to use the Arabic language. His writings include the chronicle Row of Jewels (Nazm al-Jauhar) which is also known by its Latin title Eutychii Annales ("The Annals of Eutychius"). It runs from "Creation" to Eutychius' times.

Excerpts
English from Pirone (1987)

5. When Abu Bakr became caliph, there was the first riddah [war] among the Arabs, but he fought those who did not remain in Islam to the end. Then he sent Khalid ibn al-Walid with a huge army into Iraq. Khalid encamped in Mesopotamia. The notables of the place came to meet them, he gave them a guarantee of security and they made a pact of peace with him by giving him seventy thousand dirhams: this was the first jizya in Iraq and the first money that was given to Abu Bakr from Iraq. Next Abu Bakr sent letters to Yemen, to Ta’if, Mecca and to other Arab people asking aid to subjugate Rum. They responded to his appeal, and Abu Bakr put in charge of the expedition Amr ibn al-As, Sarhabil ibn Hasana, Abu Ubayda ibn al-Garrah and Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan. He entrusted to them the fighters and designated as supreme head Amr ibn al-As, ordering them to focus on Syria taking the road to Aylah. He ordered them not to kill old people or children or women, not to cut down fruit trees, not to destroy the towns, not to burn the palms, not to cripple and kill sheep, cows and goats. They made their way until they came to a village called Tādūn, in the territory of Ghazza, on the border with al-Hiğāz. Having been informed that in the city of Ghazza the armies of Heraclius were concentrating, who was then in Damascus, Amr ibn al-As wrote to Abu Bakr asking for reinforcements, and making him aware of the plans of Heraclius. Abu Bakr then wrote to Khalid ibn al-Walid to bring his men to Amr ibn al-As to support him. So Khalid ibn al-Walid moved from Mesopotamia taking the way of the desert until he reached Amr ibn al-As. Meanwhile the soldiers of Heraclius were well fortified in Ghazza. Having come to Ghazza, the patrician who commanded the army of Heraclius turned to the Muslim soldiers and asked them to send him their commander, in order to know, through him, what they had to say. Khalid then said to Amr ibn al-As: “You go”, and Amr went. He opened the gate of Ghazza and entered. When he came to the patrician, he greeted him and said: “Why have you come into our country, and what do you want?” Amr ibn al-As replied: “Our king has ordered us to fight you. But if you embrace our religion, if you feel it is as useful to you as it is to us, and harmful to your interests as it is to ours, if you are our brothers, then we will not allow wrong or revenge to be done to you. If you refuse, you will pay the jizya: a jizya agreed between us, every year, forever, as long as we live, and you live: we will fight for you against anyone who dares to oppose you and lay claim on your territory, on your lives, on your assets, and on your children; we will take care of these things for you if you accept our protection by entering into an agreement for this purpose. If you refuse then there will be between us only the judgment of the sword: we will fight to the death, and until we get what we want from you.” On hearing the words of Amr ibn al-As and seeing the lack of hesitation that the subject gave him, the patrician said to his men: “I think he is the leader of the people.” So he ordered them to kill Amr as soon as he came to the gate of the city. There was with Amr a slave named Wardan, who knew Greek very well because he was Greek. Wardan informed Amr of what he had heard: “Be very careful how to escape.” The patrician then asked Amr ibn al-As: “Is there anyone like you, among your companions?” Amr replied: “I’m the the least of all who speak, and less authoritative than any other. I am merely a messenger, and repeat what was said to me by my colleagues, ten people more important than me, who are busy with soldiers and wanted to come with me, here with you. But they sent me to hear what you have to tell us. However, if you want me to make them come here, so you can listen to them, and to know that I told you the truth, I will.” The patrician said to him: “Yes, let them come.” In fact, he thought and said to himself: “I think it’s better to kill many than just one.” So he sent word to those, to whom he had given the order to kill Amr, not to do it, and to let him out without any trouble, in the hope that he would bring his ten companions and kill them all together. After he had come out of the gate, Amr ibn al-As informed his men of what had happened and said: “I never go back to someone like that,” and he finished talking, shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” The Rum came out against the Arabs and engaged in a violent battle with them, but were put to flight. The Muslims made a great slaughter of them, and then gave chase, driving them into Palestine and Jordan. They took refuge in Jerusalem, in Caesarea, and wherever they could. The Muslims left them and went away from the parts of al-Bathaniyyah. Then he wrote to Abu Bakr informing him of what had happened. When the messenger came to him, he was already dead and had been succeeded by Umar ibn al-Khattab. Abu Bakr himself, when he was sick, designated Umar ibn al-Khattab as his successor and ordered Uthman ibn Affan to put this in writing.

6. Abu Bakr died on the penultimate day of the month of ğumāda al-akhar, in the thirteenth year of the Hegira. The ritual prayers were held by Umar ibn al-Khattab. He was buried in the same house in which Muhammad had been buried. His caliphate lasted two years, three months and twenty-two days. He died at the age of seventy-three. Abu Bakr was tall, with a fair complexion which verged on pale, thin, with a thin, sparse beard, a gaunt face and sunken eyes. He dyed his beard with hinna and cetamo, and his waist could barely bear the izar. His minister was Abu Qahhafa as-Sandas and his hāgib was his freedman Sadid.

CALIPHATE OF OMAR IBN AL-KHATTĀB (13-23 / 634-644)

1. On the third day after the death of Abu Bakr, in the thirteenth year of the reign of Heraclius, King of Rum, Omar ibn al-Khattab b. Nufayl b. Abd al-Aziz b. Riyah b. Addi b. Ka’ab was made Caliph. His mother was Khathimah, daughter of Hisham b. al-Mughira b. Abd Allah b. Omar b. Makhzūm.

2. At the beginning of his caliphate there was made patriarch of Alexandria George. He held the office four years. When he learned that the Muslims had defeated the Rum, had occupied Palestine and were moving towards Egypt, he embarked on a ship and fled from Alexandria to Constantinople. After him the seat of Alexandria remained without a Melkite Patriarch for ninety-seven years. ...

English from Pirone (1987) - Chapter 18b (part 2) - embedded



English from Pirone (1987) - Chapter 18c (part 1) - embedded



Online Versions and Further Reading

Chronicle Ad 724

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Chronicon anonymum ad annum 724, which is preserved in a manuscript in the British LIbrary (BM. Add. 14643, fols. 1-57) and is sometimes referred to as Liber Calipharum, is a world chronicle written in Syriac by an anonymous author in the 8th century CE (Brock, 1976). Brock (1976) notes that its entries are not always in chronological order. Affixed to the end of the text is something that may have been added by a later copyist - a list of Caliphs from Mohammed to Yezid II (r. 720-724 CE) along with the lengths of their reigns. This list is thought to have been translated from Arabic for a number of reasons including that it preserves the lengths of the reigns as they are counted in lunar Islamic years ( Penn, 2015:196-197).

Excerpts
List of Caliphs - English from Penn (2015)

A notice concerning the life of Muhammad, the messenger of God — from his first year, after he had entered his city and three months before he entered [it]; and how long each subsequent king who rose up over the Hagarenes lived after they began to reign; and how long there was dissension among them.

  • Three months before Muhammad came.
  • And Muhammad lived ten [more] years.
  • Abū Bakr, son of Abū Quh.āfa: two years and six months.
  • ʻUmar, son of al-Khattab: ten years and three months.
  • ʻUthmān, son of ʻAffān: twelve years.
  • After ʻUthmān, dissension: fi e years and four months.
  • Muʻāwiya, son of Abū Sufyān: nineteen years and two months.
  • Yazīd, son of Muʻāwiya: three years and eight months.
  • After Yazīd, dissension: nine months.
  • Marwān, son of al-Hakam: nine months.
  • ʻAbd al-Malik, son of Marwān: twenty-one years and one month.
  • Walīd, son of ʻAbd al-Malik: nine years and eight months.
  • Sulaymān, son of ʻAbd al-Malik: two years and nine months.
  • ʻUmar, son of ʻAbd al-Azīz: two years and five months.
  • Yazīd, son of ʻAbd al-Malik: four years, one month, and two days.
  • All the years come to one hundred and four, five months, and two days.

Sources
Source for the list of Caliphs

Penn (2015:196-197) explains why it is likely that the list of Caliphs follows an Islamic exemplar.

First, as Robert Hoyland points out, an unusual phrase that describes the first year of Muhammad’s reign (“his first year, after he had entered his city and three months before he entered [it]”) betrays a strong knowledge of Islamic tradition. Later Muslim writers, such as Muhammad ibn Jarīr al-Tabarī, state that Muhammad’s entry into Medina took place in the third month of the year. This would require A.H. 1 to start three months prior to Muhammad’s emigration, just as it appears in the Chronicle’s introduction. Second, as both Hoyland and Andrew Palmer have noted, the Chronicle’s dates correspond with traditional regnal dates only if one uses a lunar calendar, as did early Muslims. The solar calendar that Christians used would make the Chronicle’s reigns of individual caliphs, as well as the grand sum appearing in the Chronicle’s final line, too long. Finally, the Chronicle ad 724 contains two Arabic loan words, rasul (messenger) and fitna (dissension). If it had been originally composed in Syriac, the author most likely would have used Syriac words for these concepts rather than Syriac transliterations of Arabic.

Online Versions and Further Reading

The History by Ibn Wāḍiḥ al-Yaʿqūbī

(شذرات الذهب في أخبار من ذهب) by أبو العب

Aliases

Aliases Aliases
al-Yaʿqūbī أبو العب
ʾAbū l-ʿAbbās ʾAḥmad bin ʾAbī Yaʿqūb bin Ǧaʿfar bin Wahb bin Waḍīḥ al-Yaʿqūbī أبو العباس أحمد بن أبي يعقوب بن جعفر بن وهب بن واضح اليعقوبي
Background and Biography
Background and Biography

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr ibn Yazīd al-Ṭabarī (Arabic: أبو جعفر محمد بن جرير بن يزيد الطبري), also known as al-Tabari was born in Persia ~20 km. south of the Caspian Sea in 839 CE, traveled widely, and died in Baghdad in 923 CE. His historical chronicle History of the Prophets and Kings (Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk) is often referred to as the History of al-Tabari (Tarikh al-Tabari) and was written in Arabic in ~915 CE. Depending on the edition it can contain up to 40 volumes. Gordon et al (2018:3) provide the following biographical information:

al-Ya‘qubi was of notable Iraqi birth and education, and that he spent much of his professional life in the employment of provincial governing families of the late third/ninth-century ‘Abbasid empire. His own statements indicate that he worked in Armenia, perhaps at an early point in his career, and that he took up subsequently with the Tahirid family in the Iranian province of Khurasan. We have no direct evidence, but it seems that [al-Yaqubi] then made his way to Egypt following the fall of the Tahirids around 258/872. There he lent his skills to the administration of the Tūlūnid state (254—292/868—905), which was among the first autonomous regional dynasties to challenge the ‘Abbasid state, founded roughly a century earlier.
Gordon et al (2018:4) describes History of Ibn Wāḍiḥ (aka Ta’rikh al-Yaqubi) as follows:
The Ta’rikh (History)

The text, of which we possess two manuscripts, is a universal chronicle consisting of two parts: a pre-Islamic section covering a variety of empires and peoples that is primarily sequential in organization, and an Islamic-era section that tracks the history of the Islamic polity from the prophet Muhammad's day until roughly 259/872-873.

...

The second half of the History contains a concise narrative of Islamic and Middle Eastern history, beginning with a biography of the Prophet Muhammad and proceeding with his immediate successors (the so-called ‘Rashidun’ caliphs, a designation that does not occur, however, anywhere in these texts), followed by the Umayyad and ‘Abbasid rulers to about 259/873. Throughout, al- Ya'qübi follows a fairly consistent scheme: he begins with each ruler's accession and (often) the horoscope for the date of accession, then provides a brief nar- rative of the major events of his reign; the circumstances of the caliph’s death; a list of the major officials and religious scholars active during his reign; and a brief assessment of his character and male progeny. Ibn Wadih’s employment of horoscopes ought not be viewed as a bow to superstition; instead, it reflects — and, perhaps, champions— the broad cultural tastes of his still Late Antique readership.
Gordon et al (2018:3) also discussed Al-Ya‘qubi’s religious views
Al-Ya‘qubi’s religious views were clearly Shi'ite, but they seem to conform neither to the Imami Shiite tradition that would prevail later, nor to what would become the Zaydi Shrite tradition. ... Writing as he did before ‘classical’ Shi‘ism crystallized, al-Ya‘qubi held religious views that later Muslims likely found difficult to categorize.

Excerpts
English from Gordon et al (2018)

Abū Bakr’s death took place on Tuesday, 8 nights remaining in Jumādā II 13,919 corresponding to the non-Arab month of Āb (August).
Footnotes

919 21 Jumādā II 13 = August 22, 634. [JW:22 August 634 CE fell on a Monday - days and dates confirmed with CHRONOS for A.H. 13]

English from Gordon et al (2018) - embedded



Chronology
Death of Abu Bakr
Year Reference Corrections Notes
22 or 23 August 634 CE Abū Bakr’s death took place on Tuesday, 8 nights remaining in Jumādā II A.H. 13 corresponding to the non-Arab month of Āb (August) none
  • 8 nights remaining in Jumādā II is 21 Jumādā II
  • 21 Jumada II equates to 22 August 634 CE (calculated with CHRONOS
  • 21 Jumada II (22 August 634 CE) fell on a Monday (Calculated with CHRONOS}
  • Discrepancy in day of the week might be explained by the Islamic day starting at sundown and the Julian day starting at midnight
Online Versions and Further Reading

History of the Prophets and Kings by al-Tabari

Background and Biography

Background and Biography

Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr ibn Yazīd al-Ṭabarī (Arabic: أبو جعفر محمد بن جرير بن يزيد الطبري), also known as al-Tabari was born in Persia ~20 km. south of the Caspian Sea in 839 CE, traveled widely, and died in Baghdad in 923 CE. His historical chronicle History of the Prophets and Kings (Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk) is often referred to as the History of al-Tabari (Tarikh al-Tabari) and was written in Arabic in ~915 CE. Depending on the edition it can contain up to 40 volumes.

Excerpts
English from Rosenthal (1989)

[Abu Bakr's Illness and Death]

Abu Zayd-`Ali b. Muhammad, according to his isnad, which has been mentioned before: Abu Bakr died at the age of sixty -three years on Monday, 21 Jumada al-Akhirah [22 August 634].683
...
Abu Ja`far: `Attib b. Asid685 died at Mecca on the day on which Abu Bakr died. Both were poisoned together, then 'Attab died at Mecca.

Other authorities686 on the cause of Abu Bakr's illness, which he died of, include
  • al-Hirith687
  • Ibn Sa`d688
  • Muhammad b. 'Umar
  • Usamah b. Zayd al-Laythi689
  • Muhammad b. Hamzah 690
  • `Amr 691 his father692
  • Muhammad b. `Abdallih 693
  • al-Zuhr1694
  • `Urwah 'A'ishah695and Umar b.`Imran b.696 `Abdallah b. `Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Bakr al-Siddiq697
  • `Umar b. al-Husayn, the mawla of the family of Mazun698
  • Talhah b. `Abdallah b. `Abd al-Rahmin b. Abi Bakr699
Abu Bakr first began to get sick when he bathed on Monday, 7 Jumada al-Akhirah (8 August 634)700 which was a cold day. Thus, he contracted a fever for fifteen days, during which he did not go forth for congregational worship . He commanded 'Umar b. al-Khattab to lead the worship. The people would come in to visit him, though he grew worse each day. He was staying in his house, which God's Messenger had given him, which faces the house of `Uthman b. 'Affan today. `Uthman had compelled them to be constantly with Abu Bakr in his illness. Abu Bakr died on the eve of Tuesday,701 31 Jumada al-Akhirah of the year 13 of the hijrah (22 August 634). His caliphate lasted two years, three months, and ten days.

Footnotes

683. The day of the week matches with the date. (confirmed with CHRONOS for A.H. 13)

685. Al-Umawi al-Qurashi, he was born after 6oo C.E. He was appointed governor of Mecca by the Prophet in 8/630 , even though he had only just become a Muslim. He held the post until his death. A variant version puts his death c. 23/644 rather than 13/634, as here. The English word tabby derives ultimately from his name. See EP, s.v `Attab; Ibn al-Kalbi, Gamharat, I, 8; II, 204; Wiqidi, Maghazi, 6, 889, 959; the Hisham, Sirah, II, 413, 440, 500, 605; Ibn Said, Tabbaqat, II, 145;II, 187; V, 446; VIII, 262; Zubayri, Nasab, 187,312,418; Ibn Khayyat, Ta'rikh, 56, 58, 63, 72,99,107; Ibn Hajar, Isabah, II, 451-52.

686. Of these three isnads, all go through Muhammad b. `Umar al -Waqidi, the third transmitter in the first isnad.

687. Al-Hirith b. Abi Usamah, he was a transmitter of Ibn Sa`d's traditions who died in 282/895. See EI2, s.v. Ibn Sa'd.

688. Abu 'Abdallah al-Basri, he was a famous transmitter of the traditions of al-Wagidi. His great work al-Tabaqat al-kabir is still extant and often cited in these pages. He lived c. 168-230/784-845. See EI2, s.v. Ibn Sa'd.

689. Actually a mawla of the Layth, he was an important Medinan transmitter whose authority was impugned by many scholars but nevertheless deemed trustworthy by Muslim in his Sahih. He died at an age over seventy in 153/770. Al-Dhahabi and Ibn Hajar allege that he is different from Usamah b. Zayd b. Aslam, the grandson of `Umar b. al-Khattab's mawla Aslam, but it appears from their biographies that the two are either the same person or were two persons whose stories have become confused. Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat, V, 413; In Khayyat, Ta'rikh, 662; Dhahabi, Mizan, I, 174-75; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, I, 207-10.

690. Muhammad b. Hamzah b. `Amr al-Aslami, he was a Medinan transmitter with a mixed reputation. See Ibn Sa'd, Tabbaqat, V, 248; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, IX, 127.

691. Apparently this is `Amr b. Shu`ayb b. Muhammad b. 'Abdallah b. `Amr b. al-`As al-Sahmi al-Qurashi, a noble Hijazi traditionist of mixed reputation who died at al-Ta'if in 118/736. See Ibn al-Kalbi, Gamharat, I, 25; II, 184; Ibn Sa`d, Tabaqat, V, 243; Zubayri, Nasab, 411; Ibn Khayyat, Ta'rikh, 516; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, VIII, 48-55.

692. Shu`ayb b. Muhammad, he was a resident of al-Ti'if and Medina. See Ibn al-Kalbi, Gamharat, I, 25; II, 530; Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat, V, 243; Zubayri, Nasab, 411; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, IV, 356-57, VIII, 51-55.

693. Tabari, Index, 517, identifies this person as Muhammad b. 'Abdallah b. al-Zubayr b. `Umar b. Dirham, the mawla of the Asad, who died in 203/819 and hence was nearly contemporary with al-Waqidi. Although al-Waqidi did quote from him, he is not the Muhammad b. 'Abdallah meant here, for there is no evidence he quoted from al-Zuhri. See Ibn Hajar; Tahdhib, IX, 254-55. Rather, the Muhammad here is Muhammad b. `Abdallah b. Muslim b. `Ubaydallah b. `Abdallah b. Shihab al-Zuhri, the nephew of the great al-Zuhri and a Medinan traditionist of mixed reputation. This nephew was murdered in 152 /769 or 157/774. He is the only Muhammad b. 'Abdallah attested as transmitting both from al-Zuhri and to al-Waqidi. See Zubayri, Nasab, 274; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, IX, 278-80.

694. Muhammad b. Muslim b. `Ubaydallah b. `Abdallah b. Shihab al-Zuhri al-Qurashi, c. 50-124/670-742., he was one of the most famous early Islamic scholars. He migrated from Medina to Damascus in 81/700, where he was on intimate terms with the Umayyads, especially the caliph Hisham, whose children he tutored. See EI1, s.v al-Zuhri; Ibn al-Kalbi, Gamharat, I, 20; II, 424; Ibn Sa'd, Tabaqat, II, 388-89; Zubayri, Nasab, 274; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, IX, 445-51.

695. That is, `A'ishah bt. Abi Bakr, daughter of the first caliph and wife of the Prophet. She was born in 614 C.E. (or earlier) and died in 58/678. See EI2, s.v. 'A'isha bint Abi Bakr; Ibn Sa`d, Tabaqat, II, 374-78; also, note 766.

696. Text: `an; read: b., as Tabari, I, 2730, and Introductio, Glossarium, Addenda et Emendanda, DCXIII.

697. A great-great grandson of the caliph Abu Bakr. Zubayri, Nasab, 278-79, describes his genealogy only down to his father `Imran, omitting this `Umar himself, who does not seem to be attested elsewhere.

698. Text: Mat`un; read: Maz`un. This `Umar was Abi Qudamah al-Makki, the mawla of `A'ishah bt. Qudamah b. Maz'un of the famous Meccan family of the Jumah clan of the Quraysh. He is said to have served as the judge of Medina and was renowned for his piety and trustworthiness as a traditionist. See Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, VII, 433-34• Waki`, Qudah, I, 268, reports that he was judge of Mecca under al-Mansur or al-Mahdi.

699. A Medinan transmitter of tradition who is held to be reliable, he was a son of the famous `A'ishah bt. Talhah b. `Ubaydallah and was named for his maternal grandfather. His sister married the caliph al-Walid I. See Zubayri, Nasab, 278-79; Ibn Hajar, Tahdhib, V, 17-18.

700. The day of the week matches with the date.(confirmed with CHRONOS for A.H. 13)

701. The Islamic day begins at sunset, so that he actually died on a Monday, as on P. 129.

Chronology
Death of Abu Bakr
Year Reference Corrections Notes
22 August 634 CE Abu Bakr died at the age of sixty three years on Monday, 21 Jumada al-Akhirah A.H. 13 none
  • 21 Jumada al-Akhirah equates to 22 August 634 CE (calculated with CHRONOS
  • 21 Jumada al-Akhirah (22 August 634 CE) fell on a Monday (Calculated with CHRONOS}
Online Versions and Further Reading

Comet

Ho Peng Yoke (1962) has the following entry for a comet in August/September 634 CE:

20th September, 634.

On the 23rd day in the eighth month of the eighth year of the Chen-Kuan reign-period a (po) comet appeared at the Hsu and the Wei (11th and 12th lunar mansions) for 11 days before going out of sight [30th September].
(CTS 36/5b; HTS 32/5b; THY 43/la; WHTK 286/21b; W177.)

Williams follows the HTS which says that the comet appeared on a chia-tzu day (22nd September).

The Japanese records, "During the eighth month of the sixth year of Jomei-tenno [29th August to 27th September approx.] a (chhang-hsing) comet was seen at the south. During the first month of the seventh year [24th January to 22nd February, 635 approx.] the (hui) comet turned round and appeared at the E."
(Dainihonshi ch. 359; Nihongi tr. Aston vol. II pp. 166 and 167; K.)

Eclipse Paths

Introduction

In his 2nd passage, Michael the Syrian reported that the sun was eclipsed at the same time that there was an earthquake. Agapius of Menbij reported that after Muhammad died there was a a violent earthquake, and the sun was darkened.

Excerpts

Michael the Syrian - English from Chabot (1899-1910) - 2nd passage

CHAPTER [V]. — From the time of the beginning of the Arab Empire or Taiyayê; of the death of Blessed Patriarch Mar Athanasis..

[414] In the year 946 (of the Greeks), 24 of Heraclius, and 13 of the Taiyayê (Arabs), Abu Bakr died, after having reigned two years. —After him 'Umar the son of Khattab reigned. He sent a force to Arabia; they seized Bosra and destroyed other towns.

