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Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance - the Byzantinization of nomads in the age of Justinian I: the Arabs

  • University of Wrocław
Acta Euroasiatica 1 (2013)
Mariusz Pandura
Perceiving otherness,
creating resemblance
the Byzantinization of nomads
in the age of Justinian I: the Arabs
This is the rst in a series of papers describing the process of the Byzantinization of nomads in the
middle of the 6 century AD. The model of Peter Schreiner has been applied. The paper is focused
mainly on the Ghassanids.
Key words: Arabs, Byzantinization, Byzantium, Ghassanids, nomads
In an important article “Byzantine Concepts of the Foreigner. The Case of the
Nomads” (Ahrweiler 1998) Hélène Ahrweiler once again outlined the main char-
acteristics of the Byzantine attitude to the nomadic populations. She has shown
that these groups were considered as quintessential “others” and indicated the
Christianization as a pivotal element of the process leading to blurring of the
perceived sharp cultural difference
. Basing on the same example of Bulgarians,
whose population served as a main illustration of Ahrweiler’s theses, Peter Schrei-
ner (Schreiner 1989, 47–60) formulated a ve-element scheme of the process of
Byzantinization of that society, focusing mainly on the source material pertaining
to the period after their Christianization and sedentarization. Both of scholars were
referring – for obvious reasons to the Middle Byzantine period.
Earlier history of the Byzantine state is lled with the occurrences of contacts
between nomad societies and sedentary communities living in the territories under
the rule of the emperors. The frequency of these connections was the consequence
of the geopolitical location of the Empire, whose territories comprised most of the
areas surrounding the Mediterranean, with the fringes extending to the boundaries
of the lands inhabited by sedentary populations. Nomads living mainly outside the
limits of the Byzantine provinces, usually not completely independent of the Con-
stantinopolitan inuence, were maintaining both peaceful and hostile relations to
their settled neighbours. These connections often reected the dependence of the
nomad societies on the existence of these contacts. The impact of the Byzantine
culture might have been even stronger as a result of the settlement of the nomads
on the territory of the Empire.
The question that rises here is: did the process of Byzantinization of the no-
mads differ from the progress of the assimilation of other non-Roman groups? In
See also (basing mainly on the information about the steppe nomads): Carile 1988.
Mariusz Pandura
fact, can we distinguish a model of Byzantinization, unique to the societies leading
initially a mobile way of life? Focusing on the so-called age of Justinian we will
discuss here some features of the relations between the different nomad gentes and
the Byzantine state and society following the model of Schreiner. Subsequently,
we will be striving to construct the model of the Byzantinization of nomads in
the aforementioned period, determining the major differences between this process
and the assimilation of other non-Roman populations into the Byzantine culture.
Since the main groups of νομάδες in the works of early Byzantine authors were the
Hunnic peoples (Procopius, De bellis, I 3, 3, p. 10), Arabs (Menander Protector fr.
15, p. 220; Jeffreys 1986, 306–312) and Moors (John of Antioch fr. 224, p. 398)
we will be discussing the Byzantinization of these three group separately in three
distinct papers, followed by a concluding paper, summarizing results of the study.
At the beginning let us make some preliminary remarks:
1. The term “age of Justinian”
is widely used by the scholars, although not
with complete consistency. It can already be found in the work of Gibbon. J.B.
Bury dened it as a period spanning from 518 to 565
. It seems that there is the
tendency in contemporary Byzantine studies to share this view
, but other ap-
proaches are also occurring
2. There is strong disagreement between the scholars on the issue of nomad-
ism of some Arab groups, especially the Ghassanids. Some see them as nomads,
shifting the location of the pastures during different seasons of the year
. On
the other hand, there are scholars who have identied them as sedentary
. We
are not obliged to discern between these two opinions, for us it is important that
Byzantines, as reected in the narrative sources, perceived them as nomads, not
sedentaries. The fact that Ghassanid rulers possessed their residences in no way
See also valuable remarks concerning the Procopius’ treatment of the Slavs (Curta 1998, 327,
Curta 2001, 38–39).
The idea that the reign of Justinian was a new period for the empire was formulated by the
emperor himself in the earlier period of his reign and later was inherited by modern historiography.
See: Meier 2003.
Bury 1889, XXXII, 331 (the title of part I) but on 351 he states: “The sixth century may be
called the age of Justinian”; Bury 1958, VII.
For example: “The Age of Justinian” of J.A.S. Evans corresponds to the reigns of Justin and
Justinian (Evans 1996).
527–565: Elton 2007, 532–550. Michael Maas in 1992 dened it roughly on the rst part of
the sixth century (Maas 1992, 8). In later publication the age of Justinian covered the period from
around 500 to 602: Maas 2005, 3.
This tradition is expressed by F.E. Peters (1977–1978, 100–107), who tried to determine the
location of the seasonal pastures of Ghassanids, as well as the route of their movements. See also:
Peters 1994, 65; Key Fowden 1999, 149, 169–170; Key Fowden 2000, 315; Demaret 2004, 593.
Shahîd 2002, 4–10. Shahîd shortly described the history of the creation of in his opinion
alleged nomadism of Ghassanids, recounting the formation of this image by the Byzantine historians
(especially Procopius of Caesarea), as well as the perpetuation of that conception by modern scho-
lars e.g. Theodor Nöldeke.
Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance – the Byzantinization of nomads in the age of Justinian I
can determine the sedentarism of the gens they ruled, because many rulers are at-
tested who did have their seats, like Mongol Karakorum or the palaces of Attila
3. The term “Byzantinization” is not wholly a consistent one. Among many
of the appearances of this concept in the Byzantine studies we have chosen the
one developed by Peter Schreiner, since he had organized the model of that pro-
cess in the clear-cut set of phenomena. Schreiner denes the Byzantinization as
the inuence of the Byzantine institutions and culture on the peoples inhabiting
the territory of the Byzantine Empire or living near the border (Schreiner 1989,
47). He has grouped the processes of Byzantinization in ve groups: pertaining to
the state, state ideology, the church, literature with education and visual arts with
music (Schreiner 1989). We will be following that scheme, although in the case of
the sixth-century nomads in the Mediterranean we do not have much information
about the last two groups.
* * *
Among the sixth-century Arabs, who met the criteria established by Schreiner,
the Ghassanids will deserve special attention, since during the period under our
scrutiny they are the most important Arab group for the Byzantines and they are
far better represented in the sources, than the other Σαρακηνοί. Ghassanids had
arrived to the Byzantine territory during the two last decades of the fth century
(Shahîd 1958
, 150). After the fall of Salī in 502, they themselves became the
clients of Byzantium (Shahîd 1958
, 245). Ghassanids had been chosen to be the
one of the main supporters of the Byzantine rule in the eastern part of the Empire.
The high position of their leaders, who were called Jafnids
, was an effect of
the direct activities of the emperor Justinian. But existence of other tribes allied
with the Byzantium and subjected to the authority of Ghassanid rulers should not
be overlooked
. We have clear evidence that many groups, among them Tanūkh
and Salī, earlier dominant in that area, later appeared in the sources during the
period of Islamic conquest ghting in Syria against the Muslim invaders (Shahîd
, 158; Shahîd 1989
, 304). One of the Salīids was mentioned in 586 during
the siege of Mardin, after the abolishment of the Ghassanid supreme phylarchate
(Theophylact Simocatta II 2, 5, pp. 72–73; EI 8 1995, 982, s.v. Salī – I. Shahîd).
