Published in histo.philica.com
In ancient Greek, Roman, Armenian, Arabic, Byzantine, and Ottoman texts, sources of the Euphrates are those of the river Frat (Karasu, currently West Euphrates) which rises to the north of Erzurum. But in the literature on the Anabasis, usually as the Euphrates of Xenophon, crossed by the Ten Thousand not far from its sources, is taken the Arsanias (Murad, currently East Euphrates). We examine whether this identification rests on evidence.
It seems that in the texts examined there is no reference to the Arsanias as Euphrates. Moreover, it seems that the wrong interpretation of a corrupted passage in the Geography of Ptolemy had resulted in the omission of this southeastern tributary of the Euphrates from the European maps of the early modern era. The omission lasted until the eighteenth century, when the Arsanias appears at last on the maps, now as the Euphrates of Xenophon, simultaneously with attempts for the identification of the route of the retreat of the Ten Thousand.
Euphrates (Εὐφράτης) is the traditional name of the river known as Perath in Hebrew, Purat in Assyrian, and Ufratush in Persian cuneiform. From this last name derives probably the Greek Euphrates, known as Al-Furat in Arabic, Yeprat in Armenian, and Fırat or Frat in Turkish. Its southeastern tributary -currently known as the Eastern Euphrates or Murad çay - was known at least since the Neo-Assyrian Empire as Arsania.
Xenophon and the Greeks in the army of Cyrus the Younger met for the first time the Euphrates during their anabasis, on their way from Sardes to Babylonia and the battle at Cunaxa. They arrived at the river at Thapsacus (Anab. 1.4.11); they crossed to its eastern bank (1.4.16), and marched along it to its confluence with the river Khabour (1.4.19); to the deserted town Corsote (1.5.4); to Pylae (1.5.5); opposite to the city of Charmande (1.5.10); and to Babylonia (1.7.1). The death of Cyrus in the battle of Cunaxa (1.8.1-29) started their retreat. After their conflict with the Persians of Tissaphernes, their plan was to cross the big rivers near their sources because ‘as you approach there, they become passable, without even wetting your knees, even though they are impassable at a distance.’ (3.2.22) Indeed the Ten Thousand crossed the Euphrates in the retreat ‘wetting up to the waist’; they were told that its sources were not too far from there (4.5.2).
It is rational to assume that Xenophon uses for the river the name Euphrates according to the information he had. However, as still there is no consensus on the solution to the complex puzzle of the route, the parasangs, and the chronology of the retreat of the Ten Thousand, views that Xenophon was mistaken are not infrequent, arguing that we cannot easily transfer on modern rivers the river names offered by Xenophon; or that the concerned region of the upper Euphrates was completely unknown to Xenophon; and, additionally, that we do not know what information he obtained on the field and what was still present later, when he wrote down his campaign memories.
At Xenophon’s time, the only written information available to him was that of Herodotus but it does not offer clues. Before the entry of the Euphrates into Mesopotamia, Herodotus mentions only that the Euphrates flows from the land of the Armenians and empties into the Erythraean Sea (1.180). Thus Xenophon relied upon oral information concerning the name of the river he calls Euphrates in the retreat. Did he mean the ‘West Euphrates’ (Frat, Karasu) or the ‘East Euphrates’ (Arsanias, Murad)? The sources of these rivers (i.e. the probable area of the crossing of the Ten Thousand) are at a distance. Therefore, if Xenophon is taken to mean that he had crossed the Arsanias (Murad) as ‘Euphrates’, either in the vicinity of its sources or a few hundred kilometres below (to the west), then evidence must be produced that this river was ever known as ‘Euphrates’; moreover because the north-western tributary (Karasu) still bears this name (Frat).