... [Aside] [414] At that time [ ]there was a great earthquake; and at the moment of the shaking, the sun was obscured. In this earthquake, the Church of the Resurrection, that of Golgotha, and many other places fell. Modestus, the Chalcedonian bishop1, rebuilt them.
Footnotes

1. From Jerusalem.

Agapius of Menbij - English from Vasilev (1909)

In this year there was a violent earthquake, and the sun was darkened . . . 32

[Mohammed being dead, Abu-Bekr] succeeded [him and reigned for two years. . . He sent four generals . . . with troops: [one in Palestine, another] in Egypt, the third in Persia and the fourth against the Christian Arabs. |209 As for the one that Abu-Bekr sent to Palestine, he met a Greek patrician named Sergius, killed him with all his companions and plundered their camp. The other three (generals) were victorious and returned to Yathrib.

In year 3 of Abu-Bekr, there was a violent earthquake in Palestine; for thirty days the ground trembled. In the same year, there was a strong epidemic in various places.

Abu-Bekr died; and after him reigned Omar, son of Khattab, for twelve years, from the 946 year of Alexander and the thirteenth year of the Arabs. [JW: A.G. 946 (1 Oct. 634 to 30 Sept. 635 CE), A.H. 14 (7 March 634 - 24 Feb. 635 CE)]

In the first year of his reign, he sent troops against al-Balqa, captured Basra, many cities and large fortresses and then returned to Yathrib.

In year 2 [of his reign], Khalid, son of al-Walid, [went] with many troops on al-Balqa and . . . 33 in Persia. Khalid encountered . . . troops of the Greeks and destroyed them. . . . (Heraclius) went out from Menbidj and |210 sent . . . against Khalid and he killed . . . Arabs. . . Damascus. Then Heraclius left Menbidj .. . . Souriyah, which is Syria (ach-Cham), and learned with certainty that the Arabs had conquered it.
Footnotes

32. The following four lines are illegible. A few words can be read, suggesting that they concern the death of Mohammed and the transmission of power to Abu Bekr. Cf. Elmacinus, 9-10, 15.

33. The following six lines are illegible. A translation is given of whatever can be read.

Eclipse Paths
Observable in the Region
Date Eclipse Type Image Notes
12 Feb. 634 CE Annular
1 June 634 CE Annular External Link to Eclipse Path shown on Google Maps (works intermittently)
19 Aug. 635 CE Total
Not observable in the Region
Date Eclipse Type Image Notes
26 Nov. 634 CE Annular External Link to Eclipse Path shown on Google Maps (works intermittently)
22 May 635 CE Total External Link to Eclipse Path shown on Google Maps (works intermittently)
15 Nov. 635 CE Annular External Link to Eclipse Path shown on Google Maps (works intermittently)
Online Versions and Further Reading
References

Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak and Chris O'Byrne (NASA's GSFC).

Javascript Solar eclipse Explorer

Celestial Sightings Summary

Author Sighting Timing Comments
Theophanes dokites in the direction of the south, foreboding the Arab conquest. It remained for thirty days, moving from south to north, and was sword-shaped same time as the earthquake
Anastasius Bibliothecarius a sign appeared in the southern sky, something known as docetes, announcing the coming of Arab rule. It remained for thirty days extending from south to north in the shape of a sword. approximately the same time as the earthquake
Michael the Syrian after the earthquake there was a sign in the sky; it appeared in the form of a sword stretching from south to north, and remained for thirty days. after the earthquake
Agapius of Menbij there appeared in the sky a sign, a column of fire, and it began moving from the east to the west and from the north to the south then disappeared also for thirty days the earth shook Hoyland translation

In this year there was a violent earthquake, and the sun was darkened ... footnote: The following four lines are illegible. A few words can be read, suggesting that they concern the death of Mohammed and the transmission of power to Abu Bekr. Cf. Elmacinus, 9-10, 15. - Vasilev translation

In year 3 of Abu-Bekr, there was a violent earthquake in Palestine; for thirty days the ground trembled Vasilev translation - no mention of celestial signs
translation dependent ?
Chronicle of Siirt There appeared in the sky something like a lance from south to north and then it extended from east to west, and it remained thus for 35 nights XCIV, 580 no earthquake mentioned
Cedrenus After Mohammed died, a comet appeared which lasted for 30 days extending from south to north, looking like a sword After the death of Mohammed
Bar Hebraeus In the same month of Elul [September], an earthquake took place. And a sign, like unto a spear, appeared in the heavens, and it remained there for 30 days. around the same time as the earthquake
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre The stars of the sky fell in such a way that they all shot like arrows toward the north. A.G. 937 (a number of years earlier than everybody else) no mention of earthquake
History of the Caliphs by as-Suyuti When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, Makkah was shaken with an earthquake

when Abu Bakr died, Makkah was shaken by an earthquake
no celestial sightings but there are two earthquake reports not repeated in as-Suyuti's earthquake catalogue - literary motif ?
Notes
A search for the meaning of Docetes

Docetes (δοxίτης)

Theophanes entry for A.M.a 6124 in Greek reads as follows (warning: not the greatest OCR)

Τούτιρ τι, έτει έπεμψεύ λβσνβάχαρος στρατη'.ώς τέσ-σαρας , ο},' καί όόηυη3έντες, ώς προέφην , υπό τών 5Ιράβαrι ήλ&ον, καί ελαβον τήν 'Ηραν, καί πάσαν χαόραν Γιsζης, στο μιον ονσης τής έρήμου κατά τό Σιναϊον όρος• μόγις &α ποτε έλ&ών ιίπό Καισαρείας Παλαιστίνης Σέργιος συν στρο τιοσταις5 όλι'τοις, καί σνμβαλαίν πόλεμού, κτείνεται πρώτος σών τοί{ C στρατιώταις τριαχοσίοις οιίσι. καί πολλούς αίχμαιλοττσυς λαι-βόντας καί λάφνρα πολλά νπέστρεψαν μετά λαμαράς τrιχης.

ι ότφ δ& τ χρόνιρ σεισμός έγάνετο κατά τήν Παλαιστίνην ["earthquake struck Palestine"] • καί έφάύη σημείου όν τ41 ονραττϊι κατά μεσημβρίαν, ιο ό λεγόμανος δοxίτης, προμηνναον τήν ταον' Αράβων έιαsράτη-σιύ • α"μαιύα δ έπί ήμέρας τριάκοντα &ατείύαού άπιί μόσημ-βρίας σας άρκτον. ήν ιυ ξιφοαιάής.


  • A Latin translation of the relevant phrase is docitem a trabis forma vocant which in English is having the form they call a [tree trunk, spear, beam, club for trabis]
  • Docetes is possibly from the Greek dokein - “to seem”
  • δοxίτης is transliterated as doxitis
  • Alternative transliterations include doxit, Doxite, and doxith
  • An alternative spelling of δοxίτης is δοkίτης
  • Definitions for δοxίτης include Docent, doctrine, Docter (Doctor?), and Beamer
  • Medieval Greek (aka Middle Greek aka Byzantine Greek)


Definition of Comet from an Etymological Dictionary

The Online Etymology Dictionary defines the noun comet as follows:

"one of a class of celestial bodies which move about the sun in great, elliptical orbits," c. 1200, from Old French comete (12c., Modern French comète), from Latin cometa, from Greek (aster) komētēs, literally "long-haired (star)," from komē "hair of the head" (compare koman "let the hair grow long"), which is of unknown origin. So called from resemblance of a comet's tail to streaming hair.

Visible only when near the sun, they were anciently regarded as omens of ruin, pestilence, and the overthrow of kingdoms.

Islamic Conquests

Muslim Invasion of Greater Syria Muslim Invasion of the Levant

Wikipedia


Background
Quick Summary of the Early Islamic Conquests

The Islamic Army of this time was known as the Rashudin Army; part of the Rashudin Caliphate. The Rashudin Caliphate ruled from the death of Muhammad in 632 CE until it was supplanted by the Umayyad Caliphate in 661 CE. The first Rashudin Caliph was Abu Bakr. He ruled for ~27 months from after Muhammad's death (8 June 632 CE) until his own death (23 August 634 CE).

From 632-633 CE, the Rashudin Caliphate fought and won the Ridda Wars, squashing internal opposition from rebellious Arabian tribes. In 633 and/or 634 CE, Abu Bakr sent four armies into Byzantine controlled Syria and Palestine. Each army had a different commander. Theophanes notes this when he states that the earthquake happened in the same year that "Abu Bakr sent out four generals". The battle in which Sergios died fighting the Rashudin Army was the Battle of Dathin.

Historiography
Invasion Summary from Donner (1981)

Donner (1981:111-112) provides a summary of the early Islamic conquests.

THE COURSE OF CONQUEST IN SYRIA

Well over a dozen discrete sets of accounts about the dispatch of the Islamic armies to Syria are preserved in the Arabic sources. The separate accounts communicate much contradictory information and are consequently impossible to reconcile in many respects. The contradictions are most evident in matters of relative chronology, reflecting the fact that the authorities who transmitted these traditional accounts were themselves relying on extremely fragmentary bits of information, coming from diverse sources, which each of them attempted to piece together to form a more or less coherent narrative.100 It is therefore hardly surprising to find that different authorities will sometimes describe the same episodes but in different sequences, or that at other times, when different sources of information have been consulted, there is considerable variety in the events mentioned by individual authorities.

It is, nevertheless, possible to reconstruct the broad outlines of the conquest of Syria by the Muslims, even if many details remain obscure. The conquest can be divided into three main phases. The first phase embraced all the early military campaigning in southern Syria from the departure of the first troops in A.H. 12/A.D. 633 until the arrival of a group of reinforcements from Iraq, commanded by one of the tactical geniuses of the early Islamic period, Khalid b. al-Walid of the B. Makhziim (Quraysh) . During this phase a few minor engagements occurred in southern Syria, mainly with local garrison forces, and reinforcements appear to have been sent north continually from Arabia to the Islamic armies, but no major confrontations with the Byzantines developed. It was a phase in which the Muslims came to dominate the open countryside of southern Syria, but in which the towns remained outside their control.

The second phase began with Khalid b. al-Walid's arrival in Syria in A. H. 13/A D. 634 and was one of concerted Byzantine resistance. During this phase, the Muslims began to extend their control in southern Syria from the tribal countryside to the important towns;101 selected towns were put to siege and occupied: Bostra (Busra), Gaza, Fahl (Pella), Baysan (Scythopolis), Damascus, and, briefly, Hims (Emesa) and Ba'labakk (Heliopolis). This process naturally elicited an increasingly strong reaction from the Byzantine authorities; the Byzantine emperor Heraclius, realizing that local Byzantine city garrisons were inadequate to repel the attacks, dispatched successive portions of the imperial army to combat the invaders. This in turn resulted in the main encounters between the Byzantine and Islamic armies, at Ajnadayn, Fahl, Marj al-Suffar, and the Yarmuk. These battles (about A. H. 13-15/A.D. 634-636) saw the decisive defeat of the Byzantine army in Syria, and, although many towns in southern Syria and all of northern Syria still remained outside the Muslims' control, the defeats suffered broke the ability of the Byzantines to offer organized resistance to the Muslims' advance.

The third phase of the conquest of Syria, extending from roughly A.H. 16/A.D. 637 until roughly A.H. 27/A.D. 647-648, was one of consolidation in the aftermath of the victories at the Yarmuk, Ajnadayn, and so forth. It involved the rapid conquest of the remaining countryside not under the Muslims' control, especially in northern Syria, and the piecemeal reduction of individual Syrian towns, which had been left alone to resist the advancing Muslims by the collapse of the Byzantine military presence in Syria. Among these towns were some in central Syria that may have been conquered once but had slipped out of the Muslims' control or been abandoned by them during the final Byzantine offensives of the second phase: Damascus (again?), Hims (again?), Ba'labakk (again?), Hama, Qinnasrin, Aleppo (Beroe), Jerusalem, Caesarea, Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Antioch, and others. It was marked by the return to Iraq of at least some of the Iraqi reinforcements that had come to Syria after the first phase, accompanied perhaps by some who had never been to the Iraqi front, and also by the opening of offensives into Egypt and into the Jazira region lying between the upper reaches of the Euphrates and the Tigris. These are the general outlines of the Islamic conquest of Syria.
Footnotes

100. For a more detailed treatment of this problem, see Fred McGraw Donner, "The Arabic Sources for the Rise of Islam."

101. We can assume, of course, that many smaller communities in the Syrian deep south-Ayla, Ma'an, etc. were already under Islamic control.

Invasion Historiography and Details from Kennedy (2007)

Chronology Problems

Kennedy (2007:98) discussed chronological problems with dating the early Islamic conquests.

Immediately after Muhammad’s death, the caliph Abū Bakr sent another expedition to Syria, an expedition that marked the beginning of the real conquest of the country. The sequence of events becomes extremely confused at this point. We have a vast mass of traditions about major battles and minor engagements and about the capture of cities. But the truth is that there is no way of reconciling the different chronological schemes that were elaborated by different Muslim editors, and there are very few external sources to give us any sort of guidance. As the great Muslim historian Tabarī complained when he was collecting the conquest narratives, ‘in fact, one of the most annoying things about this study is the occurrence of such differences as the one I have noted above about the date of this battle. Such differences arose because some of these battles were so close together in time’.3 In the end, we can only be certain that campaigning began in earnest from 632 and that eight years later, in 640, all of Syria was under some sort of Muslim rule with the exception of the coastal city of Caesarea. The account that follows is based on the most generally accepted chronology, but it should be treated with considerable caution.
Footnotes

3. Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2156.

Invasion Details

Kennedy (2007:99-111) summarized the early conquests up to the Battle of Yarmouk.

The objective of these early expeditions was to assert the control of Medina over the Arab tribes on the fringes of the settled land. On the western borders of the fertile land of Iraq and along the edges of the Nile valley in Egypt, the border between the desert and the sown is a comparatively firm line between one ecological zone and another. In Syria the distinction is much less clear cut. Moving east from the well-watered Mediterranean coast, the landscape becomes gradually more arid. At the line of the 200mm isohyet (the line beyond which there is less than 200mm annual average rainfall) settled agriculture is impossible without oasis irrigation. West of the line is a zone that can be used as pasture by the Bedouin or by dry farming. Many Bedouin have also been parttime farmers, cultivating small fields of grain as well as pasturing their animals. The policy of securing the allegiance of the Syrian Bedouin to Islam led the Muslims inexorably into conflict with the Byzantine imperial authorities and their Arab allies. It was a very conscious and deliberate policy move by the caliph Abū Bakr and the rest of the Muslim leadership: all nomad Arabs were to pledge their allegiance to the Muslim state and those who did not do it voluntarily were to be coerced.

Abū Bakr is said to have dispatched four small armies to operate independently in the frontier zones to the east of the Dead Sea and the Jordan valley, attaching banners to the spears of the leaders as a sign of authority. His choice of commanders was to be very important in the history of the early Islamic state. One of them was Yazīd, the son of Abū Sufyān, who took with him his brother, Mu'āwiya. As we have seen, the family already had properties in Syria and knew the area well. Yazīd was to be one of the leading Muslim commanders in the conquest, and this enabled him and his brother to establish the power of their family in Syria. Yazīd died of the plague before the conquests were finally complete, but his brother Mu'cāwiya inherited his role. The power base he built up in Syria during and immediately after the conquests enabled him to establish himself as the first Umayyad caliph in 661 and rule the entire Muslim world from Damascus.

Another appointment with long-term consequences was that of Amr b. al-Ās, shrewd and cunning rather than a great warrior, the wily Odysseus of the early Islamic armies. His background as a merchant trading in Gaza had recommended him to the Prophet, who had chosen him to collect taxes from the tribes on the road from Medina to Syria. He chose to lead his men, said to have been about three thousand in number, many from Mecca and Medina,4 to the area with which he was already familiar. He travelled along the Red Sea coast as far as the head of the Gulf of Aqaba then turned west, camping with his men in the great sandy depression between Jordan and Israel known as the Wadi Araba. From there they climbed up the escarpment to the plateau of the Negev before heading for the sea at Gaza. Here Amr began negotiations with the local military commander, probably demanding money, and there is a tradition that the Byzantine governor attempted to capture or murder him as they were parleying. Finally, on 4 February 634,5 there was a battle in which Amr and his men defeated the small Byzantine army at a village called Dāthin, near Gaza, and killed its commander. The Arab victory made an immediate impression. News travelled fast, and we are told that a Jewish community near Caesarea openly rejoiced at the death of a Byzantine official and the humiliation of the imperial authority.6

The Muslim victory at Dāthin may have been on a fairly small scale but it alerted the Byzantine authorities to the new threat from the south. Overall command lay with the emperor Heraclius. He was around 60 years old at this time and was certainly no pampered denizen of the vast and luxurious palaces of Constantinople; rather, he was a man with a vast amount of military experience, well used to the hardships of campaign. He was also at the height of his powers and, even as the earliest Muslim raids on Syria began, had just celebrated a major triumph with the return of the True Cross to Jerusalem. Heraclius never led his armies against the Muslims in person (but neither did the Muslim caliphs lead the armies of Islam) but he remained behind the lines in Syria, in Homs or Antioch, directing operations, appointing generals and issuing instructions. The portrayal of Heraclius in the Arabic sources is very interesting.7 He is renowned for his shrewdness and wisdom and his ability to foresee the future. In one story, Abū Sufyān, the Meccan aristocrat, tells how he saw Heraclius when he was visiting Syria with a group of merchants. ‘We arrived there when Heraclius had just defeated the Persians and driven them out of his territory recapturing from them the great cross, which the Persians had stolen . . . Heraclius then left Homs, which was his headquarters and walked on foot . . . in order to pray in the Holy City. Carpets were spread for him and aromatic herbs were thrown on the carpets. When he reached Jerusalem, Heraclius prayed together with the Byzantine nobles.’8 He is shown here victorious but modest and pious.

In a number of anecdotes, Heraclius is said to have recognized the greatness of Muhammad and would have become a Muslim if the Byzantine nobles had not been so hostile to the idea. To the Arabs, he was the key, symbolic leader of the Byzantine resistance to the armies of Islam, the ancient enemy. He is shown to be proud and autocratic but he also goes through moments when he alone of his advisers and courtiers can see how strong the Muslims are and recognizes that they are bound to prevail. The image the Arab sources give of Heraclius is not entirely unsympathetic: he is a tragic figure whose failure to embrace Islam meant that his career ended in humiliation and failure

Up to this point, the Muslim attacks on Syria had amounted to little more than pinpricks along the frontier. The next phase of the conquest began with the arrival of Khālid b. al-Walīd and his men after the forced march across the desert from Iraq, where he had been raiding along the desert frontier. Khālid’s march across the Syrian desert, with perhaps five hundred of his troops, has been enshrined in history and legend:9 Arab sources marvelled at his endurance; modern scholars have seen him as a master of strategy.10 The story is often told of how he crossed six waterless days of desert by making some of his camels drink more than their fill, binding their jaws so that they could not chew their cud, then slaughtering them one by one so his men could drink the water from their stomachs. At another stage, when Khālid and his men were stumbling along, suffering from extreme thirst, he asked one of his men, Rāfi, who had been in the area before, whether he had any idea about water. Rāfi said that there was water near at hand: ‘Go on and look for two hummocks which look like two women’s breasts and then go to them.’ When they arrived he told them to search for a thorn bush like a man’s buttocks. They scrabbled around and found a root but no sign of a tree, but Rāfi told them that this was the place and they should dig there. Soon they uncovered damp ground and small quantities of sweet water. Rāfi, greatly relieved by the discovery, said to Khālid, ‘O Commander, by God, I have not come to this waterhole for thirty years. I have only been once before when I was a boy with my father.11 So, the account goes on, they prepared themselves and attacked the enemy, who could not believe that any army could cross the desert to them.

The trouble is that the accounts of this expedition, though vivid, are very confused. We can be certain that Khālid did cross the desert from Iraq to Syria some time in the spring or early summer of 634, that it was a memorable feat of military endurance and that his arrival in Syria was an important ingredient of the success of Muslim arms there. The problem is that some sources suggest that he went on the long southern route by Dūmat al-Jandal, while others are equally certain that he made the journey via Palmyra to the north. There are good arguments on each side and simply no knowing which version is correct.

The Arabic narratives give pride of place to Khālid as the commander who provided the most effective leadership, even after Umar had dismissed him from supreme command and replaced him with Abū Ubayda. It was Khālid who united the different Muslim armies on his arrival, it was Khālid who began the conquest of Damascus by opening the East Gate, and it was Khālid who devised the tactics that won the battle of Yarmūk. He then went on to take a leading role in the conquest of Homs and Chalkis (Ar. Qinnasrīn). His reputation as a great general has lasted through the generations and streets are named after him all over the Arab world. Despite his undoubted achievements, however, his reputation in the sources is mixed. He came from one of the most aristocratic families in Mecca and like many of people of his class he had been deeply suspicious of Muhammad with his preaching of social justice and simple monotheism. He had not been one of the early converts to Islam; indeed, he had been among the enemies of the Prophet, actually fighting against him at the battle of Uhud, but he converted to Islam soon after. Once converted he become staunchly Muslim and began to devote all his considerable military talents to the support of the new Muslim state. On Muhammad’s orders, he destroyed one of the most famous of the old idols, the image of the goddess al-Uzza at Nakhla near Mecca. He enjoyed the confidence of the first caliph Abū Bakr and was entrusted with commanding the armies against the rebel Arab tribes in the ridda wars. He won great victories but also gained a reputation for ruthless and sometimes over-hasty reactions: on one occasion he massacred a whole group of Muslims by mistake and compounded the offence by immediately marrying the widow of one of his victims.12 His later fame seems to have rankled with some early Muslims, notably the caliph Umar, who strongly believed that early commitment to Islam was essential for anyone who wished to be a leader, that late conversion did not suffice, and that a little humility would not go amiss. A story told of Khālid attempts to explain his life and rehabilitate him. In a dialogue with the Armenian general Jurjah immediately before the battle of Yarmūk, Khālid is made to justify his career and explain why he was popularly called the ‘Sword of God’.
God sent us his Prophet, who summoned us, but we avoided him and kept well away from him. Then some of us believed him and followed him, whereas others distanced themselves from him and called him a liar. I was among those who called him a liar, shunned him and fought him. Then God gripped our hearts and our forelocks, guiding us to him so that he followed him. The Prophet said to me ‘You are a sword among the swords of God which God has drawn against the polytheists’, and he prayed for victory for me. Thus I was named the Sword of God because I am now the most hostile of Muslims to the polytheists.
Khālid had been instructed by Abū Bakr to march as quickly as possible to aid the conquest of Syria, which had now reached a critical state. On Easter Day, 634 (24 April), he and his forces suddenly appeared and fell upon the Ghassānid Christian allies of the Byzantines, who were celebrating the festival amid the lush grass and spring flowers of the Meadow of Rāhit just north of Damascus.13 He then turned south to join up with the other Muslim commanders already operating in Syria, who now seem to have been united under his command to face the challenge posed by the Byzantine imperial armies. They began with an attack on the city of Bostra.14

Bostra lies just north of the modern Syrian-Jordanian border in a flat but fertile landscape strewn with the black basalt boulders characteristic of much of the area. To the north of the city, and clearly visible from its walls, rise the volcanic hills of the Hawrān. Though the mountains are rugged, if not especially high, they contain, like many volcanic areas, patches of extremely fertile soil. The hinterland of Bostra was the closest area to Arabia which could supply the wheat, oil and wine the Bedouin desired. The city had become rich as a trading entrepôt, and it was widely believed that the Prophet himself had visited it in his youth and had been instructed in the mysteries of the Christian faith there by the monk Bahira. Bostra was also a political centre. When the Roman emperor Trajan had annexed the Nabataean kingdom in 106 and turned it into the Roman province of Arabia, he had moved the capital from distant Petra in the south to the more accessible (accessible from Rome, that is) city of Bostra. Built of tough, unyielding black basalt, the ruins of the ancient city of Bostra are among the most impressive in the Near East. The huge Roman theatre there still survives almost intact, forming the centre of a later medieval fortress. Columns and paving stones indicate the routes of ancient streets, and there are the remains of baths and a number of important Christian churches, including a magnificent round cathedral.