They were ghting against the Muslims at Dūmat al-Jandal (a-abarī, vol. 11,
p. 58; Shahîd 1958a, 158) and near Zīzāʾ (a-abarī, vol. 11, p. 76–77; EI 8 1995,
982, s.v. Salī – I. Shahîd).
The important remark of F. Donner is worth noting: „...nomadic and sedentary ways of life are
really but the opposite ends of a spectrum of ways of life, with many groups falling somewhere in
between” (Donner 1989, 75).
The name of the dynasty was widespread among the orientalists after the publication of Nölde-
ke’s “Die Ghassānischen Fürsten aus dem Hause Gafna’s” (Nöldeke 1887).
According to Michael the Syrian (X 19, p. 350–351), after the capture of al-Mundhir b. al-
ārith his kingdom was divided by fteen sheiks (cf. Hoyland 2009, 394).
Mariusz Pandura
The fate of the Ghassanids in the age of Justinian was strictly connected with
the contemporary state of the Byzantine-Persian relations. After the death of Justin
and Justinian’s assumption of the sole imperial power the new ruler who earlier,
during the reign of his uncle, had a tremendous inuence on the policy of the
Byzantine State, launched a new course in the eastern policy of the Empire. In
the rst years of his sole reign he unied the command of all the Arab foederati
of Byzantium in the hands of al-ārith b. Jabala, the ruler of the Ghassanid tribe
(529–569) (EI 3 1966, 222, s.v. al-ārith b. Djabala (I. Shahîd) bestowing upon
him the dignity of βασιλεύς. Only the Arabs, who were to be commanded by his
brother Abū Karib, were not subject to his power.
This change is seen by some scholars as a part of a reform attempting to
reorganize the defence of Byzantine eastern frontier. Here our main source is
Procopius, who in the Secret History attested that Justinian, after some period
of difculties with the payment to limitanei, deprived them of the name of sol-
diers (Procopius, Anecdota XXIV 12–14, p. 148–149). This is understood as the
main proof of the partial abandonment of some places on the limes, a fact that is
conrmed by the archaeological excavations (Kennedy, Liebeschuetz 1988, 88;
Alston 2002, 404; Parker 2002, 80; Casey 1996, 220–222; Fiema 2007, 314). This
change is chronologically connected to the elevation of al-ārith and the Ghassan-
ids. Following the account of Procopius, scholars tended to see economic causes
that were responsible for that change. The Empire wanted to save money in that
way, cutting expenses on maintenance of the army we know that the overdue
wages had not been paid too. The second cause of that reform could be the suc-
cess of the actions undertaken by the Lakhmid king of īra, which limitanei could
not effectively oppose. This situation must have been thoroughly analyzed by the
ruling circles of the Empire.
During the existence of the Ghassanid kingdom there were also periods of
takeover of power by the Byzantines. The rst Byzantine intervention leading to
the removal of the powerful Ghassanid king occurred during the reign of Tiberius
II in 581, when the emperor commanded to imprison al-Mundhir b. al-ārith and
to send him to Constantinople and later to Sicily. After that the Byzantines were
trying to place a brother of the captured ruler on the throne (John of Ephesus,
Church History III 43, p. 242 (Payne-Smith), p. 140 (Schönfelder)). The same
procedure was repeated later in the case of al-Nuʿmān b. al-Mundhir. The elevated
position of Ghassanids among the Arab foederati of Byzantium probably had not
been restored even before the Persian invasion of 613–614, neither during the
Islamic conquest of Syria and Palestine, although they had participated in the de-
fence of these territiories together with their king Jabala b. al-Ayham and fought
at the battle of Yarmūk in 636 (EI 2 1965, 1021, s.v. Ghassān (I. Shahîd)). It
was a situation parallel to the fate of Lakhmids of īra. The reign of the Narid
dynasty was interrupted by the Sasanid authorities, once after the death of Qābūs
when Suhrāb ruled for over a year (573–574), second time in 602, which marks
the beginning of the reign of Iyās b. Qabīsa (Rothstein 1899, 105–107, 119–120;
Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance – the Byzantinization of nomads in the age of Justinian I
Abu Ezzah 1979, 59–60; EI 5 1982, 633–634, s.v. Lakhmids (I. Shahid); EI 7
1992, 568, s.v. al-Mundhir IV (I. Shahîd); Shahîd 2009, 666).
Ghassanids were participating in the Byzantine-Persian Wars, for example
when al-ārith was ghting along with his 5000 men on the right wing of the Byz-
antine army at Callinicum in 531 and during the Assyrian Campaign of 541 (EI 3
1966, 222, s.v. al-ārith b. Djabala (I. Shahîd)). Furthermore, they were acting as
middlemen of Byzantine inuence in the Arabian Peninsula. For example, in 543
both of the Ghassanid rulers, Harith and Abū Karib, sent embassies to Abraha,
Abissynian ruler of Himyar (Glaser 1897, p. 49–50, datation: p. 68). Moreover,
the inuence of the Ghassanidts on the Arabian Peninsula was achieved thanks to
the kinship ties with Arab tribes living in that region. For instance, the Ghassanids
were kinsmen of the Balārith of Najrān (Shahîd 1989a, 401; EI 7 1992, 872, s.v.
Nadjrān (I. Shahîd); Shahîd 2002, 151–152; Shahîd 2009, 20), as well as al-Aws
and al-Khazraj from Yathrib
Ghassanids and the gentes subjected to them, dwelling on the extreme eastern
edge of the Byzantine Empire, were exposed to the continuous inuence of the
factors of Byzantinization due to their constant contacts with the Roman authori-
ties as well as the population of the diocese of Orient. Their fate was connected
to the events of the contemporary international relations, as well as to the internal
situation of the Empire. The ruling family of the Ghassanids the Jafnids was
converted to Monophysite Christianity, as it would seem, during the reign of pro-
Monophysite emperor Anastasius (491–518). As a result of the acceptance of the
new faith their contacts with the Empire became even stronger. We omit here the
process of Byzantinization of the sedentary population of the eastern provinces
of the Byzantine Empire that was using the Arabic language, since they were not
considered by the Byzantines as nomads.
* * *
The process of the Byzantinization of Arabs during the age of Justinian is
in fact far better observed within the spectre of Arab foederati of Byzantium.
