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“A new Umayyad tax document from Andarin, north Syria”

For the full article and images see Robert G. Hoyland, “Khanāṣira and Andarīn (northern Syria) in the Umayyad period and a new Arabic tax document” to appear in Alain George

and Andrew Marsham, eds., Defining the Umayyad Elite: Power, patronage and memory

in early Islam (Oxford, forthcoming).

A second Arabic inscription from Andarīn was found during excavation of the later of the settlement’s two bath complexes by a Syrian team headed by Mr Radi al-‘Uqda. The earlier baths were built around AD 558 and continued in use until abandoned in the late 7 th /early 8 th century. Thereafter a new bath complex was built, adjacent to the old one and making use of its water source. The inscription is written in what looks like ink on a small marble tablet, probably a piece of the marble revetment from the earlier baths. This might seem strange at first, but the adjacent ruined baths would mean that a lot of

marble revetment was just lying around and it does make a very nice flat writing surface. It is then akin to potsherds and simply serves as rough paper, useful for writing the draft of a document before committing it to papyrus or parchment, which was very expensive. It is a common enough phenomenon and we have numerous examples of doodles, receipts and the like inscribed on marble, and even a letter to a caliph. 1 The other advantage of using a marble tablet is that it is easy to wash off the text and use it again. Unfortunately for the modern scholar this makes it more difficult to decipher, since the latest text is obscured by traces of earlier texts.

I will give first my suggested reading of this Andarīn bath text and then discuss its significance afterwards:

1 Baramki 1939, pl. 34 (“to ‘Abdallāh Hishām, commander of the faithful

texts “written on marble fragments in carbon ink” are published in Baramki 1953, 105-17; for the

Greek texts on marble from this site see Schwabe 1945-46, p. 20-30. For examples from elsewhere see Schlumberger 1939, fig. 29 (Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi: “from Hishām”); Walmsley et al. 2008, p. 122-26 (a list of accounts from a shop in Jerash).

”); another 20 Arabic

ﻢﻴﺣﺮﻟا ﻦﻤﺣﺮﻟا ﷲ ﻢﺴﺑ ١ ﺔﻳﻮﻌﻣ ﺮﻴﻣﻻا ﻞﻣﺎﻋ لﺎﻳﺬﻟا ﻦﺑ ﺚﻴﻠﻟا ﻦﻣ ٢ ﻪﻠﻫاو ﻦﻳﺮﺴﻨﻗ ضرا ﻰﻠﻋ ﻦﻴﻨﻣﻮﻤﻟا ﺮﻴﻣا ﻦﺑ ٣ لوﻻا نﺎﺒﻋر ﻢﻴﻠﻗا ﻦﻣ سﻮﻜﻣ ﻲﻔﻜﺗ ٤ نﺎﺴﻏ ﺎﻬﻄﻋﺎﻓ صرﻮﻗ ةرﻮﻛ ﻦﻣ ٥

فﺮﻄﻣ ﻦﺑ ٦

1. In the name of God the Merciful the Compassionate

2. From al-Layth ibn al-Dhiyāl, governor for the emir Mu‘awiya,

3. son of the commander of the faithful, over the province of Qinnasrin

4. and its people. You should pay in full the taxes of the district of Ra‘bān al-Awwal

5. of the canton of Cyrrhus (Qūriṣ) and then give them to Ghassān

6. son of Muṭarrif

(the rest of the line and the following line are unclear).

The text begins in the customary way for an item of correspondence: an invocation, followed by the identification of the sender: min (“from”) x, of such and such a position. Usually the addressee would come next: ilā (“to”) x; perhaps it is understood to be the relevant official of the village in question or maybe this is an oversight in the draft, which was corrected in the final version. Next comes the request, namely to remit in full the taxes of Ra‘bān al-Awwal; otherwise one could read this as a statement, namely that “the taxes of Ra‘bān al-Awwal are sufficient”, that is, they have been paid in full. Ra‘bān is a small place “between Aleppo and Samosata near the Euphrates”, 2 which was

evidently tributary to the canton of Cyrrhus (Qūruṣ), a famous city in Late Antiquity, lying some 70 kilometres north of Aleppo. The word for taxes here, mukūs, appears in both contemporary papyri and literary sources, though usually in the singular (maks). The administrative hierarchy is the same as that found in the Nessana papyri of southern

2 Yāqūt, Mu‘jam, s.v. “Ra‘bān”. The identification is not certain, since on the tablet it seems to be accompanied by the epithet al-Awwal/“the first” (though the word is not very clear), which does not feature in Yāqūt, and the place where a bā’ would be is overlaid by an aliph from the line below. However, the location of Ra‘bān would fit well.