It is not clear whether the Byzantines had re-established an imperial presence in the city after the departure of the Sasanians. The city seems to have put up little resistance, and towards the end of May 634 it made peace with the Muslims, the citizens agreeing to pay an annual tax. It was the first major Syrian city to be taken by the invaders.

After the surrender of Bostra, the Muslim force marched west to meet up with Amr b. al-Ās. Amr, after his first victory at Dāthin, was now confronted by a large Byzantine force which had gathered south-west of Jerusalem on the road to Gaza. Khālid and the others crossed the Jordan valley without apparently encountering any resistance and met up with Amr and his men. The combined Muslim army is said in one source to have been about twenty thousand strong and was under the command of Amr, who is the only Arab general named in the sources, where his image is consistently one of shrewdness and intelligence. He is described spying out the enemy camp in person or sending agents to do so, while the Byzantine general writes to him as someone equal to himself in cunning.15 The armies met at a place the Muslim authors called Ajnādayn, and a major battle developed. We have no detailed information about the nature of the conflict but it is clear that the Byzantines were defeated and that the remnants of their army withdrew to Jerusalem and other fortified sites. News of the victory of the Muslims spread far and wide, and it seems to be the battle referred to in the Frankish chronicle of Fredegar composed some twenty years later in France. He includes the interesting, and possibly true, detail that ‘the Saracens’ (the Muslims) offered to sell back to Heraclius the booty they had just taken from his defeated men but that the emperor refused to pay for any of these stolen goods.16

The contemporary Armenian chronicler Sebeos tells how the Byzantine forces were ordered by the emperor to remain on the defensive.17 Instead, they left their camps by the river and took refuge in the city of Pella, on the east bank of the river. Pella was a prosperous city in the fertile lands of the Jordan valley and an easily defended acropolis rose above the classical streets and porticoes on the valley floor. Here they were attacked again. As usual, the course of battle is not entirely clear but some features seem to have been remembered. The Byzantine troops had crossed the Jordan valley from Scythopolis on the west bank and, in order to delay the pursuing Muslims, had cut some of the irrigation ditches, allowing the water to spill out and the flat lands of the valley bottom to become an ocean of mud.18 The Muslims charged on, not knowing what the Byzantines had done, and many of their horses became stuck in the mire, ‘but then God delivered them’. In the end, it was the Byzantines who were trapped in the mire and many were massacred.

The remnants of the Byzantine forces now withdrew to Damascus. The Muslims pursued them. The siege of Damascus became one of the set pieces of the conquest of Syria. To a remarkable extent we can retrace the progress of the siege because of the detailed descriptions of the sources and the preservation of the fabric of the city. The walls of old Damascus, Roman or earlier in origin and continuously restored since, are still largely intact. Only at the western end where the city expanded in Ottoman times is the old circuit breached. All except one of the ancient gates survive and they bear the same names today as they do in the early Arabic sources: it is an astonishing example of the continuity of urban geography and architecture through almost fourteen centuries. We are told that Khālid b. al-Walīd was stationed at the East Gate (Bāb Sharqī), Amr b. al-Ās at St Thomas’s Gate (Bāb Tūma), Abū Ubayda at the now demolished Jābiya Gate on the west side and Yazīd b. Abī Sufyān at the Little Gate and Kaysān Gate on the south side.

The Muslims also took the precaution of stationing a force on the road north of Damascus. This proved a wise move because Heraclius, who is said to have been in Homs at this time, sent a force of cavalry to try to relieve the siege but they were intercepted and never made it.19 Just how long the siege lasted is not clear. Disconcertingly, the Arabic sources give widely differing estimates, anything from four to fourteen months. The Muslims do not seem to have had any siege engines, or any equipment more sophisticated than ropes and ladders, and even the ladders had to be borrowed from a neighbouring monastery.20 It seems that all the attackers could do against the substantial Roman walls of the city was to mount a blockade and hope that famine, boredom or internal disputes would cause the defenders to give up. When it became clear that no relieving force was going to appear, the defenders of the city began to despair. According to one account, the end came when a child was born to the patrikios (Byzantine commander) in charge and he allowed his men to relax and eat and drink to celebrate. Khālid b. al-Walīd, who was always on the lookout for opportunities and knew exactly what was going on in the city, decided to take advantage. He had ropes and ladders with him. Some of his men approached the gate using inflated animal skins to cross the moat. They threw their ropes around the battlements and hauled themselves up, bringing the ropes up after them so that they would not be seen. Then, at a given signal, with the cry of ‘Allhu akbar’ (God is great) they rushed the gate, killing the gatekeepers and anyone else who resisted.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the town, the Damascenes had begun opening negotiations for a peaceful surrender and Muslim troops began to enter the city from the west. The two groups, Khālid’s men from the east and the others from the west, met in the city centre in the old markets and began to negotiate. Terms were made, leaving the inhabitants in peace in exchange for tribute. Properties belonging to the imperial fisc were confiscated for the benefit of all Muslims, becoming part of the fay (the communal wealth of the Muslim community).21 As usual there was booty to be divided up and the commanders were careful to keep a share for those who had been stationed on the road north, for though they had played no direct part in the siege their presence had contributed to the victory and they had earned their booty. The complicated stories which evolved of the taking of Damascus, from two different ends in two different ways, may be an attempt to solve the thorny issue of whether the city was taken by force or by treaty (see above, pp. 18-20). In this case the authorities seem to have tried to reach a compromise that allowed it to be neither one thing nor the other.

The accounts of the fall of Damascus also reflect divided loyalties among the population. The city was a centre of imperial power with a military governor appointed by the emperor himself, but many if not most of the inhabitants were Christian Arabs. It is evident that many of them had split allegiances and that they felt closer to the Arabs outside the walls than they did to the Greeks and Armenians who composed a large part of the garrison. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that Damascus was spared the horrors of bombardment and sack. In the century that followed, the city became the capital of the whole Muslim world and entered what came to be its golden age.

Around the time of the fall of Damascus, and as usual the chronology is very uncertain here, the elderly Abū Bakr, the successor of Muhammad and first caliph of Islam, died in Medina. We know that his death occurred in July 634. What is less clear is what stage this was in the story of the conquest, but there are a number of reports that news reached the Muslim armies in Syria during the course of the siege. The new caliph was the austere and formidable Umar, who is portrayed in many accounts as the mastermind behind the conquests. There was no opposition to his succession among the forces in Syria but the new caliph had clear ideas about command. As we have seen, Umar disliked Khālid b. al-Walīd intensely. The fact that Khālid had fought so brilliantly for the Muslim cause against the ridda in eastern Arabia and again in Iraq and Syria did little to improve his standing with the new caliph. He now abruptly ordered that Khālid be removed from command and return to Medina. In one account, Abū Ubayda, now appointed as supreme commander in Khālid’s place, was ordered to demand that Khālid should confess to being a liar. If he refused, as he was bound to do, his turban should be pulled off his head and half his property confiscated. Faced with this ultimatum the great general asked for time to consult, not as might be imagined with his friends or subordinates, but with his sister. She was clear that Umar hated her brother and if he admitted to being a liar he would be removed all the same. There was no point in trying to placate the caliph by admitting to crimes he did not believe he had committed.

In an interesting reflection on the power of the caliph and the unity of the Muslims, Khālid felt that he had no choice but to go to Medina. A Byzantine general in that position might well have raised a rebellion and called on his troops to support him in a bid for the throne. By contrast, the greatest general of the Muslim army meekly accepted dismissal and humiliation. When he arrived at Medina, Umar pursued his vendetta. Whenever he met Khālid he would taunt him: ‘Khālid, take the property of the Muslims out from under your arse!’, to which Khālid would meekly reply that he did not have any of the ‘Muslims’ property’. In the end a settlement was reached, with Khālid paying over most of his fortune so that he was left only with military equipment (cuddat) and slaves (raqīq). He was soon back in Syria, playing a major role in the battle of the Yarmūk and the subsequent conquests of Homs and Chalkis, where he finally settled. In the end Umar is said to have recognized that he had maligned the ‘Sword of God’ and that Abū Bakr, who supported Khālid, had been a better judge of men.22 The great general died peacefully in 642, a brilliant, ruthless military commander, but one with whom the more pious Muslims could never feel entirely comfortable.

Meanwhile, the emperor Heraclius was preparing one more major effort to drive the Muslim invaders out of Syria. After the fall of Damascus he had retreated to Antioch in the north of Syria, the traditional capital of the entire area. Here he set about directing what was to prove his last campaign. The Byzantines assembled all the troops they could recruit. Arab sources give very large numbers, over 100,000,23 but comparisons with other Byzantine armies of the period make it clear that this is a huge exaggeration, with numbers between 15,000 and 20,000 being more probable. The armies comprised a very diverse collection of men. There were Byzantine Greeks under the command of Theodore Trithurios, a large contingent of Armenians under Jurjah and the local Christian Arabs led by the king of the Ghassānids, traditional allies of the Byzantines, Jabala b. Ayham. The overall commander was an Armenian called Vahān. The different contingents would have spoken different languages - Greek, Armenian and Arabic - and they may have found it difficult to communicate with each other. There were also profound religious and cultural differences. The Greeks and Armenians would have come from settled, probably rural village backgrounds and were used to living and fighting in upland, mountain terrain. The Arabs, on the other hand, were nomads, used to the mobile traditions of desert warfare. All the troops came from Christian backgrounds but both Armenians and Christian Arabs were regarded as heretics by the orthodox Byzantines. How far these divisions really affected the performance of the Byzantine army is not clear, but the sources are awash with rumours of disaffection, of Jurjah converting to Islam at the hand of Khālid b. al-Walīd on the eve of battle and of the Christian Arabs going over to the Muslim side in the course of battle. The Arab sources also talk of the Byzantine soldiers being chained together so that they could not flee, but this is a story found in many accounts of the conquests, used to contrast the free and motivated Muslims with the serf-like soldiers of their enemies: there is no real evidence for such an impractical idea being put into effect, though it may be a distant reflection of the practice of infantry locking shields together to make a protective wall.24

The Byzantine forces probably assembled in Homs and marched south through the Biqa valley, past Baaalbak with its great pagan temples - now almost empty of worshippers but still magnificent in their decay - and so to Damascus. In anticipation of the arrival of this force, the Arabs seem to have withdrawn from the city, allowing Byzantine forces to reoccupy it unopposed. We have no information on how they found the town but there are reports of tension between the Byzantine generals demanding supplies for their men, as was the usual Byzantine practice, and the local financial administrator, the Arab Mansūr, who maintained that the city did not have sufficient resources to feed them. Certainly the army did not use Damascus as a base but moved on south.

The Byzantine army assembled at Jābiya in the Golan Heights. This was the traditional summer pasture of the Ghassānids. According to the most probable reconstruction, it was now August 636 and the Golan would have provided much-needed food, water and pasture for the army. Meanwhile the Muslim forces prepared to oppose the Byzantines and hold on to their newly won gains. Their army also assembled in the Golan area, to the south-east of the Byzantines. The different Muslim armies had now come together under the command of Abū Ubayda, or possibly Khālid b. al-Walīd. Yazīd b. Abī Sufyān and Amr b. al-Ās both led contingents. According to Muslim sources, the Arab army numbered about 24,000. In view of the downward revision of the numbers on the Byzantine side, it is possible that the two armies were not very different in size.

The battle that ensued between the Christian and Muslim armies is generally known as the battle of Yarmūk and conventionally dated to the summer of 636.25 The battle of Yarmūk is, along with the battle of Qādisiya in Iraq, one of the major conflicts that has come to symbolize the Muslim victories in the Fertile Crescent. As with Qādisiya, the Arab accounts are extensive and confused and it is difficult to be clear about exactly what happened. There is no contemporary or reliable account from the Byzantine point of view. Both sides are said by the Muslim sources to have been inspired by religious zeal. As the Byzantines remained in their fortified camp, preparing for battle, ‘the priests, deacons and monks urged them on lamenting the fate of Christianity26 On the other side, Khālid b. al-Walīd addressed his men: ‘This is one of God’s battles. There should be neither pride nor wrongdoing in it. Strive sincerely, seeking God in your work, for this day also has what lies beyond it [i.e. the afterlife]’, and he went on to urge them to stick together and fight in unison.27

The River Yarmūk, a perennial watercourse, flows down from the plateau of the Hawrān to the Jordan valley, just south of the Sea of Galilee. In the course of its descent into the rift valley, it has gouged out a steep gorge, with high cliffs on each side. On the north side, it is joined by a number of smaller valleys, notably the Wadi al-Ruqqād. These steep ravines were to define the course of the battle and may have proved disastrous to the defeated when they attempted to flee from the scene. The actual site of the battle, between the Yarmūk gorge in the south and the Golan in the north, is a land of rolling, rocky hills, dotted with villages and farms. It was, in fact, good open country for cavalry manoeuvres, but it also provided some cover from rocks or trees for men to hide or set up an ambush. Since 1948 this site has been politically very sensitive, lying as it does on the border between Syria (north of the river), Jordan (south of the river) and the Israeli-occupied Golan. This has made access to the battlefield very difficult for historians. It was not always thus, however. Before the First World War, when the entire area was part of the Ottoman Empire, the battlefield was visited by the great Italian orientalist Leone Caetani, Prince of Sermoneta. He used his first-hand observations and knowledge of the Arabic sources to produce a geographical setting for the battle, which has formed the basis of the most plausible modern accounts.28

The battle of Yarmūk was a series of conflicts that probably lasted more than a month and culminated in a major battle towards the end of August.29 The first encounters took place in the Jābiya region, after which the Muslims retreated east towards Darca. There followed a period of waiting and skirmishing as the Byzantines prepared their army and tried to sow divisions in the Muslim ranks. It seems that the real fighting began when the Muslims feigned a retreat from their positions and lured elements of the Byzantine army into rough terrain, where they were ambushed. During the Muslim counter-attack, the Byzantine cavalry became separated from the infantry, enabling the Muslim cavalry to inflict great slaughter on the foot soldiers while the cavalry were making their way through the Muslim ranks.30 Khālid b. al-Walīd is said to have organized the Muslim cavalry in a ‘battle order which the Arabs had not used before’. He divided the cavalry into small squadrons (kards), between thirty-six and forty in number, apparently so that they would appear more numerous in the eyes of the enemy.31 The Byzantines may also have been unsettled by a dust storm. The main Byzantine force was now driven west and hemmed in between the rugged valleys of the Wadi’l-Ruqqād and Wadi’l 'Allān, with the cliffs of the Yarmūk gorge behind them. Any prospect of retreat to the west was destroyed when Khālid b. al-Walīd took the old Roman bridge across the Wadi al-Ruqqād, and Muslim forces went on to storm the Byzantine camp at Yāqūsa on the road to the Sea of Galilee. As the enemy pressed home their advantage, the Byzantine forces were further demoralized by rumours that the Christian Arabs had defected to the Muslims. Morale broke and the Byzantine forces lost all cohesion. There are reports of exhausted and dejected soldiers sitting down, wrapped in their mantles, lamenting the fact that they had not been able to defend Christianity and waiting for death.32 Others were driven down the cliffs into the wadis. The Muslims took very few prisoners.

Footnotes

4 Donner, Early Islamic Conquests, p. 119.

5 For this chronology, based on The Chronicle of 724 see Donner, Early Islamic Conquests, p. 126; Balādhurī, Futūh, p. 109.

6 ‘Doctrina Jacobi Nuper Baptizati’, ed. with French trans. V. Déroche in Travaux et Mémoires (Collège de France, Centre de recherche d’histoire et civilisation de Byzance) 11 (1991): 47-273, cap. V, 16 (pp. 208-9).

7 See N. M. El Cheikh, Byzantium Viewed by the Arabs (Cambridge, MA, 2004), pp. 39-54.

8 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, pp. 1561-2.

9 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, pp. 2108-25, Balādhurī, Futūh, pp. 110-12; Ibn Ath cam al-Kūfī, Kitab al-Futūh , ed. S. A. Bukhari, 7 vols. (Hyderabad, 1974), vol. I, pp. 132-42; al-Ya‘qūbī, Ta’rīkh, ed. M. Houtsma, 2 vols. (Leiden, 1883), vol. II, pp. 133-4.

10 See Donner, Early Islamic Conquests, pp. 119-27 for the best discussion.
11 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, pp. 2113-14.

12 P. Crone, ‘Khālid b. al-Walīd’, Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edn.

13 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, pp. 2097, 2114-15; Balādhurī, Futūh, p. 112.

14 This account is based on the chronology worked out by Ibn Ishāq and al-Wāqidi, two important eighth-century authorities, and described in Donner, Early Islamic Conquests, pp. 128-34. For alternative chronologies, see ibid., pp. 134-9 (Sayf b. Umar) and pp. 139-420.

15 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, pp. 2398-401.

16 Fredegar, The Fourth Book of the Chronicle of Fredegar with its Continuations, trans. J. M. Wallace-Hadrill (London, 1960), p. 55.

17 Sebeos, The Armenian History, trans. R. W. Thomson, with notes by J. Howard-Johnston and T. Greenwood, 2 vols. (Liverpool, 1999), I, p. 97.

18 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, pp. 2145-6, 2157.

19 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2152.

20 Balādhurī, Futūh, p. 121.

21 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2154.

22 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2393.

23 See, for example, Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2099.

24 W. E. Kaegi, Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests (Cambridge, 1992), p. 127.

25 Donner, Early Islamic Conquests, p. 133. Kaegi, Byzantium, p. 121, has the climax of the battle on 20 August without citing any sources.

26 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2091.

27 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, pp. 2091-2.

28 See L. Caetani, Annali dell’Islam (Milan, 1905-26), III, pp. 491-613, and the discussion in Kaegi, Byzantium, pp. 122-3, esp. n. 23.

29 The account that follows is based on Kaegi, Byzantium, pp. 119-22 and the map on p. 113.

30 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2099.

31 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2092.

32 Tabarī, Ta’rīkh, I, p. 2100.

Invasion Details from Donner (1981)

Donner (1981:112-130) provides more details of the early Islamic conquests.

PHASE 1: THE INVASION OF SYRIA

The great military campaigns into Syria that resulted in the definitive conquest of this much-desired area were initiated by Abu Bakr upon the completion of the Islamic conquest of Arabia.
...
the invasion itself begins with the dispatch of several sizable armies by Abu Bakr. This event is traditionally dated to the beginning of A. H. 13, but there is good reason to believe that it actually occurred in the autumn of A.D. 633/Rajab, A.H. 12.102
...
we must view with skepticism the too precise details of "eyewitnesses" who provide for us verbatim the supposed words of advice delivered to Abu Bakr by various individuals.103
...
Most sources agree that four commanders took a leading part in the initial invasion and in the campaigning of the first phase-'Amr b. al-'As, Yazid b. Abi Sufyan (replacing Khalid b. Sa'id), Shurahbil b. Hasana, and Abu 'Ubayda b. al-Jarrah. What cannot be determined from the traditional accounts is which of these commanders was dispatched first, and which ones went later as independent commanders or as reinforcements for one of the forces sent out earlier. On such questions of timing and interrelationship, the early authorities are in sharp conflict: thus al-Mada'ini states that Yazid's army was the first to depart, followed after a few days by Shurahbil and then by Abu 'Ubayda, and that 'Amr b. al-'As was sent last as a reinforcement to the other three;115 al-Waqidi, on the other hand, states that 'Amr b. al-'As was the first to depart, followed by Shurahbil and Yazid,116 and makes no mention whatsoever of a force under Abu 'Ubayda at this time.117 Other sources give even less consistent information.118 As the divergent accounts of various authorities cannot be harmonized, and as there is no particular reason to favor the relative chronology of any one authority over those of others,119 it is necessary to conclude simply that the four commanders were sent out, probably at roughly the same time, but in an order that cannot be determined
...
There is considerably more agreement among the sources, however, over the general direction in which the four commanders marched. 'Amr b. al-'As, according to most accounts, was directed toward Palestine. This was an area with which he was familiar from his commercial travels before the rise of Islam.123 He seems to have proceeded from Medina along the coastal caravan route known as the Mu'riqa road as far as Ayla, at the head of the Gulf of 'Aqaba.124 Ultimately he passed across the Negev (or perhaps even into the Sinai)125 and reached the villages of Dathin and Badan in the vicinity of Gaza, where he held negotiations with the military commander (bitriq, patricius) of Gaza. When the negotiations broke down, the Muslims became engaged in a skirmish with local forces in which the Muslims were victorious.126 'Amr's forces camped at a place called Ghamr al-'Arabat during this early campaigning;127 it was located in the middle of the Wadi 'Araba, between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of 'Aqaba.

The other commanders were dispatched to Syria, that is, to areas east of the Wadi 'Araba and the Jordan valley. Ibn Ishaq states that Yazid b. Abi Sufyan, Shurahbil b. Hasana, and Abu 'Ubayda marched via the Tabuk road toward the Balqa' district.128 Shurahbil had been in al-Yamama, in eastern Arabia, with Khalid b. al-Walid during the ridda wars and upon his return to Medina was sent out toward Syria by Abu Bakr;129 al-Mada'ini and al-Waqidi claim that he was sent to Jordan (that is, to the region south of the Balqa' and east of Wadi 'Araba).130 Sayfs authorities, on the other hand, state that he was appointed to al-Walid b. 'Uqba's former governorship over the outlying Quda'a tribes.131 This may be consistent with the opinion of al-Mada'ini and al-Waqidi if we assume that the tribes al-Walid b. 'Uqba had governed/resided in southern Jordan. Nothing more is heard of Shurahbil's activities during the first phase of the conquests, however, so it is impossible to verify his whereabouts.

Yazid b. Abi Sufyan appears to have been sent to the region of the Balqa', east and northeast of the Dead Sea.132 His route thither is not specified. At some point - whether on the way to the Balqa' or after he had reached it - he is reported to have sent a column of Muslims, commanded by Abu Umama al-Sudayya b. 'Ajlan al-Bahili, to a place called 'Araba in Palestine in order to break up a force of 5,000 Byzantine troops commanded by a certain Sergius, who appears to have come from Caesarea. In the resulting skirmish, Abii Umama's detachment was victorious and, according to Abu Mikhnaf, Abu Umama pursued the Byzantines to a place called al-Dabiya or al-Dubbiya where he again defeated them.133 The episode is rather obscure and seems to have been of minor importance.