Among them the bulk of information we possess pertains mostly to the main gens
– Banū Ghassān and their ruling family – the Jafnids. However, it should be noted
that the Byzantine East was populated not only by them, but there were living
other groups of Arab tribes as well: Balī, Judhām together with Syrian branch of
Lakhm, Balqayn, ʿĀmila, Kalb, Bahraʿ, Taghlib, Iyād, al-Namir, and the Arabs of
Sinai (Banū-āli) and in later period ayyiʾ (Shahîd 1984, 382; Shboul, Walmsley
EI 12 1981, 229, s.v. Djabala b. al-ārith (I.A. Shahid); Shahîd 1995a, 49; Shahîd 2002, 31;
Shahîd 2009, 21–22. 122–124. The Ghassanid action in Medina presumably was aiming to restrict
the Persian inuence there: Kister 1968, 145–149; Yarshater 1998, 28–29. P. Crone (1987, 49–50,
n. 169), however, dated the presence of the Persian governor in Yathrib and Tihāma to the period of
Sasanian occupation of the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire.
Mariusz Pandura
1998, 267; Shahîd 2002, 52–53). Under the control of the Jafnid rulers were also
former principal foederati of Byzantium – Tanūkh and Salī (Shahîd 1989a, 302).
Following Schreiner’s ve-element scheme of Byzantinization we begin with
the Byzantine inuence on the level of state. According to Schreiner, Byzantine
inuence could be visible in the spreading of the Byzantine idea of the emperor as
a head of the state. The dissemination of that model implied not only agreement
on the elements of Byzantine imperial ideology, according to which Byzantine
emperor was holding a central place in the so called “family of princes”, idea that
was further developed in the Middle Byzantine period. The subsequent element
related to that belief was the opinion, that the Byzantine emperor, even if only
potentially, ruled over the whole οκουμένη. In that context we have to see that the
conclusion of the foedus implied in fact the recognition of the Byzantine emperor
as supreme ruler and acceptance of the Byzantine view of the role of their state
in the world.
Schreiner noted also that an accordance with the Byzantine doctrine of the
place of the ruler in the state could lead to subsequent adaptation of that model in
the Byzantinized society, to restriction of the power of local tribal leaders to the
advantage of the ruling dynasty and in the end to the loss of the separate tribal
identity and to homogenization (Schreiner 1989, 48–49). In the case of the Arab
foederati we can only see effects of the early stages of that process in the form of
subordination of local leaders to the power of Jafnid ruler, performed on the order
of the emperors. In the case of the Arab foederati of Byzantium this did not lead
to the disappearance of the tribal identities (Schreiner 1989, 49), because Salī,
Tanūkh, Syrian Lakhmids and other tribes are still attested as separate units dur-
ing the period of Islamic conquest and later under the rule of the caliphs (Shahîd
1958b, 158; Shahîd 1989a, 304). However, the tribal leaders did in fact perform
the function of aristocracy indicated by Schreiner they were commanding the
“local” community (tribe). An element of this process was also the function of
king as the main military leader (Schreiner 1989, 49), which is attested repeatedly
for the Jafnids. Finally, Byzantine inuence is visible in the emergence of a group
of administrative ofcials, like the nancial ofcial Flavios Seos mentioned in an
inscription in 578 (Prentice 1908, 290–291; Shahîd 2009, 523).
Another element of Byzantinization of the Arab foederati of Byzantium – the
Christianization – must have been proceeding without obstacles, such as religious-
motivated rebellions, which could be the symptom of weakness of the power of
the Ghasanid kings (Schreiner 1989, 49). There is strong contrast between the
course of that process and the parallel which had taken place among the Lakhmids
and other tribes subordinate to the Narid dynasty. Despite the fact that īra was
an important centre of Eastern Christianity, only few members of the ruling dy-
nasty were Christians (al-Nuʿmān III, Hind bt. al-ārith) and the adherence to the
traditional religion was strong
See the sacrices to al-ʿUzzā performed on the order of al-Mundhir.
Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance – the Byzantinization of nomads in the age of Justinian I
The Byzantinization could lead to the formation of one seat of the ruler on the
model of Constantinople or there could be few such places (Schreiner 1989, 49).
In the case of Ghassanids the second pattern occurred. One of these main centres
was Jābiya (Nöldeke 1875, 430), which was mentioned as a seat of the Ghassanid
ruler already during the reign of Jabala b. al-ārith (Simeon of Bēth Arshām,
p. 63; EI 12 1981, 229, s.v. Djabala b. al-ārith (I.A. Shahid); Shahîd 1995a, 48).
It was located to the north-west of the Syrian city of Nawā (Kaegi 1992, 112–114).
Its importance must have been great, as the evidence of the course of battle of
Yarmūk in 636 shows. It had taken place in the vicinity of Jābiya and was preced-
ed by the clash of the Muslim and Byzantine forces right next to the seat of Ghas-
sanid ruler (Kaegi 1992, 120). Jābiya was a irthā a large encampment with some
permanent buildings (EI 2 1962, 360, s.v. al-Djābiya (H. Lammens J. Sourdel-
Thomine)), just like the Lakhmid īra. Jābiya fullled an important function also
in the years after the Islamic conquest. It was one of the am
ār, military encamp-
ments, which later could evolve into the form of early cities (Whitcomb 1994a,
22–23; Whitcomb 1994b, 166–169; Hillenbrand 1999, 79–80). Jābiya however
became deserted in the result of an outbreak of the plague which occurred in
ʿAmwās (Emaus) in 639 (MacAdam 1986, 532; MacAdam 1994, 64. Compare
with: Conrad 1981, 212; Conrad 1994, 31, 46; Stathakopoulos 2004, 349).
The second centre of Ghassanid power was Jilliq, irthā located probably
near the modern village of al-Kiswa south of Damascus
. It seems that it was
not so much important as Jābiya, because one of the gates of Damascus carried
in later times the name of Bāb al-Jābiya (not Bāb al-Jilliq, notwithstanding the
small distance)
. Let us notice that Muslim forces under the command of Khālid
b. al-Walīd defeated Ghassanids on the Easter of 634 on the plain of Marj Rāhi
not far from Jilliq
Another centre of signicant importance for Arab foederati of Byzantium was
probably the camp near Chalcis ad Belum (Qinnasrīn), sometimes called in sourc-
es āir Qinnasrīn (al-Balādhurī, p. 224; a-abarī, vol. 12, p. 178). It was con-
nected with the Tanūkh. It should also be noticed that the location of Tanūkh and
Salī at the end of the Byzantine-Arab clashes in Syria was exactly in the neigh-
bourhoods of Qinnasrīn. In fact this situation can be compared with the important
role of Jābiya in the beginning of the battle of Yarmūk river in 636. The place
of the battle between Ghassanids and Lakhmids as well as the death of Lakhmid
Ibn Baṭṭūa, p. 120, n. 195, p. 158, n. 1; EI 2 1963, 541, s.v. Djilli (N. Elisséeff).; Kaegi 1992,
114. Irfan Shahid (Shahîd 2002, 110–115) is more careful and locates it to the south of Damascus,
without establishing a precise location.
But it could ensue from the fact that the Damascus in some cases could have been identied
with Jilliq (Sartre 1982, 179).
Al-Balādhurī, p. 172. About the location of battle: EI 6 1989, 544–546, s.v. Mardj Rāhi,
(N. Elisséeff). It should be noticed that the plan of a sudden, unexpected attack resulting from
a march through the desert was aimed not at the Byzantines, but at the Ghassanids. The battle of
Ajnādayn had taken place later.
