Antiochia ad Orontem (Antioch-on-the-Orontes) is situated at the easternmost end of Mediterranean and approximately 25 km. from the sea. Today it remains as a small town, the administrative center of Hatay province, but has been once one of the thriving cities of the antique world. It was called the “Queen of the East” in the Roman Period, having been accepted to be one of the four major cities of “the world” (i.e. the Roman Empire). The city expanded from the banks of the Orontes River to the western slopes of the Cassius mountain range. The major urban element, the Orontes River, was navigable in the antiquity and connected the city to Seleucia Pieria (Samandağ) that served Antioch as its main port.
Antiochia was founded by Seleucos I Nicator around 300 B.C. It turned into a significant Roman city after the Seleucid Kingdom fell under the Roman rule at 64 B.C., and gradually became the administrative and military center of the East. Antioch was famous for its vivid and colorful urban life since the times that it was founded. The city held onto its Hellenistic roots and traditions up until the Arab occupation in the 7th century and Greek remained as the main language of the center. On the other hand, throughout its territorium the continuation of numerous local languages and traditions –essentially Syriac- could still be observed.
While the city already presented a colorful mosaic of various religious traditions -the Jewish community that was an important component of demography since its foundation and numerous pagan cults-, it also became one of the first centers of Christianity. Antioch was one of the first metropolises where Christians reached important numbers, especially on account of its dominance on the road system that linked Jerusalem to the west. The city was evangelized, based on the tradition that associated Paul and Peter with Antioch. Antioch was finally approved as a patriarchate during the Chalcedon Council (451 A.D.). However, in Antioch, already a center of religious controversies among Christians before this date, the already existing tribulations gradually turned into problems between the supporters of the Chalcedonian creed and the others. Soon after, these problems turned into a rivalry with significant socio-political projections.
The sixth century was a traumatic period for Antioch. The subsequent earthquakes of 526 and 528 were particularly destructive, although full-scale restorations were put in action immediately, supported with imperial funding and patronage. Nonetheless, the Persian sack of 540 was equally devastating and Chosroes I, who did not contended with the demolition of the city, inflicted another heavy blow to its prestige; he settled the hostages in a city called “Antioch of Chosroes”, constructed with actual spolia ripped from Antioch during the sack. The rest of the sixth century was equally challenging, marked by other earthquakes, a second Sassanid invasion, and the plague that came in waves throughout the century and further.
The urban and architectural elements of the city remain essentially unknown with the exception of what can be gathered from the textual sources. Most of the Hellenistic urban fabric was destructed during the earthquake of 148 B.C. and for various reasons the excavations held at Antioch in 1930s by a team from Princeton University failed to uncover the main Roman and Byzantine monuments of the city. Nonetheless, a survey led under the direction of Doç. Dr. Hatice Pamir from 2002 onwards concentrated on reevaluating the remains throughout the city and from 2010 onwards limited excavations were held on the island under the direction of Hatay Museum and under scientific counseling of Hatice Pamir, where the most important monuments of Antioch once stood.
French scholarship has been effectively involved in research at Antioch and its territorium. Although it may not be possible to name each and every one of them, some important scholars should still be mentioned. Jean Lassus worked with the Princeton team and edited the last of the excavation volumes. More recently, the studies of Catherine Saliou and Grégoire Poccardi offered significant contributions on the historical topography of Antioch, through careful and detailed reexamination of the ancient texts. The groundbreaking archaeological studies of Jean-Pierre Sodini and George Tate have redefined our understanding of Late Antique Antiochene countryside and its dynamics. A French team from l’UMR 8538 (ENS-CNRS) still continues their research on the water systems of Antioch in collaboration with the Turkish team.
- Elderkin, George W. Antioch-on-the-Orontes, I: Excavations 1932. Committee for The Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1934.
- Stillwell, Richard. Antioch-on-the-Orontes II, The Excavations 1933-1936. Committee for The Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1938.
- Stillwell, Richard. Antioch-on-the-Orontes III, The Excavations 1937-1939. Committee for The Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1941.
- Waage, Frederick O. Antioch-on-the-Orontes IV:I,Ceramics and Islamic Coins. Committee for The Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1948.
- Waage, Dorothy B. Antioch-on-the-Orontes IV:II,Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Crusider Coins. Committee for The Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952.
- Lassus, Jean. Antioch On-The-Orontes V, Les Portiques d’Antioch. Committee for The Excavation of Antioch and Its Vicinity, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.
