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Friday, 12 August 2011

Antioch

 The Syrian city of Antioch was founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals

St. Luke recorded in the Book of Acts 11v26  that Barnabas and Paul taught great numbers of people at Antioch, who were the first believers to be called Christians.

In Roman times Antioch had a population density of about 117 inhabitants per acre—more than three times that of New York City today.

For eight years St. Jerome lived among the desert hermits in the wilds near Antioch, in a hole in the sand.

A devastating earthquake struck Antioch during late May 526 at mid-morning killing 250,000. The earthquake was followed by a fire that destroyed most of the buildings, which had remained standing  It has been suggested that the very high number of casualties was a result of there being a large number of visitors in the city from the surrounding countryside, there to celebrate Ascension Day.

Antioch surrendered to the Muslim forces under Rashidun Caliphate after the Battle of the Iron Bridg on October 30, 637.

Once a great metropolis of half a million people, Antioch declined to insignificance during the Middle Ages because of warfare, repeated earthquakes and a change in trade routes, which no longer passed through Antioch from the far east, following the Mongol conquests. By 1432 there were only about 300 inhabited houses within its walls, mostly occupied by Turcomans.

Few traces of the once great Roman city are visible today aside from the massive fortification walls that snake up the mountains to the east of the modern city, several aqueducts, and the Church of St Peter.

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