Mariusz Pandura
king al-Mundhir III was in the region of Qinnasrīn too. The name of Chalcis was
used to describe whole portion of the northern part of eastern limes, as shows
the passage from the chronicle of John Malalas. He used the expression δι το
λιμίτου Χαλκίδος in describing the invasion of Persian army in 265 during the
reign of Sapor II
. Qinnasrīn was playing a major role during the early period of
Islamic rule when it became the location of one of the four ajnād, what is one of
the indicators of its earlier function. Its position must have been similar to that of
Jābiya and Jilliq. The function of Qinnasrīn as an Arab settlement was preserved
in the name of the village, lying near the ruins of ancient Chalcis – Hader. In later
times the position of Qinnasrīn had been taken over by Aleppo
in the same way
as Jābiya and Jilliq were overshadowed by Damascus and īra by Kūfa.
The contacts of the rulers of non-Byzantine society with the imperial circles of
power were an important factor of the process of Byzantinization (Schreiner 1989,
51). Personal contacts of the Ghassanid phylarchs and kings with the high-ranking
representatives of Byzantine administration and military commanders were fre-
. The Jafnids were repeatedly participating in the military expeditions of
the Byzantine army against the Persians, they were taking part in the defence of
the eastern provinces too (EI 3 1966, 222, s.v. al-ārith b. Djabala (I. Shahîd)).
During the wars there must have occurred mutual cognition of the allies (their
beliefs, customs) between the Ghassanids and the Byzantine soldiers, leading to
the facilitation of the process of Byzantinization.
The most important contacts were the personal encounters of the Jafnids with
the Byzantine emperors (Schreiner 1989, 51). The special relationship that con-
nected Jafnids with the emperors was underlined by their use of cognomen Fla-
corresponding to the use of Septimius by the Palmyrene rulers (Shahîd
1995a, 296; Sartre 2005, 352). Al-ārith did also visit Constantinople, probably
two times
. In 580 al-Mundhir was in Constantinople too, to receive a crown
from the emperor Tiberius. There he was striving to remove the rift in the Mono-
physite church by summoning the meeting of the representatives of conicting
sides (Hainthalter 2007, 74). Two of the sons of al-Mundhir had travelled with
him to the capital (John of Ephesus, Church History IV 39, p. 298 (Payne-Smith),
p. 170 (Schönfelder)). Such contacts are well attested by the Malchus’ account of
John Malalas XII 26, p. 228; this term was later used by Mouterde and Poidebard in his famous
study (Isaac 1988, 136).
Where another encampment was located: āir alab with the population consisting in part
of the Tanūkh. In the vicinity was also āir ayy, connected with the ayyiʾ tribe: al-Balādhurī,
p. 224–225; as-Sarasī, p. 141; EI 10 1999, 402, s.v. ayyiʾ (I. Shahîd).
John of Ephesus, Church History III 40–41, p. 237–238 (Payne-Smith), p. 137–138 (Schön-
felder) wrote about the friendship of Mundhir b. al-ārith and the curator Magnus the Syrian. On
Magnus see: Martindale 1992, 805–807, s.v. Magnus 2; Feissel 1985, 465–469; Khoury 2005, 300.
Schlumberger 1939, 371; Alt 1945, 261; Shahîd 1995a, 66–69; 260–261; 295–297; Trombley
2004, 96–97; Genequand 2006, 70; Fisher 2011, 58. The use of this expression is also attested by
a Syriac source: Ps. Zachariah IX 2, p. 223–224 (Hamilton – Brooks), p. 170 (Ahrens – Krüger).
Shahid supposes that Mariya, wife of al-ārith, took part in the rst visit (Shahîd 2009, 225).
Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance – the Byzantinization of nomads in the age of Justinian I
a visit of Imruʾ al-Qays in Constantinople in 473
. We should not omit the fact
that not only the court of the emperors, but also Constantinople itself made a great
impression on the visitors during the whole existence of the Byzantine Empire.
Ghassanids were strengthening their bonds with the ruling dynasty of the
Empire by the mutual exchange of gifts. In that way we should interpret the pas-
sage from the History of Wars of Procopius, pertaining the so called Phoinikon
oasis of the Palm Groves. We are informed that Abocharabos (i.e. Abū Karib,
brother of al-ārith) handed over this place to Justinian as a gift (Procopius, De
bellis I 19, 10, p. 102). Al-Mundhir received gifts from the Emperor when he
visited Constantinople in 580 (John of Ephesus, Church History IV 39, p. 298
(Payne-Smith), p. 170 (Schönfelder)). It was the pattern that pertained to other
rulers too. For example the Herul king Grepes at the end of his visit to the
Byzantine capital was bestowed with precious gifts, as well as Grod, one of the
Hunnic kings in 528
* * *
The second group of factors of the Byzantinization, according to Schreiner, are
elements of state ideology. Its impact was mainly limited to the ruler and his court
(Schreiner 1989, 52–53). The rst and most common element was the assuming of
the Byzantine titles by the ruler of the Byzantinized population (Schreiner 1989,
49). The Jafnid rulers as well as other sheiks of tribes occupied a denite position
in the structure of the Byzantine state. They were the leaders of the foederati and
they appear in the source material as φύλαρχοι. From that perspective a phylarch
was usually an indigenous ofcial in charge of the allied tribes (Grouchevoy 1995,
127–128), for example Abū Karib, brother of al-ārith was performing this func-
tion (Procopius, De bellis I 19, 10, p. 102). The Jafnid kings are seldom mentioned
as στρατηλάται, a term corresponding to the Latin magistri militum (Schlumberger
1939, 368; Sartre 1982, 182; Shahîd 1995b, 505–506; MacCoull 1996, 157–158;
Shahîd 2002, 26–27).
Already Jabala b. al-ārith, the Jafnid ruler, who died in the battle of Thannūris
in 528, was called king in the sources (Simeon of Bēth Arshām, p. 63, (com-
mentary) 273; Ps. Zachariah IX 2, p. 224 (Hamilton Brooks), p. 170 (Ahrens
Krüger); EI 12 1981, 229–230, s.v. Djabala b. al-ārith (I.A. Shahid); Shahîd
, 48). But it was his son al-ārith whose royal power over the other foed-
erati of Byzantium was recognized by the emperor Justinian
. The position of
Malchus fr. 1, p.113; Shahîd 1989a, 493. See also the stay of young Kindite prince Muʿāwiya
in Constantinople (not unlike Theodoric the Amal and many others, see for example: Shepard 2006)
and planned visit of his father, Qays in Constantinople, which eventually did not occur (Nonnosus,
p. 179; Millar 2010, 208).
John Malalas XVIII 6, p. 356; XVIII 14, p. 360–361; Ps. Dionysius of Tel-Mahre, p. 49.
Al-ārith was acknowledged as king by the Ghassanids right after the death of his father, be-
cause the inscription from Usays (528/529) mentions him as “al-ārith al malik” “Al-ārith the
king” (MacAdam 1996, 49; Fisher 2008, 319).