Archaeological Survey in the Orontes Valley directed Hatice Pamir (2002- ):
- Brands, Gunnar, ‘Orientis apex pulcher- Die Krone des Orients: Antiochia und seine Mauern in Kaiserzeit und Spätantike’, Antike Welt 35 (2004): 11–16.
- Brands, Gunnar, and Cornelius Meyer, “Antioch-On-The-Orontes and Seleucia Pieria 2004: Preliminary Results of the Geophysical Survey.” Arkeometri Sonuçları Toplantısı 21 (2005): 149–154.
- Pamir, Hatice and Gunnar Brands. “Asi Deltası ve Asi Vadisi Arkeoloji Projesi: Antiocheia, Seleuceia Pieria ve Sabuniye Yüzey Araştırmaları 2004 Yılı Çalışmaları.” Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantıları 23 (2005): 89-102.
- Pamir, Hatice and Gunnar Brands. “Asi Deltası ve Asi Vadisi Arkeolojisi Projesi: Antakya ve Samandağ Yüzey Araştırmaları 2005.” Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantıları 24 (2006): 397–418.
- Pamir, Hatice, Gunnar Brands and Figen Çevirici. “Hatay İli, Antakya, Samandağ ve Yayladağı: Yüzey Araştırması 2006”, Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantıları 25 (2007): 393–410.
- Pamir, Hatice, Gunnar Brands and Shinichi Nishiyama. “Hatay Yüzey Araştırmaları 2007: Antakya, Samandağ, Yayladığı ve Altınözü”, Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantıları 26 (2008): 1–12.
- Pamir, Hatice and Gunnar Brands, “The Asi Delta and the Asi Valley Archaeological Project in 2004: Samandağ and Antakya Surveys”, ANMED 3 (2005): 103–108.
- Pamir, Hatice and İnanç Yamaç, ‘Hatay Yüzey Araştırmaları 2010: Antakya, Samandağ, Yayladığı ve Altınözü’, Araştırma Sonuçları Toplantıları 29 (2011): 361–389.
- Alpi, Frédéric. La Route Royale: Sévère d’Antioche et les Eglises d’Orient, Vol. 1. Bayreuth: Institut Français du Proche-Orient, 2009.
- Ataman, Demir. Çağlar içinde Antakya. İstanbul: Akbank, 1996.
- Butler, Howard C. Early Churches in Syria: Fourth to Seventh Centuries. Edited and completed by E. Baldwin Smith. Princeton: Publication for the Department of Art and Archaeology of Princeton University, 1929.
- Ciggaar, Krijnie and Michael Metcalf. East and West in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean I: Antioch from the Byzantine Reconquest until the End of the Crusader Principality. Leuven: Peeters, 2006.
- Ciggaar, Krijnie and Victoria van Aalst. East and West in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean II: Antioch from the Byzantine Reconquest until the End of the Crusader Principality. Leuven: Peeters, 2013.
- Djobadze, Wachtang Z. Materials for the study of Georgian monasteries in the Western environs of Antioch on the Orontes. Louvain: Secrétariat du Corpus SCO, 1976.
- Djobadze, Wachtang Z. Archeological Investigations in the Region West of Antioch on-the-Orontes. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1986.
- Donceel-Voûte, Pauline. Les pavements des églises byzantines de la Syrie et du Liban. Décor, archéologie et liturgie, Vol. I. Louvain-la-Neuve: Publications de l’Institute Superior d’Archéologie et d’Histoire de l’Art de l’Université Catholique de Louvain, 1988.
- Downey, Glanville. A History of Antioch in Syria, from Seleucus to the Arab Conquest. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.
- Festugière, André-Jean. Antioche païenne et chrétienne : Libanius, Chrysostome et les moines de Syrie. Paris: Éditions E. de Boccard, 1959.
- Foss, Clive. “Syria in Transition, A.D. 550-750: An Archaeological Approach.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 51 (1997): 189-269.
- Gerritsen Fokke, et al. “Settlement and Landscape Transformations in the Amuq Valley, Hatay: A Long Term Perspective.” Anatolica 34 (2008): 241-314.
- Jalabert Louis and René Mouterde. Inscriptions grecques et latines de la Syrie, Vol III-b: Antioche. Paris: Geuthner, 1953.
- Kennedy, Hugh N. “The Last Century of Byzantine Syria: A Reinterpretation.” Byzantinische Forschungen 10 (1985): 141-183.
- Kondoleon, Christine. Antioch: The Lost Ancient City. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.