The Euphrates and its tributary in the ancient sources after Xenophon
In the ancient sources there is a distinction between the Euphrates (Frat, later Karasu) and the Arsanias (later Murad). According to Strabo (11.12.3), the Euphrates, with its sources in the northerly region of the Taurus, flows west through Greater Armenia, to Lesser Armenia, having the latter on its right and Acilisene [Ἀκιλησηνή, i.e. the area of Erzincan] on the left. This means that his Euphrates is the Frat/Karasu. A second description in Strabo (11.14.2) could be misinterpreted, and it did in the eighteenth century: “both the Euphrates and the Araxes flow from Mt. Abus, the former towards the west and the latter towards the east.” Mt. Abus extends from the neighborhood of Erzurum in the west towards the area to the south of Artaxata in the east. Pliny (see below) says that the sources of the Araxes and the Karasu are close. Probably this is also what Strabo means here, i.e. that his Euphrates is again the Frat (Karasu). Others understood that the Euphrates rises from the same mountain range but from its other end to the southeast; hence they interpreted here that Strabo’s Euphrates is the Murad. However, once again, describing Pontos and Paphlagonia, Strabo (12.3.8) refers clearly to the Karasu as the Euphrates: King Mithridates seized a well-watered mountain near Dasteira in Acilisene; nearby, also, was the Euphrates which separates Acilisene from Lesser Armenia.
According to Pliny (HN 5.83), the Euphrates is the Karasu because it “rises in Caranitis, a prefecture of Armenia Major, as two of those who have seen it most recently have recorded. Domitius Corbulo places it on Mount Aga and Licinius Mucianus at the lower reaches of a mountain that they call Capotes, twelve miles above Zimara; at its origins it is known as the Pyxurates.” Pliny (HN 6.26) speaks of the neighbouring sources of the Araxes and the Euphrates, i.e. the Karasu: ‘The Araxes rises in the same mountains as the Euphrates, at a distance from it of six miles only’. Solinus agrees, without specifying a distance: ‘But the Araxes takes its head at a short distance from the Euphrates and then is carried into the Caspian Sea.’ Strabo said earlier that on the same mountain as the Euphrates rises also the Araxes: ‘Above Mount Masius far to the east along Gordyene is the Niphates, then the Abus, from which flow both the Euphrates and the Araxes, the former to the west, the latter to the east.’ This is why Stephanus Byzantius calls Araxes ‘the brother of the Euphrates’, i.e. the brother of the Frat/Karasu.
Pliny (HN 5.83–84) says also that the Euphrates (Karasu), which rises in Caranitis in Greater Armenia, receives in its course the rivers Lycus, Arsanias [i.e. the Murad, currently East Euphrates], and Arsanus. In a third passage (HN 6.128) Pliny makes again a clear distinction between the Euphrates (Frat, Karasu) and the Arsanias (Murad): [The water] of the Arsanias, being lighter, floats on the surface of the Tigris for a distance of nearly four miles, after which they separate, and the Arsanias flows into the Euphrates.
Plutarch (Luc. 31) says that Tigranes on the fourth day encamped over against the Romans, keeping the river Arsanias between himself and them. Obviously Arsanias here is the Murad. Tigranes had encamped to the south of the river, towards his capital at Tigranocerta.
Plutarch (Pomp. 32) says also that Pompey overtook [Mithridates] near the Euphrates river, and encamped close by; and fearing lest the king should get the advantage of him by crossing the Euphrates, he put his army in battle array and led it against him at midnight. Euphrates here is the Karasu, because the battles between Pompey and Mithridates, the king of Pontos, were fought in the kingdom of Mithridates.
Appian (Mithr. 101) testifies also to the escape of Mithridates through the headwaters of the Euphrates (Frat, Karasu) towards the river Apsarus (Çoruh) and Colchis.
According to Tacitus (Annales 15.15), [the Roman] Pætus threw a bridge over the river Arsanias (Murad), which flowed by the camp, apparently with the view of facilitating his march.
The Euphrates in Ptolemy
Ptolemy describes both rivers, but also applies the name Euphrates to the former, to the river from Erzurum. However, until recently Ptolemy’s (5.13.7) incomplete text concerning the Arsanias was taken traditionally to mean not a river but mountains [ὄρη]. Maps 1a and 1b are copies of the pages which illustrate the course of the Euphrates in a fifteenth-century Latin manuscript of Ptolemy’s Geographia. Euphrates is the Karasu (Frat) rising near Erzurum. It bends to the south towards Syria, receiving from the west the Melas (Μέλας, Black) of the ancients, the river Tohma. There is no Arsanias (Murad) in the Maps 1a and 1b because, according to the wrong interpretation of Ptolemy’s 5.13.7, the eastern tributary is not mentioned in his text.