Mariusz Pandura
βασιλεύς, shared with other contemporary rulers
, was only one step lower than
that of the Byzantine Emperor and Persian shah, who even in the eyes of the Byz-
antines held a higher place in the hierarchy than other kings, apart from the emper-
or of Byzantium (Chrysos 1978, 35; Chrysos 1980, 144). This was leading to the
use by the Byzantine diplomats of the designation “brother” pertaining to the shah
and “son” to the other kings (Ostrogorsky 1956, 12; Kazhdan 1992, 123). By the
obtaining of the new title al-ārith achieved the same level in the international re-
lations, as the Lakhmid ruler al-Mundhir III (Shahîd 1955, 212), who himself was
elevated earlier to the royal dignity by the Sasanid shah (Procopius, De bellis I 17,
45, p. 90). In one instance the Syriac manuscript of An-Nabk Abū Karib too
was described as king (malkā) (Wright 1871, 468; Nöldeke 1887, 25–26 (wrongly
identifying Abū Karib with Mundhir b. al-ārith); Shahîd 2002, p. 29). By obtain-
ing the authority of king al-ārith’s position in dealings with other tribal leaders,
like Terebon or Aswad (Sartre 1982, 176–177), must have increased. Another ele-
ment of Byzantinization was the granting of the title patricius to al-ārith, a fact
that is conrmed by the Byzantine and Arab narrative sources, as well as inscrip-
tions (Procopius, De bellis I 18, 47, p. 90; Schlumberger 1939, 371; Alt 1945,
261; I. Shahîd 1959, 329–332; EI 1 1960, 1249, s.v. Bi (I. Kawar); EI 3 1966,
222, s.v. al-ārith b. Djabala (I. Shahîd); Genequand 2006, 70). The patriciate of
al-Mundhir (John of Ephesus, Church History IV 39, p. 297 (Payne Smith), p. 169
(Schönfelder); Lamy 1898, 133; Prentice 1908, 290–291) and Jabala b. al-Ayham
(Shahîd 2001, 371–372) are also attested. Another instance of application of the
Byzantine titles was counting of the Arab phylarchs among the ranks of Byzantine
hierarchy, usually the clarissimi (Shahîd 1959, 323–324; EI 2 1965, 1020, s.v.
Ghassān (I. Shahîd)). However after the elevation of his position al-ārith was
given the rank of gloriosissimus (EI 2 1965, 1020, s.v. Ghassān (I. Shahîd); EI 3
1966, 222, s.v. al-ārith b. Djabala (I. Shahîd); MacCoull 1996, 158), and later
his son al-Mundhir and another al-ārith mentioned in Upper Egypt in 595/6 are
holding the rank of famosissimi (Shahîd 1995a, 521; MacCoull 1996, 157–158).
Another element of Byzantinization of state ideology was the receiving of the
Byzantine insignia of power (Schreiner 1989, 54–55). As a result of the formal
recognition of the royal title by the Byzantine authorities al-ārith must have ob-
tained them (Shahîd 1990, 45) probably in the form of Arabic crown – tāj. Several
insignia of this type were received from the emperor by other kings. One of this
was Lazic king Tzath who obtained a στεφάνιον from emperor Justin in 522 (John
Malalas XVII 9, p. 340; Vasiliev 1950, 260–261; Shahîd 1984, 511; Shahîd 1989a,
84; Shahîd 2009, 165–166). This recognition of power surely elevated his position
among other Arab rulers. The Persian shahs were also granting the crowns to their
Arab allies like Imruʾ al-Qays, al-Nuʿmān III or Hawdha b. ‘Alī al-anafī (Simon
1989, 38, 134, n. 123; EI 10 1998 (1936), 57, s.v. tādj (W. Björkman); ʿAthamina
See also the other rulers who received in that time the dignity of king from the Byzantine em-
perors, e.g. Lazic Tzath, or Grepes, ruler of the Heruls.
Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance – the Byzantinization of nomads in the age of Justinian I
1998, 20–21, 27, 32–33; Madelung 2003, 157). In 580 al-ārith’s son al-Mundhir
also received a crown from the emperor Tiberius (John of Ephesus, Church His-
tory IV 39, p. 298 (Payne-Smith), p. 170 (Schönfelder); Shahîd 1995
, 402–406).
* * *
Jafnids were Christians, as well as many of the Ghassanids. They were bap-
tized after coming to the limes. On the area of Gaulanitis they surely encountered
Christians, a fact indicated in the inscriptions (Gregg, Urman 1996, 319), who
could act as the middlemen of the new faith. As Schreiner correctly observed, the
existence of population having earlier contacts with the Byzantine culture on the
area of the migration of newcomers, facilitated the Byzantinization of the latter
(Schreiner 1989, 47).
The activity of al-ārith took place after the period of temporal disagreement
with Byzantium during the reign of Justin I (EI 3 1966, 222, s.v. al-ārith b. Djaba-
la (I. Shahîd); EI 12 1981, 229, s.v. Djabala b. al-ārith (I.A. Shahid); Gray 2005,
228). In 540 al-ārith achieved, with the help of the empress Theodora, who was
supporting Monophysites (Meyendorff 1989, 222), the ordination of two Mono-
physite bishops: Jacob Baradaeus and Theodore (EI 2 1965, 1021, s.v. Ghassān
(I. Shahîd)). During their reigns Al-ārith and his son al-Mundhir were striving to
preserve the unity of the Monophysite church by trying to resolve the occurrences
of conict (EI 2 1965, 1021, s.v. Ghassān (I. Shahîd); EI 3 1966, 222, s.v. al-ārith
b. Djabala (I. Shahîd); Frend 1972, 326–328). In 580 the latter summoned the
Monophysite bishops to meet in Constantinople (John of Ephesus, Church History
IV 39–40, p. 298–299 (Payne-Smith), p. 170–171 (Schönfelder); Hainthalter 2007,
74). Jafna was another Ghassanid phylarch engaged in the same pursuit of keeping
integrity of the Church, as he was striving to reconcile Damian of Alexandria and
Peter of Callinicum in 587 (Shahîd 1993, 491–503; Shahîd 1995a, 554).
At least during the reign of Justinian the Monophysitism of the Ghassanids
did not pose any obstacle in the relations between them and the court in Constan-
tinople. As Hélène Ahrweiler has stated in the article mentioned above, Byzantine
church and Byzantine state nearly always had the same foreigners, but not in all
the cases (Ahrweiler 1998, 6). Ghassanids were strongly attached to the Mono-
physitism (EI 2 1965, 1021, s.v. Ghassān (I. Shahîd)), which is exemplied by the
anecdote contained in the history of Michael the Syrian. He described the visit
of Ephraim, Chalcedonian patriarch of Antioch in one of the encampments of al-
ārith. After patriarch refused to eat camel meat
, the Ghassanid ruler rejected
the proposal of conversion, saying that the apostasy is for him so disgusting, like
the Arab meal for the patriarch (Michael the Syrian IX 29, p. 247–248; Shahîd
1995b, 746–755). Their support for the Christianity was so strong that after the
Islamic invasions some of them, together with their king Jabala, although after
some hesitation, decided to remain Christian (Shahîd 2001, 372).
An example of the limits of Byzantinization in daily life of the Ghassanids (Shahîd 1995
, 754).
