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main positions, in the hilly regions of the upper Pyramus, were the forts of Kanisah and Haruniyah.1 This line, from Melitene (which gave his title to the Emir of the district) to Anazarbos, formed the defence against invasion of Mesopotamia. The province of Syria was secured by another line, in which the chief points were Mopsuestia (Massisah), Adana and Tarsus. When the coast road, emerging from the Syrian Gates, had swept round the bay of Issus, it turned inland to Mopsuestia, and thence ran due westward to Tarsus, passing Adana, which it entered by the old bridge of Justinian across the Sarus. Under Harun, Tarsus was garrisoned by eight thousand soldiers, and it was fortified by double walls surrounded by a moat.
Of the Taurus mountain passes, through which the Christians and Moslems raided each other's lands, the two chief were (1) the defiles, known from ancient times as the Cilician Gates, through which the Saracens, when Tarsus was their base, carried the Holy War into the central regions of Asia Minor, and (2) the pass which connected Germanicia with Arabissos.
The pass of the Cilician Gates, famous in ancient as well as in medieval history, is about seventy miles in length from the point where the ascent from the central plateau of Asia Minor begins, south of Tyana, to the point where the southern foothills of Taurus merge in the Cilician plain. Near the northern extremity of the pass, a lofty isolated peak rises to the height of about a thousand feet, commanding a wide view both of the southern plains of Cappadocia and of the northern slopes of Taurus. On this impregnable height stood the fortress of Lulon, which, though it could defy armed assault, yet, whether by treachery or long blockades, passed frequently backwards and forwards from the Saracens to the Romans. It was the key of the Cilician pass. While it was in the hands
of the Romans, it was difficult for a Saracen army to invade
1 These have not been identified. The latter, built by Harun (A.D. 799) was a day's march to the west of Germanicia, and Kanisah-as-Sawda, "the black church," was about twelve miles from Haruniyah. Le Strange, Eastern Caliphate, pp. 128-9.
2 The following description of the
pass is derived from Ramsay, Cilicia.
Cappadocia; while the Saracens held it, an Imperial army could not venture to enter the defiles.1 The northern road to Tyana and the western road to Heraclea meet close to Lulon at the foot of the pass, so that the fort commanded both these ways.
The road winding first eastward and then turning south ascends to the oval vale of Podandos, called the "Camp of Cyrus," because the younger Cyrus encamped here on his march against his brother.2 The path rises from Podandos through steep and narrow glens to the summit of the pass; and on the east side, high up on the mountain, it was commanded by a stronghold, built of black stone, known as the Fortress of the Slavs.3 From the summit, marked by a little plateau which is now called Tekir, a descent of about three miles leads to the rocky defile which was known as the Cilician Gates and gave its name to the whole pass. It is a passage, about a hundred yards long and a few yards wide,5 between rock walls rising perpendicular on either side, and capable of being held against a large force by a few resolute men. Above, on the western summit, are the remains of an old castle which probably dates from the times when Greeks and Saracens strove for the possession of the mountain frontier.
In the period with which we are concerned Podandos and the pass itself seem to have been durably held by the Saracens. Lulon frequently changed hands. When the Romans were in possession, it served as the extreme station of the line of beacons, which could flash to Constantinople, across highlands and plains of Asia Minor, the tidings of an
1 Cp. Ramsay, Asia Minor, 354. 2 Ramsay (Cilicia, 386 sqq.) shows that Cyrus and Xenophon did not march through the Cilician Gates proper. From Podandos (Bozanti) they took a south-easterly path, which followed the course of the Chakut-Su and was the direct way to Adana but a considerably longer route to Tarsus.
3 Hisn as-Sakalibah. The ruins are known as Anasha Kalahsi; they stand high on Mt. Anasha (Ramsay, ib. 383). In the reign of Justinian II. there was a large desertion of Slavs to the Arabs (Theoph. A.M. 6184), and doubtless these or similar deserters were placed as a garrison in this fort. The Greeks
called the fort Rodentós (Constantine, Themes, 19, where it is mentioned with Lulon and Podandos). The Butrentum of the Crusaders may be, as Ramsay suggests, a contamination of Podandos and Rodentos.
4 Ramsay points out that this is in modern warfare strategically the most important point of the pass. In ancient times the places of most importance, because most easily defensible by a small body, were the Gates south of the summit and the narrow glen descending to Podandos, north of the summit.
5 The Roman road was about 11 feet wide (Ramsay, 379).
impending invasion.1 The light which blazed from the lofty hill of Lulon was seen by the watchers on the peak of Mount Argaios-not the Argaios which looks down on Caesarea, but another mountain, south-east of Lake Tatta. It travelled in its north-westward course across the waters of the lake, to be renewed on the hill of Isamos, and the signal was taken up on the far-off height of Aigilos. The beacon of Aigilos, visible to the great military station of Dorylaion which lies on the river Tembris some thirty miles to the north-west, signalled to Mamas, a hill in the south-eastern skirts of Mount Olympus, and another fire passed on the news to Mokilos. The light of Mokilos crossed the Bithynian Gulf, and the last beacon on the mountain of St. Auxentios transmitted the message to those who were set to watch for it in the Pharos of the Great Palace.