Map 1a: The Euphrates in a manuscript of Ptolemy’s Geographia
(on line at Bibliothèque-médiathèque de Nancy, France)
Map 1b: The Euphrates in a manuscript of Ptolemy’s Geographia
(on line at Bibliothèque-médiathèque de Nancy, France)
The tradition of interpreting Ptolemy 5.13.7 as referring to mountains (ὄρη) instead of referring to the river Arsanias (Murad) continued for centuries. According to Nobbe 1845‘there are also other important mountains.’ Later, the only complete up to now English translation of 1932 takes this passage as referring to a river: ‘There is another noted river which empties into the Euphrates.’ Recently a new edition of Ptolemy’s text was based on the Codex Seragliensis found in 1927, i.e. after the edition of Nobbe. The Greek text here differs from Nobbe’s edition in more than 1,000 passages. This time there are no mountains and Ptolemy reads:
ἔστι δὲ καὶ ἑτέρα ἀξιολογωτέρα ἀπὸ τοῦ Εὐφράτου ποταμοῦ ἐκτροπή, ἧς τὸ μὲν συνάπτον τῷ Εὐφράτῃ ποταμῷ πέρας ἐπέχει μοίρας 71°30' 40°30' τὸ δὲ κατὰ τὰς πηγὰς πέρας 77° 41°.
Thus the geographical coordinates of the joining point and of the sources were assigned to the ‘other more notable divergence’ (ἑτέρα ἀξιολογωτέρα ἐκτροπή) from the Euphrates, i.e. to the Arsanias. Ptolemy had not omitted the tributary. Almost three hundred years earlier, the eighteenth-century cartographers were convinced that this was meant by Ptolemy. Probably some of them had read in Oriental sources the details of the courses of the Euphrates (Frat, Karasu) and its tributary (Arsanias, Murad).
The Euphrates and its tributary in late-antiquity sources
(annotated extract from the scalabe map on line at peutinger.atlantides.org)
The Arab geographers in the next section show that the Arsanias retained its name down to the thirteenth century. An examination of the Arab prose and poetry of the era might prove useful. For example, the Arab poet Abu Firas is cited as alluding to a battle that took place near the Arsanias, and to ‘Greek blood flowing into the river.’
The Euphrates and the Arsanias of the Arab geographers
According to the tenth-century Arab scholar Ibn-Serapion (Suhrab), the source of the Euphrates [Frat, i.e. the Karasu] is at a spring in Mount Akradkhis. Then it passes the city of Kamkh [Kemah] and next, after flowing past Malatya, which is two miles distant from its bank, it comes to the city of Sumaysat [Samosata], to Jisr Manbij [Zeugma, Ζεῦγμα], to Balis [Barbalissos] … For the Arsanias Ibn-Serapion says that a river called Arsanas falls into the Euphrates, and this is the river of Shamshat [Arsamosata]. Its source is in a mountain in the limits of the country of Taron. It flows by the gate of the city of Shamshat, and then passes near the gate of a fortress called Hisn Ziyad [Kharput]. Finally it falls into the Euphrates about two marches above Malatya, and on the eastern bank.
The tenth-century Arab historian and geographer al-Masudi says that the Euphrates originates in the territory of Kalikala [Erzurum], a border town of Armenia. It stems from the mountains of Afradohos, one day’s walking distance from this city. It crosses the country of the Rum [Romans, Byzantines] before reaching Malatia. One of Masudi’s co-religionists, who was a prisoner among Christians, assured him that the Euphrates, in his course across the country of the Rum, receives several tributaries, including a river that flows out of Lake el-Marzeboun, the largest lake in this country. Probably the Murad (Arsanias) is mentioned here, if Lake el-Marzeboun is Lake Van (which is the largest lake in this area), although the Murad, which runs parallel and to the north of Lake Van (see Map 16), does not flow out of this lake.
In the eleventh century the Andalusian Muslim geographer and historian Al-Bakri gives to the Arsanias the pronunciation Arasnas.