Mariusz Pandura
Jafnids were supporting the formation of the church hierarchy on the territo-
ries under their rule
. In 542 al-ārith himself sent an embassy to the empress
Theodora (not to Justinian) (John of Ephesus, Lives, p. 153) with the request for
the ordination of Monophysite bishop (John of Ephesus, Lives, 153–154; Ash-
brook Harvey 1990, 105–106. Compare with Meyendorff 1989, 230). It should
be noticed that this situation was parallel to the one, when Mavia demanded
a homoousian bishop for her subjects from the Arian emperor Valens. The re-
quest of the Ghassanid ruler was granted. Two bishops were ordained Theo-
dore for Bostra, who was to be assigned to Ghassanids, and Jacob, later called
Bar ʿAddai, for Edessa, who in short time was to restore the Monophysite hierar-
chy in Syria and Palestine (Meyendorff 1989, 253). It should be noticed that the
existence of the bishop was fundamental for the existence of clergy as a separate
social group. It could lead also to gradual sedentarisation. Jafnids remained in
contact not only with their own bishops, but also with numerous other members
of Monophysite hierarchy – let us not forget of the earlier encounter of Jabala
with Simeon of Bēth Arshām – and the Chalcedonian bishops, like Ephraim,
patriarch of Antioch.
As devout Christian rulers Jafnids were founding churches. The location of
some of them is known: in Jābiya, in the vicinity of Yathrib, in arrān al-Lajā,
Najrān, Jalliq, uwwārīn, Sammāʾ, Maʿarrat al-Nuʿmān, Maajja, in al-Mayūr in
the vicinity of Damascus, as well at Nitl in Jordan (Shahîd 1996, 10–11. Shahîd
2002, 29, 149–156; Piccirillo 2003, 267–284; Shahîd 2003, 285). They were also
founding many monasteries
and some nunneries, for example in Jābiya and
probably in Jilliq (Dayr Kiswa)
. The complexes of Qasr al-Hayr al Gharbi (mon-
astery of Haliorama) and at Umm al-Raā should be probably connected with the
foundation of Ghassanid monastery (Shahîd 2002, 184, 188–189, 206–211; Shahîd
2003, 287; Key Fowden 2004, 568). By the way of founding the monasteries the
Jafnids were continuing the tradition which went back to the times before the
arrival of the Ghassanids on Byzantine territory. For instance, the rulers of Salī
(the ajāʿima
dynasty) are credited with the construction of Dayr Dāwūd located
between Seriane (Isriye) and Sergiopolis (Ruāfa) (Shahîd 1989a, 473).
The praetorium extra muros in Sergiopolis was a building founded by Jaf-
nids too. It is widely considered as an audience hall for al-Mundhir b. al-ārith.
It was proposed however that it was a church built on the site of a grave of St.
Sergius (Brands 1998, 233) performing two functions – secular and ecclesiastical
(Key Fowden 1999, 169–171; Key Fowden 2000, 323). It was connected to the
main centre of the cult of the saint important to the Jafnids
, but also venerated
See also the similar efforts of Mavia to obtain a bishop: Socrates IV 36, 1–12, p. 270–271.
The role of monasteries in dissemination of Byzantine culture is underlined by: Schreiner 1989, 57.
For the Ghassanid monasteries and nunneries, see Shahîd 2002, 183–200.
There is a reference in the poetry of al-Nābigha al-Dhubyāni about the way which the Ghas-
sanids honoured St. Sergius. Al-Nuʿmān, the Ghassanid king, when returning from the campaign
Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance – the Byzantinization of nomads in the age of Justinian I
by Arabs and other Christians from Syria and Mesopotamia (Evagrius VI 21, p.
235–238; Peeters 1944, 89; Peeters 1947; Garitte 1956, 436–437; Key Fowden
1999, 101–129) and even in Constantinople (Key Fowden 1999, 130–133).
There was a proposition connecting the Ghassanids with the martyrion of St.
John the Baptist founded in 377 by Flavios Naʿman in the location of present-
day Ramthaniyye on the Golan Heights (Dauphin 1994, 61; Dauphin 1995, 669,
671–672; Sivan 2008, 99, 102–104). The construction of that sanctuary, as well
as the whole complex embracing the monastery, baptistery, in later times also
chapel and a funerary cave could not be linked to Ghassanids. Nevertheless, it is
possible that when it was rebuilt in the sixth century by clarissimus Balbionos, it
could have been visited by them, since the main camp of the Ghassanids – Jābiya
– was situated nearby.
We could see the next element of Byzantinization described by Schreiner,
the interference of the church in the matters pertaining to Byzantinized society
(Schreiner 1989, 55–56), in the meeting of patriarch of Antioch, Ephraim, with al-
ārith. The point of this meeting, as mentioned above, was an offer of conversion
to the Chalcedonian position, which was subsequently rejected by the Ghassanid
ruler (Gracianskij 2006, 89–90).
Did the pagan beliefs survive among the Ghassanids in the age of Justinian?
There is a spurious statement that the same al-ārith, whom Justinian elevated to
the position of king, gave two swords in the offering to the al-Mushallal shrine
of the goddess Manāt in Qudayd, the deity worshipped particularly by the tribes
relatives to Ghassanid Aws and Khazraj (On the shrine: EI 6 1987, 373–374,
s.v. Manāt (T. Fahd); Peters 1994, 16. On the offering by al-ārith: Ibn al-Kalbī,
p. 13–14; Whittow 1999, 217; King 2004, 223; critique of this thesis: Shahîd
2000, 140; Shahîd 2009, 221–223). The same source gives also another version
of this offering – to ayyiʾ idol al-Fals on the mountain of Ajaʾ (Ibn al-Kalbī,
p. 51–53; EI 10 1999, 402, s.v. ayyiʾ (I. Shahîd); EI 1 1960, 203, s.v. Adjaʾ and
Salmā (W. Caskel)). Another indication of Arab paganism is the information in
the Pratum spirituale by John Moschos about three warriors leading the captured
young boy from Tyre to be sacriced by the priest. There is no indication that they
were necessarily the Arabs subject to the Jafnids, but the context suggests that
they did, because it happened during the plundering on the behalf of al-Nuʿmān
b. al-Mundhir (John Moschos, col. 3024; Shahîd 1995a, 597; Sahas 1997, 133).
This information cannot be rejected, because it is conrmed by Evagrius. The
Byzantine historian claimed that same Ghassanid leader was sacricing humans
to the pagan demons with his bare hands, although later he received baptism and
melted the golden statue of the goddess Aphrodite (identied with al-ʿUzzā) (Eva-
grius VI 22, p. 238). There are also indications of the cult of the Morning Star
(al-ʿUzzā) among the Arabs of Sinai, and the belief of local inhabitants that these
against the Banū Asad, handed over the camels – the booty from the expedition (Shahîd 2002, 121;
Shahîd 2009, 220–221).
