Syria Palaestina (literally, "Palestinian Syria"; Latin: Syria Palaestīna [ˈs̺ʏria paɫae̯s̺ˈt̪iːna]; Koinē Greek: Συρία ἡ Παλαιστίνη, romanized: Syría hē Palaistínē, Koine Greek: [syˈri.a (h)e̝ pa.lɛsˈt̪i.ne̝]) was a Roman province that existed from the 2nd century to the 4th century.
|Provincia Syria Palaestina|
Ἐπαρχία Συρίας τῆς Παλαιστίνης
|Province of the Roman Empire|
Syria Palaestina (called "Palestina" on this map) after 135 CE.
|Historical era||Classical antiquity|
The province was divided into Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Salutaris sometime in the 4th century, and by 409 Palaestina Prima had been further split into a smaller Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Secunda, while Salutaris was named Tertia or Salutaris.
Syria was an early Roman province, annexed to the Roman Republic in 64 BC by Pompey in the Third Mithridatic War, following the defeat of Armenian King Tigranes the Great. The Roman province of Judea incorporated the regions of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea, and extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel. It was named after Herod Archelaus's Tetrarchy of Judea, but the Roman province encompassed a much larger territory.
The occupation of Palestine followed the pattern prevalent throughout the Roman Empire where a "small coterie of officials and soldiers looked after imperial interests and kept order" while "institutions of self-government remained." Thus, Jewish leaders retained broad discretion over affairs within Judaism. Following the partition of the Herodian kingdom into tetrarchies in 6 AD, it was gradually absorbed into Roman provinces, with Roman Syria annexing Iturea and Trachonitis.
The capital of Roman Syria was established in Antioch from the very beginning of Roman rule, while the capital of the Judaea province was shifted to Caesarea Maritima, which, according to historian H. H. Ben-Sasson, had been the "administrative capital" of the region beginning in 6 AD.
Judea province was the scene of unrest at its founding in 6 AD during the Census of Quirinius and several wars were fought in its history, known as the Jewish–Roman wars. The Temple was destroyed in 70 AD as part of the First Jewish–Roman War resulting in the institution of the Fiscus Judaicus. The Provinces of Judaea and Syria were key scenes of an increasing conflict between Judaean and Hellenistic population, which exploded into full scale Jewish–Roman wars, beginning with the First Jewish–Roman War of 66–70. Disturbances followed throughout the region during the Kitos War in 117–118. Between 132–135, Simon bar Kokhba led a revolt against the Roman Empire, controlling parts of Judea, for three years. As a result, Hadrian sent Sextus Julius Severus to the region, who brutally crushed the revolt. Shortly before or after the Bar Kokhba's revolt (132–135), Judea was integrated into the province of Syria Palaestina, and founded Aelia Capitolina on the ruins of Jerusalem.
Even though no evidence exists as to when the name change was implemented or on whose decision, the action has been considered by some authors an attempt by emperor Hadrian to remove the relationship of the Jewish people to the region, while others rationalize that the name was justified as the new province was far larger than geographical Judea, and as the name of Syria Palaestina was already in use for centuries by the time the Bar Kokhba revolt took place.
The name Syria Palaestina predates Hadrian's naming decision by at least five centuries, as the term was already in use in the West; Herodotus, for example, uses the term in the V century BC when discussing the component parts of the fifth province of the Achaemenid empire: Phoenicia, Cyprus, "and that part of Syria which is called Palestine" (Ionic Greek: Συρίη ἡ Παλαιστίνη, romanized: Suríē hē Palaistínē).[a] In 2018 Nur Masalha wrote the name refers to Palestine as part of a broader Syrian region encompassing the Levant from Cappadocia and Cilicia in the north to Phoenicia and Palestina, bordering Egypt to the south. The city of Aelia Capitolina was built by the emperor Hadrian on the ruins of Jerusalem. The capital of the province of Syria proper remained in Antiochia.
Around the year 300, Syria Palaestina was enlarged by transferring to it the southern part of what had been the Roman Province of Arabia Petrea: the Negev, part of the Sinai, and ancient Edom.
Beginning in 212, Palmyra's trade diminished as the Sassanids occupied the mouth of the Tigris and the Euphrates. In 232, the Syrian Legion rebelled against the Roman Empire, but the uprising went unsuccessful.