The Frat (Karasu) of Erzurum is also the Euphrates of the twelfth-century Muslim geographer and cartographer al-Idrisi who says that the Euphrates issues from the very heart of the territory of the Rum [Romans], not far from Cazala,from the mountains of Calicala [Erzurum]. Then, traversing the Rum [Roman] districts, it flows as far as Cameh [Kemah], and thence to Malatia, so as to be only two miles distant from it. It then descends to Samosat [Samosata], whence it is navigable to Baghdad.
Idrisi testifies also to the name still retained by the Arsanias in his time. He identifies a place called Tell-Arsanas on the banks of this river, which he distinguishes clearly from the Euphrates: ‘From there [Malatia], it is 12 miles to Tell-Arsanas, a place located on the banks of a considerable tributary of the Euphrates, which flows into the river below Simsat [Arsamosata].’ The Arsanias is also called ‘River of Arsamosata’ both by Ibn-Serapion in the tenth century as shown, and by the fourteenth-century Arab geographer Abulfeda later in this section.
In his Tabula Rogeriana, the world map prepared by Idrisi in 1154 on the commission of the Norman king Roger II of Sicily, there is a relatively accurate depiction of the Euphrates and its tributaries. As shown in Idrisi’s detail (Map 3), this is one of the last references to the river Arsanias (Murad, Arsas in the map).
Map 3: Al-Idrisi: Detail with the names of Euphrates (al frat), Arsanias (arsas) and Tigris (digla), with the north to the bottom
(annotated extract from the scalabe map on line at the Library of Congress)
In the thirteenth century the Arsanias was still called Arsanas as testified by Yaqut al-Hamawi in his Mu'jam ul-Buldān who refers to the extreme coldness of its waters.
According to the fourteenth-century Arab geographer Abulfeda, the Euphrates [Nahr Al-forat] is again the Frat (Karasu) originating in the Erzurum area. It passes near the town of Malatya and arrives at Samosata. From there, it heads towards the east, passing from the Castle of Rum, name of a fortified place in the southwest of the river. Abulfeda says that the Euphrates receives many rivers, and gives naissance to several canals. Among the rivers that flow into the Euphrates, he mentions first the Arsanias (Murad) under the name Arsamosata river [Nahr Şemşat], passing Şemşat [Arsamosata], then Zyad-Hisn [Castle Zyad], otherwise known as Khart-Bert [Kharput], and flowing into the Euphrates, above Malatya.
(annotated extract from the map on line at the British Library)
(annotated extracts from on line at zvab.com, raremaps.com, raremaps.com, Gallica, bergbook.com, and turkeyinmaps.com respectively)
(annotated extracts from on line maps at Gallica, Wikimedia, Gallica, geographicus.com, and Gallica respectively)
(extract from a map on line at parssea.com and Wikimedia)
(annotated extract from a map on line at Gallica)
(extract from a map on line at davidramsey.com)
(map on line at Gallica)
(extract from a scalable map on line at davidramsey.com)
(extract from a scalable map on line at davidramsey.com)
(extract from a scalable map on line at davidramsey.com)
Delisle and d’Anville offered to the Europeans the modern geographical perception characterized by a valuable innovation: the rediscovery of the lost Arsanias tributary of the Euphrates, and its placement on the map. However, their identification of the Arsanias (Murad) with Xenophon’s Euphrates was not based on solid grounds. It rather reflected a subjective interpretation of the text of the Anabasis, without further justification. In the following years, in the early nineteenth century, multiple attempts were made for the identification of the route of the retreat of the Ten Thousand in its leg related with the crossing of the Euphrates ‘not far from its sources’ (Anab. 4.5.2). The novel views and maps of Delisle and d’Anville were utilized by the prominent commentators of the Anabasis in this era.
Rennell’s probable responsibility for the confusion which still prevails, has been discussed. Initially he says that “this river [the Teleboas] answers to the Arsanius of Plutarch, to which Lucullus came, on the fourth march from the northern foot of Taurus” (207 note). Thus he identifies the Teleboas with the Murad (Arsanias). But later (210–211) he confuses the headwaters of the Murad (according to Hadji Khalifa) with Pliny’s headwaters of the Euphrates (the Karasu). Rennell goes on to assert that “the Murad is also the Euphrates of Strabo. So the ancients applied the name of the confluent stream to the eastern branch, as the natives do Frat to the western” (211).