Mariusz Pandura
Arabs may be sacricing young boys (Christides 1974, 50). The cult of al-ʿUzzā
is also mentioned there in the sixth-century source (Ps. Antoninus Placentinus 38,
pp. 184–185). In comparison, the bloody sacrices made by al-Mundhir III the
Lakhmid to al-ʿUzzā are good attested in the sources
Furthermore, in some parts of the Gaulanitis an interesting form of Jewish-
Ghassanid coexistence emerged. Claudine Dauphin has found the Christian sym-
bols intermingled with the Jewish ones on the lintel of a late-antique building in
Farj. This has been interpreted as the proof for the Ghassanid-Jewish coexistence
in that region
. It is quite possible, giving that Gaulanitis in late Antiquity was
the area of Jewish settlement, as well as the place where the Ghassanids lived.
* * *
We do not know much about the Ghassanid education
. The main interme-
diary in the transfer of literature, as well as the proliferation of education must
have been the clergy. They were the main propagators of the use of non-Arabic
language, in this situation the Syriac, the Greek or the Latin. The main cause of
their proliferation of these must have been their earlier sojourn on the territories
without the Arabic population (Schreiner 1989, 57). The use of another language
was an important indicator of Byzantinization (Schreiner 1989, 57–58). In the
case of Ghassanids there is attested the use of Greek language in the inscriptions,
with some cases of Syriac usage (Sachau 1881, 169–190). As Schreiner showed
(Schreiner 1989, 58), the development of a local script is possible during the oc-
currence of the processes of Byzantinization. In the case of sixth-century Arab
foederati of Byzantium we have several inscriptions that are illustrating this pro-
cess from Zebed, arrān al-Lajā and Usays (Robin 2006, 330; Hoyland 2007,
232–234). There are no known translations of ecclesiastical works from Syriac to
Arabic made by the Ghassanid monks, which could be considered as another mark
of Byzantinization (Schreiner 1989, 58), but we may assume that there were some
(Shahîd 2009, 294–295).
It is hard to discern the existence of the Byzantine inuence on the oral po-
etry (Schreiner 1989, 58) in the case of Arab foederati in Byzantium. There were
poets creating on the court of Ghassanids al-Nābigha al-Dhubyāni and assan
b. Thābit yet the instances of their adopting of Byzantine motifs, structures of
composition or words are scanty (Shahîd 2009, 311–314). Nothing certain can
be said about the existence of distinctive Ghassanid hymnography (Shahîd 2009,
The son of al-ārith b. Jabala: Procopius, De Bellis II 28, 13, p. 284; the 400 nuns from Emesa:
Ps. Zachariah VIII 5, p. 206–207 (Hamilton – Brooks), p. 158 (Ahrens – Krüger).
Dauphin 1982, 138; Dauphin 1998, 322; Sivan 2008, 22, 98. Another interpretation of these
ndings was given by Zvi U. Maʽoz (1985, 63) who claimed that these signs are the testimony of
existence of a Christian sect, probably Christianized Jews.
See the remarks of Shahîd 2009, 77–79, 113–115.
Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance – the Byzantinization of nomads in the age of Justinian I
One of the instances of Byzantinization was according to Schreiner the
occurrence of Byzantine inuences in the visual arts and music. The Byzantinized
society usually had contacts with the works of Byzantine architecture (Schreiner
1989, 59). The rulers visiting Constantinople as well as the other cities of the Em-
pire and Ghassanid soldiers must have seen Byzantine buildings. Although there
even emerged a term “Ghassanid subculture” concerning architecture (Ettinghaus-
en 1972, 64), but it seems that the Ghassanid structures were built mainly in the
Byzantine (Constantinopolitan) or Syrian style, the most notable example being
Qar Ibn Wardān where are clear connections to Constantinopolitan buildings
The adaptation of Byzantine motives in decorative art was also occurring
. An
example of this is the existence of Byzantine-style mosaics in the territory inhab-
ited by the Ghassanids.
Ghassanids used to have contacts with different musical traditions. During the
stay at the court of Jabala b. al-Ayham, assan b. Thābit saw and heard the per-
formance of ten singing-girls. Five of them were Byzantines singing their songs
with the accompaniment of an instrument called barba. The other ve, sent from
īra by Iyās b. Qabīsa, were singing their native songs respectively
* * *
After the death of Justinian in 565 his successors did not maintain the elevated
status of the Jafnid kings. First conicts occurred already during the reign of Jus-
tin II (565–578). The Ghassanids were charged with treason, a frequent accusation
levelled against the Arabs in the Byzantine sources (Christides 1971). In fact, as
the result of the victorious ghts against the Lakhmids (al-Mundhir and his son
Qābūs) Ghassanids resolved one of the main problems on the eastern frontier of
Byzantium (EI 2 1965, 1021, s.v. Ghassān (I. Shahîd)), so they were not indispen-
sable anymore. During the reign of Tiberius II (578–582) it occurred an abolition
of the Ghassanid supreme phylarchate. Al-Mundhir and his son al-Nuʿmān shared
the fate of Romulus Augustulus and Gelimer. They were sent to the distant prov-
ince of the Empire. The previous model of defense strategy with the use of Arab
forces concentrated under the command of one Jafnid leader was not replaced by
a new solution.
Grabar 1964, 70: “The monuments which are denitively Ghassānid or Lakhmid are few and
do not seem to have developed original styles, techniques or functions”; Krautheimer 1986, 248;
Genequand 2006, 77, 80.
Schreiner 1989, 59. Genequand 2006, 80: “From an artistic point of view, if considering ar-
chitectural decoration and sculpture one reaches a similar conclusion: there is no proper Ghassanid
style, which can be differentiated from proto-byzantine eastern provincial art”.
Goldziher 1888, 25; Shahîd 2009, 184–185, 189. On these slave singing-girls (qaināt) in Arabic
pre-Islamic culture see Farmer 1929, 10–13; Farmer 1944, 181. On the instrument allegedly used by
these Byzantine singers on the court of Jabala b. Ayham see Farmer 1930; EI 10 2000, 768 s.v. ʿŪd
(J.-Cl. Chabrier).
Mariusz Pandura
In the beginning of the sixth century the eastern territories of Byzantium be-
came conquered by Persians as an effect of the disturbances during the reign of
Phocas (602–610). In connection with the Persian occupation of Himyarite King-
dom, a process beginning in the 570s (Smith 1954, 434; Frye 1983, 158; Peters
1994, 100–101; Potts 2008, 206–211), there emerged a situation which facilitated
the coming to being of a new religious movement with important political and
social aspects the Islam.
When emperor Heraclius reasserted control over the eastern provinces he did
not have sufcient time to impose a new order, which could enable the keeping of
that territory. As a result of the subsequent Islamic conquest the Arab-Byzantine
synthesis took a different shape. A part of the former foederati of Byzantium
joined the new rulers, converted to Islam, and fullled important functions in the
state of Umayyads (Shahîd 1992, 305–306) most notable example of the Arab
Ghassanids was assan b. al-Nuʿmān al Ghassānī. Nevertheless, some remained
Christian (Shboul, Walmsley 1998, 267) and many Ghassanids, along with their
ruler Jabala b. Ayham departed with the Byzantines to Anatolia (Shahid 2001,
369–377; Haldon 2007, 96–97). It was sign of at least partial success of the pro-
cess of Byzantinization
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al-Buldān of al-Imām abu-l ʿAbbās Amad ibn-Jābir al-Balādhuri, by Philip
Khūri itti, vol. 1, (Studies in History, Economics and Public Law 68) New
York 1916.
