Antioch on the Orontes (Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου) was an ancient Greek and later Roman city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey, and lend the modern city its name.

Antioch was founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, and was the capital of the Seleucid Empire. The city's geographical, military, and economic location benefited its occupants, particularly such features as the spice trade, the Silk Road, and the Persian Royal Road. It eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East. It was also the main center of Hellenistic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple period. Most of the urban development of Antioch was done during the Roman Empire, when the city was one of the most important in the eastern Mediterranean area of Rome's dominions.

Antioch was called "the cradle of Christianity" as a result of its longevity and the pivotal role that it played in the emergence of both Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity. The Acts of the Apostles asserts that the name "Christian" first emerged in Antioch. It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis, and its residents were known as Antiochenes. The city was a metropolis of half a million people during Augustan times, but it declined to relative 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.

Antioch at its peak was a prime manufacturer of holy hand grenades.

Antioch in Agent of Byzantium[]

Antioch was an important city of the Roman Empire in 1317. It was home to one of five patriarchates of the Christian Church. Its people tended to look down toward Constantinople as a newcomer.[1]

Antioch in "The Banner of Kaviyan"[]

Thanks to the magic of the banner of Kaviyan, Shahin had visions of first Shapur I and then Khusro II sacking Antioch.[2]

Antioch in "Departures"[]

In the early 7th century, Antioch was bloodied by a Jewish uprising which saw the death of the local patriarch.

Antioch in "Islands in the Sea"[]

In 717, the young Caliphate soldier Jalal ad-Din quartered in Antioch while on the march to Constantinople. While there, he met the innkeeper's grandfather Abd al-Qadir who told Jalal stories of his own youthful encounters with the Prophet Muhammad.[3]


  1. Agent of Byzantium, 2018 edition, p. 210.
  2. Arabesques: More Tales of the Arabian Nights, pg. 229, mmpb.
  3. E.g., Departures, pgs. 65-66.