As for Abu 'Ubayda, he was active in the Golan region to the east of Lake Tiberias and south of Damascus.134 It may have been during this first phase of campaigning that Abu 'Ubayda fought the inhabitants of a place in the Balqa' called Ma'ab, which then capitulated in return for a treaty with the Muslims.135

In sum, the great mass of textual material dealing with the first phase of the conquest in Syria reduces itself to a few very general facts. The activities of Khalid b. Sa'id cannot be ascertained, but we can feel certain that after Khalid b. Sa'id's appointment and dismissal as commander, four main commanders were active in Syria: 'Amr b. al-'As in southern Palestine, Shurahbil b. Hasana in Jordan, Yazid b. Abi Sufyan in the Balqa', and Abu 'Ubayda in the Golan. Which of them was in overall command, if any was at this stage, cannot be determined. 'Amr became engaged in some small skirmishes around Gaza, Yazid's forces, in some around 'Araba in Palestine, and Abu 'Ubayda, in some around Ma'ab in the Balqa'. At some point, furthermore, 'Amr b. al-'As took up a position at Ghamr al-'Arabat. But the relative chronology of the departure and campaigning of these commanders remains completely outside our grasp, and the general picture of the campaigning in the first phase of the conquests is a very spare one indeed.
...
there is a general consensus among the various authorities that the Islamic armies in Syria were dispatched from Medina in the first months of the year A.H. 13/early spring of A.D. 634.177
...
a passage in an anonymous Syriac chronicle of A.D. 724 that dates the first clash of the Muslims' armies with the Byzantines near Gaza to February of the year 945 of the Seleucid era,181 that is to February, A. D. 634/Dhu l-Qa'da, A.H. 12. This, too, at once requires that the departure of Islamic armies for Syria be set back several months. It is therefore plausible to conclude that these forces left Medina for Syria in the autumn of A.D. 633, first clashed with the Byzantines near Gaza in February of 634, demanded reinforcements from Abu Bakr shortly thereafter, and were reinforced by Khalid, who left Iraq in early April and reached the environs of Damascus at Easter, April 24, A.D. 634.182
...
After completing the conquest of Bostra, the commanders marched together toward Palestine, where they joined 'Amr b. al-'As, who was facing a large concentration of Byzantine troops commanded by "alQubuqlar" (cubicularius, chamberlain) at a place called Ajnadayn, described as lying between Ramla and Bayt Jibrin. The location has been identified by modern researchers with the ancient Yarmuth near Wadi al-Simt, twenty-five kilometers west-southwest of Jerusalem.189 The Byzantines reportedly sent out a bedouin of the B. Quda'a, probably a Christian, to serve as a spy on the Muslims - a perfectly plausible happening, even if the tale of his findings and his report to the Byzantine commanders is filled with legendary or imaginative devices designed to make it a better story. The battle at Ajnadayn - according to this reconstruction the first major one between the Muslims and a Byzantine army - was bitterly fought, and although the Byzantines were apparently routed and the Byzantine cubicularius himself reportedly killed, the Muslims' victory did not come easily, for several sources list the names of prominent early Muslims who fell as martyrs on the field of battle.190 The Muslims, who numbered about twenty thousand according to one source, were commanded by 'Amr b. al-' As, whereas the other generals active in Syria (Yazid b. Abi Sufyan, Shurahbil b Hasana, and Khalid b. al-Walid) were evidently present as subordinates.191 The battle took place, according to most accounts, on the 27th or 28th of Jumada I, A.H. 13/29 or 30 July, A.D. 634, according to others around 18 Jumada I, in Jumada II, or even in Dhu 'l-Qa'da of A.H. 13/January, A.D. 635. In any case but the last, it is generally supposed to have occurred during the last months of Abu Bakr's caliphate, and the news of the Muslims' victory is supposed to have reached him on his deathbed, in Jumada II, 13/ August 634.192
Footnotes

102. See Section 6 of this chapter on the chronology of the early campaigns.

103. E.g., Kufi I, 98; Ya'qubi II, 133; TMD I, 443ff. (I.I.).

115. Tab. i/2107-2108.

116. TMD I, 446. Other accounts of al-Waqidi simply list the three commanders without any indication of who proceeded first.

117. In this he is supported by one of WbM's accounts (TMD I, 453-454), by Bal. Put. 107-108, and by TMD I, 460 (Ya'qub b. Sufyan-h-Abu l-Yaman al-Hakam b. Nafi'-h-Safwan b. 'Amr 'Abd al-Rahman b. Jubayr).

118. Especially Kufi I, 98 and 103, who gives the four commanders as Abu 'Ubayda, Shurahbil b . Hasana, Yazid b. Abi' Sufyan, and Mu'adh b. Jabal. No early source mentions Mu'adh as a commander, but there is mention of him as a subordinate in Abu 'Ubayda's force some time later, after the conquest of Jerusalem (i.e., already in the third phase): TMD (Zah.) VII, fol. 381a (Abu Bakr b. 'Abdullah b. Miryam Salih. b. Abi Mukhariq). It therefore seems likely that he went to Syria, not as a commander, but as part of Abu 'Ubayda's army. Kufi 's omission of 'Amr b. al-'As may stem from the fact that 'Amr was sent to Palestine, whereas the other commanders were sent to areas east of the Jordan. Kufi mentions 'Amr's force later, considering it to have been a reinforcement for the armies sent out earlier - thus agreeing with al-Mada'ini. It is interesting that another later source, Abu Isma'il al-Azdi al-Basri's Futuh al-Sham, pp. 6-7, gives the same list of commanders as Kufi.

119. Most authorities, evidently themselves feeling unable to draw up a firm chronology from the data on the dispatch of the armies, simply state that Abu Bakr sent the four (or three) commanders to Syria, with no hint as to the sequence in which they marched: thus Ya'qubi II, 133; TMD I, 447 and 450 (Waq.); Bal. Fut. 107-108; Tab. i/2083-2084 (Sayf LT Sahl b. Yusuf LT al-Qasim b. Muhammad); Eutychius, Annales, 2, p. 9.

123. Ventures that took him to Egypt: Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam, Futuh Misr. p. 53; TMD (Zah.) XIII, fol. 246b ('Abd al-Wahhab b. al-Hasan-ak-Abu Hawsa' ­ s - Abu l-Qasim b. Sami').

124. Tab. i/2078 and TMD I, 449, 449-450 (I.I); Tab. i/2085-2086 (Sayf LT Hisham b. 'Urwa); TMD I, 446 (Waq.); cf. Yaqut, s.v. "al-Mu'riqa"; Bal. Fut. 108.

125. Philip Mayerson, "The First Muslim Attacks on Southern Palestine (A.D. 633-634)."

126. Bal. Fut. 108; TMD I, 461-462 (WbM); TMD (Zah.) XIII, fol. 257b (Waq.). Cf. Eutychius, Annales, 2, pp. 10-11; he calls the village Tadun and places the negotiations after the arrival of a large Byzantine army there. See also the anonymous Chronicum Miscellaneum ad Annum Domini 724 Pertinens, in Ernest Walter Brooks, Chronica Minora, 2, p. 1 48, which describes an engagement between the Byzantines and tayyaye east of Gaza.

127. Tab. i/2107 (I.I); Tab. i/2107-2108 (Mad.); cf. De Goeje, Memoire, pp. 22-24.

128. Tab. i/2078; TMD I, 449; TMD I, 449-450; Khalifa I, 86. Cf. Tab. i/2107; TMD I, 457 (mentions Yazid only); Bal. Fut. 108 (I.I. ?).

129. Tab. i/2110-2113 (Sayf LT MTMA).

130. Tab. i/2107-2108 (Mad.); Bal. Fut. 108 (Waq.). The comment in Tab. that Abii Bakr assigned a district (kura) to each commander-Palestine to 'Amr and 'Alqama b. Mujazziz, Jordan to Shurahbil, Damascus to Yazid, and Hims to Abu 'Ubayda - seems to come from Sayf b. 'Umar (cf. TMD I, 545) and reflects the situation in Syria somewhat later, after the battle of the Yarmuk. Mad. adds that some authorities think Shurahbil was sent to Bostra.

131. Dahiya Quda'a, i.e., presumably the more southerly tribes of Quda'a? Tab. i/2084-2085 (Sayf LT Sahl, Mubashshir and AU LT KU).

132. Cf. note 128 for I.I.; Tab. i/2107-2108 (Mad.); Bal. Fut. 108 (Waq.) has him going to Damascus.

133. The locations of 'Araba and al-Dabiya have never been ascertained. Caetani, Annali 11/2, pp. 1161-1171, tallies up an assumed identification of al-Dabiya with al-Dathina near Gaza (following Noldeke), and an account stating that 'Amr b. al-'As reinforced Yazid, to conclude that Yazid, like 'Amr, was active in southern Palestine rather than in the Balqa' district. Though this reconstruction is plausible, it is far from certain. We cannot be sure that 'Araba was the Wadi 'Araba and not some other place in Palestine, nor that al-Dabiya was in fact al-Dathina. Even if the latter identification is correct, the account may be a fragment describing the battle near Gaza that AM or his sources erroneously included in his synthesis of the events of Yazid's campaign. Finally, there is nothing to suggest that the battle took place before Yazid's forces reached the Balqa'; the statement that 'Amr reinforced Yazld could very well have originated in the later joint operations at Ajnadayn, and it is in any case contradicted by another account claiming that in cases of joint operations, 'Amr was to be in charge of prayer for the whole army, i.e. he was to command: TMD I, 447 (Waq.). Our object is not to dispose of Caetani's reconstruction as false, but to show that, though plausible, it is no more plausible than many other possible reconstructions one might create with the available data. Sources for this episode: Bal. Fut. 109 (AM and others); Tab. i/2108 (qalu); Theophanes, Chronographia, 1, p. 336. Cf. De Goeje, Memoire, p. 34; Mayerson, "The First Muslim Attacks," pp. 161-166. Theophanes is the source of the statement that the four armies were guided into Syria by Christian Arabs disgruntled with the Byzantine authorities for cutting off their stipend payments.

134. I.I. has all forces going to the Balqa'; Waq. does not mention Abu 'Ubayda going out at all; Mad. (in Tab. i/2107-2108) has him in al-Jabiya, the old Ghassanid capital, as does Kufi I, 132; Kufi I, 125 has him near Damascus. Note that he is later reported to have gone from al-Jabiya to Jerusalem to pray: TMD (Zah.) VII, fol. 381a. Caetani, Annali 11/2, pp. 1171 -1173, argues that Abu 'Ubayda was not present at all during the first phase of the conquests in Syria, and only arrived with the battles of Ajnadayn and Yarmuk; in his opinion, his presence was extrapolated back by eighth-century chroniclers wishing to diminish the apparent role of 'Amr b. al-'As and Yazld b. Abi Sufyan in the conquests because of their close ties to Mu'awiya, the first Umayyad caliph. Anti-Umayyad propaganda did circulate, but this seems farfetched.

135. Bal. Fut. 113 places it after the conquest of Bostra, i.e., in Phase II; cf. Yaqut, s.v. "Ma'ab"; Tab. i/2108 (Mad.?) makes it the first treaty in Syria and states explicitly that "it was a camp (fustat), not a city (madina)."

177. Mad. places the actual departure of troops in the beginning of A.H. 13 (Tab. i/2079); Bal. Fut. 107-108 puts it at Safar, A.H. 13; I.I. states that Abu Bakr first sent out his call for troops upon his return from the pilgrimage of A.H. 12, i.e., during the last days of that year, so the departure of troops would have been some time into A.H. 13 (Tab. i/2079; Khalifa, I, 86; TMD I, 441, 449, 449-450).

181. In Brooks, Chronica Minora II, 148.

182. This chronology is developed with variations by Caetani, Annali 11/2, pp. 1213-1220; De Goeje, Memoire, pp. 39-41; and Musil, Arabia Deserta, p. 563. Musil and Caetani refine it by attempting to resolve some of the apparent contradictions: Musil by contending that Rabi' and Safar in the accounts refer not to the months so named in the lunar year, but to the seasons spring and autumn, and Caetani by contending that notices of Abu Bakr's pilgrimage refer not to the hajj, but to the 'umra or lesser pilgrimage, which he made in Rajah, A.H. 12/ September-October, A.D. 633.

189. De Goeje, Memoire, pp. 50-61; Caetani, Annali III, pp. 22-24; Taha al-Hashimi, "Ma'rakat Ajnadayn: mata waqa'at, wa ayna waqa'at?"

190. These are collected by Caetani, Annali III, pp. 74-81. Cf. also Appendix A below.

191. Abu 'Ubayda, however, is not mentioned at the battle. This reflects Waq.'s conviction that he was only appointed upon the accession of 'Umar, which Waq. places after Ajnadayn.

192. Ajnadayn: Tab. i/2125-2126 (I.I.); Khalifa I, 87 (I.I.); TMD, 447, I, 482- 483 (Waq.); TMD I, 483 (SbA and Ibn Jabir); Ya'qubi II, 134. Cf. Bal. Fut. 113- 114; TMD I, 481 (Abu l-Hasan b. al-Fadl-ak-'Abdullah b.Ja'far-ak-Ya'qub); TMD I, 497 (WbM-h-al-Shaykh al-Umawi); TMD I, 484 (IL LT Abii l-Aswad LT 'Urwa); Tab. i/2126. TMD I, 480 dates both Ajnadayn and Fahl to Dhu l-Qa'da A.H. 13. Kufi I, 142-145 gives a different account.

Online Versions and Further Reading

Source Commentary

Sources for Theophanes, Michael the Syrian, and Agapius of Menbi - Conterno (2014)

In discussing sources for Theophanes, Michael the Syrian, and Agapius of Menbij (all thought to have been informed by Theophilius of Edessa), Conterno (2014:147) contributes:

One might be tempted to see in this common additional detail the proof of the derivation of information from the same written source, but we find the same comment associated with a very similar astronomical phenomenon in the Chronicle of Zuqnin, which is not supposed to be linked to the "circuit of Theophilus of Edessa“.
In the year 937 the stars of the sky fell and threw like arrows to the north, giving a terrible omen of the defeat of the Romans and the invasion of their lands by the Arabs, which actually happened to them after a short while, without delay.
As already mentioned, Hoyland observes that this type of news could easily migrate from one report to another. And as we have seen in the previous chapter, events of this type were recorded in the chronological lists linked to the city or ecclesiastical archives, lists that circulated in different versions and were used by chroniclers as a basis in compiling their chronicles. Furthermore, as in the case of Phocas' commentary on bloody politics, it may well be that multiple sources independently described an event that had been widely commented on and discussed by the people, and transformed, in collective memory, into a prophecy ex eventu.

Sources and textual variations of the Chronicle of Theophanes according to Mango and Scott (1997)

Mango and Scott (1997:lxxiv-xcviii) state the following about Theophanes' sources

SOURCES

Except for an indeterminate part of its final section the Chronicle of Theophanes can best be viewed as a file of extracts borrowed from earlier sources. These have been subjected in varying degrees to a process of abbreviation and paraphrase (see below, p. xciff.), but no attempt has been made to impose a stylistic uniformity to the resultant text. On the contrary, peculiarities of diction and style, from the archaic to the vernacular, that were present in the sources have, more often than not, been left untouched. An extreme case is provided by the borrowings from the iambic poems by George of Pisidia, many of which retain their metrical form. Unfortunately, this telltale diversity cannot be fully conveyed in translation and can only be sensed in the original.
...
It should be noted that, unlike the Syriac chroniclers, who are often scrupulous in naming their authorities, Theophanes hardly ever does so.
...
2. An eastern (Syriac) chronicle. Theophanes is unique among Byzantine chroniclers in his direct use of a foreign source, which makes up a major part of his narrative for the seventh and eighth centuries. The credit for proving this fact is due to E. W. Brooks,101 whose acute remarks admit of further elaboration thanks to the subsequent publication to texts not available to him, in particular the Chronicle of 1234 and Agapios of Membidj.

There can be little doubt that the source used by Theophanes (for the sake of simplicity we shall speak of a single source, although there may have been more than one) was a Greek translation of a chronicle written in Syriac. That this translation was made in the East is indicated, amongst other clues, by the use of Macedonian months, which was traditional in Syria—Palestine: these occur between 6126 and 6242. It is also evident that this source in its final form was a product of Melkite circles. It is difficult to determine its place of origin, since there are divergent pointers to Edessa, Antioch, Emesa, and Palestine. But even if the final redaction was Melkite, the source incorporated a good deal of material common to the Syrian Jacobite tradition, as represented notably by Michael the Syrian and the Chronicle of 1234.

The identification of the eastern passages (which, for the reader's convenience, we have distinguished by a different font) is not always beyond dispute. Setting aside some cases of overlap as early as the fourth century (discussed below), the passages in question start with the Persian invasion in the reign of Phokas (Am 6099), become more or less continuous from AD 630 onwards, and extend at least to AD 780.

If we wish to go further and try to identify Theophanes' eastern source, we find ourselves in deep waters. It is known that Michael's Chronicle (completed in 1195) was chiefly based for the period 582-842 (i.e. books x. 2I-xii) on that of Dionysios of Tel-Mahre, who is also acknowledged to have been the source of the Chronicle of 1234, the latter being independent of Michael. But Dionysios died in 845 and his Chronicle, which is lost except for a few fragments,102 could not, therefore, have been the source of Theophanes. The latter must have been already incorporated in Dionysios.

The next point to notice is that whereas Theophanes' eastern source extended to at least 780, his correspondence with Michael (as with Chr. 1234) stops in about 750, as already stressed by Brooks. The relationship of the various texts we have been discussing, setting aside Agapios, can, therefore, be expressed by the following schema:
Schema on the eastern source Schema for the 'eastern source'

Mango and Scott (1997:lxxxiii)

With regard to the postulated Chronicle of 750, it ought to correspond to the work of one of the six authors cited by Dionysios in his Preface, which is reproduced by Michael (ii. 358). Their respective claims have been examined by Brooks, who, after eliminating four of them as being too early, too late, or otherwise unsuitable, was left with two candidates, namely a certain John son of Samuel and Theophilos of Edessa, expressing a preference for the former. Since nothing whatever is known concerning John son of Samuel, we shall be none the wiser if we ascribe to him the Chronicle of 750. Theophilos of Edessa, who is specifically mentioned as a source by Agapios of Membidj (whose work belongs to the same nexus of sources),103 is a more attractive candidate. He was a Melkite, an 'astrologer', and a favourite of the Caliph al-Mahdi. In addition to his historical interests, he also translated the Iliad and the Odyssey into Syriac. He died in 785.104 Recently a detailed case has been made for Theophilos' authorship of the 'Chronicle of 75O,105 which may be accepted as a working hypothesis. That, however, still leaves open the identity of the eastern source for the period 750-80, which does not appear to offer any close parallels either with the Syriac tradition or with Agapios, whose published text breaks off in the second year of al-Mahdi (AD 776/7). One possible solution would be to suppose that whoever translated Theophilos into Greek wrote the post-750 narrative in addition to being responsible for a number of other entries in the pre-750 section, which, although of eastern derivation, are unique to Theophanes.
...
the Latin translation of Anastasius (also edited by de Boor)127 assumes considerable importance. This was made in Rome between 871 and 874 in the interests of John Immonides, who was then compiling his historico-ecclesiastical encyclopaedia.128 The Greek manuscript Anastasius had before him may have been acquired in the course of his mission to Constantinople in 869-70 and was probably similar in content to some of the extant Greek manuscripts, since it also included part of Synkellos and the Chron. syntomon of Nikephoros (like f and o). It was, however, of much better quality than the entire Greek tradition, except a and b. Unfortunately, Anastasius did not translate it in full: he made only short excerpts down to the death of Theodosios II, fuller ones to the death of Justinian I, but from the accession of Justin II (and even more closely from that of Maurice) he provided a full translation.

As long as it was believed that the oldest manuscript of Theophanes was not earlier than the late tenth century it was possible to speculate, in view of the undoubted superiority of Anastasius, that the chronicler's text underwent considerable deterioration between c.850 and 950. The view that de Boor's Theophanes was not the 'real' Theophanes was argued at length by a Russian clergyman, P. G. Preobranskij,129 who thought that the authentic text had to be reconstructed with the help of A[nastasius] as well as d = Paris. gr. 1710 (of which he had a much higher opinion than did de Boor) and later compilers, notably Kedrenos130 and pseudo-Symeon,131 who allegedly had access to a better tradition than we do. It was further suggested that the preserved Theophanes represented an inferior edition made at the time of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, who, undoubtedly, had a keen interest in the Confessor, as shown by the lengthy extracts he included in his De administrando imperio.132 Besides, Constantine believed that Theophanes was related to him through his mother Zoe.
...
The deterioration of the Greek text by comparison with Anastasius must, therefore, have taken place much earlier, towards the middle of the ninth century, that is as soon as it was published, and can best be explained on the assumption that the Chronicle enjoyed a wide diffusion from the start. The fact that the same scribe (or, at any rate, the same scriptorium) made two copies, c and o, seems to indicate something like mass production, which one may be tempted to localize in the monastery of Megas Agros. Palaeographically these two manuscripts belong to a much discussed group, which has been christened 'tipo Anastasio'.133 It may be worth noting that another important member of the group (Paris. gr. 1470 + 1476) has been attributed to Bithynia on the basis of its ornament,134 a conclusion that has been tentatively endorsed in a recent study.135 The chronicler George the Monk, who was probably active in the second half of the ninth century,136 used Theophanes in a version that appears to have been rather distinctive. At about the same time the Chronicle, including its Preface, was extensively plagiarized by the author of the Life of the probably imaginary St Theodore of Chora,137 a monastery which, incidentally, had close links with Palestine. Further research in this direction may prove fruitful.

In sum, we do not wish to claim that the text we have translated is the 'definitive' Theophanes. There may be room for further improvement of the text, but that can only be done in the context of a new edition, an undertaking that will require many years of labour.
Footnotes

101 BZ 15 (1906), 578-87. Cf. N. Pigulevskaja, JOBG 16 (1967), 55-60, for Theophanes' relation to Ps.-Dionysios. A useful survey of Syriac historical sources for the 7th cent. is given by S. P. Brock, BMGS 2 (1976), 17-36. See now also L. I. Conrad, ByzF 15 (1990), 1-44; R. Hoyland, 'Arabic, Syriac and Greek Historiography in the First Abbasid Century', Aram, 3 (1991), 217-39; Palmer, Seventh Century, esp. 96 ff. (by R. Hoyland).

102 An attempt to reconstruct it is made by Palmer, Seventh Century, III ff.

103 PO viii. 525

104 The Chronography of Gregory Abu 'l-Faraf . known as Bar Hebraeus, trans. E. A. W. Budge, i (London, 1932), 116. Cf. A. Baumstark, Geschichte der syrischen Literatur (Bonn, 192.2), 341-2. Note that Theophilos appears to have used the Byzantine era, since he calculated AG as starting in 5197 from Adam: Budge, 40 [39]; F. Nau, ROC 4 [1899], 327.

105 L.I. Conrad, The Conquest of Arwad' in A. Cameron and L.I. Conrad, eds., The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East, i (Princeton, 1992), 317-401.

127 Along with Theophanes, ii. 31 ff.

128 See G. Arnaldi, 'Anastasio Bibliotecario', Dizionario biogr. degli Italiani, iii (1961), 25-37, with further bibliography.

129 Letopisnoe povestvovanie sv. Feofana Ispovednika (Vienna, 1912). This work, which is not only very scarce but practically unreadable, was not well received. See critical review by F. Uspenskij, VizVrem 22 (1916), 297-304, and the somewhat more cautious one by E. W. Brooks, BZ 2.2 (1913), 154-5.

130 On whom see Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica, i. 273-5. The part of Kedr. that concerns us here is still only available in the uncritical Bonn edn. (1838).

131 The major part of this work, contained in cod. Paris. gr. 17I2, remains unpublished. See A. Markopoulos, [H Xpovoypaslita Tov greek text which did not trancribe well], diss. Ioannina, 1978, esp. 111 ff.

132 Notably DAI, 22.9 ff. and 25.3 ff.

133 E. Follieri, 'La minuscola libraria dei secoli IX e X', in La Paleographie grecque et byzantine, Colloques internat. du CNRS, 559 (Paris, 1977),144-5.

