November 30, 2008

Abilene - Index & Update

In case you missed them, I posted three times about Abilene, a small region north of Galilee, beyond Mount Hermon (west of Damascus). Abilene was, for some years, the tetrarchy of a man named Lysanias. According to my research, it seems to have been annexed by Rome in 32 AD and split between Sidon and Damascus. I personally believe this event increased the anxiety of Herod Antipas, if ever so slightly, given the post-Sejanus political climate of 32 and 33 AD.

All three posts went up in November. Here are their links:

And now I have one update to include: In the first two posts, I'd left out any consideration of Abilene after 32 AD. In fact, Josephus tells us that in 37 AD, Caligula gave "the tetrarchy of Lysanias" to Herod Agrippa [along with the recently embattled Gaulanitis and the rest of the late Philip's tetrarchy; no doubt Caligula in early 37 was heavily influenced by his chief advisor Macro, by the way]. [Note: Contrary to a common misconception, Macro & Caligula did NOT give ANY territory to Aretas the Nabatean in 37.]

So Damascus remained autonomous in 37, under the Governor of Syria, but evidently it lost its recently granted territory in Abilene. Perhaps Governor Flaccus' settlement in 32 AD didn't achieve the desired effect, perhaps the Sidonians and the Damascenes quarreled even more with a common border, or perhaps Macro & Caligula had some other reason for giving the city and region around that key mountain pass to Agrippa instead. Whatever the case, the fact that Abilene went to Agrippa in 37 does not mean it stayed with Lysanias up to that point.

Therefore, as in earlier posts, I stand by the logic that Damascus and Sidon must have been disputing over the territory of Abilene, which means Lysanias was dead or gone by that time (but not before 28 AD). Also, as I said in earlier posts, if the Damascenes & Sidonians were somehow fighting over the very peak of Mount Hermon, then all this would be incorrect, but as much as that seems highly unlikely, I stand by my conclusions for now. :)


T. Michael W. Halcomb said...

I was wondering if you had ever heard of Fomenko's book on empirico-statistical analysis? I have it as a computer file and could send it to you if it would be of any value. Here's a link to give it a brief look at

just wondering.

Bill Heroman said...

Hey, Michael. Thanks for the offer, but as much as I like the idea of mixing Math with History, I think I've heard of this guy, and I think I'll pass.

However, if you've read it yourself and have specific reasons to commend it, I'd love to hear them. Seriously, please do tell me more, if you don't mind.

By the way, I read your piece on 33 AD recently and I'm sorry I couldn't jump in at the time. We've been extremely busy recently.

T. Michael W. Halcomb said...

Bill, I haven't read the book, I just thought it might appeal to you (evidently not!!!). I didn't know if it could contribute to your methodology or not, or, if you could use it to buffer your methodology and downplay another. Anyway, as it is not useful, I'll drop the subject.

As for the post on 33AD, what are you referring to? The Passover discussions? I'm unclear as to what you're pointing to.

Happy holidays friend.

Bill Heroman said...

Ack. Your post was about the day of Jesus' Cross, not the year. Goes to show how my brain files info, eh? ;)

Michael, for me the test of a true friend is if you let me be blunt! :) Many thanks. Now the scoop... It seems Fomenko was the guy who said the middle ages never happened and all our dates are off by a thousand years or so. I came across such stuff on a website once, but the Amazon reviews online suggest this was the guy. (I didn't want to say for sure until you said if you knew more.)

It's a shame. So many guys who try their hand at chronology are just untrained hacks. What's up with that? ;)

I'll give you one back. Feel free to be blunt back, my friend. Have you ever read M.I. Finley's _The Ancient Economy_(1973, 1985)? I'm not fully clear on your views of Jesus and the Galilean economy, but it might challenge those in some worthwhile areas.

Ancient Economics... talk about History and Math! ;)

T. Michael W. Halcomb said...

no worries, friend, no offense taken. i just thought of you first when i came across the title. i have the pdf if you want it but i have to be honest i've never looked at the stinking text. anything with math in it just scares me away.

as for the other text, i am familiar with it. in fact, there are scores of debates about the galielan economy and finley is one voice among many. as you are probably aware, the quest for the historical galilee is quite a growing and progressing field. with the onslaught of many new social-science models, it is experiencing a kind of resurgence.

clearly, though, there were differences between portions of upper/lower galilee and just outlying areas of galilee in general. so, in short, i am familiar with finley and others, even though there are myriad interpretations of all the same data.

thanks bill,

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