Kinneir and his company travelled in the area in the year 1814 on their way from Erzurum. They crossed the Murad between Karaağıl [Karagool] to the north and Erentepe [Leese] to the south of the river. They swam the horses across and themselves passed on a raft supported by inflated sheep skins (378). Kinneir believes that the Greeks crossed the Murad further east, closer to its sources, because in the point he passed, the Murad was nowhere fordable (489). However, not long after Kinneir’s time the fording of the Murad to the north of Muş, to the west of Kinneir’s crossing, has been reported in at least four publications. An old bridge stood (and still stands) there, indicating the layout of the north-south caravan road.
(extract from a scalable map on line at davidramsey.com)
These views of Kinneir for the route of the retreat and the subsequent naming of the rivers are depicted in his map drawn by Arrowsmith and published in 1813 (Map 14). The river after the confluence is named Frat or Euphrates. The Karasu is named West Frat, and the Murad answers to East Frat. Sources of the Euphrates are the sources of the ‘East Frat’ (Murad, Arsanias). This kind of naming still continues, and not only in works associated with the retreat of the Ten Thousand. Now, in any publication, the rivers before the confluence are called West and East Euphrates respectively. Also, as the Murad is longer than the Frat/Karasu up to the confluence, the total length of the Euphrates (ca. 3000 km) is calculated starting from the sources of the Murad. In a European context, this would be the equivalent of naming Eastern Rhine the river Main; or naming Southern Danube the river Inn.
Notwithstanding that the prevailing views on the route of the retreat in the nineteenth century, indeed until now, were taking the Arsanias (Murad) as Euphrates, still the evidence for this selection was missing. The commentators thereafter accepted that the river Murad was meant here by Xenophon, and, apart from Rennell mentioned above, they did not engage in the justification of their selection. According to Bunbury, Xenophon’s Euphrates was evidently the Murad Chai, or eastern branch of the river because ‘Armenian writers apply the name of Euphrates to both arms, and the same usage probably prevailed among the natives in the time of Xenophon.’ Bunbury does not mention the names and works of these Armenian writers. His view was reproduced by Tozer, still without names. Half a century before Bunbury and Tozer, Smith had noted that this river [the Frat, Karasu] was considered the proper Euphrates by the Greek and Roman writers, but ‘the Armenians give that honour to the Murad-chai’. Smith offers a reference: ‘St. Martin, vol. 1, p. 42.’
Saint-Martin thinks that this passage attests that in the fifth century Faustus of Byzantium was calling Euphrates the Murad. He thinks so, because as seen below in the continuation of his text, he still believes that the tributary referred to above was not the river of Mazgirt but that of Malazgirt. His mistake is obvious because he continues describing the Murad receiving further to the west the ‘small’ Karasu of Muş (see Map 15). In the direction of the flow of the Murad, Muş is after Malazgirt and before Mazgirt. If Saint-Martin had realized that the river of Mazgirt and not that of Malazgirt was the one rising from the Bingöl mountains, and descending from the area around the ancient city of Medzourk'h into Upper Armenia, and into the canton of Mendsour, then he himself would locate the ancient city of Medzourk'h near the upper reaches of the river of Mazgirt, close to the Frat (Karasu), i.e. the Euphrates to the bank of which descended Hair Martbied according to Faustus of Byzantium. Saint-Martin continues with a description which repeats the initial error of d’Anville (cf. Map 13) that the Murad (‘Euphrates’) and the Arsanias (Aradzani) were two different rivers:
It may well be that Saint-Martin’s complicated views about the Euphrates and its tributaries are not convincing. However, a question is still pending. Were there any Armenian writers who believed that the Murad (Aradzani, Arsanias) was the real Euphrates? Saint-Martin himself has provided Armenian evidence to the contrary. He has translated and published Movsēs Xorenac‘i. He has translated and cited Faustus of Byzantium, even with the mentioned misunderstanding. He has translated and published the Armenian manuscript with the Rivers of Paradise. Up to now, the only reference to an Armenian probably believing that the Murad was the real Euphrates is to the mentioned eighteenth-century merchant-publisher in Madras. However, we have mentioned that Saint-Martin translated and published the work of a second Armenian, who could possibly be the reference of the first. The Geography of Vartabied Vartan (1721) in Saint-Martin (II, 435), taking for granted the association between a place called Saint-Oski (Osgik'h) at the sources of the Murad on the one hand, and the adobe of the first-second a.d. century blessed Oski and his followers at the sources of the Euphrates on the other, as reported in the thirteenth-century history of the patriarch, reads:
Next comes the river Euphrates which descends from the province of Egéghéats [Acilesene/Erzincan, see above]. But the real Euphrates is the one which comes out of Saint-Oski, passes from Daron [Mush, see above], and goes to Syria.