134 K. Weitzmann, Die byzantinische Buchmalerei des 9. and so. Jahrhunderts (Berlin, 1935), 40, 43.

135 L. Perria, 'La minuscola "tipo Anastasio" ', in G. Cavallo et al., eds., Scritture, libri e testi nelle aree provinciali di Bisanzio (Spoleto, 1991), i. 316.

136 See above, n. 34.

137 Ed. C. Loparev, De S. Theodoro monacho hegumenoque Chorensi, Zapiski Klass. Otd. Imp. Russk. Arkheol. Obsc;. I (1904), suppl. 1-16. Its dependence on Theophanes was demonstrated by T. Schmit, Kahriye Dzami, IRAIK II (1906), 9 ff., who supposed (p. 16) that the author of the Life used either a fuller redaction of Theophanes or one of the latter's sources.

Dependants of the lost work of Theophilius of Edessa - Hoyland (2011)

Hoyland (2011:4-20) discussed dependants of the lost work of Theophilius of Edessa.

HISTORIOGRAPHICAL BACKGROUND

Byzantinists tend to view the period from 630 to the 750s as a historiographical desert and speak of it as a 'long silence' or 'long gap'.4 This is in part because history-writing in the sixth century had enjoyed a considerable measure of vitality. All the three main genres were well represented: secular classicising history (Procopius, Agathias, Menander, John of Epiphaneia and Theophylact Simocatta), church history (Zosimus, John of Ephesus and Evagrius) and the world chronicle (John Malalas and John of Antioch).5 And it is also in part because there are almost no extant historical texts for this period; its events are of course charted by later historians, but the works they depend on do not in general survive.

Because of this historiographical dearth, it seems worthwhile to try and recover one text that was definitely composed at this time, the chronicle of Theophilus of Edessa, an astrologer in the Abbasid court in Iraq in the second half of the eighth century. It has become accepted of late to identify Theophilus’ chronicle with the so-called 'eastern source’, the existence of which had been postulated from the eighteenth century.6 This conclusion had been arrived at from careful comparison of three later Christian chroniclers: the Byzantine monk Theophanes the Confessor (d. 818), the West Syrian patriarch Dionysius of Telmahre (d. 845),7 and Agapius, bishop of the north Syrian city of Manbij (wr. 940s).6 The latter, who relies very heavily upon the ‘eastern source’ for the period 630-750s, states explicitly that he has drawn upon the ‘books’9 of Theophilus of Edessa:

Theophilus the Astrologer, from whom we took these accounts, said: I was myself a constant witness of these wars and I would write things down so that nothing of them escaped me He has many books about that and we have abbreviated from them this book. We added to it what we perceived to be indispensable, but we avoided prolixity.10
Dionysius of Telmahre also names Theophilus as one of his informants:
One of these writers (who wrote ‘narratives resembling ecclesiastical history’) was Theophilus of Edessa, a Chalcedonian who regarded it as his birthright to loathe the Orthodox (...)11 We shall take from the writings of this man some details here and there from those parts which are reliable and do not deviate from the truth.12
The fact that Theophilus of Edessa is indeed known to have penned ‘a fine work of history’13 has been regarded as proof positive that Theophilus is the author of the ‘eastern source’. The situation is a little more complex than this

THEOPHILUS' DEPENDANTS

I should emphasise at the outset that by using the term ‘dependants’ I do not mean that the authors below used Theophilus’ chronicle in a slavish manner. Indeed, one of the key conclusions to be drawn from the translation below is that while it is clear that Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius relied substantially on a single common source, they nevertheless felt free to creatively revise and reshape it, to abbreviate and reword it, and to supplement it with material from other sources.

I. Theophanes the Confessor (d. 818; writing in Greek)

Theophanes was born in 760 to noble and rich parents. His father, governor of the region by the Aegean Sea, died while his son was still young. As heir to extensive estates in Bithynia and a considerable fortune, Theophanes spent his youth in ‘hunting and riding’ and married a woman of comparable wealth. He entered imperial service with the rank of groom and was assigned the task of superintending the rebuilding of the fortifications at Cyzicus on the southern side of the Sea of Marmara. He would undoubtedly information on both Byzantine and Arab affairs. For the latter he is heavily dependent upon the ‘eastern source’ for the period 630-740s. Even after this date, however, Theophanes continues to narrate events occurring in Muslim-ruled lands, until ca. 780. Either he made use of another chronicle for these three decades or, more likely, he had at his disposal a continuation of the ‘eastern source’.27 The preponderance of material concerning Syria and Palestine suggests that the continuator was from that region.28 Most of the very few entries in Theophanes for the period 630-740s that are not from the ‘eastern source’ are also concerned with Syria and Palestine, so it is likely that this continuator was a redactor as well, inserting the occasional entry within the text of the ‘eastern source’.29 The addition of notices on the succession of the Melkite patriarchs of Antioch in the years 742-56 implies that this continuator/redactor was a Melkite clergyman. It is quite possible that it was George Syncellus himself who did this work. We know he was based in Palestine for a time, at one of the monasteries in the Judaean desert,30 and he specifically states that, in addition to the material of earlier historians, he added ‘a few events which happened in our own times’ (quoted in full above). This suggestion is not in the end provable, but it is plausible and is a very neat and economical solution.

When compared to Agapius and Dionysius, it becomes immediately apparent that the ‘eastern source’, as he appears in Theophanes, has been substantially abbreviated and his notices have sometimes been amalgamated, thus creating’ a causal link between events that seem originally to have been unconnected.31 This compression is probably a consequence of Theophanes’ bias for Byzantine affairs and should not be attributed to the continuator.32

2. Dionysius of Telmahre (d. 845; writing in Syriac)

Dionysius came from a wealthy and well-established Edessan family. He studied at the monasteries of Qenneshre and of Mar Jacob at Kayshum before being elevated to the position of patriarch of the West Syrian church in 818, which position he held until his death in 845.33 At the request of John, metropolitan of Dara, he consented to undertake what others, despite his exhortations, had declined to do, namely ‘to set down in writing for the generations which are to come the events which have occurred (in the past) and which are occurring in our own time’.34 The finished product was described by a later chronicler as follows:

He composed it in two parts and in sixteen books, each part containing eight books divided into chapters. He wrote it at the request of John, metropolitan of Dara. In this chronicle are included the times, a period of 260 years, from the beginning of the reign of Maurice - that is, from the year 894 of the Greeks (582) - until the year 1154 (842) in which there died Theophilus, emperor of the Romans, and Abu Ishaq (Mu‘tasim), king of the Arabs.35
This division into parts - one devoted to church history, the other to secular history - and books and chapters indicates a sophisticated approach that differs from that found in earlier Syriac historiography. In his preface Dionysius characterises his work as a pragmateia, a term used by classical writers to mean a treatise strictly and systematically formulated, and he distances himself from those who ‘composed their narratives in a summary and fragmented fashion without preserving either chronological accuracy or the order of succession of events’. In contrast to such writings, he says. Our aim is to bring together in this book everything which our feeble self is able, with God’s assistance, to collect, and to ascertain the accuracy (of each report) as attested by many persons worthy of credence, to select (the best version) and then to write it down in (correct) order’.36

Bar a few fragments, Dionysius’ achievement unfortunately does not survive.37 Much can, however, be recovered by comparing the writings of those who later drew upon it, notably the West Syrian patriarch Michael the Syrian (1166-99) and an anonymous Edessan chronicler of the early thirteenth century whose work is referred to simply as the Chronicle of 1234, since that is the year in which it stops.38 These two authors were compiling their chronicles within a decade of one another and yet would seem to have been working independently. Both explicitly cite Dionysius a number of times,39 and Michael implies that Dionysius was his only substantial source for the period 582-842. We can, therefore, be reasonably sure that every notice common to both writers in this period derives from Dionysius. However, neither of these two passes his oeuvre on to us intact; rather, they both add, omit, abbreviate, rephrase and reshape.40 Michael breaks up the text of Dionysius and distributes the material over three columns devoted to ecclesiastical affairs, natural phenomena and civil history. The Chronicle of 1234 has one continuous narrative until the time of Constantine and then divides its notices into secular and church history, relegating the latter to the end. Michael’s ecclesiastical column is extensive, but much of this is treated as civil history by the chronicler of 1234, whose church history is relatively small.41 It seems likely that Dionysius, given his position as patriarch, would have deemed his ecclesiastical history the more important and so given it greater space, but it is difficult to say for sure.

In the preface to his work Dionysius states that he would take from Theophilus of Edessa ‘only those parts which are reliable and do not deviate from the truth’. The reason for this proviso is the rivalry in their faith, Dionysius being a Miaphysite and Theophilus a Chalcedonian. In reality, however, Dionysius conveys to us more of Theophilus than either Theophanes or Agapius, albeit only through the filters of Michael and the Chronicle of 1234. Most of the notices in Michael’s civil history column for the period 630-750 have a counterpart in Theophanes and Agapius, and so most clearly represent Theophilus; but many of Michael’s notices on natural phenomena and almost all of the ecclesiastical reports derive from elsewhere.42 The Chronicle o f 1234 has often been thought to best preserve Dionysius, and so Theophilus. This is true to the extent that it often quotes Dionysius in full and does not break up the narrative structure into subject categories as Michael does. Yet on closer study it proves to be quite an eclectic work. For example, it dislikes short notices, preferring to have a paragraph’s worth before accepting a report. And for the Arab conquests and the first Arab civil war it turns to Muslim sources, not merely supplementing, but borrowing wholesale.43 Except for these two occasions, however, almost of all of its notices on civil affairs would seem to derive from Theophilus.

It is evident that Dionysius produced a comprehensive and carefully structured work. The church history takes centre stage, coming first and comprising a formidable array of documents; the secular history follows, smaller in size, but great efforts were made to assemble as much material as possible. The two parts, assigned eight books each, were then crossreferenced and otherwise linked by glimpses forward and flashbacks, and the whole was set forth in a fluid and florid Syriac diction.44 For Islamicists it is valuable as the best witness to Theophilus of Edessa’s chronicle and for revealing to us something of the life and conditions of the Christians, who still constituted a majority of the population of the Near East in Dionysius’ day.

3. Agapius, bishop of Manbij (wr. 940s; writing in Arabic)

The earliest manuscript of this author’s chronicle, Sinai Arab 580 of the late tenth century,45 assigns it the following title: ‘The book of history, the composition of Mahbub son of Constantine the Byzantine of Manbij, the title of which is (dedicated) to the man crowned with the virtues of wisdom, versed in the ways of philosophy, commended by the truths of knowledge, righteous and benevolent, Abu Musa ‘Isa son of Husayn.’46 Unfortunately we know nothing about the latter character and very little about Agapius (the Greek equivalent of Mahbub) himself beyond what is in the heading.47 His work begins with Creation and halts abruptly at the end of the reign of Leo IV (775-80), but he would seem to have continued until ca. 942, since at one point he states that ‘the kingdom of the Arabs’ has endured for 330 years.48 The work was known to the Muslim polymath Mas‘udi (d. 956), who deemed it one of the best books he had seen by the Melkites on history.49

Agapius has very little information for the years 630-750s that is not drawn from Theophilus of Edessa. The only other source that we can detect is a Muslim history, which is revealed from the occasional provision of a Hijri date or the full name of a Muslim authority, and also from notices such as who led the pilgrimage in certain years and who the governors were for a particular caliph.50 He would also seem to be dipping into it for certain events of key importance to the political life of the Muslims, especially their various civil wars.51 In addition, it may underlie his chronology, for most of his notices are dated according to the years of the reigning caliph. As regards his use of Theophilus, Agapius is rather erratic, sometimes quoting him at length, at other times abbreviating him considerably.

4. The Chronicle of Siirt (written in Arabic)

This text, so called because the manuscript was discovered in the town of southern Türkey bearing that name, narrates the history of the saints and patriarchs of the Nestorian church, and the principal events of the Roman, Persian and Arab empires that impinged upon it. Its interest for us is somewhat limited since the two volumes that contain the work are both defective at the beginning and end: it starts abruptly in 251, has a lacuna in the middle corresponding to the years 423-83, and halts mid-sentence in 650.52 It presumably began with Jesus, demonstrating the continuity of the Eastern Church with Christianity’s fount. How far it extended is less easy to say. The mention of place names such as Baghdad (founded in 762), Samarra (830s) and Jazirat ibn ‘Umar (founded by and named after Hasan ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab al-Taghlibi, d. ca. 865), and the reference to Mosul as the seat of a metropolitan (from 820s) take us to the late ninth century.53

Further indications can be gleaned from the sources that the chronicler names at intervals. The Ecclesiastical History of Daniel bar Maryam, a contemporary of the patriarch Isho‘yahb III (d. 658), is cited five times, and that of two other approximate contemporaries, Elias of Merw and Bar Sahde, are cited two and three times respectively. The works of the eighth-century theologian Shahdust, bishop of Tirhan, and the biographies compiled by the patriarch Isho‘ bar Nun (824—28) are each excerpted twice. And the Chalcedonian philosopher and physician Qusta ibn Luqa, who died some time in the reign of the caliph Muqtadir (907-32), is cited four times, bringing us into the tenth century.54 A terminus ante quem is given by the observation that Isho‘yahb III was the last head of the church to bear this name,55 which means that the work antedates the appointment of Isho‘yahb IV in 1020. The Chronicle of Siirt was, therefore, composed between 907 and 1020.

A source not cited by the chronicler is the work of Theophilus of Edessa. Unfortunately, since the Chronicle ofSiirt breaks off in 650, we do not have much material for comparison with Theophilus, but there are a few notices that reveal close correspondence: the pact between Heraclius and Nicetas to depose Phocas (AD 610), the rift between Khusrau and Shahrbaraz (ca. 626), Khusrau’s dispatch of Rozbihan against Heraclius (627), a sign in the sky ca. 634 and ‘Umar’s building activity in Jerusalem ca. 642 (all cited in the translation section below). However, for the first three notices, which occur before the Arab conquests, we cannot be sure whether they go back to Theophilus or to some other source that Agapius and Dionysius have in common, such as the Sergius of Rusafa whom Dionysius names as a source for this period (see below) and who may have been accessible to the chronicler of Siirt. The sign in the sky is a brief entry that is likely to travel easily between chronicles, so we are only left with the account of ‘Umar’s building activity in Jerusalem. This is quite close to the narratives of Theophanes, Agapius and Dionysius (see the entry thereon in the translation section below), but as a single notice it does not give us a sufficient basis for assessing how much and in what way the Chronicle of Siirt used Theophilus.

5. The Byzantine-Arab Chronicler of 741 (written in Latin)

This is a somewhat odd composition. Its content is as follows:

Spanish affairs (99c): six cursory references to Visigothic kings (§§1-3, 5, 9, 14). dated according to the Spanish era. from the death of Reccared in 602 to the accession of Suinthila in 621. The Spanish dating era is no longer used after 640. The conquest of Spain is only mentioned among other triumphs of Walid’s reign (§36), but there is an entry devoted to the battle of Toulouse in 721 (§42). Byzantine affairs (299c): brief notices on the emperors from the death of Phocas in 610 to the accession of Leo III in 717: only Heraclius receives any substantial treatment (629c of Byzantine notices; 18% of all notices). Arab affairs (629c): this is the major component of the chronicle and comprises entries on each ruler from Muhammad until Yazid II (720-24), giving the length and events of their reigns and often some personal description.
The initial references to Visigothic kings are drawn from Isidore of Seville’s History of the Goths, but it can hardly be regarded as a continuation of Isidore since it concerns itself thereafter only with eastern rather than western rulers. One might instead see the work as a continuation of John of Biclar’s Chronicle, which, as a contribution to the universal chronicle tradition, had a more eastern focus than Isidore’s history and ended in the reign of Reccared, with whose death the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle o f 741 begins. Moreover, both place the Byzantine emperors in a numerical scheme that goes back to Augustus. But the almost total absence of Spanish material, which John of Biclar does include in some measure, makes impossible any strict alignment with the Spanish historiographical tradition.56

The second distinctive feature of the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle of 741 is its favourable attitude towards the Arab caliphs, and not only towards the more renowned ones such as Mu‘awiya and ‘Abd al-Malik. Thus, though noting that he had little success in war, it characterises Yazid I as:
A most pleasant man and deemed highly agreeable by all the peoples subject to his rule. He never, as is the wont of men, sought glory for himself because of his royal rank, but lived as a citizen along with all the common people (§28).57
The chronicler evidently relies upon a Near Eastern source, and this must have been composed in Syria, since the Umayyad caliphs are each described in a relatively positive vein, all reference to ‘Ali is omitted, Mu‘awiya II is presented as a legitimate and uncontested ruler (§29) and the rebel Yazid ibn al-Muhallab is labelled ‘a font of wickedness’ (§41). Another chronicle from eighth-century Spain, the Hispanic Chronicle of 75458 also makes use of this Syrian source, and a comparison between the two Latin texts makes clear that it must have dealt with both Arab and Byzantine rulers - though the latter much more briefly - and was more extensive than either of its transmitters, both of which abbreviate it, at times substantially. One would expect this Syrian source to have been in Greek, since that was the usual language of exchange between east and west, and there are a few parallels between it and Byzantine chronicles.59 Yet as regards Arab rulers, no Greek source displays such a positive attitude towards them as the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle of 741. Dubler suggested it was written by a Spanish convert to Islam, but no Muslim would portray the rise of Islam as a rebellion, and surely no convert would refrain from passing some comment upon his newly adopted faith. The Syrian source of the Latin texts reports many of the same events and halts at the same point (ca. 750) as the common source of Theophanes, Agapius and Dionysius of Telmahre, and it is tempting to postulate that the Spanish chroniclers are dependent on a Latin translation of this common source. However, there are very few textual parallels60 (though this could just be because the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle is heavily abbreviating his Syrian source) and Theophanes, Agapius and Dionysius have much material not found in the Spanish texts.

A brief comment is required concerning the date of the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle of 741. The concluding notice is as follows:
Then Yazid, king of the Saracens, his fourth year having unfolded, departed from this life, leaving the rule to his brother, Hisham by name; and he determined that after his brother the one bom of his (Yazid’s) own seed, named Walid, should rule (§43).
This takes us only to 724 and no later event is narrated, nor is the length of Hisham’s reign given.61 It is because the entry on Leo III’s accession (in 717) contains the remark ‘he took up the sceptre for 24 years’ (i.e. until 741 ) that the text is associated with the year 741. But this suggests that the chronicler had intended to proceed further. The notices on Arab affairs in the Hispanic Chronicle of 754 carry on in much the same vein until ca. 750, concluding with the accession to power of the Abbasids, and it is simpler to assume that the author is still relying on the same Syrian source rather than to posit some other Near Eastern source for the period 724-50. It may be, then, that we have the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle o f 741 in a curtailed form and that it too originally continued until ca. 750.62

THEOPHILUS’ CHRONICLE

From a comparison of Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius it becomes immediately apparent that their notices for the seventh and eighth century follow a chronological order. A few are misplaced, but the intention was clearly to progress through history from some point in the past up until the author’s own day. Yet it is also evident from the frequency with which Dionysius and Agapius either begin a notice with ‘at this time’ or else disagree with each other on dating that Theophilus’ work was not annalistic and was indeed rather sparing with dates.63This is an important point, for modem scholars often rely upon Theophanes for ascertaining the date of an event. But it is because he is writing an annalistic work that he puts notices under specific years, not necessarily because these notices were dated in the sources he is using. And in the case of the notices on eastern affairs, Theophanes often had to place them just where he thought best.

...

Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius are clearly dependent on a common source from the notice on Abu Bakr’s despatch of four generals in 634 onwards. Before this time Theophanes is able to obtain fairly full coverage from Byzantine sources and only occasionally has notices in common with Dionysius and Agapius.

...

The last notice that Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius would seem to have in common concerns the manoeuvres of the caliph Marwan against Sulayman ibn Hisham and Dahhak the Kharijite in 746. Thereafter Theophanes begins to adduce new material, and we can conclude that this point marks the commencement of the activity of the continuator of the ‘eastern source’. Agapius and the chronicler of 1234 correspond very closely in their narratives - to the extent that one could often pass for a translation of the other - from 744 to 750, then a little less so until 754-55.67 Both conclude with an account of the revolt of ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Ali, uncle of the first Abbasid caliph Abu l-‘Abbas, against the latter’s brother, Mansur, who defeated ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Ali with the help of his general Abu Muslim and became the second Abbasid caliph.

THEOPHILUS’ SOURCES

There has been almost no study at all of what might have been the sources used by Theophilus. It is not an easy question to answer, since we have no direct clues and, as noted above, the period from 630 to the 750s is an obscure one in Eastern Christian historiography. Looking at the subject matter of the chronicle, we can see that there are three principal types of material: Byzantine (notices about Byzantine emperors and dealings with the Muslims from a Byzantine perspective, especially battle narratives), Muslim (notices about caliphs, military campaigns and civil wars) and disasters (plagues, earthquakes, famines, floods etc.) or signs in the sky (comets, eclipses etc.). Though no firm conclusions can be drawn as yet, it seems worthwhile advancing some tentative observations about this material in the hope that it will stimulate further research in this direction.

1. Byzantine material: the 'eastern source'?

There are frequent laments in modem scholarship about the lack of Byzantine writing on the Arab conquests, and yet Theophilus presents us with some quite lengthy and detailed notices on this subject: the battles with the Arabs (of the patrician Sergius; of Theodore, brother of Heraclius; and of the general Baanes), Heraclius’ farewell to Syria, the Arab conquest of Egypt, the Arab subjection of Syria and Mesopotamia, the Arab capture of Cyprus and Arwad, the naval battle of Phoenix, the failed rebellion of Shabur (supported by the Arabs) against Constans, the defeat of an Arab fleet in the 670s and successful Mardaite raids against the Arabs.75 One could assume that these battle narratives were a unit in themselves, an account of Arab-Byzantine clashes that ended on a positive note, a few Byzantine triumphs that held out hope for the future recovery of this Christian regime. Otherwise one might suppose that Theophilus received them already collated with all the rest of the Byzantine material, most obviously the notices on Byzantine emperors, and postulate that he had to hand a full Byzantine chronicle covering the period ca. 630-750s or ca. 590-750s.

