Looking at Apamia أفاميا through Strabo سترابو

Strabos Map
Strabos Map


Strabo (Greek: Στράβων; 63/64 BC – ca. AD 24) was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.

Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus (modern Amasya, Turkey),a city which he said to be situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea. Pontus had recently fallen to the Roman Empire, and although politically he was a proponent of Roman imperialism,

Strabo is mostly famous for his 17-volume work Geographica, which presented a descriptive history of people and places from different regions of the world known to his era


hellenistic settlments map
hellenistic settlments map

We can trace at least four names for the city that we ultimately know as Apameia: Pharnke , Pella, Ghersonese, and Apameia.

Seleukos I Nikator founded Apameia on the site of a village called Pharnake. This was obviously a Persian settlement. Strabo (16.2.10) tells us that the site was also “called Pella at one time, by the first Macedonians, because the majority of the Macedonians who made the expedition took up their abode there, and because Pella, the native city of Philip and Alexander, had become, as it were, the metropolis of the Macedonians’ .Strabo does not say who settled these Macedonians; however, it is a reasonable assumption that it was either Alexander or. More probably, Antigonos 1 Monophthalmos. After the battle of Ipsos in 301 B.C. Seleukos came into possession of Syria. Strabo says that Seleukos names Apameia for his wife Apama. Inasmuch as Seleukos probably Maries Stratonike in 299B.C. it is reasonable to expect that he was discreet enough to found and name Apameia before this! In other words, we may expect that Apameia was founded in the period 201-299 B.C. this, of course, is the same period when Seleukos founded Antoch near Daphne and Seleukela in Pieria. Because the Orontes and lade, it was also called Chersonese.

Starbo describes Apamiea as one of the four cities of the Tetrapolis of Seleukos(along with ANTIOCH near Daphne, SELEUKEIA in Pieria, and LAODIKEIA by the sea) founded by Seleukos Nikator. He emphasizes the strategic importance of the site and the fertility of the surrounding region. Apameia was the military headquarter of the Seleucid Empire. Strabo says, that Seleukos and his successors kept most of the army there as well as the elephants and horses ; it was the site of the war office and the royal stud. Strabo also adds that it was situated close to the Ptolemic fortress. In other words, until 200 B.C. Apameia protected the southern flank of Seleucid Syria. The Hellenistic city wall enclosed and area of approximately 255 hectares.

Demetrios Poliorjetes was brought as a captive to Apameia in 285 B.C. and died there two years later while being kept

apamea plan
apamea plan

under guard by Seleukos. In 221 B.C. Antiochos III assembled his forces at Apameia before moving to Laodikeia.

Strabo says that Seleukis was divides into four satrapies; Apameia was the seat of the Apamene satrapy and had a number of towns and fortresses in its territory. Among these were LARISA, KASANA, MEGARA, and APOLLONIA. Strabo says these as well as other towns were the dependencies of Apameia and paid tribute to it. it is interesting to note, incidentally, that Stabo describes Diodotos Tryphon as native of Kasiana; Athenaeums simply says he was from Apameia. When Tryphon rebelled these towns supported him. Ultimately Tryphon was besieged, captures, and put to death at Apameia, later Antiochos IX Kyzikenos built a citadel at Apameia, which Pompey subsequently frustrated. In the past it had been assumed that there was an active royal mint at Apameia in the third century B.C. this should now be considered doubtful; a number of scholars have questioned the attributions of early Selucid coinage to Apameia that had been made by Newell in Western Seleucid Mints. Under Antiochos IV Epiphanes and Alexander Balas Apameia produced quasimunicipal cons with the portrait of the kings on the obverse. The municipal coinage of the first century B.C. bears the legend’Aitameon the iepaekao aeynoy. Under the empire Zeus Belos was worshipped at Apameia. In the first century B.C. the Seleucid area was temporarily replaced by Popeian era. The Macedonian calendar is attested for the Roman period.


It is common to refer to this city as Apameia on the Orontes. Nevertheless, as far as I Know, the city is never called that in the ancient sources. Appian and cassius Dio refer to it as Apameia of Syria. Most others writers call it simply Apameia. On the coinage we find the legend ATIAMEON and, under Antiochos IV Epiphanes, AIIAMWON TON IIIPOW TO ASIOL; the latter name id also found is Aozomenos .

Like Laodikieia by the sea, the main street of Apameia was on a north south axis. The east west streets off the main street were spaces at intervals of approximately 107 meter were 54 meter apart. According to the Cenusus of 6/7 A.D the population was 117.000. If by this term we understand adult, male citizens, then the total population of Apameia could have approaches 400,000.

There was a local tradition that the mausoleum of Alexander was located 2 kilometers north-northwest of the city. In addition, the Suda’Euphorion’ records one tradition that Euphorion of Chlkis, the librarioan at Antiosh, was buried at Apameia, and another threat he was buried at Antioch. When Antiochos VI ascended the Seleucid throne he first minted coins at Apameia.



Hellenistic Settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin, and North Africa
Cohen, Getzel M.


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