Isidorus of Charax

1. Descent – Works

The ancient geographer Isidoros of Charax (or Charakinos) is known only by his book Parthian Stations, which is a record of distances between commercial stations within the boundaries of the Parthian state in the 1st century BC. Despite the fact that during antiquity there were many towns with the name «Charax», one can assume with certainty that the author of this work came from Spasinos Charax, a port town on the Red Sea. The proximity of his birthplace with the Parthian state and its role in the transportation of goods between the Roman Empire and the East explains his knowledge about the road network of the Parthian state.

The text has not survived in its entirety. Some extracts are included in Pliny's Natural History, while a more complete version is recorded by Marcianus of Heraclea.1 The use of the term "Parthian" helps us to date the work to the Early Roman period, definately after 27 BC, the year of the military conflict between Phraates IV and Tiridates II. The work seems to have been of great importance also in Asia Minor as it also contained the distances between border stations and towns in this area.

1. Plin., HN 6.141; Miller, E., Périple de Marcien d'Héraclée: Épitome d'Artémidore, Isidore de Charax, etc., ou Supplément aux dernières éditions des Petits géographes d'après un manuscrit grec de la Bibliothèque royale (Paris 1839).