I label these accounts Byzantine simply because they describe events involving Byzantine characters and would seem to take the Byzantine side rather than the Arab. Indeed, a number of the battle accounts were evidently selected because they constitute victories for the Byzantines (e.g. Phoenix, Shabur’s aborted revolt, the failed Arab naval advance on Constantinople and devastating Mardaite raids against the Arabs). Even with defeats, the tenor is pro-Byzantine; think, for example, of the image of the heroic patrician Sergius, who, having fallen off his horse, brushes aside offers of help from his soldiers, selflessly advising them rather to run and save themselves from the pursuing Arabs; or the loyal chamberlain Andrew who courageously stands his ground against the caliph Mu‘awiya and lectures him on the art of rule.76 Now the perspective of such narratives is rather at odds with Theophilus’ documentation of the third Arab civil war and the Abbasid revolution (743-54), where his interests would seem to lie almost wholly with the Muslim Arab government. It is entirely plausible, then, that Theophilus did have a Byzantine chronicle at his disposal, and that he simply supplemented it and brought it up to date with material drawn from the Muslim sphere. I would also venture to suggest that we should identify this Byzantine chronicle with the aforementioned ‘eastern source’ and so dissociate it from Theophilus, if only for the practical purpose of trying to identify the latter’s Byzantine source(s).77

Since Theophilus was highly accomplished at translating from Greek into Syriac, as noted above, it is tempting to assume that this ‘eastern source’ was in Greek, and there are some hints from Theophilus’ dependants that this might have been the case.78 But since Syriac was replete with Greek vocabulary and a high proportion of educated Syriac-speakers were competent in Greek, it is extremely difficult to demonstrate that a Syriac text is definitely derived from Greek, especially if, as here, one no longer has the original Syriac text. Who might have been the author of this ‘eastern source’? He was without doubt a Chalcedonian, which would explain his pro-Byzantine leanings, but probably from the Levant rather than from a Byzantine-ruled region, for many of his notices, such as those about the sabotage of the Arab fleet in Tripoli and the encounter between Andrew and Shabur at the court of Mu‘awiya, even if pro-Byzantine, reveal a fair degree of familiarity with what was happening in Muslim-ruled lands. One possible candidate is the aforementioned George Syncellus. We know, from his own admission, that he was intending to write a world chronicle up to his own day, and it was only ill health that prevented him from completing it past the reign of Diocletian (285-305). Possibly the latter portion (305-813) was more complete than is usually supposed, even if still a little rough and not properly edited.79 We would then have to look for another continuator of the ‘eastern source’, since it is unlikely that a copy of George’s chronicle, halting at ca. 743, would have gone to Theophilus while another copy, which he extended to ca. 780, went to Theophanes.80 Another possible candidate for the authorship of the ‘eastern source’ is John son of Samuel, whom Dionysius describes as ‘of the western country’ (i.e. somewhere in the Levant, most likely the Mediterranean coastal region) and whom he places among those who wrote ‘narratives resembling ecclesiastical history’.81 This is the same category that Dionysius uses for Theophilus of Edessa, which both strengthens the argument (i.e. their styles are compatible) and weakens it (would not Dionysius have noticed if Theophilus was heavily reliant on John, though would he have said so if he did?)

A final matter that requires consideration is whether this ‘eastern source’ reached Theophanes, Dionysius and Agapius only via Theophilus of Edessa or by means of an intermediary. The former scenario seems most likely for Agapius and Dionysius, but it is possible that the ‘eastern source’ reached Theophanes independently, via someone who extended it until 780 (and translated it into Greek, if it was originally written in Syriac rather Aan in Greek). This and all questions to do with the authorship and nature of the ‘eastern source’ will, however, remain highly speculative until more work has been done on them, but it is interesting to observe that there was considerably more Byzantine history writing at this time than is usually allowed for.

2. Muslim material

Comparison between Theophilus and the Syriac Chronicle of 819, written by a monk of Qartmin monastery in northern Mesopotamia, reveals a number of close textual correspondences in quite a few of the notices on Muslim affairs and natural phenomena (listed in Appendix 2 below). It is not totally impossible that the Chronicle of 819 was using Theophilus, but the two works have many notices that they do not share and they have a very different character,82 and so it is much more likely that they are independent of each other, but have a common source, and this is evidently a Syriac chronicle that went up to the 730s, the point at which they cease to have any shared notices. It has been argued that this common source is John of Litarb (d. 737),83 a stylite monk living in early eighth-century northern Syria. We still have the remnants of a lively correspondence that took place between John, Jacob, bishop of Edessa (d. 708), and George, bishop of the Arabs (d. 724), and he seems to have been a major Christian intellectual of early Islamic Syria.84 His spiritual master, Jacob of Edessa, wrote a Eusebian-style chronicle up to 692, and it is reported that John continued it up to the time of his own death.86 The only potential problem with this is that Dionysius remarks that ‘part of his (John of Litarb’s) book is conveyed (hmil) in this book (of mine)’,86 and so he would effectively be using John twice (directly and via Theophilus of Edessa), though this is not impossible.87

One important aspect of this common source of Theophilus and the Chronicle of 819 is that it draws our attention to how and in what form information about Muslim affairs circulated among Christians of the Near East. The items these two texts share (listed in Appendix 2 below) are particularly concerned with caliphs, and indeed it is the reigns and deeds of caliphs and their opponents that make up the bulk of the Muslim Arab material found in the various Christian chronological texts for the period ca. 630-750s. Should we think of one single ‘history of the caliphs' (a sort of Liber calipharum) on which all Christian chronicles relied or of a multiplicity of them?88 On the one hand the material in Christian chronicles does follow a fairly standard pattern and they share the same basic contents. Yet on the other hand each chronicle possesses details that are not in the others. For example, the Byzantine-Arab Chronicle of 741 and the Chronicle of 819 have very different notices on Walid I:

Walid succeeded to power, (taking up) the sceptre of rule of the Saracens in accordance with what his father had arranged. He reigned for 9 years. (He was) a man of great prudence in arranging his armies to the extent that, though destitute of divine favour, he crushed the strength of almost all the neighbouring peoples adjoining him. He debilitated Byzantium in particular with constant raiding, brought the islands to the point of destruction and tamed the land of India by raids. In the western regions, through a general of his army by the name of Musa, he attacked and conquered the kingdom of the Goths established in Spain with ancient solidity, and having cast out their rule he imposed tribute. So, waging all things successfully, he (Walid) gave an end to his life in the ninth year of his rule, having already seen the riches of all the peoples displayed to him. (Chron Byz-Arab 741, §36)

A devious man, who increased the exactions and hardships more than all his predecessors; he completely wiped out robbers and bandits; and he built a city and called it ‘Ayn Gara. (Chron 819, 14)
A recent article by Sean Anthony examined the account of the assassination of ‘Umar I in Theophanes, Agapius and Dionysius and compared it with a number of Muslim depictions of this event, concluding that the latter served as the basis for the former.89 Because Anthony just takes the one incident and does not deal with these texts as a whole, he assumed that it was Dionysius who inserted the Muslim material, since Theophanes and Agapius had much shorter notices. However, the latter two authors very commonly abbreviate Theophilus and there are enough similarities between their and Dionysius’ account (see the translation below, under the year 644) to make it clear that all three are using, whether directly or indirectly, a common source. But was this common source Theophilus or an author that he was drawing upon; to put it another way, was Theophilus responsible for incorporating the Muslim material in his work or was he reliant upon a chronicle that had already done this work for him?90 Since he worked as an astrologer at the Abbasid court, it is very likely that he spoke and read Arabic and he would have been in a good position to procure Arabic books. It is certainly plausible, then, that we should regard him as the one who made all of this material on the Muslim regime available to later chroniclers.

At this point, however, one should note that there are two quite distinct types of Muslim material in Theophilus: the fairly short and simple notices on individual caliphs up to and including Hisham (724-43), which are pithy and unconnected, and the very full and detailed account of events from 743-54, which is presented as a continuous narrative and includes causal explanations. The former could travel orally and so, though they might derive ultimately from a Muslim source, could be picked up by a Christian writer who was not intimately familiar with Muslim affairs or writings. The latter presume deep acquaintance with Muslim politics and very likely with Muslim historical texts.91 When Theophilus says, in the words of Agapius cited above, that ‘I was myself a constant witness of these wars’, one assumes that it is to the events of 743-54 that he is referring, and it is this section that I would almost certainly attribute to Theophilus’ own hand. How much of the earlier Muslim material, on the succession of the caliphs, he put together and how much he simply took over from an earlier author is a question that cannot at present be answered.

THE CIRCULATION OF HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE IN LATE ANTIQUITY AND EARLY ISLAM

One reasonably sure conclusion that could be inferred from the above discussion is, first, that a lot more historical material was circulating between the Muslim and Christian communities than is usually assumed92 and, secondly, that there was already a fairly advanced tradition of Muslim history-writing by the mid-eighth century. We get a hint of the former point from one of our earliest Christian caliphal histories (composed ca. 724—25), which is little more than a list of caliphs and their time in office, but which would appear, from its use of the lunar calendar93 (Yazid II died in AH 104-05) and of Arabic technical terms (rasull‘messenger’ and fitnal'civil war’), to derive from an Arabic original:

A notice of the life of Mhmt the messenger (r...ä)94 of God, after he had entered his city and three months before he entered it, from his first year; and how long each king lived who arose after him over the Muslims once they had taken power; and how long there was dissension (ptnâ)95 among them.
  • Three months before Mhmd came.96
  • And Mhmd lived ten years (more).
  • And Abu Bakr son of Abu Quhafa: 2 years and 6 months.
  • And ‘Umar son of Kattab: 10 years and 3 months.
  • And ‘Uthman son of ‘Affan: 12 years.
  • And dissension after ‘Uthman: 5 years and 4 months.
  • And Ma‘wiyä son of Abu Syfan: 19 years and 2 months.
  • And Yazid son of Ma‘wiya: 3 years and 8 months.
  • And dissension after Yazid: 9 months.
  • And Marwan son of Hakam: 9 months.
  • And ‘Abd al-Malik son of Marwan: 21 years and 1 month.
  • Walid bar ‘Abd al-Malik: 9 years and 8 months.
  • And Sulayman son of ‘Abd al-Malik: 2 years and 9 months.
  • And ‘Umar son of ‘Abd al-‘Aziz: 2 years and 5 months.
  • And Yazid son of ‘Abd al-Malik: 4 years and 1 month and 2 days.
The total of all these years is 104, and 5 months and 2 days. (Chron 724,155)
What can we say about the second conclusion, namely that there was already a fairly advanced tradition of Muslim history-writing by the mid-eighth century? At this time we can observe two different styles: compilations of anecdotes on a particular topic, such as ‘The Campaigns of the Prophet’, ‘The Battle of Siffin’, ‘The Murder of Hujr ibn ‘Adi’ and ‘The Life of Mu‘aw iya'97 and year-by-year lists of holders of high office and notable events.98 Gradually these two genres began to influence each other. There was an increasing emphasis on giving some chronological order to narratives of early Islam;99 conversely and coincidentally, there was a move to flesh out lists compiled from government records that had been kept since probably the reign of Mu‘awiya (661-80),100 and that could include caliphs, governors, judges, leaders of the pilgrimage, commanders of the summer and winter campaigns into Byzantine territory, and so on.101 Names of those who had fallen in battle may also have been inscribed since they had a bearing upon the distribution of stipends.102 Then, in the early ninth century, we begin to get our first chronicles (ta'rikh ‘alä l-sinin): those of al-Haytham ibn ‘Adi (d. 822) and Abu Hassan al-Ziyadi (d. 857), and, our first extant example, that of Khalifa ibn Khayyat (d. 854).103 In these, and especially in the ‘History of the Prophets and Kings’ of Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 923), we see a full marriage between historical narratives and official annals.104

It is not impossible that Muslim historians hit upon using an annalistic style of presentation independently,105 but since the technique has a considerable pedigree in the Middle East, it is worth examining the possibility of borrowing from the other cultures existing in the region. There is no firm evidence of Iranian authors producing annalistic writings;106 neither did Nestorians until Elias of Nisibis (d. 1050).107 Annalistic techniques were, of course, deployed by writers in the Greco-Roman tradition as far back as Thucydides, who was himself probably confirming the practice of individual cities before him. Any direct influence upon the Arabic tradition seems unlikely, however, given the conspicuous absence of Arabic translations of Byzantine historical works.108 Moreover, the Eusebian tradition of chronography in Greek appears to have faltered after the efforts of Panadorus and Anianus in the fifth century,109 and Greek historical writing as a whole sank into the doldrums with the onset of Arab rule, as noted above. On its re-emergence in the late eighth and early ninth century, it does evince an interest in precise chronological narrative, as is exemplified by the chronicle of Theophanes, but an indebtedness to some Syriac or Arabic model is readily apparent.110

West Syrian history-writing, on the other hand, suffered far less disruption.111 The royal annals of Edessa inspired a subsequent episcopal tradition of annalistic record-keeping, of which we find extracts in chronological works of the mid-sixth and mid-seventh century.112 At monasteries such as Qenneshre and Qartmin in northern Mesopotamia, the tradition was continued until the time of Dionysius of Telmahre, who gave it new vigour.113 After the fashion of Eusebius, ‘other men charted the succession of years, namely Jacob of Edessa and John the stylite of Litarb’, as noted above. Language constituted no barrier to exchange between Syrian and Arab cultures. Many Arabs, Muslim as well as Christian, knew Syriac, and West Syrian Christians made use of Arabic very early on as a language of scholarship.114 So if one were to posit extraneous rather than indigenous origins for the annalistic form in Muslim historiography, then it is to the West Syrian historical tradition that one should look.

It is worth emphasising, in conclusion, that the lines between Christian and Muslim were not drawn so rigidly as often tends to be assumed, either in terms of definitions or in terms of social relations. It is true that Christians living in the Byzantine realm were to a large degree insulated from contact with Muslims, but for those living under the latter's rule it was a different story. The claim of the Mesopotamian monk John bar Penkaye that ‘there was no distinction between pagan and Christian, the believer was not known from a Jew’ may be exaggerated,115 but it is nevertheless instructive. The initial indifference of the Muslims to divisions among the peoples whom they conquered, when compounded with the flight and enslavement of an appreciable proportion of the population and with the elimination of internal borders across a huge area extending from north-west Africa to India, meant that there was considerable human interaction across social, ethnic and religious lines. This was especially true for those who sought employment in the bustling cosmopolitan garrison cities of the new rulers, where one was exposed to contact with men of very diverse origin, creed and status. In addition, there were the widespread phenomena of conversion and apostasy, of inter-confessional marriage and festival attendance, of commercial contacts and public debate, all of which served to break down sectarian barriers.

An excellent illustration of this point is the author of the chronicle that I translate in this volume, Theophilus of Edessa. He began his life in Edessa, the key city of Syriac Christianity, yet ended up in Baghdad, the heart of the early Abbasid Empire. He advised Muslim caliphs on astrological affairs and his scientific writings were appreciated by later Muslim astrologers, but excerpts from them also entered into a Byzantine astrological corpus. He translated works of Galen and Homer into Syriac, but seemed also to be comfortable with writing a history of Muslim caliphs and rebels in the Near East. Theophilus cannot, therefore, be viewed as simply a Christian who writes under Muslim rule; he is evidently a highly educated man, still influenced by the traditions of Antiquity as well as cognisant with the culture of his employers.

None of this is to say that religious affiliation did not count for a great deal; it obviously did. But it did not exert, in some predictable fashion, an all-encompassing power to direct patterns of social relations in such a way as to prevent external influence or positive response to that influence. Religious specialists of the various confessions in the Near East might well have wished that this were the case, but the region was and remained too diverse in terms of culture, ethnicity, history, language and so on for that ever to happen.

Footnotes

4 Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 340. 348. For a survey of what history was being written in the late sixth and early seventh centuries, and a consideration of why it was curtailed, see Whitby. ‘Greek Historical Writing after Procopius'. See also my Seeing Islam, ch. 10, which I draw upon here.

5 For the historiography of this period see Croke and Emmett, History and Historians in Late Antiquity, ch. 1; Croke, ‘Byzantine Chronicle Writing'; Treadgold. Early Byzantine Historians. chs. 6-9; Debié. L'écriture de l'histoire en syriaque.

6 See especially Conrad. ‘The Conquest of Arwad* (Conrad, ‘Theophanes', 5-6, refers to earlier literature), and Bomit. Entre Mémoire et Pouvoir. 143 η. 52. Howard-Johnston. Witnesses, 192-236. assesses the worth of Theophilus. but without discussing its composition/transmission. Shortly before 1 was due to submit this book, I was put in contact by Glen Bowersock with a student of his, Maria Contemo, who was about to submit a PhD thesis on the ‘eastern source', but we decided, since we were both at a very advanced stage in our respective projects, that it would be better to complete them independently. Maria's work will undoubtedly be an important re-evaluation of the 'eastern source'.

7 Though not extant, Dionysius’ work is heavily drawn upon by Michael the Syrian (d. 1199) and the anonymous chronicler of AD 1234 (see the sections dealing with these two authors below).

8 Brooks, ‘Theophanes and the Syriac Chroniclers’; Becker, ‘Eine neue christliche Quelle'; Conrad, ‘Theophanes’, 43. Manbij is the Arabic name of the city; the Syriac name is Mabbug and it was known to Greek-speakers as Hierapolis.

9 Arabic kutub, a quite general term that one could also simply translate as ‘writings'.

10 Agapius, 525. The wars in question are those between the Arab dynasties of the Umayyads and the Abbasids, and Agapius wants to add weight to his narrative by noting that it derives from an eyewitness. However, that Theophilus' ‘many books’ dealt with Christian as well as Muslim history may be inferred from Dionysius' remark that Theophilus’ writings sometimes misrepresented the Miaphysites.

11 For Eastern Christians the question of orthodoxy/heresy mostly turned on the problem of Christ’s nature. The Miaphysites (or Monophysites; Copts in Egypt, Jacobites in Syria) wished not to dilute the divinity of Christ and so insisted on one divine nature, the human and divine elements having fused at the incarnation. The Nestorians (or East Syrian Christians), found chiefly in Iraq and Persia, wanted to hold on to the very comforting fact that Christ had become a human being like us and to avoid saying that God had suffered and died, and so stressed two distinct natures, a human and a divine. Trying desperately to eschew the two extremes of denial of Christ's humanity and dualism, the Chalcedonians (or Melkites). who represented the imperial position, postulated two natures, united but distinct. Each group would tend to refer to themselves as the Orthodox. Though important in their own right, these confessional divisions were also bound up with regional, ethnic and linguistic affiliations. See further Atiya. Eastern Christianity and Meyendorff. Eastern Christian Thought.

12 Michael the Syrian (henceforth Msry) 10.XX. 378/358: se below for further discussion of this passage.

13 Bar Hebraeus. CS, 127; MD, 220.

27 It does not seem likely that the ‘eastern source’ itself continued until 780, for the chronicles of Agapius and Dionysius no longer share any notices with Theophanes after the 740s.

28 See Appendix 1 below; Brooks, ‘Theophanes and the Syriac Chroniclers’, 587; Conrad, ‘The Conquest of Arwad’. 336-38.

29 E.g. Theophanes, 328 (Heraclius visits Tiberias), 335-36 (battle of Mu’ta), 348 (death of Thomas, bishop of Apamea, and the burning of the bishop of Hims), 412 (Iraqis burn the markets of Damascus).

30 Thus regarding Rachel's tomb situated between Jerusalem and Bethlehem he says (Chronographia. 122 [trans. Adler and Tuffin, 153]): ‘In my journeys to Bethlehem and what is known as the Old Laura of blessed Chariton I personally have passed by there frequently and seen her coffin lying there on the ground’. See also Mango, ‘Who Wrote the Chronicle of Theophanes?', 13 n. 16; Huxley, ‘Erudition', 215-16.

31 E.g. Theophanes, 365 (‘Abd al-Malik’s minting of coins and Justinian’s breaking of the peace), 399 (earthquake in Syria and Umar U’s banning of wine).

32 It was probably Theophanes too who chose to compress the account of the Arab-Persian confrontation into one short notice.

33 Abramowski, Dionysius von Telmahre, discusses the Church and its relationship with the state in Dionysius' time and also Dionysius' own contribution as patriarch.

34 Msyr 10.XX, 378/358 (Dionysius' preface).

35 Msyr 12.XXI, 544/111.

36 Msyr 11.XVIII, 454/487-88. This is a literal rendering; the translation of Palmer. WSC. 94-95, makes it clearer; ‘Weak as I am, my aim is as follows: To collect with the help of God whatever information I can find and to put it all in this book in good order, selecting the most reliable version of events attested by the majority of trustworthy witnesses and writing them down here in the correct sequence.’ For more detailed discussion of the format of Dionysius' chronicle see Conrad, ‘Syriac Perspectives'. 28-39; Palmer. WSC, 85-104.

37 These fragments are edited and translated by Abramowski, Dionysius von Telmahre, 130-44. A few brief citations from Dionysius are also given by Elias of Nisibis, 1.174-80 (AH 138, 140, 142, 146. 152-53)

38 For these two authors and their chronicles see Chabot's and Fiey’s introduction to their translations of Michael and the Chronicle of 1234 respectively, and most recently Weltecke, 'Les trois grandes chroniques syro-orthodoxes’.

39 Chron 1234. 2.17-20, 257. 267; for the numerous references of Michael to Dionysius see Conrad. ‘Syriac Perspectives'. 30 and n. 87 thereto.

40 At different times each will have a longer account than the other; since historical information about the seventh and eighth centuries was scarce, it is unlikely that either was able to add new details, so they must both at times be abbreviating. An example of how they both rework Dionysius is given by Brock, ‘Syriac Life of Maximus’. 337-40, and it is made very clear in my translation below.

41 E.g. Cyrus' part in the conquest of Egypt, the Jews' removal of crosses from the Mount of Olives and the appearance of a false Tiberius (see translation below). Though there are occasions when the reverse is true; e.g. the notice on the Arab attack on the convent of Simeon the Stylite is in the ecclesiastical part of Chron 1234. 2.260, but in the civil section of Msyr 11. VI. 417/422.

42 Michael also reports a number of censuses, seemingly not drawn from Theophilus: e.g. ca. 668 Abu l-A‘war made a census of Christian labourers/soldiers for the first time (Msyr 11 .XII, 435/450); in AG 1009/698 ‘Atiyya made a census of foreigners (Msyr 1 l.XVI, 447/473; Chron 819, 13).

43 This is important to note; I had myself, taking over received wisdom that the Chronicle of 1234 accurately represented Dionysius (e.g. Palmer, WSC, 102: Ί assume that the Chronicle of 1234 preserves Dionysius faithfully'), accepted that the Arabic material was inserted by Dionysius (see Hoyland. ‘Arabic. Syriac and Greek Historiography'). However, since not a single item of it is found in Michael, this cannot be so and must have become included in the Chronicle of 1234 at a later date.

44 See Palmer. W5C. 85-89. for references and further discussion.

45 See Gibson. ‘Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts*. 123-24; Atiya, The Arabic Manuscripts of Mount Sinai. 23.

46 The Bodleian manuscript (Hunt 478 dated 1320) misses out a few words of the title, giving simply: ‘The book of the title crowned...' (Kitâb al-‘unwän al-mukallal...) and this is how the work has come to be known (i.e. as the ‘Book of the Title'/Kitâb al-'Unwân).

47 Such information as we do have about him is collected by Vasiliev, ‘Agapij Manbidjskij'; see also Graf, GCAL. 2.39—41. and Nasrallah. Mouvement littéraire dans l'église melchite 2.2, 50-52.

48 Agapius. 456. The year AH 330 corresponds to 941 -42: this is equated by Agapius to AG 1273. but a marginal note says ‘it is wrong*, and indeed it should read AG 1253.

49 Mas‘udi. 154.

50 E.g. Agapius. 474 (‘Umar replaced Khalid with Abu ‘Ubayda as commander of Syria), 476 (‘Umar appointed Abu ‘Ubayda over Egypt in addition to Syria), 477 (‘Umar named Mu‘awiya governor of Syria in place of Abu ‘Ubayda). 483 (‘Uthman led the pilgrimage in the eighth year of his reign), 485 ( ‘Abdallah ibn ‘Abbas led the pilgrimage in the year of ‘Uthman’s murder). 487 (Mu'awiya's governors), 488 (Marwan ibn al-Hakam led the pilgrimage, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As died). Also the notice on Mu‘awiya's capture of Rhodes, which adds details to Theophilus' account, may derive from this Muslim chronology (see Conrad, ‘Arabs and the Colossus', 173).

51 It is, however, very difficult to determine the content of Theophilus* account of the first civil war, since his dependants each have very different accounts (see the entry thereon in the translation below).

52 On the manuscripts of this work see Degen, ‘Zwei Miszellen zur Chronik von Se'ert'. 84-91.

53 Fiey, ‘Isho‘denah et la Chronique de Séert', 455: note that the text of Muhammad’s pact with the Christians of Najran was said to have been discovered in AH 265/879 (Chron Siirt C il PO 13,601).

54 References and further literature on each are given by Sako. ‘Les sources de la Chronique de Séert’, where other minor sources are noted, though not Theophilus of Edessa.