Map 16: The two satrapies of Armenia around year 400 b.c.
Map 17: Kiepert’s (1857) retreat of the Ten Thousand
(annotated extract from a scalable map on line at davidramsey.com)
The Ten Thousand crossed the Murad near its confluence with the ‘small’ Karasu, and entered West Armenia. Their march (followed at a distance by Tirivazos) was not to the east of Muş, towards Bulanik, Malazgirt and beyond. It was to the north of Muş, towards Hınıs and Erzurum, over the territory of West Armenia (Map 16). The Greeks were not heading to the sources of the Murad (Arsanias) in the east but to the sources of the Euphrates (Frat, Karasu) and to the Black Sea in the north. Their misorientation underlying an easterly march is not justified by Xenophon’s text. After crossing the Centrites and entering Armenia, they found themselves in favourable conditions: they passed from populous places; from Siirt; (4.4.2); from Muş (4.4.3); later from Hınıs (4.4.7); thus they had more than once the opportunity to confirm the route. They had made a treaty with Tirivazos (4.4.6); thus they were marching through friendly country. Later, in their march through the snows of Armenia, they had many guides.
The details of a proposal for the march of the Ten Thousand after crossing the Teleboas and the Euphrates (Frat, Karasu), until their arrival at the Armenian villages with the subterranean houses (4.5.22) have been offered. There is no indication that the Ten Thousand had lost their way. Led by many guides, they arrived where they wanted to arrive: at the foot of the mountain Kop, at or near the point from which the summer road from Erzurum ascended towards Bayburt and Trapezus. However, they arrived there in late February. The Kop mountain road towards Bayburt was blocked by the snow. They numbered more than ten thousand. After a stay of eight days, they had to leave. The villages were covered by snow and, probably, were running out of food. Two options were available: to follow the caravan highway to the west, in the valley of the Euphrates (Frat, Karasu); or to follow the same caravan highway to the east, towards Erzurum and beyond, in the valley of the Araxes (Phasis, Aras). They opted for the latter.
Here starts their easterly march towards the Phasians; the Taochians; the Khaldians (Urartu); the river Harpasos (Arpaçay); the Scytheni (Scythians) in present-day Armenia; and the city of Gymnias (Gyumri). This easterly march had nothing to do with the crossing of the Arsanias (Murad) near its sources as ‘Euphrates’. Indeed they crossed the Euphrates (Frat) of all known historians and geographers near its sources, in the vicinity of Erzurum, where all these historians and geographers, from antiquity until the seventeenth century, place the sources of the only river known as Euphrates, i.e. the Frat/Karasu.
In all ancient Greek, Roman, Armenian, Arabic, Byzantine, and Ottoman texts, sources of the Euphrates are those of the Frat (Karasu) which rises near Erzurum. There is no evidence that the river Arsanias (Murad) was ever known as Euphrates. This river was made into Euphrates in the eighteenth century, for the sole purpose of fitting certain views on the route of the retreat of the Ten Thousand.
Justification of this renaming was sought afterwards. Despite references to Armenian sources, the only relevant relates to an ecclesiastical geography of Armenia, written in the year 1721. It takes a place Saint-Oski near the sources of the Arsanias (Murad) as marking the adobe of the disciples of apostle Thaddeus and their leader Oski in the first-second century; it combines it with a passage in the History of the thirteenth-century Patriarch of the Armenians John VI Catholicos, according to which the disciples were living at the sources of the Euphrates; and it asserts that the Arsanias (Murad) is the ‘real Euphrates’ of the Armenians.