Such telegraphic communication had been devised in remote antiquity, and had been employed by the Romans elsewhere. But the mere kindling of beacons could only convey a single message, and if the line of fires in Asia Minor was established as early as the eighth century, they were probably lit solely to transmit the news that a Saracen incursion was imminent. But a simple plan for using the beacons to send as many as twelve different messages is said to have been contrived by Leo the mathematician 2 and adopted by the Emperor Theophilus. Two clocks were constructed which kept exactly the same time and were set together; one was placed in the palace, the other in the fortress nearest to the Cilician frontier. Twelve occurrences, which were likely to happen and which it was important to know, were selected; one of the twelve hours was assigned to each; and they were written on the faces of both clocks. If at four o'clock the commander of Lulon became aware that the enemy were about to cross
1 The list of the stations is given in Constantine, IIepì ra§. 492, and C. Th. 197 Cedrenus, ii. 174. See Ramsay, Asia Minor, pp. 352-3 and 187 (cp. his maps of Galatia and Bithynia). The stations are given thus in the texts (1) Lulon, (2) Argaios, C. Th., Cedr.; Aiyéas Bouvós, Const., (3) Isamos (Samos, Const.), (4) Aigilon (Aigialos, Cedr.), (5) Mamas, C. Th., Čedr.;
the frontier, he waited till the
Olympus, Const., (6) Kyrizos, C. Th., Const. (Kirkos, Cedr.), (7) Múκiλos, C. Th., Μώκιλλος, Cedr. Μούκιλος ἐπάνω Tŵv ПIvλŵv, Const., (8) S. Auxentios (Kaich-Dagh), (9) Palace. I have followed Ramsay's general identification of the route. He conjectures that Kyrizos is Katerli Dagh, and identifies Mokilos with Samanli Dagh. 2 See below, Chap. XIV. § 2.
hour of one and then lit his beacon; and the watchers in the Palace, seeing the light on Mount Auxentios, knew at what hour the first fire was kindled and therefore what the signal meant. A signal made at two o'clock announced that hostilities had begun, and a three o'clock despatch signified a conflagration.1
In expeditions to Commagene and Mesopotamia, the Imperial armies generally followed the road from Arabissos (Yarpuz) which, crossing the Taurus, descends to Germanicia. The troops of the Eastern Asiatic Themes met those which came from the west at Caesarea, and a road crossing the Antitaurus range by the Kuru-Chai pass2 took them to Sirica and Arabissos. But at Sirica (perhaps Kemer) they had an alternative route which was sometimes adopted. They could proceed southward by Kokusos (Geuksun) and reach Germanicia by the Ayer-Bel pass.
At the beginning of the ninth century, a great part of Cappadocia east and south-east of the upper Halys had become a frontier land, in which the Saracens, although they did not occupy the country, had won possession of important strongholds, almost to the very gates of Caesarea. If they did not hold already, they were soon to gain the forts in the Antitaurus region which commanded the roads to Sis, and Kokusos which lay on one of the routes to Germanicia.* Το the north, they seem to have dominated the country as far west as the road from Sebastea to Arabissos. the Antitaurus range, Arabissos was the only important place of which the Empire retained possession.5 The fact that the
1 Pseudo- Simeon 681 sq. is the authority for the ὡρολόγια δύο ἐξ ἴσου κάμνοντα.
2 Ramsay, Asia Minor, 271; for Sirica, 274.
3 Anderson, Road System (28), where all the routes over the Taurus are described. There were two ways from Caesarea southward to Sis and Anazarbos, ib. 29.
4 The penetration of Cappadocia by the Arabs before 873 can be partly inferred from the details of the campaigns of Basil I., who undertook to drive them out of the country. Cp. Anderson, Campaign of Basil I. (cit. supra) and Road System, 34 sq. The position of Amara, where they settled
And, south of
the Paulicians, is another indication. It seems probable that they had achieved this position in Eastern Asia Minor before the end of the 8th century. Ramsay (Asia Minor, 278) exaggerates when he says that after 780 the Greek arms were probably never seen again in Eastern Cappadocia till Basil's expedition in 880"; at least, the frequent Roman expedi tions to Commagene passed through south-eastern Cappadocia.
5 Ramsay (ib. 276) infers from Basil's campaign in 877 that Arabissos was then in the hands of the Saracens. I doubt whether the inference is
justified; Basil's march to Germanicia by the western pass seems to have
Charsian province was designated as a Kleisurarchy is a significant indication of the line of the eastern frontier. It was the business of the Charsian commander to defend the kleisurai or passes of the Antitaurus hills.
§ 4. The Warfare in the Reigns of Harun and Mamun
Till the middle of the tenth century when the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas made a serious effort to drive the Moslems from Syria, the wars between the Empire and Caliphate are little more than a chronicle of reciprocal incursions which seldom penetrated very far into the enemy's country. The chief events were the capture and recapture of the fortresses in the Taurus and Antitaurus highlands; occasionally an expedition on a larger scale succeeded in destroying some important town. The record of this monotonous warfare is preserved more fully in the Arabic than in the Greek chronicles. It would be as useless as it were tedious to reproduce here the details of these annual campaigns. It will be enough to notice the chief vicissitudes, and the more important incidents, in a struggle whose results, when the Amorian dynasty fell, showed a balance in favour of the Saracens.
During the last few years of the reign of Irene, the warfare slumbered; 1 it would seem that she purchased immunity from invasion by paying a yearly sum to the Caliph. One of the first decisions of Nicephorus was to refuse to continue this humiliating tribute, and the Arab historians quote letters which they allege to have passed between the Emperor and the Caliph on this occasion.2 Nicephorus demanded back the money which had been paid through "female weakness." The epistle, if it is authentic, was
been dictated by other considerations. In any case, Arabissos must have been Imperial during most of the Amorian period.
1 According to Michael Syr. 12, however, there were two Saracen invasions after the deposition of Constantine VI.: in the first, Aetius gained a victory, in the second the Romans were defeated.
2 They are given by Tabari (as well as later writers). Translations in Gibbon, chap. 52, and Weil, ii. 159. Brooks regards them as spurious, and thinks that the story of the peace with Irene (Rina), which is not mentioned by Theophanes, was an Arab invention. It is not mentioned by Michael Syr., who, however, states that Nicephorus sent a letter to Harun (16).