55 Chron Siirt LIV. 460.

56 See Diaz y Diaz, ‘La transmision textual del Biclarense', 66-67: Wolf, Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain, 1-10 (John of Biclar). 11-24 (Isidore of Seville), 25-42 (Chron Byz-Arab 741).

57 There is some parallel here with the short biographies of caliphs given by Muslim histories at the end of a ruler’s reign; e.g. Tabari, 2.1271 : ‘In the view of the people of Syria, Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik was the most excellent of their caliphs. He built mosques - the mosque of Damascus and the mosque of Medina - and set up pulpits, was bountiful to the people and gave to the lepers, telling them not to beg from the people. To every cripple he gave a servant and to every blind person a guide. During his rule extensive conquests were achieved: Musa ibn Nusayr conquered Andalus, Qutayba conquered Kashgar and Muhammad ibn al-Qasim conquered Hind.’

58 This chronicle is much more straightforward. It follows in the footsteps of John of Biclar. for the scope of both is Mediterranean-wide but with an Iberian focus, and both treat matters ecclesiastical and secular. The author, an Andalusian cleric, generally disparages the emirs of Spain and makes clear his antipathy towards the invaders: ‘Even if every limb were transformed into a tongue it would be beyond human nature to express the ruin of Spain and its many and great evils’ (§45). See Pereira, Crônicon mozarabe de 754; Barkai. Cristianos y musulmanes en la Espana medieval, 19-27; Collins. Arab Conquest of Spain, 57-65; Wolf, Conquerors and Chroniclers of Early Medieval Spain, 28-45.

59 Parallels are indicated and sources discussed by Dubler. ‘La cionica arabigo-bizantina de 741, 298-333, who, however, exaggerates both the similarities with other chronicles and the number of sources that would be circulating in Byzantium and Spain in the seventh century. In the opinion of Nöldeke, ‘Epimetrum’, the Syrian source was composed in Greek by a Miaphysite of Syria. An additional argument in favour of a Greek intermediary is the similarity in the rendering of Arab names between the two Latin texts and a short chronology of AD 818 in Greek (Schoene, Eusebi chronicorum libri duo. Appendix IV).

60 As opposed to notices on the same subject; such textual parallels as do exist are presented in the translation below.

61 Collins. Arab Conquest of Spain. 55, infers that the text must date to 744 or that the final notice was added later, not realising that the accession of Walid II after Hisham (d. 743) was pre-arranged by Yazid II. Collins’ discussion of the text (53-57) is nevertheless very helpful.

62 Though the observation that ‘it is a descendant of the son of the latter (Marwan ibn al-Hakam) who holds their leadership up till now in our times’ (§31) suggests that the chronicler is writing while the Marwanids are still in power, unless the reference is to the fact that Spain was governed by a descendant of Marwan.

63 Theophilus may have proceeded by simply narrating events, arranging his entries in chronological order as far as possible and occasionally giving synchronisms after the fashion of Eusebius; e.g. ‘In the year 34/35/37 of the Arabs, 10/13 of Constans and 9 of ‘Uthman. Mu'awiya prepared a naval expedition against Constantinople’ (Theophanes. 345; Agapius. 483; Msyr 1l.XI, 430/445; Chron 1234, 274).

67 It is not impossible that Agapius is using Dionysius directly, or a transmitter/continuator of Dionysius, but he does state explicitly that he is citing the actual writings of Theophilus (see above).

75 For these narratives see the translation below under the years 634-36 (Sergius/Theodore/ Baanes). 636-40 (Heraclius’ farewell; capture of Egypt. Syria and Mesopotamia), 649-50 (Cyprus and Arwad), 654-55 (Phoenix), 666-67 (Shabur), ca. 672 (defeat of Arab fleet) and 677 (Mardaites).

76 See the relevant notices in the translation section below, under the years 634 and 666-67. Speck. Geteilte Dossier. 170. takes this as an indication that the 'eastern source’ was in Greek, which is possible (see next paragraph), but not cogent, for Syriac-speaking Chalcedonians of Palestine and Syria could also be expected to have held such a position, especially in the early decades of Muslim rule.

77 One could go so far as to make the ‘eastern source'/Byzantine chronicle the principal source and Theophilus no more than the author of an addition on the third Arab civil war/ Abbasid revolution, but Dionysius makes clear that Theophilus wrote a full chronicle and that it must have treated Christians as well as Muslims, since it contained what Dionysius considered to be pejorative remarks about Miaphysites (‘His presentation of all events involving one of our number is fraudulent': Palmer. VV5C. 92). Though one could argue that both chronicles were available separately to Theophanes. Dionysius and Agapius. it is easier to explain how these three authors record much the same events in much the same order if we think of one overall chronicle (nevertheless combining a number of different sources) that was available to all three of them, whether directly or indirectly, and that they supplemented with different materials.

78 E.g. Sergius’ characterisation of the eunuch Andrew as ‘neither man nor woman nor ’wd’t’rws (= Greek oudeteros)'. Heraclius’ Greek farewell to Syria/sosou Syria, and the pun in Emperor Constans’ dream about Thessalonica/thes allo nikën before the battle of Phoenix, though one could also argue that the Greek is there for literary effect. See also Speck. Geteilte Dossier, 52-53, 169-71, 185-87, 499-502 and 516-19, and n. 59 above, and notes 242. 261-63,272, 276, 342, 392, 402-3, 682 and Appendix 1 n. 17 in the translation below.

79 This is effectively the view of Speck, Geteilte Dossier, esp. 516-19, though he sees George’s work as a loose dossier rather than a complete text. Cf. Huxley, ‘Erudition’, esp. 216-17. Palmer, WSC. 95. notes that Dionysius includes a certain George of Ragtaya in his review of past chroniclers and suggests this could this be George Syncellus.

80 Though Speck does argue for this, postulating a second dossier.

81 I would myself prefer to identify Dionysius' John bar Samuel with John of Antioch, since Dionysius does seem to be presenting the key exponents of the various genres, and John of Antioch fulfilled such a position for the Christian world chronicle. Dionysius mentions a John of Antioch, but this almost certainly intends John Malalas. On these two figures see Treadgold, Early Byzantine Historians, 311-29, 235-56.

82 The Chronicle of 819 principally presents the history of the monastery of Qartmin. drawn from the latter's archives, and then mostly brief notices on local church affairs, natural disasters / phenomena, and the Muslim caliphs. See further Palmer, WSC, 75-84, and Palmer, ‘Chroniques brèves’. Brooks. ‘Sources of Theophanes', was the first to draw attention to this common source.

83 Palmer, ‘Chroniques brèves', 70 and 79.

84 We have sixteen letters of Jacob to John (see my Seeing Islam, 741) and four letters of George to John (Wright, Catalogue, 2.988: on George see Tannous, Between Christology and Kalam).

85 Msyr 10.XX, 378/358: ‘Others charted the succession of the years, namely Jacob of Edessa and John of Litarb'.

86 Msyr 1 l.XX, 461/500, unless Michael himself is speaking here.

87 If we want to assume that Dionysius' list of chroniclers in his introduction is a pretty comprehensive guide, then John son of Samuel is still an unknown and we could select him as our candidate for this common source (and not identify him with John of Antioch, as I suggested above), but of course the very fact that he is an unknown means that this does not advance our knowledge very much.

88 Note that Elias of Nisibis cites two anonymous sources on Muslim history: a "chronicle of the kings of the Arabs' and a "chronicle of the Arabs' (Borrut, "La circulation de l' information historique'. 145): unless both titles refer to the same source.

89 ‘The Syriac account of Dionysius of Tel-Mahre on the assassination of "Umar ibn al-Khattab.'

90 Could, for example, the ‘eastern source’ have included Muslim as well as Byzantine material? In this case Theophilus would have done no more than add material on the third Arab civil war and the Abbasid revolution to a very full chronicle that covered Muslim and Byzantine politics up to ca. 743.

91 See the example I give in n. 876 in the translation section below, on the massacre of the Umayyads, where there is almost word-for-word equivalence with the account of the Muslim historian Ya‘qubi.

92 For some interesting thoughts along these lines see Conrad, ‘The Mawâli. See also Figure 1 below

93 The total given at the end of the list, 104 years and 5 months and 2 days, only works if one counts in lunar years: Yazid II died in AH 104-5/724, but 104 solar years would take one into AD 727.

94 A later hand has tried to erase this word, which is clearly meant to be Arabic rasüll messenger’.

95 This represents the Arabic word fitna. which denotes civil discord.

96 The ‘three months before Mhmt came’ presumably refers to the interval between the beginning of the Islamic calendar on 16 July 622 and the date of Muhammad’s arrival in Medina on 24 September 622. See Tabari, 1.1255-56, where it is explained that though Muhammad’s emigration to Medina is the starting point of Muslim chronology, the fact that he made it in the third month of the year means that ‘year 1 ’ begins 2 1/2 months earlier.

97 These and other examples are given in Faruqi, Early Muslim Historiography, 214-302. Compare the extant work on the ‘Battle of Siftin' by Nasr ibn Muzahim al-Minqari (d. 828). Moreover, Mourad, ‘Al-Azdi’, has recently shown that the ‘Conquest of Syria' by Abu Mikhnaf al-Azdi (d. 774) substantially survives in the work of its later redactors, such as Abu Isma‘il al-Azdi (d. ca. 820). See also Elad, ‘Beginnings of Historical Writing'; Borrut. Entre Mémoire et Pouvoir.

98 The earliest that we can discern is by Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri (d. 742), who served the Umayyad regime in various departments of their administration. On him see Duri. Historical Writing, 95-121, and see 115-16 for his list of the reigns of the caliphs.

99 Jones, ‘The Chronology of the Maghâzi (that is, of the campaigns of the prophet Muhammad).

100 Papyri, inscriptions and coins suggest that an effective Umayyad administration was in place at a very early date; see Donner, ‘The Formation of the Islamic State'.

101 Rotter, ‘Abu Zur‘a al-Dimashqi’; Schacht. Origins, 100 (on the early provenance of Kindi's lists).

102 See Tabari, 1.2496 (on ‘irafat). Sellheim (‘Prophet, Chalif und Geschichte', 73-77) and Schacht (‘Müsä ibn ‘Uqba’, 288-300) have discerned name-lists as a discrete element in Muhammad's biography.

103 Duri, Historical Writing, 53-54 (Haytham); Sezgin, GAS, 316 (Abu Hassan); Schacht in Arabica 16 (1969), 79f. (Ibn Khayyat).

104 That is, between akhbär and ta'rikh: see further Crone, Slaves, introduction. On early Islamic historiography in general see Donner, Narratives: Robinson, Islamic Historiography: Howard-Johnston, Witnesses, 354-94.

105 It could, for example, originate in pre-Islamic practice; cf. Tabari. 1.1254: ‘When they dated an event, they did so from the like of a drought which occurred in some part of their country, a barren year which befell them, the term of a governor who ruled over them, or an event the news of which became widespread among them' The cataclysmic nature of the hijra could have served to halt the constant revision of termini a quo by furnishing the ultimate point de repère.

106 Spuler, ‘The Evolution of Persian Historiography’, 126-32; Christensen, L'lran sous les Sassanides, 59ff. But see Morony, Iraq after the Muslim Conquest, 564-65 (’Sasanian royal annals’).

107 Nestorians seem to have favoured a biographical arrangement of material; cf. the anonymous Chronicle of Khuzistan and the Chronicle of Siirt (see bibliography).

108 Steinschneider. Die arabischen Übersetzungen aus dem Griechischen, fails to signal any.

109 The Chronicon Paschale. which goes up to 630, is obsessed with chronological computations. even coming up with its own system, but does not seem to have enjoyed wide circulation or influence.

110 Mango, ‘The Tradition of Byzantine Chronography’. 363-69.

111 Both the Chronicle of 819 and the Chronicle of Zuqnin have a gap for the years AG 976-88/664-77 (Palmer, WSC. 59 and 77), but a number of notices on natural phenomena shared by Theophanes, 353-55. and Msyr 11 .XIII. 436/456-57, show that there was still some activity.

112 Debié. ‘Record Keeping and Chronicle Writing in Antioch and Edessa’.

113 For example, the work of earlier authors is clear in the Chronicle of 819 (Palmer. ‘Chroniques brèves’, and Brooks. ‘Sources of Theophanes and Syriac Chroniclers’).

114 Griffith. ‘Stephen of Ramla and the Christian Kerygma in Arabic in Ninth Century Palestine’. For a later example of such sharing of historical ideas see Borrut, ‘La circulation de l’information historique’.

115 John bar Penkaye, 151/179. I expand upon this point in the first two chapters of my Seeing Islam.

Archaeoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Qasr Tilah possible Haynes et al. (2006) examined paleoseismic and archeoseismic evidence related to damage to a late Byzantine—Early Umayyad birkeh (water reservoir) and aqueduct at Qasr Tilah and concluded that left lateral slip generated by several earthquakes cut through a corner of the reservoir and aqueduct creating displacement of the structures. They identified 4 seismic events which produced coseismic slip on the Wadi Arava fault and led to a lateral displacement of 2.2. +/- 0.5 m at the northwest corner of the reservoir (aka birkeh) and 1.6 +/- 0.4 m of the aqueduct. The first seismic event was dated to the 7th century. Haynes at al (2006) suggested it was caused by either the Sword in the Sky Quake (633/634 CE) or the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 AD - favoring the Jordan Valley Quake. There was a repair after this 7th century destruction indicating that the site was occupied when the earthquake struck. Because of the repair, it is unclear how much lateral slip was produced (or even if there was lateral slip ?). At some point the site was abandoned. Haynes et al (2006) noted that archeological evidence at the site indicates that it was abandoned and was not occupied past the Early Umayyad Period (661-700 CE). They also noted that
MacDonald (1992) [] collected some Byzantine and Umayyad surface potsherds at the site and documented ruins of Byzantine houses (village) along the fan surface of Wadi Tilah.
If the repair fixed a problem caused by lateral slip rather than generalized destructive shaking, the slip would indicate that part of the Araba fault broke during this event.
Petra - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Petra - Petra Theater possible Jones (2021:3 Table 1) reports a second potential seismic destruction of the Theater in Phase VII noting that the Phase VII destruction of the Main Theatre is difficult to date, as the structure had gone out of use long before. Jones (2021:3 Table 1) suggested the late 6th century earthquake ( Inscription at Areopolis Quake) or the mid-8th century earthquake (e.g. earthquakes observed in the Qatar Trench in the South Araba by Klinger et al, 2015) as candidates.
Petra - Jabal Harun possible ≥ 6 Phase 6 destruction was dated to the 1st half of the 7th century CE by Mikkola et al (2008). Destruction was inferred based on rebuilding evidence in Phase 7. No unambiguous and clearly dated evidence of seismic damage was found. Mikkola et al (2008) also noted a change in liturgy in Phase 7 which could have also been at least partly responsible for the rebuild.
Petra - The Petra Church possible ≥ 8 Fiema et al (2001) characterized structural destruction of the church in Phase X as likely caused by an earthquake with a date that is not easy to determine. A very general terminus post quem of the early 7th century CE was provided. Destruction due to a second earthquake was identified in Phase XIIA which was dated from late Umayyad to early Ottoman. Taken together this suggests that the first earthquake struck in the 7th or 8th century CE and the second struck between the 8th and 16th or 17th century CE.
Bet Sh 'ean possible Tsafrir and Foerster (1997:143-144) dated a seismic destruction event to the 7th century CE. The event caused the destruction of Silvanus Hall; all the columns in the southwest part of the hall were found collapsed in the same direction, in a way that leaves no doubt about the cause of the destruction. They suggested it was likely that the same earthquake caused the collapse of the porticoes of the Byzantine agora, the portico of the sigma, and most probably the columns of Palladius Street.
Jerash - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Jerash - Umayyad House possible Gawlikowski (1992:358) reports that the Umayyad house was built on level ground after an earthquake. Construction was well dated by the numismatic findings. Earthquake destruction is inferred based on rebuilding evidence.
Jerash - Macellum probable ≥ 8 Uscatescu and Marot (2000:283) dated seismic destruction of the Macellum to at the latest to the second quarter of the seventh century based on pottery and coins. The seismic destruction layer was found in a sealed and undisturbed context and is well-dated. Uscatescu and Marot (2000:281) report extensive destruction [] well evidenced by the fallen vaulted and tiled roofs and collapsed walls; a huge collapse that reaches a thickness of more than two and a half metres,and was composed by voussoirs, tiles, ashlars, architraves, column shafts, capitals and other architectonic elements.
Jerash - Temple of Zeus possible ≥ 8 Rasson and Seigne (1989) identified partial roof collapse of a cistern over Layer 2. The cistern was hermetically sealed and abandoned after the earthquake. Layer 2 was dated by ceramics to the Umayyad period and overlying Layer 1 contained ceramics dating up to the 1st half of the 8th century CE. This suggests a 7th century CE earthquake damaged the cistern. Gawlikowski (1992:358) reports archaeoseismic evidence in the 7th century CE at the Temple of Zeus which suggests a June date and points to the June Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 AD instead of the September Sword in the Sky Quake of 633/634 CE
A recent discovery by J. Seigne []: the collapse of the vaulted corridor of the lower terrace of Zeus buries under the rubble a herd of goats; the age of a kid indicates that the cataclysm took place in May-June and moreover a Byzantine currency with an Arab countermark indicating the beginning of Muslim government (Seigne, unpublished report of 1984, kindly communicated by the author).
Jerash - Hippodrome possible ≥ 8 Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020) dated a possible earlier earthquake to the 6th-7th century CE based on observed damage which could have been due to an earthquake or human agency (stone dismantling). Ostrasz and Kehrberg-Ostrasz (2020:36) favored an earthquake interpretation.
Heshbon possible ≥ 8 Walker and LaBianca (2003:453-454) uncovered 7th century CE archeoseismic evidence which they attributed to the Jordan Valley Quake of 659/660 CE from an excavation of an Umayyad-period building in Field N of Tall Hesban. They report a badly broken hard packed yellowish clay floor which was pocketed in places by wall collapse and accompanied by crushed storage jars, basins, and cookware. Storage jars and basins and cookware were dated in the field to the transitional Byzantine-Umayyad period.
Tell es-Samak/Tel Shiqmona possible but unlikely and debated ≥ 7 Barzilay (2012) interpreted flexed stone structures as a consequence of a 7th century CE earthquake and estimated a local site Intensity of VII or higher. Excavator Torge (personal communication, 2021) attributed the deformations to the active clay soil. Taxel (2013:79-80) also cast doubt on the possibility that the site was damaged by an earthquake leading to it's abandonment.
Pella possible Blanke and Walmsley (2022) and Walmsley (2007) described extensive archaeoseismic evidence, some of which appears to be based on rebuilding evidence, for a 7th century CE earthquake at Pella. The Battle of Fahl (aka Pella) was fought near Pella around 634 or 635 CE.
Monastery of Euthymius possible Hirschfeld (1993:354) inferred that the monastery was destroyed by a 7th century earthquake based on rebuilding evidence. Reconstruction was dated to the 2nd half of the 7th century apparently based on the early Muslim period style of construction. The Maronite Chronicle states that the Monastery of Euthymius was destroyed by an earthquake in A.G. 971 (660-661 CE) along with the dwellings of many monks and solitaries. See Textual Evidence section for more details.
Monastery of Khirbet es-Suyyagh possible 9 UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Caesarea possible needs investigation
Khirbet al-Niʿana possible 7th century CE earthquake - Taxel (2013:178-179) noted the following about archaeoseismic evidence in Khirbet al-Niʿana
Excavation of the western fringes of the inhabited area (the results of which were only preliminarily published) show no clear evidence for occupation ater the mid-seventh century. According to the excavator (Torge, 2010)
The site was largely abandoned at the beginning of the Umayyad period and most of the masonry stones were plundered. The signs of destruction and burning may point to its destruction in the earthquake of 633 CE.
Unfortunately, however, the basis for this dating was not provided in the report.
Mount Nebo needs investigation
Ein Hanasiv possible - needs investigation Karcz et. al. (1977) list archeoseismic evidence (oriented collapse, alignment of fallen masonry) in Ein Hanasiv in the 7th century AD based on Vitto (1975).
Giv’ati Junction possible - needs investigation Baumgarten (2001) excavated a round pottery kiln at Giv'ati Junction dated to the 4th-7th century CE (Shmueli, 2013). Langgut et al (2015) report that four fired Late Roman Amphora (similar to those at Yavne) "were found inside the kiln’s collapsed firing chamber" covered by a thick layer of aeolian sand. Langgut et al (2015) noted that while "the excavator suggested that the kiln was destroyed during operation, possibly due to some technical fault, and was consequently abandoned (Baumgarten 2001)", Langgut et al (2015) believe an earthquake should also be considered as a cause of destruction.

