The history and role of Cyprus in the Greek state

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  • Carlin
    Senior Member
    • Dec 2011
    • 3332

    The Migration of Syrian and Palestinian Populations in the 7th Century: Movement of Individuals and Groups in the Mediterranean

    Abstract This paper is an attempt to sketch the movements of Syrian and Palestinian populations within and towards the Byzantine Empire in the seventh century. However, due to the limitations of space it is not possible to explore all the aspects of such a complicated and multifaceted phenomenon. Additionally, this paper does not aspire to provide a full list of all individuals or groups that migrated in this period. Thus, it will focus mainly on the movements linked with the Persian and the Arab conquests of the Levant as well as the Italian campaign of Constans ii. The paper will seek to trace population movement by examining both textual and archeological evidence from the seventh century, and it will attempt to overcome the scarcity of the sources by bringing parallels from later periods. In order to gain a complete understanding, the text will also examine population movements within and towards the Caliphate, and will compare the population management policies of the two rival states.

    - Egypt soon ceased to be a safe haven, since the Sasanian forces began the regionís conquest in 616/7. The refugees from Syria and Palestine were once again on the run, this time accompanied by some of the people who had aided them until that point. Unfortunately, no extant source describes the fate of the main bulk of refugees, as is the case of the Life of John the Almsgiver. The available evidence, though, suggests that they moved westwards towards Carthage, whereas some of them crossed the sea arriving in Sicily and even Rome. Cyprus too was a refuge for those who could afford fleeing aboard ships.

    - Some of the few recorded escape routes are those of the Patriarch John, the governor of Alexandria and cousin of Herakleios Niketas, a general named Isaac and the famous monks John Moschos and Sophronios who were possibly accompanied by Maximos the Confessor and other monks. Shortly before the fall of Alexandria, they all moved to Cyprus.

    - The island of Cyprus, which often changed hands between the Byzantines and the Arabs in the 7th century, experienced almost all types of population management tactics. When Muʿāwiya invaded Cyprus for a second time in 654, he transferred a large number of men to the island, where he built a city and several mosques. He distributed land to his soldiers, who were meant to stay there permanently. Consequently, they must have brought their families with them, which means that the population, which arrived in Cyprus must have been significant. Later, though, Al-Walid withdrew them probably as part of the treaty that he had concluded with Justinian ii in 686. 109 A few years later, with all probability before the resumption of warfare in 692, both sides removed local population from the island that was later returned though. 110 The Cypriots, who went to the Byzantine Empire, were re-located in a settlement built by the orders of the emperor Justinian ii in the area of Hellespont and named after him.