Palestine: the smallest unit is the iqlīm, which is part of a larger unit called a kūra, which is itself part of the province, here designated arḍ, of which there were five in Greater Syria (Palestine, Jordan, Damascus, Homs and Qinnasrin). This is also neatly demonstrated by a lead seal from the province of Homs, probably of the eighth century AD (fig. 6), which includes the same three administrative levels. The taxes, once

collected in full, are then to be handed over to the designated recipient and so we get the command: fa-i‘ṭihā (“so give them to”) x. We see the same construction used in the tax documents of the Nessana collection of the 60s AH/680s AD. So who is the emir Mu‘āwiya? The first three words of line three are very faint except for the letters al-mu of the third word. Given that some sort of title is expected here, amīr al-mu’minīn (“commander of the faithful”) immediately springs to mind, and it is certainly possible to read the second word as amīr. Since Mu‘āwiya has already been designated as emir, he cannot himself be the commander of the faithful, and so the only solution is to read the first word as ibn (“son of”), which then yields the standard formula “emir x,

son of the commander of the faithful”. 3 Since the script is most likely of the 8 th century AD, 4 the reference must be to Mu‘āwiya son of the caliph Hishām (724-43). He is closely connected with the province of Qinnasrin, launching numerous raids from it into Byzantine territory and residing in Dayr Ḥanīnā’, near Rusafa, which lay within that province and served as a residence and base of the caliph Hishām and his son Sulaymān. 5 An interesting question is how did these marble tablets end up in the baths in Andarīn? The latter is only about 80 miles west of Rusafa, as the crow flies. It has excellent water

3 Thus the Qaṣr Burqu’ inscription from northeast Jordan (al-amīr al-Walīd ibn amīr al-mu’minīn) of AH 91 (Gruendler 1993, p. 18-19) and a Jabal Says inscription from southeast Syria (al-amīr Khālid ibn amīr al-mu’minīn) of AH 91 (‘Ushsh 1964, p. 357, no. 21).

4 In an earlier article (Hoyland 2006, p. 446), having only a bad photograph to work from, I had linked the text with Mu‘awiya I (660-80), but with the permission of Jamal Ramadan, director of the Antiquities of Hamah, I was able to examine the tablet itself and I am now convinced that a 2 nd –century Hijra date is the most plausible. Professor Petra Sijpesteijn kindly looked at the text for me and she corroborated this dating for the script. I am grateful to Jamal Ramadan and Radi al-‘Uqda for allowing me to publish this inscription.

5 Ṭabarī, Ta’rīkh, 4.120-57, has him lead raids into Byzantine territory in the years AH 107, 109 and 110-117; Yāqūt, Mu‘jam, s.v. “Ḥanīnā’”; Hoyland 2011, p. 252.

sources and so would make a good stop if one were then travelling on to Hama (ca. 45 miles to the southwest) or Aleppo (ca. 50 miles to the north). The barracks had already been transformed in the late sixth/early seventh century into an intra-mural monastery, with a church erected at its centre. However, in the late seventh/early eighth century this phase of the building’s life came to an end, due perhaps to the same phenomenon as

caused the abandonment of the earlier baths at about the same time. Thereafter the former barracks apparently served an administrative function, perhaps dealing with fiscal matters on behalf of the Umayyad government in Damascus. 6 Certainly there is material evidence to suggest that Andarīn was still flourishing in the late Umayyad and early Abbasid period, such as ceramic and glass finds of the 7 th –8 th centuries in the east hall of one of the houses, and two copper coins found in excavated contexts. One of the coins, from the late Umayyad period, was found in a kiln near the settlement’s southeast reservoir, and the second, from the early Abbasid period, was uncovered at the bottom of the same reservoir, at its northern end. It is possible, then, that al-Layth ibn al-Dhiyāl

stayed here for a time with his scribe and dealt with some of his correspondence. It may even be that the new baths were being constructed while he was there and his draft correspondence, once finished with, was tossed into the early construction trenches. The tablets were certainly buried quite deeply, rather than lying amid general debris, and this is how they were preserved from the deleterious effects of the rain. Though they are not much to look at, they are a witness to the increasing presence of the Umayyad family and their allies in this region in the first half of the eighth century, a presence more solidly attested by the estates and irrigation projects that they commissioned along the

River Euphrates from Balis to Raqqa.

6 Personal communication from Christine Strube and see Strube 2008, 57-58.