Evagrius The Ecclesiastical History of Evagrius with the Scholia, ed. by J. Bidez, L. Par-
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by Hishām Ibn-al-Kalbī, transl. by Nabih Amin Faris, (Princeton Oriental
Studies 14) Princeton, N.J. 1952.
Ibn Baṭṭūa The Travels of Ibn Baṭṭūa. A.D. 1325–1354, translated with revisions and
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John of Ephesus, Lives of the Eastern Saints. Syriac text edited and translated
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John of Ephesus, Church History
(transl. by J.M. Schönfelder)
Schönfelder J.M., Die Kirchen-Geschichte des Johannes von Ephesus, aus dem
Syrischen übesetzt. Mit einer Abhandlung über die Tritheiten, München 1862.
(transl. by R. Payne Smith)
The Third Part of the Ecclesiastical History of John Bishop of Ephesus, now
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Menander Protector
Menander Protector, Continuatio historiae Agathiae, in Fragmenta Historicorum
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Procopius, Procopii Caesariensis Opera omnia, rec. Jacobus Haury, (Bibliotheca Scripto-
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– Anecdota vol. 3:
Historia quae dicitur arcana, 1963.
– De bellis vol. 1:
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Ps. Antoninus Placentinus
Antonini Placentini Itinerarium, in Itinera Hierosolymitana saeculi IIII–VIII,
rec. Paulus Geyer, (Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum 39) Pragae
– Vindobinae – Lipsiae 1898, pp. 157–191.
Ps. Dionysius of Tel-Mahre
Pseudo-Dionysius of Tel-Mahre, Chronicle (known also as the Chronicle of
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Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Institute of Classical, Mediterranean and Oriental Studies
University of Wrocław
Studies on the Eurasian Nomadic Societies
and Their Relations with the Outside World
Volume 1
Acta Euroasiatica
Studies on the Eurasian Nomadic Societies and Their Relations with the Outside World
1, 2013
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Institute of Classical, Mediterranean and Oriental Studies
University of Wrocław
Editorial Board:
Aleksander Paroń (Editor-in-Chief), Gościwit Malinowski (Editor),
Bartłomiej Sz. Szmoniewski (Editor), Hanna Urbańska (Secretary)
Adress of the Editorial Board:
Centre for Late Antiquity and Early Medieval Studies
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences
ul. Więzienna 6, 50-118 Wrocław, Poland
Editorial Council:
Florin Curta (University of Florida, Gainesville), Halina Dobrzańska (Institute of Archaeology
and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków), Sławomir Kadrow (Institute of Archaeology
and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków), Aleksey Komar (Institute of Archaeology,
National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Kiev), Igor Kyzlasov (Institute of Archaeology,
Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow), Li Jinxiu (Institute of History, Chinese Academy of
Social Sciences, Beijing), Sławomir Moździoch (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish
Academy of Sciences, Wrocław), Svetlana Sharapova (Institute of History and Archaeology, Russian
Academy of Sciences, Ural Branch, Ekaterinburg), Victor Spinei (Ioan Cuza University, Iaşi),
Witold Świętosławski (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Łódź),
Valentina Voinea (National Museum of History and Archaeology, Constanţa), Sergey Yatsenko
(State University of Humanities, Moscow)
Florin Curta (University of Florida, Gainesville), Li Jinxiu (Institute of History, Chinese Academy
of Social Sciences, Beijing), Witold Świętosławski (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish
Academy of Sciences, Łódź), Piotr Włodarczak (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish
Academy of Sciences, Kraków), Sergey Yatsenko (State University of Humanities, Moscow)
Linguistic consultation:
Michael Fyall, Violetta Marzec, Justin Nnorom, Anna Tyszkiewicz
Cover designed idea by:
Bartłomiej Sz. Szmoniewski
On the cover: Petroglyphs from Central Asia (modied)
Technical Editor: Joanna Wagner-Głowińska
Acta Euroasiatica © Copyright 2013. All Right Reserved
All papers are copyright to their authors,
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and University of Wrocław
ISSN PL 2353-2262
Table of contents
Editorial 7
Studies 10
Valentina Voinea
Cultural interference during the Eneolithic Period in Dobrudja 11
Hanna Urbańska
Some ancient Chinese stories about white rainbow 29
Mariusz Pandura
Perceiving otherness, creating resemblance – the Byzantinization
of nomads
in the age of Justinian I: the Arabs 43
Erwin Gáll
Márton Roska (1880–1961)and the archaeological research
of the 10
and 11
centuries 71
Kristina A. Lavysh
Selected elements of East European nomadic cultures
(10th–15th centuries) on the territory
of the present-day Belarus 105
Authors 144
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
It is a great merit of Irfan Shahid's increasingly monumental series of works Byzantium and the Arabs to bring to the notice of scholars, both Byzantinists and Arabists , inscriptions mentioning figures who should be more widely known as they fit into the context of their times.
Perhaps the most astonishing failure of the Age of Justinian was the disintegration of the one Christian Church of the one Christian Empire into two distinct churches - what we now call Eastern Orthodoxy, on one hand, and the Oriental Orthodox (notably the Jacobite and the Coptic churches) on the other, a division only beginning to be healed in our own time. Remarkably, it seems that this division happened not, as a modern might think, because of nationalistic struggles against the empire, or any desire for autonomy by regional churches, but simply because church leaders, emperors, theologians, and monks, most of them devoted to the ideal of one church and one empire, were unable to resolve a longstanding theological dispute over how one was to understand and talk about Christ’s divine-human reality, the debate over Christology. In the end, the dispute left behind it not only divided churches, a weakened empire, and a redefined role for the emperor, but also new ways of thinking and believing that mark the beginning of Byzantium proper and the end of late antiquity. The Background Doctrinal Foundations and Founding Legends (100–400) The kind of Christianity that won the right to call itself the apostolic faith in the first two centuries CE established as authoritative the first three gospels and the teachings of Paul, all of which assumed the genuine humanity of Jesus. That was to be a foundation of mainline Christology. It is significant, however, that heirs of the original Jewish Christians, who seem to have said that Jesus was only a human being, were by 180 being dismissed as heretics, and that in 268 Paul of Samosata was condemned as a heretic for, among other things, saying that Jesus was a man inspired in essentially the same way as a prophet was inspired.
This article deals with the issue of tribal kings in pre-Islamic Arabia. These kings, mulūk in Arabic, were no more than tribal leaders who bore the title, malik, and placed crowns on their heads. Some of them had derived power from the Sassanid emperor who used to grant them crowns. Their scope of autority was mainly local, limited to the specific territory of their own tribes, or in some cases, was extended to include other territories by means of a federation of tribes. Supported by a garrison of horsemen from the Persian army they could impose their power over the population and territory as well. Their dominion took the form of an annual tribute extracted from the inhabitants under their control. They also acquired control over the seasonal markets held in their area, and the trade routes as well. In return, the tribal king was responsible for his tribesmen's lives and the security of their property.