Syria Palaestina

Province of Syria Palaestina
Provincia Syria Palaestina (Latin)
Ἐπαρχία Συρίας τῆς Παλαιστίνης (Koinē Greek)
Province of the Roman Empire
136–390

Syria Palaestina within the Roman Empire in 210.
CapitalCaesarea Maritima
Historical eraClassical antiquity
• Established
136
• Disestablished
390
Preceded by Succeeded by
Judaea
Palaestina Prima
Palaestina Secunda

Syria Palaestina (Koinē Greek: Συρία ἡ Παλαιστίνη, romanized: Syría hē Palaistínē [syˈri.a (h)e̝ pa.lɛsˈt̪i.ne̝]), or Roman Palestine, was a Roman province in the Palestine region between the early 2nd and late 4th centuries AD. The provincial capital was Caesarea Maritima.

Background

Judaea was a Roman province that incorporated the regions of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea and extended over parts of the former regions of Hasmonean and Herodian Judea. It was named after Herod's Tetrarchy of Judaea, but the Roman province encompassed a much larger territory. The name "Judaea" was derived from the Kingdom of Judah of the 6th century BCE.

Following the deposition of Herod Archelaus in 6 AD, Judea came under direct Roman rule, during which time the Roman governor was given authority to punish by execution. The general population also began to be taxed by Rome. However, Jewish leaders retained broad discretion over affairs within Judaism.

The Herodian kingdom was split into a tetrarchy in 6 AD, which was gradually absorbed into Roman provinces, with Roman Syria annexing Iturea and Trachonitis. The capital of Judaea was shifted from Jerusalem to Caesarea Maritima, which, according to historian Hayim Hillel Ben-Sasson, had been the "administrative capital" of the region beginning in 6 AD.

History

During the 1st and 2nd centuries, Judaea became the epicenter of a series of unsuccessful large-scale Jewish rebellions against Rome, known as the Jewish-Roman Wars. The Roman suppression of these revolts led to wide-scale destruction, a very high toll of life and enslavement. The First Jewish-Roman War (66-73) resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. Two generations later, the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-136) erupted. Judea's countryside was devastated, and many were killed, displaced or sold into slavery. Jewish presence in the region significantly dwindled after the failure of the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Following the suppression of the Bar Kokhba revolt, Jerusalem was rebuilt as a Roman colony under the name of Aelia Capitolina, and the province of Judea was incorporated into Syria Palaestina. Syria-Palaestina included Judea , Samaria , Galilee , Idumaea , and Philistia. The province retained its capital, Caesarea Maritima, and therefore remained distinct from Syria, which was located further north with its capital in Antioch. Jerusalem, which held special religious significance for the Jews but had been destroyed, was rebuilt as the colonia Aelia Capitolina. Jews were forbidden to settle there or in the immediate vicinity.

While Syria was divided into several smaller provinces by Septimius Severus, and later again by Diocletian, Syria Palaestina survived into late antiquity. Presumably, it was small enough not to become dangerous as a potential starting point for usurpation attempts. Instead, Diocletian even integrated parts of Arabia Petraea into the province, namely the Negev and the Sinai Peninsula. He moved the Legio X Fretensis from Aelia Capitolina to Aila (today's Eilat/Aqaba) to secure the country against Arab incursions. The part of the Roman imperial border that now ran through Palestine was subsequently placed under its own supreme commander, the dux Palaestinae, who is known from the Notitia Dignitatum. The border wall, the Limes Arabicus, which had existed for some time, was pushed further south.

The Crisis of the Third Century (235–284) affected Syria Palaestina, but the fourth century brought an economic upswing due to the Christianization of the Roman Empire and the associated upswing in Christian pilgrimage to the "Holy Land". In the course of late antiquity, with imperial support, Christianity succeeded in asserting itself against Judaism in almost the entire region.

The province was split into smaller ones during the fourth and fifth centuries. In 358, areas that had formerly belonged to Arabia Petraea were transformed into a separate province of Palaestina Salutaris with Petra as its capital. The remaining territory was named Palaestina Prima. Around the year 400, it had been further split into a smaller Palaestina Prima and Palaestina Secunda. Palaestina Prima included the heartland with the capital at Caesarea, while Palaestina Secunda extended to Galilee, the Golan, and parts of the Transjordan and its capital was Scythopolis (now Beit She'an). Salutaris was named Palestina Tertia or Salutaris.

Name

The name Syria-Palaestina was given to the former Roman province of Judaea in the early 2nd century AD. The renaming is often presented as an act of putative disassociation in the aftermath of the 132-135 AD Bar Kokhba revolt, identifying Emperor Hadrian as the one responsible for the measure, though no direct evidence suggests exactly when the name change was implemented or by whom, and the renaming may even have taken place at an earlier date. While the name Judaea bore an ethnic connotation to Jews, Syria-Palaestina had a strict geographical meaning. Some authors in late antiquity such as Jerome, continued to refer to the region as Judaea out of habit due to the prominent association with the Jews.

Other scholars and commenters disagree with a punitive recent origin for the term, and point it has been used to refer to the Southern Levant at large for centuries since Classical antiquity, when it was first used by Herodotus, and has been used by Hellenized Judean authors such as Philo and Josephus while Judaea still existed. It's claimed that the name was chosen as the new province was far larger than geographical Judea (the name sake of Judaea), and was resulted from the merger of Judea with Galilee.

Despite this naming, Palestine was independent of Syria, even to a greater extent than before, since instead of a legatus Augusti pro praetore, a higher-ranking governor of consular rank now presided over the region. This in turn was probably due to the fact that in addition to the already existing legion in Caesarea, a second legion was stationed in Legio, increasing the military importance of the province. Exactly when the legion was moved and the rank of the governor's post increased is a matter of debate - in any case, these events must have occurred before the governorship of Quintus Tineius Rufus, who took office no later than 130.

Demographics

The population of Syria-Palaestina was of mixed character. In Coele-Syria, the authochtonous population comprised a diverse array of Arameans, Greeks, Phoenicians and Arabs. In Palestine, Jewish settlements in Judea were decimated following the Bar Kokhba revolt, but remained strong in other parts of Palestine. According to Israeli archaeologist Eitan Klein, the new population of Judean Mountains was made up of Roman veterans and migrants in Aelia Capitolina, as well as authochthonous Palaestini and migrants from nearby provinces in the countryside. According to Lichtenberger, archaeological evidence from Bayt Nattif suggests a persistence of non-conformist unorthodox Jewish groups that did not adhere to strict Biblical monotheism, as well as remnants of semitic pagan groups related to those of Yahwahist Iron Age Judah in the late Roman period.

Religion

Roman cult

After the Jewish–Roman wars (66–135), which Epiphanius believed the Cenacle survived, the significance of Jerusalem to Christians entered a period of decline, it having been destroyed and later refounded as the pagan colonia of Aelia Capitolina. Christian interest resumed again with the pilgrimage of Empress Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great, c. 326–28.[citation needed]

New pagan cities were founded in Judea at Eleutheropolis (now Bayt Jibrin), Diopolis (now Lod), and Nicopolis.

Early Christianity

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.[citation needed]

The line of Jewish bishops in Jerusalem, which is claimed to have started with James, brother of Jesus as its first bishop, ceased to exist within the Empire. Hans Küng in Islam: Past Present and Future, suggests that the Jewish Christians sought refuge in the Arabian Peninsula 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."

Christianity was practiced in secret and the Hellenization of Palaestina continued under Septimius Severus (193–211 AD).

Reorganization

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.[citation needed]

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.

See also


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