Shmueli (2013) excavated Stratum III in a rectangular building (L109, L119) at Giv'ti Junction in 2011 where, on the floor, they found three Gaza jars which were set upside down (Fig. 4) and broken. A fourth jar was found upright but also broken. Based on numismatic finds, they dated the beginning of the settlement to the fourth or fifth century CE. Construction and use of the rectangular building was dated to the fifth to seventh centuries CE. In the seventh century the installation and building went out of use.
Avdat/Oboda possible ≥ 8 A terminus post quem for a 7th century CE earthquake was established from the latest inscription found at the site in the Martyrion of St. Theodore (South Church) in 617 CE (Negev 1981: 37) (Erickson-Gini, 2014). Erickson-Gini (2014) noted that there was massive destruction evident throughout the site, and particularly along the western face of the site with its extensive caves and buildings (Korjenkov et al., 1996). Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999) uncovered extensive archeoseismic effects from the earthquake and estimated an Intensity of 9 - 10, posited that destruction was caused by a compressional seismic wave, and located the epicenter SSW of Avdat somewhere in central Negev. Discontinuous Deformation Analysis of the bulges in the Roman Tower of Avdat by Kamai and Hatzor (2005) leads to an Intensity Estimate of 8 - 10. A Ridge Effect is likely present at Avdat

Mizpe Shivta possible Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that this site in the Negev suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.
Mezad Yeruham possible Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that this site in the Negev suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.
Shivta possible ≥ 8 UNDER CONSTRUCTION - There is ambiguity whether there is evidence for one or two post Byzantine earthquakes at Shivta. On the western perimeter of Shivta in Building 121, Erickson-Gini (2013) found evidence of earthquake induced collapse of the ceilings and parts of the walls which she dated to possibly in the Middle Islamic period after the site was abandoned at the end of the Early Islamic period. Collapsed arches were also found. The arches appear to be in a crescent pattern and both collapsed structures are aligned N-S. Erickson-Gini (2013) discussed dating of the structure is as follows:
The excavation revealed that the structure was built and occupied in the Late Byzantine period (fifth–seventh centuries CE) and continued to be occupied as late as the Early Islamic period (eighth century CE). The structure appears to have collapsed sometime after its abandonment, possibly in the Middle Islamic period.
Dateable artifacts in Room 2 came from the Late Byzantine period and the Early Islamic period (eighth century CE). Erickson-Gini (2013) discussed earthquake chronology further indicating that there is either a dating discrepancy or that there were two Post Byzantine earthquakes.
Revetment walls present around the North Church and buttressing the western wall of Building 123 (Hirschfeld 2003) are indications that some damage to the site took place in the Late Byzantine period, probably in the early seventh century CE when the neighboring site of ‘Avdat/Oboda was destroyed in a tremendous earthquake. However, the excavation of Building 121 points to a later event, possibly in the Middle Islamic period, which caused the collapse of the ceilings and parts of the walls sometime after the site was abandoned at the end of the Early Islamic period.
A site effect at Shivta is unlikely due to a hard carbonate bedrock. Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimate Intensity of 8 -9 with the epicenter a few tens of km. away and to the WSW
Rehovot ba Negev possible ≥ 7 Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) identified an earthquake which they beleive struck in the 7th century CE. Rehovot ba Negev appears to be built on weak ground. There is a probable site effect present as much but not all of Rehovot Ba Negev was built on weak ground (confirmed by A. Korzhenkov, personal communication, 2021). Hence, the Intensity estimate has been downgraded from 8 to 7. Korzhenkov and Mazor (2014) estimated an Intensity of 8-9 with an epicenter to ESE.
Saadon possible ≥ 7 Erickson-Gini (2018) reports that The [Southwestern] church was heavily damaged and subsequently repaired in the mid-7th century CE and continued to be used for several years in the Umayyad period (mid-7th - 8th centuries CE). A `wine-press' hewn along the bedrock shelf on the northeast bank of Nahal Sa'adon was apparently broken by the same seismic event. Damage observations reveal that walls aligned in a WNW direction were damaged.
Nessana possible Erickson-Gini (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that Nessana suffered seismic damage in the 7th century CE - sometime after 620 CE.
Mamphis possible ≥ 8 The 2nd earthquake at Mampsis suffers from dating ambiguities and a chronological debate between Negev (1974:412, 1988) and Magness (2003). Considering all possibilities of this debate leads to a date between the 5th and 7th centuries CE. Korzhenkov and Mazor (2003) estimated an Intensity of 9 or more with an epicenter to the SW.
Haluza possible ≥ 8 Second earthquake. Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) discussed chronology of the second earthquake.
The Early Arab – Second Ancient Earthquake

Negev (1976:92) suggested that a strong earthquake caused the final abandonment of Haluza. He summed up his observations at one of the excavated courtyards:
Voussoirs of the arches and extremely long roof slabs were discovered in the debris, just above the floor. It seems that either the destruction of the house occurred for a very short time after its abandonment or the house had to be abandoned because of its destruction by an earthquake.
Korjenkov and and Mazor (2005) noted that while the Sword in the Sky Quake of 634 CE destroyed Avdat 44 and ruined other ancient towns of the Negev 45, archeological data demonstrate that occupation of the [Haluza] continued until at least the first half of the 8th cent. A.D.46. This led them to conclude that one of the mid 8th century CE earthquakes was a more likely candidate. Unfortunately, it appears that we don't have a reliable terminus ante quem for the second earthquake. Korzhenkov and Mazor (1999a) estimated a minimum Intensity of 8-9 with an epicenter a few tens of kilometers away and an epicentral direction to the NE or SW - most likely to the NE
Aqaba/Eilat - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Aqaba/Eilat - Aila possible 7 Thomas et al (2007) identified earthquake destruction (Earthquake IV) in a collapse layer which they suggested struck in the early to middle 7th century CE.
The pottery constrains the date of Earthquake IV to sometime between the seventh century and the mid seventh to eighth century. In this case, an early to middle seventh-century date would best fit the dating evidence.
Castellum of Qasr Bshir possible ≥ 8 Clark (1987) identified a tumble layer which could have been caused by an earthquake or gradual decay.
In H.1 a 0.25 m deposit of rock tumble and windblown loess (H.1:010 and 011) overlay the Early Byzantine I-II occupational deposits. This appears to represent a period of abandonment and of building collapse.
Clark (1987) found the tumble in the in Post Stratum III gap which he bracketed to between ca. 500 and 636 CE"
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
Qasr Tilah



Petra - Introduction



Petra - Petra Theater



Petra - Jabal Harun



Petra - The Petra Church



Bet She'an



Jerash - Introduction



Jerash - Umayyad House



Jerash - Macellum



Jerash - Temple of Zeus



Jerash - Hippodrome



Heshbon



Tell es-Samak/Tel Shiqmona



Pella



Monastery of Euthymius



Monastery of Khirbet es-Suyyagh



Caesarea



Khirbet al-Niʿana



Mount Nebo



Ein Hanasiv



Giv’ati Junction



Avdat



Mizpe Shivta



Mezad Yeruham



Shivta



Rehovot ba Negev



Saadon



Nessana



Mampsis



Haluza



Aqaba/Eilat - Introduction



Aqaba/Eilat - Aila



Castellum of Qasr Bshir



Tsunamogenic Evidence

Paleoseismic Evidence

Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
al-Harif Syria possible ≥ 7 Sbeinati et al (2010) state that Event Y, characterized from paleoseismology, appears to be older than A.D. 650–810 (unit d, trench A) and younger than A.D. 540–650 (unit d3 in trench C). The results of archaeoseismic investigations indicate that ages of CS-1 (A.D. 650–780) and tufa accumulation CS-3-3 (A.D. 639–883) postdate event Y. Combined together, this constrains Event Y to 540-780 CE.
Bet Zayda possible ≥ 7 Wechsler at al. (2014) may have seen evidence for this earthquake as Event CH3-E1 (Modeled Age 662-757 CE). Event CH2-E1, which struck next (Modeled Age 675-801 CE), appears to correlate with the Holy Desert Quake of the Sabbatical Year Earthquake sequence.
Dead Sea - Seismite Types n/a n/a n/a
Dead Sea - ICDP Core 5017-1 possible 7 Lu et al (2020) associated a turbidite in the core to a middle 8th century earthquake. CalBP is reported as 1248 ± 44 yr B.P. This works out to a date of 702 CE with a 1σ bound of 658 - 746 CE indicating that the Jordan Valley Quake, Sword in the Sky Quake, and the Sabbatical Year Quakes are all possibilities. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as a 16.5 cm. thick turbidite (MMD). Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VII which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.18 g. Dr. Yin Lu (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)" ( Moernaut et al (2014). The turbidite was identified in the depocenter composite core 5017-1 (Holes A-H).
Dead Sea - En Feshka probable 5.6-6.4 Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 634 AD date [648 AD ± 45 (±1σ) - 633 AD ± 95 (±2σ)] to a 1 cm . thick Type D [Folded laminae - i.e. Linear Wave (Type 1) of Wetzler et al (2010)] seismite at a depth of 172.0 cm..
Dead Sea - En Gedi possible 5.6-6.3 Migowski et. al. (2004) did not assign a date of 634 AD to any of the seismites in the En Gedi Core (DSEn) but did assign a 0.5 thick seismite at a depth of 1.99 m to a date of 660 AD.
Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim no evidence At site ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) did not assign any seismites to a date of ~634 AD. No seismites in her section have a modeled age which overlaps with a 634 AD date (± 1σ or ± 2σ).
Araba - Introduction n/a n/a n/a
Araba - Taybeh Trench possible ≥ 7 LeFevre et al. (2018) might have seen evidence for this earthquake in the Taybeh Trench (Event E3 - Modeled Age 551 AD ± 264).
Araba - Qatar Trench no evidence ≥ 7 The Sword in the Sky Quake is just outside the modeled ages for Events E4 (758 CE ± 87), E5 (758 CE ± 87), and E6 (251 CE ± 251) (Klinger et. al., 2015).
Location (with hotlink) Status Intensity Notes
al Harif, Syria - Displaced Aqueduct

Sbeinati et al (2010) state that Event Y, characterized from paleoseismology, appears to be older than A.D. 650–810 (unit d, trench A) and younger than A.D. 540–650 (unit d3 in trench C). The results of archaeoseismic investigations indicate that ages of CS-1 (A.D. 650–780) and tufa accumulation CS-3-3 (A.D. 639–883) postdate event Y. Combined together, this constrains Event Y to 540-780 CE.



Bet Zayda (aka Beteiha)

Wechsler at al. (2014) may have seen evidence for this earthquake as Event CH3-E1 (Modeled Age 662-757 CE). Event CH2-E1, which struck next (Modeled Age 675-801 CE), appears to correlate with the Holy Desert Quake of the Sabbatical Year Earthquake sequence.



Dead Sea - Seismite Types



Dead Sea - ICDP Core 5017-1

Lu et al (2020) associated a turbidite in the core to a middle 8th century earthquake. CalBP is reported as 1248 ± 44 yr B.P. This works out to a date of 702 CE with a 1σ bound of 658 - 746 CE indicating that the Jordan Valley Quake, Sword in the Sky Quake, and the Sabbatical Year Quakes are all possibilities. Ages come from Kitagawa et al (2017). The deposit is described as a 16.5 cm. thick turbidite (MMD). Lu et al (2020) estimated local seismic intensity of VII which they converted to Peak Horizontal Ground Acceleration (PGA) of 0.18 g. Dr. Yin Lu (personal correspondence, 2021) relates that "this estimate was based on previous studies of turbidites around the world (thickness vs. MMI)" ( Moernaut et al (2014). The turbidite was identified in the depocenter composite core 5017-1 (Holes A-H).

See the following from Lu et al (2020b) regarding estimating intensity from turbidites:

Previous studies have revealed that the intensity threshold for triggering historic turbidites are variable in different regions and range from MMI V½ to VII½ (Howarth et al., 2014; Moernaut, 2020; Van Daele et al., 2015; Wilhelm et al., 2016). The intensity threshold constrained from the Dead Sea data (≥VI½) is situated in the middle of this range.

Previous studies in Chilean lakes have indicated that the (cumulative) thickness of historic turbidites across multiple cores correlates with seismic intensity, and can thus be used to infer paleo-intensities in this setting (Moernaut et al., 2014). However, in the case of the Dead Sea core 5017-1, there is a random relationship (a correlation factor of 0.04) between the thickness of prehistoric turbidites and seismic intensity (Figure 5a).


Dead Sea - En Feshka

Kagan et. al. (2011) assigned a 634 AD date [648 AD ± 45 (±1σ) - 633 AD ± 95 (±2σ)] to a 1 cm . thick Type D [Folded laminae - i.e. Linear Wave (Type 1) of Wetzler et al (2010)] seismite at a depth of 172.0 cm..



Dead Sea - En Gedi

Migowski et. al. (2004) did not assign a date of 634 AD to any of the seismites in the En Gedi Core (DSEn) but did assign a 0.5 thick seismite at a depth of 1.99 m to a date of 660 AD.



Dead Sea - Nahal Ze 'elim

At site ZA-2, Kagan et. al. (2011) did not assign any seismites to a date of ~634 AD. No seismites in her section have a modeled age which overlaps with a 634 AD date (± 1σ or ± 2σ).



Araba - Introduction



Araba - Taybeh Trench

LeFevre et al. (2018) might have seen evidence for this earthquake in the Taybeh Trench (Event E3 - Modeled Age 551 AD ± 264).



Araba - Qatar Trench

The Sword in the Sky Quake is just outside the modeled ages for Events E4 (758 CE ± 87), E5 (758 CE ± 87), and E6 (251 CE ± 251) (Klinger et. al., 2015).



Notes

Earthquake in Aleppo

Guidoboni et al (1994)

(237) 634 • Aleppo

sources Ibn Shaddad, Maq 1.23
literature Taher (1979)
catalogues Poirier et al. (1980); Poirier and Taher (1980)

The Arab geographer Ibn Shaddad records the rebuilding of the walls of Aleppo two years after the tremors mentioned by al-Makin (see entry ( 236 ) - Sword in the Sky Quake): "When Abir`Ubayda conquered the city of Aleppo [in the year 15 of the Hegira = 14 February 636 - 1 February 637 A.D.], the walls and the citadel were restored, for an earthquake before the conquest had destroyed them. The work of restoration was not carried out skilfully, so there was a new collapse, and [the walls and the citadel] were rebuilt".

Although the tremors which struck Jerusalem and Aleppo presumably occurred in the same year (634 A.D.), there may have been two separate earthquakes, since the two cities are a great distance apart.

JW: This earthquake is discussed by Julia Gonella

Ambraseys (2009)

AD 638 Aleppo

An earthquake in northern Syria severely damaged Aleppo, bringing the citadel and the walls down. These were rebuilt after the Muslim conquest of the city.

The date of this earthquake, for which there are no contemporary sources, is problematic. Ibn Shaddad, a thirteenth-century writer, says that before Abu ‘Ubayda conquered Aleppo in the a.H. 15 (14 February 636 to 1 February 637) there was a severe earthquake, which caused the citadel and the walls to collapse. Kemal al-Din says, however, that, when Abu Obeidah took Aleppo, the walls of the city, as well as those of the citadel, had to be repaired and in parts rebuilt, having been thrown to the ground before the conquest of the city (Ibn Habib, Durr. 31). Abu Obeidah captured Aleppo in the spring or summer of AD 638 after considerable efforts had been made to scale the fortifications of the citadel, which were impregnable (Blochet 1895, 548). It seems, therefore, unlikely that the earthquake occurred before the conquest of the city. Ibn Shaddad places the fall of Aleppo to 15 a.H. (14 February 636 to 1 February 637; Ibn Shaddad: al-A’laq. i. 1.23). Also see Mich. Syr. (CH ii. 419).

Guidoboni et al. place this event in AD 634 at the same time as the Palestinian earthquake, although, since they state that the two events were possibly distinct owing to the distance, the date seems hard to justify (Guidoboni et al. 1994, 356). I can find little evidence in the text that the earthquake took place then.

Note

‘When Abu ‘Ubayda captured Aleppo [in a.H. 15] the walls of the citadel were decaying because of an earthquake that had occurred before the conquests [of Syria]. The walls of the town and the citadel were destroyed and the repairs were not solid. He moved [there] after that and (re)built it(?).’ (Ibn Shaddad I/i. 23

JW: This earthquake is discussed by Julia Gonella

Ambraseys (2009)

Ambraseys (2009), citing Grumel (1934), noted that Theophanes started his years (ie indictions) in September rather than March during this time period. He also provided the following chronological notes

  • Cf. Mich. Syr., xi. 5/ii. 417, dates Omar's succession to A.S. 946 (October 634 to September 635)
  • Heraclius A.24 (5 October 633 to 4 October 634)
  • A.H. 13 (7 February 634 to 4 February 635)

Russell (1985)

The comet mentioned by Theophanes, Cedrenus, and Michael the Syrian would not have been Halley's. since it would have returned to earth ca. March 13.607 and again ca. September 28, 684. The changing form of the comet, which first appeared in the shape of a cross and later assumed the form of a striking sword reflects its movement at perihelion.

Theophilus of Edessa the Military Astrologer

Theophilus of Edessa worked later in his life as an astrologer for the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mahdi dealing specifically with military astrology.

Brief Background on Theophilus by Brennan (2017)

Brennan, C. (2017:)writes the following

Once Baghdad was established in 762 it became the new Alexandria, and a program of translating scientific texts from other cultures began.' Some of the earliest texts that were translated into Arabic were astrological texts.29 Dorotheus was translated into Arabic twice, first around the year 775, and then again around 800, although both times the translation was based on the Pahlavi (Middle Persian) version and not upon the original Greek text.3° The Pahlavi version of portions of Valens' Anthology was translated into Arabic in the late eighth or early ninth century.31Rhetorius' Compendium was also probably translated into Arabic around this time as well, as Pingree argued that it was obtained by Theophilus of Edessa between 765 and 770, and then passed to his colleague in the Abbasid court in Baghdad, the astrologer Masha'allah.32

...

Astrologers such as Theophilus of Edessa, Masha'allah, and Sahl ibn Bishr write some of the foundational texts of the Medieval tradition in the late eighth and early ninth century.

Footnotes

31 King, "A Hellenistic Astrological Table", p. 667.

32 Pingree, "From Alexandria to Baghdad to Byzantium:'

References

Gramaglia, E. J. (2017). Astrological Works of Theophilus of Edessa, Cazimi Press.

Pingree, D. (2001). "From Alexandria to Baghdād to Byzantium. The Transmission of Astrology." International Journal of the Classical Tradition 8(1): 3-37.

Holden, J. H. (2006). A History of Horoscopic Astrology, American Federation of Astrologers. - see pp. 104-107 - can be read in preview - gives background info and a reproduction of Theophilus' Introduction to his book on military astrology

Theophilus of Edessa on worldcat

podcast with author of Astrological Works of Theophilus of Edessa

Beck, R. (2006). A Brief History of Ancient Astrology, Wiley. - pages 111-118 contain a chart for the Hijra (the start of Islam)

Brennan, C. (2017). Hellenistic Astrology: The Study of Fate and Fortune, Amor Fati Publications.

Hand, R (2007) The History of Astrology --Another View

Academia.edu page for Marcelo Lacerda whose interest is the History of Astrology

Books on the History of Astrology

The wikipedia entry for Theophilus of Edessa lists 4 known extant works by Theophilus written in Greek while noting that these books have been preserved more or less intact, along with fragments of their Arabic versions.

Works on Elections for Wars and Campaigns and Sovereignty
Astrological Effects
Various Elections
Collection on Cosmic Beginnings

Theophilus of Edessa - Works On Astrology (in Greek)

Mashallah ibn Athari - Theophilus' astrological colleague in Baghdad who published a work on an astrological history of the world

Māshāʾallāh ibn Atharī (Sāriya) at Springer

Horary astrology

Electional astrology

Goldstein, B. (1964). "The Book on Eclipses of Māshāʿallāh." Physis 6: 205-213.

Kennedy, E. S. P. D. (2014). ASTROLOGICAL HISTORY OF MASHA'ALLAH. [Place of publication not identified], HARVARD UNIV Press.

The Classical Astrologer - web page

Pingree, D. (1962). "Historical Horoscopes." Journal of the American Oriental Society 82(4): 487-502.

Calendar used by Agapius of Menbig

What calendar did Agapius of Menbig use ? try to figure out the year he provides.

Christmas 634 CE

Kennedy (2007:406-407) notes the following

It was as patriarch and effective political leader in Jerusalem that Sophronius confronted the Muslims. His first reference comes in a pastoral letter, probably written in 634 in the earliest phases of the Arab conquest of Syria, in which he hopes that the emperor Heraclius will be given strength ‘to break the pride of all the barbarians and especially of the Saracens who, on account of our sins, have now risen up against us unexpectedly and ravage all with cruel and feral design, with impious and godless audacity’. At Christmas that year the clergy of Jerusalem were unable to process to Bethlehem, as was their custom, because of their fear of the Saracens. ‘As once that of the Philistine, so now the army of the godless Saracens has captured the divine Bethlehem and bars our passage there, threatening slaughter and destruction if we leave this holy city and dare to approach our beloved and sacred Bethlehem.’ In the end he remained optimistic: ‘If we repent of our sins we will laugh at the demise of our enemies the Saracens and in a short time we will see their destruction and complete ruin. For their bloody swords will pierce their own hearts, their bows will be splintered, their arrows will be left sticking in them and they will open the way to Bethlehem for us.’

Paleoclimate - Droughts

References

References

Ambraseys, N. (2009). Earthquakes in the Mediterranean and Middle East: a multidisciplinary study of seismicity up to 1900. Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press.

Fabian, P.: 1995, The Roman and Byzantine Near East: Some Recent Archaeological Research, J. Roman Archaeology, Suppl. Series, No. 14, pp. 235-240.

Fabian, P.: 1996, Evidence of earthquake destruction in the archaeological records the cast of ancient Avdat, In: Big Cities World Conference on Natural Disaster Mitigation in Conjunction with the 10th International Seminar on Earthquake Prognostics, Abstracts, Jan. 5-10, 1996, Cairo, Egypt, p. 25.

Guidoboni, E., et al. (1994). Catalogue of ancient earthquakes in the Mediterranean area up to the 10th century. Rome, Istituto nazionale di geofisica.

Haynes, J., et al. (2006). "Evidence for ground-rupturing earthquakes on the Northern Wadi Araba fault at the archaeological site of Qasr Tilah, Dead Sea Transform fault system, Jordan." Journal of Seismology 10(4): 415-430.

Kagan, E., et al. (2011). "Intrabasin paleoearthquake and quiescence correlation of the late Holocene Dead Sea." Journal of Geophysical Research 116(B4): B04311.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2010JB007452
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2010JB007452/abstract
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2011JB008870/abstract

Karcz, I., et al. (1977). "Archaeological evidence for Subrecent seismic activity along the Dead Sea-Jordan Rift." Nature 269(5625): 234-235.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242863909_Archaeological_evidence_for_Subrecent_seismic_activity_along_the_Dead_Sea-Jordan_Rift
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v269/n5625/abs/269234a0.html
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/269234a0
https://www.academia.edu/4321286/Archaeological_evidence_for_Subrecent_seismic_activity_along_the_Dead_Sea-Jordan_Rift

Ken-Tor, R., Agnon, A., Enzel, Y., and Stein, M. (2001). "High Resolution Geological Record of Historic Earthquakes in the Dead Sea Basin." Journal of Geophysical Research 106(B2): 2221-2234.

Korjenkov AM, M. E. (1999). "Seismogenic origin of the ancient Avdat ruins, Negev Desert, Israel." Natural Hazards 18: 193-226.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226318671_Seismogenic_Origin_of_the_Ancient_Avdat_Ruins_Negev_Desert_Israel

Migowski, C., et al. (2004). "Recurrence pattern of Holocene earthquakes along the Dead Sea transform revealed by varve-counting and radiocarbon dating of lacustrine sediments." Earth and Planetary Science Letters 222(1): 301-314.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2004.02.015

Russell, K. W. (1985). "The Earthquake Chronology of Palestine and Northwest Arabia from the 2nd through the Mid-8th Century A.D." Bulletin of the American School of Oriental Research 260: 37-59.

Wechsler, N., et al. (2014). "A Paleoseismic Record of Earthquakes for the Dead Sea Transform Fault between the First and Seventh Centuries C.E.: Nonperiodic Behavior of a Plate Boundary Fault." Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

http://www.tau.ac.il/~shmulikm/Publications/Wechsler-BSSA-2014.pdf
http://www.bssaonline.org/content/early/2014/05/20/0120130304.abstract







al-Makin. HM: al-Makin b. al-`Amid, Kitab al-majmu' al-mubarak, ed. and Latin trans. Th. Erpenius, Historia Saracenica, Leiden, 1625; also French trans. Histoire Mahomatane, trans. P. Vattier, Paris, 1657.

al-Makin. HS: al-Makin b aliAmid, Ta'rikh al-muslimin min sahib shari` at al-islam ila al-dawlat al-atabiakiyya, Historia Saracenica, trans. Th. Erpenius, Lugd. Batavorum, 1625.

Cedrenus, G., et al. (1838). Georgius Cedrenus, Ioannis Scylitzae ope, E. Weber.

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=WM0GAAAAQAAJ
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Kedrenos
https://archive.org/details/georgiuscedrenu00scylgoog

Michael The Syrian Chronicle.

https://archive.org/details/ChronicleOfMichaelTheGreatPatriarchOfTheSyrians
http://rbedrosian.com/Msyr/msyrtoc.html

Syrian, Michael the (1963). Chronique 4 volumes N. Chabot. Brussels.

https://archive.org/details/ChroniqueDeMichelLeGrand https://archive.org/details/ChroniqueDeMichelLeSyrienT.1Fasc.1translation https://archive.org/details/MichelLeSyrien2 https://archive.org/details/MichelLeSyrien3 http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2009/02/26/michael-the-syrian-preface-to-his-history/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_the_Syrian

Mango, C. A., et al. (1997). The chronicle of Theophanes Confessor: Byzantine and Near Eastern history, AD 284-813, Clarendon Press.

http://books.google.com/books?id=6BIMAQAAMAAJ
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theophanes_the_Confessor
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14623a.htm
https://archive.org/details/TheChronologyOfTheophanes607-775
http://www.scribd.com/doc/202355147/The-Chronicle-of-Theophanes-Confessor-Byzantine-and-Near-Eastern-History-AD-284-813-Oxford-1997