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Byzantine Roads in Asia Minor

Author(s) : Dimitroukas Ioannis (2/20/2003)
Translation : Loumakis Spyridon (8/18/2008)

For citation: Dimitroukas Ioannis, "Byzantine Roads in Asia Minor", 2008,
Encyclopaedia of the Hellenic World, Asia Minor
URL: <http://www.ehw.gr/l.aspx?id=8622>

Οδικό Δίκτυο στη Μ. Ασία (Βυζάντιο) (12/15/2009 v.1) Byzantine Roads in Asia Minor (12/15/2011 v.1) 



Trepizond and Attaleia:

The taxes collected at Trepizond and Attaleia produce a very rich income and highly abundant revenues. It is composed from the taxation imposed to those that are transported from the domain of Islam, that is those that are taken prisoners on the coasts of Syria or on the ships of the Muslims, from the ransom that chelandion, dromon and galea assure, and finally from the income of the sale of Muslim prisoners, of their ships and of their merchandise · an imperial tax overburdens all these. The officer in charge, responsible for the collection of the tax upon the price of the merchandise, of the ships and of the Muslim prisoners, appropriates to himself amounts of money higher than those reaching the emperor.

Many persons worth trusting and acquainted with the situation of the Byzantine lands, because they had lodged there, reported me – and this correlates with the information brought to me by Isa ibn Habib Nadjdjar – that the tax imposed at Attaleia by the commander of the fleet of this harbor, with the duty to conduct raids in the dominion of Islam, has been abolished. A few years before the abolition of the tax, when the Byzantines due to their victories had obtained a full control over the Islam, after the year 320 (932) the tax rose to three kentenarion of gold (21.600 pieces), amount that, added to all other dues and gifts, rendered thirty thousand denarii (30.000 pieces) and a hundred prisoners each year. Ever since the laxity has increased on the border territories, which were fallen victims to the anarchy. The revolutions and the tyranny of the power restrained the commanders of every sense of honor and the tax was directly collected…

The amount for the emperor from the tithe imposed upon the merchandise imported at Trepizond or exported from it, including the amount rendered to the commander of the custom houses in the form of gifts that the peddlers or this city were obliged to pay, is rising to such an amount that, according to the majority of my informers, has never reached ten thousand kentenarion of gold (72.000 pieces), before the taxes were restored right after the capture of Melitene, of Shimsat and of Hisn Ziyad.

Ibn Hauqal, Configuration de la terre (Kitab surat al-ard),translation Kramers, J. H. – Wiet, G. (Beirut, Paris 1964), pp. 192-193.

The Arab-Byzantine commercial treaty (14.12.969 – 11.01.970):

&20. As far as the tithe imposed on those coming from the lands of the Romans is concerned, the custom officers of the emperor will cooperate with the custom officers of Qarghuwayh and Bakjūr (Arab local leaders (emirs) in Syria) · upon all merchandise, such as gold, silver, greek silk goods interwoven with gold, rough silk, precious stones, jewellery, pearls, thin silk stuff (sundus), the imperial custom officers will impose the tithe · upon regular tissues, linen, and silk stuffs with flowers of different colors (buzyun), animals and other merchandise, there will be the custom officers of the lord chamberlain (that is of emir Qarghuwayh) and of Bakjūr those who will impose the tithe. After them, the tax collectors of the emperor will collect all the rest dues.

&21. Every time a caravan will come from the Greek lands and will head to Aleppo, Zirwar residing on the borders will write down and will inform accordingly the emir, in order the last one to send someone who will welcome and escort the caravan to Aleppo. If, after this, the caravan will be attacked on road, the emir is obliged to give back whatever will have been lost · accordingly, if a caravan suffer damages from Bedouins or Muslims in the lands of the emir, the emir is obliged to give the appropriate compensation.

Canard, M., Histoire de la dynastie des Hamdanides de Jazira et de Syrie Α (Paris 1953), pp. 835-836.

The commercial importance of Trepizond:

1. The perfumers owe to receive from importers their share of the merchandise, in the price each product has the day it is imported in Constantinople from the merchants of the Chaldees or Trepizond or some other region…Let them sell pepper, spikenard, cinnamon, aloes wood, amber, musk, incense, myrrh, balsam, indigo, shellac, mint, smoke-tree wood, caper, and everything else is included in the art of perfume and dyeing.

Επαρχικόν Βιβλίον 10. 2, εκδ. Koder, J. Das Eparchenbuch Leons des Weisen (Wien 1991), pp. 110-111.

2. Trepizond is situated on the shores of the Black Sea. There, during the course of the year, many trade fairs are held, where many nations are gathered in order to do business: Muslims and the Byzantines and the Armenians and many more, even people from the land of Kirgizes (Kyrgyz)

Al-Mas’udi, Bis zu den Grenzen der Erde. Auszüge aus dem Buch der Goldwaschen (Bibliothek arabischer Erzähler), translation Rotter, G. (Münich 1982), p. 85.

3. Trepizond is a border town of the Romans. There, all of our merchants are going. All of the tissues of the Greek handicraft, all of the silk goods imported to the dominion of Islam, are been transported through Trepizond.

Al-Istakri, Defremery, “Al-Istakri”, Journal asiatique 14 (1849), p. 462.

A journey through Anatolia under the auspices of the Byzantine government:

(Abul-Husain Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Tell-Muzani narrates:) I was driven forward by the imperial post (cursus publicus) from Kamachos, a Byzantine town that was very important and wealthy, until Constantinople. It was about a total of 186 post stations. At the beginning we covered a two-days route from Kamachos until Saricha (maybe in the site of modern Tsoukour, 49 klm north-northeast of Caesarea), afterwards we needed a two-days march until the town of Charsianon (maybe at the eastern end of the valley between Caesarea and Ali). We passed through densely populated towns of which I didn’t know the names, until we reached at Saghira, on the banks of Ali (more correctly of Sangarios). We crossed the river by boats and we sailed across a lake of a length of six parasangs. Then, we traveled by horses, covering a one-day distance, until we reached a city called Nikomedeia. From there we traveled for two days by the sea-road and we reached a city called Chalcedon. Here we spent the night and by the sunrise we embarked on ships · we reached Constantinople by noon, after having crossed the Strains. The distance between two post stations in the Byzantine Empire rises up to one parasang (about 6 klm). Each day they allowed us to cover a distance of 15-20 post stations, so as to reach Constantinople within about ten days after having departed from Camacho…After having commenced from Constantinople and left behind this city, I returned by the road of Ancyra, a ruined big city, and I reached Melitene, after passing by 108 post stations…I know that the journey between Kamachos and Melitene lasts 10 days of march, between Melitene and Ancyra 20 days and between Ancyra and Constantinople 10 days.

Ibn Hauqal, Configuration de la terre (Kitab surat al-ard) 1, translation Kramers, J. H. – Wiet, G. (Beirut, Paris 1964), p. 190 (In the present translation the right order of the paragraphs has been restored).


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