- Lafontaine-Dosogne, Jacqueline. Itinéraires Archéologiques dans la Région d’Antioche. Brussels: Éditions de Byzantion, 1967.
- Levi, Doro. Antioch Mosaic Pavements. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1947.
- Liebeschuetz, John H. W. G. Antioch: City and Imperial Administration in the Later Roman Empire. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971.
- Mayer, Wendy and Pauline Allen. The Churches of Antioch (300-638 CE). Leuven: Peeters, 2012.
- Mécérian, Jean S. J. Expédition Archéologique dans l’Antiochène Occidentale. Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, 1965.
- Pamir, Hatice. “Antakya (Antiocheia ad Orontes)’ daki Bazı Hamam Yapılarının Yeniden Değerlendirilmesi, F Hamamı, Narlıca Hamamı ve Çekmece Hamamı.” In EUERGETES: Festschrift für Prof. Dr. Haluk Abbasoğlu zum 65. Geburstag, edited by Inci Dalaman et al., 945-963. Antalya: Suna İnan Kıraç Akdeniz Medeniyetlerini Araştırma Enstitüsü, 2008.
- Petit, Paul. Libanius et la vie municipale à Antioche au IVe siècle après J.-C. Paris : Geuthner, 1955.
- Poccardi, Grégoire. “Pour un nouveau plan urbain de l’île de l’Oronte (Ville Neuve) du IIIe au Ve siècle à Antioche de Syrie.” MEFRA 106/2 (1994): 993-1023.
- Poccardi, Grégoire and Jacques Leblanc. “Étude de la permanence des tracés urbains et ruraux antiques à Antioche-sur-l’Oronte.” Syria 76, (1999): 91-126.
- Poccardi, Grégoire. “L’île d’Antioche à la fin de l’Antiquité: histoire et problème de topographie urbaine.” In Recent Research in Late Antique Urbanism IV, edited by Luke Lavan, 155-172. New-Jersey: Portsmouth, 2000.
- Saliou, Catherine, Bernadette Cabouret and Pierre-Louis Gatier. Antioche de Syrie, Histoire, images et traces de la ville antique. Topoi Orient Occident, Supplement 5. Paris: De Boccard, 2004.
- Saliou, Catherine. “Les fondations d’Antioche dans l’Antiochikos (Or. XI) de Libanios.” Aram 11-12 (1999-2000): 357-388.
- Saliou, Catherine. “À propos de la Taurianè pulè Remarques sur la localisation présumée de la Grande Église d’Antioche de Syrie.” Syria 77, 2000: 217-226.
- Saliou, Catherine. “Identité culturelle et paysage urbain : remarques sur les processus de transformation des rues à portiques dans l’Antiquité Tardive.” Syria 82, 2005: 207-224
- Saliou, Catherine. “Le palais impérial d’Antioche et son contexte à l’époque de Julien. Réflexions sur l’apport des sources littéraires à l’histoire d’un espace urbain.” Antiquité Tardive 17, 2009: 235-250.
- Sandwell, Isabella and Janet Huskinson. Culture and Society in Later Roman Antioch. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2004.
- Seyhun, Melis H. Antioch Through the Eyes of European Travellers. İstanbul: Kofisa, 2007.
- Sodini, Jean-Pierre et al. Déhès (Syrie du nord) : campagnes I-III (1976-1978) : recherches sur l’habitat rural. Paris : Geuthner, 1980.
- Sodini, Jean-Pierre. “Qal’at Sem’an et DeirSem’an: Naissance et développement d’un lieu de pèlerinage durant l’antiquité tardive.” In Architecture paléochrétienne, edited by Jean-Michel Spieser, 11-59. Gollion: Infolio, 2011. (A good summary among his many articles on Qal’at Sem’an).
- Soler, Emmanuel. Le sacré et le salut à Antioche au IVe siècle apr. J.-C. : Pratiques festives et comportements religieux dans le processus de christianisation de la cite. Beyrouth: IFAPO, 2006.
- Tate, Georges. Les campagnes de la Syrie du Nord du IIe au VIIe siècle. Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1992.
- Tchalenko, Georges. Villages antiques de la Syrie du Nord, Vols. I-III. Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1953-1958.
- Vorderstrasse, Tasha. Al-Mina: A Port of Antioch from Late Antiquity to the End of the Ottomans. Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 2005.
- Yener, Kutlu Aslıhan. The Amuq Valley Regional Projects, Vol. 1. Chicago: Oriental Institute Publications, 2005.