This subjective identification is in itself inadequate; the more so when balanced against the evidence offered in scripts, from the Neo-Assyrian Empire of the ninth century b.c. down to the Ottoman Empire of the seventeenth, including Armenian texts. The perpetuation of the view that Xenophon’s Euphrates was the Arsanias (Murad) is not justified. Unless adequate evidence to the contrary is provided, Euphrates was always (and still is) the Frat (Karasu). Probably the proposals on the route of the retreat of the Ten Thousand towards the sources of the Euphrates have to be re-examined. Also, besides the modern reference to the Frat (Karasu) and to the Murad (Arsanias) as the ‘West’ and ‘East Euphrates’, it does not seem that the people who lived and/or live in the area had ever adopted this arbitrary renaming.
The author is not affiliated with the University of Patras, Greece. He is an independent researcher who graduated from this University long ago (1977).
T. J. Cornell (ed.), The Fragments of the Roman Historians, I (Oxford 2013) 1032-1033. In vol. III (Commentary) 612-613 of this work we read: Caranis itself, the centre of Caranitis, or rather Karenitis, is the present-day Erzerum, near which the shorter, northern branch of the Euphrates rises (Frat Su, Kara Su). The southern branch (Murat Su) emerges further east, near Diyadin. One question is which of these two branches each of the two authorities [Strabo and Pliny] meant; it would be satisfying to have a disagreement as to which branch was the true source of the river, rather than a more trivial difference as to where the water of one branch came from. For Mount Aga, in the Barrington Atlas placed south of Satala and west of Elegeia, rather west of Caranitis, Aba, from Ptol. Geog. 12.5.2 (Ἄβας ὄρος) has been suggested, while Mount Abos is said by Strabo 11.527 to be the source of the Araxes and the Euphrates. R. Syme, Anatolica (Oxford, 1995) 39 accepts Abos. Baumgartner, RE I, 107 identifies Abos with Bingöl Dağı, south of Erzerum; this would fit with the southern source of the river. Mucianus' description sub radicibus also fits the configuration of rivers at the southern edge of Bingöl Dağı, but the two should not be the same mountain, and Mucianus gives his a different name, Capotes. J. G. C. Anderson, Handy Classical Map of Asia Minor (London, 1912), places it north-east of Elegeia, but that may have been on the basis of this passage; nothing else is known. Pliny puts it twelve miles above Zimara, which is established on the south-flowing Euphrates in the southernmost part of Armenia Minor (RE 10A. 447, citing the Ant. Itin. 208.5 and Ptol. 15.7.2). Hence perhaps the siting of Capotes in the Barrington Atlas, west of the Euphrates. That is implausible as a source; possibly Sinara on one of the tributaries of the northern branch, attested otherwise only in late antiquity, is meant, but Zimara also occurs in the next sentence but one as a fixed point.
Ptolemy, Geog. 5.6.8: ὅθεν ὁ Μέλας καλούμενος ποταμός ῥέων συμβάλλει τῷ Εὐφράτῃ ποταμῷ.
Barrington Atlas 64 E3, after T.B. Mitford, “Cappadocia and Armenia Minor: historical setting of the Limes”, ANRW II 7.2 (1980), 1161-1228 at 1185.
Several modern scholars do not agree on the century in which Movsēs Xorenac‘i lived; thus it is safer to put a question mark after the 5th a.d. century.
Géographie attribuée a Moyse de Khoren, in Antoine-Jean Saint-Martin, Mémoires historiques et géographiques sur l'Arménie, II (Paris, 1818) 319-377: ‘ First Armenia is to the east of the first Cappadocia, and adjacent to the third Armenia; the Euphrates is the border to the east. … The second Armenia is to the east of Cappadocia, extending lengthwise to the Euphrates. …  Greater Armenia is to the east of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, on the banks of the Euphrates…. To the north it borders on Albania, Iberia and Colchis, until the place where the Euphrates turns toward the south’.