Septimius Odaenathus, a Prince of the Aramean state of Palmyra, was appointed by Valerian as the governor of the province of Syria Palaestina. After Valerian was captured by the Sassanids in 260, and died in captivity in Bishapur, Odaenathus campaigned as far as Ctesiphon (near modern-day Baghdad) for revenge, invading the city twice. When Odaenathus was assassinated by his nephew Maconius, his wife Septimia Zenobia took power, ruling Palmyra on behalf of her son, Vabalathus.
Zenobia rebelled against Roman authority with the help of Cassius Longinus and took over Bosra and lands as far to the west as Egypt, establishing the short-lived Palmyrene Empire. Next, she took Antioch and large sections of Asia Minor to the north. In 272, the Roman Emperor Aurelian finally restored Roman control and Palmyra was besieged and sacked, never to recover her former glory. Aurelian captured Zenobia, bringing her back to Rome. He paraded her in golden chains in the presence of the senator Marcellus Petrus Nutenus, but allowed her to retire to a villa in Tibur, where she took an active part in society for years. A legionary fortress was established in Palmyra and although no longer an important trade center, it nevertheless remained an important junction of Roman roads in the Syrian desert.
Diocletian built the Camp of Diocletian in the city of Palmyra to harbor even more legions and walled it in to try and save it from the Sassanid threat. The Byzantine period of the late Eastern Roman Empire only resulted in the building of a few churches; much of the city went to ruin.
In circa 390, Syria Palaestina was reorganised into several administrative units: Palaestina Prima, Palaestina Secunda, and Palaestina Tertia (in the 6th century), Syria Prima and Phoenice and Phoenice Lebanensis. All were included within the larger Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Diocese of the East, together with the provinces of Isauria, Cilicia, Cyprus (until 536), Euphratensis, Mesopotamia, Osroene, and Arabia Petraea.
Palaestina Prima consisted of Judea, Samaria, the Paralia, and Peraea, with the governor residing in Caesarea. Palaestina Secunda consisted of the Galilee, the lower Jezreel Valley, the regions east of Galilee, and the western part of the former Decapolis, with the seat of government at Scythopolis. Palaestina Tertia included the Negev, southern Transjordan part of Arabia, and most of Sinai, with Petra as the usual residence of the governor. Palestina Tertia was also known as Palaestina Salutaris.
After the Jewish–Roman wars (66–135), which Epiphanius believed the Cenacle survived, the significance of Jerusalem to Christians entered a period of decline, Jerusalem having been temporarily converted to the pagan Aelia Capitolina, but interest resumed again with the pilgrimage of Helena (the mother of Constantine the Great) to the Holy Land c. 326–28.
The Romans destroyed the Jewish community of the Church in Jerusalem, which had existed since the time of Jesus.[verification needed] Traditionally it is believed the Jerusalem Christians waited out the Jewish–Roman wars in Pella in the Decapolis.
The line of Jewish bishops in Jerusalem, which is claimed to have started with Jesus's brother James the Righteous as its first bishop, ceased to exist within the Empire. Hans Kung in "Islam: Past Present and Future", suggests that the Jewish Christians sought refuge in Arabia and he quotes with approval Clemen et al.:
"This produces the paradox of truly historic significance that while Jewish Christianity was swallowed up in the Christian church, it preserved itself in Islam."
In Southern Levant, until about 200 AD, and despite the genocide of Jewish–Roman wars, Jews had formed a majority of the population with Samaritans and Pagans[clarification needed] forming the rest of the population.
By the beginning of the Byzantine period (disestablishment of Syria-Palaestina), the Jews had become a minority and were living alongside Samaritans, pagan Greco-Syriacs and a large Syriac Christian community.
In the aftermath of the Bar Cochba Revolt, the Romans excluded Jews from a large area around Aelia Capitolina, which Gentiles only inhabited. The province now hosted two legions and many auxiliary units, two colonies, and--to complete the disassociation with Judaea--a new name, Syria Palaestina.
The division of Palestine into two provinces, Palestina Prima and Southern Palestine, later to be known as Palaestina Salutaris, took place in 357-358 [...] In 409 we hear for the first time of the three provinces of Palestine: Palaestina Prima, Secunda and Tertia (the former Salutaris)
the southern regions of Arabia, i.e. southern Transjordan (ancient Edom), the Negev and a large part of the Sinai peninsula were transferred from Arabia to Palestine [...] this territorial change took place as a consequence of the reforms of Diocletian at the end of the third century
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Roman Palestine|