Saint-Martin, Mémoires, II, 398-400: ‘The Euphrates, pouring also out of the Paradise, comes down to earth and issues from Armenia, towards the land of Pakrevant and towards the mountains of Garin, which are adjacent to the city of Ardzn [Erzurum]. … The Aradzani [Arsanias] issues from the central part of Armenia and joins the Euphrates…’
Emmanuel Bekker (ed.), Theophanes Continuatus (Οἱ μετὰ Θεοφάνην) 5.40 (Bonn, 1838) 269: οὕτω δὲ τὸν Εὐφράτην περαιωθεὶς τὸ φρούριον εὐθὺς ὅ Ῥαψάκιον λέγεται ἐξεπόρθησεν. ἰδίᾳ δὲ τοὺς Χάλδους καὶ Κολωνιάτας τὴν μεταξὺ χώραν Εὐφράτου καὶ Ἀρσίνου κελεύσας καταδραμεῖν…
Abū ʿUbayd ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn Muḥammad ibn Ayyūb ibn ʿAmr al-Bakrī, c. 1014–1094.
Guy Le Strange, “Description of Mesopotamia” at 56.
Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti, 1100–1166.
Géographie d'Édrisi, II (Paris, 1840) 137; cf J. Williams, Two Essays on the Geography of Ancient Asia (London 1829) 291. Idrisi means here to Baghdad via canals towards the Tigris because the Euphrates does not pass from Baghdad.
Géographie d'Édrisi, II, 314.
The fact that Saint-Martin had read d’Anville’s views is evident in his passage (I, 44), where he criticizes d’Anville’s detachment of Caranitis from Theodosiopolis (Erzurum), and its displacement to the east, towards the sources of the Murad (cf. Map 12 above): “The learned d’Anville was therefore wrong to think that Pliny wished to mention the lower part of the Euphrates, and he accordingly erred in placing the Caranitis region in the central part of Armenia, to the sources of the other Euphrates.”
The discrepancy between the distance reported by Xenophon and the actual distance of Siirt and Bitlis (99 km or 17.2 parasangs) has resulted in proposals for a direct northerly march from Siirt to Muş. Layard 1853: 32-34 objects this alternative; cf. Paradeisopoulos 2013, 655. However, Kinneir travelled from Bitlis to Siirt not along the path of the principal road, but along a more direct north-south route. He passed from Aşağıölek (Lower Ölek) which is his Eulak; from Şeyhcuma (his Scheck Jama), renamed Çeltikli after 1928 (Index Anatolicus, Çeltikli-Bitlis); from Epr (his Serpa), renamed Dikme after 1928 (Index Anatolicus, Dikme-Bitlis); from Ürek/Örek (his Eurak), renamed Gözlüce after 1928 (Index Anatolicus, Gözlüce-Şirvan-Siirt); from Tasil, renamed Karaca köy after 1928 (Index Anatolicus, Karaca-Şirvan-Siirt); from Miskin (his Tiskin), renamed Soğanlı after 1928 (Index Anatolicus, Soğanlı-Şirvan-Siirt); from Helesan (his Halasni), renamed Kapılı.
Jacobs, Achaemenid satrapies (on-line at iranica.com) defines thus the borders of the Achaemenid satrapy of (East) Armenia governed by Orontas. Its southern border was the river Centrites/Bohtan. Beyond the junction of the Centrites and the Tigris, the southern border continued westward to meet the Euphrates [see Map 16]. The Euphrates was the western border of (East) Armenia. The northern border of this satrapy was marked first by the Murad [from the point of its confluence with the Euphrates up to the point of its confluence with the ‘small’ Karasu], and then by the ’small’ Karasu (Teleboas). After the ‘small’ Karasu, from the northeastern corner of Lake Van, the northern border ran to the north, toward the Caucasus. This means (see Map 16) that in the intermediate part, i.e. from the sources of the ‘small’ Karasu until the northeastern corner of Lake Van, the northern border of (East) Armenia was formed by the northern shore of this lake.
Similarly, according to Jacobs the east and south sides of the West Armenia of Tirivazos fit into the angle left open by the satrapy of (East) Armenia. In the north, the Caucasus was the border of West Armenia, and in the northwest the Black Sea. North of the confluence of the Euphrates (Frat, Karasu) and the Murad, the western border of West Armenia ran north-northwest toward the Black Sea, reaching the coast immediately west of Cotyora.
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Paradeisopoulos, I. (2016). Changing names, fitting views: The conversion of river Arsanias into the Euphrates of Xenophon. PHILICA.COM Article number 582.