Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία
Ελληνική ιστορία και προϊστορία

Σάββατο, 16 Νοεμβρίου 2019

Guanches : The descendants of mythic Atlantis in Canary Islands

Plato : " Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island."
Atlantean civilization ended around the 10,000 B.C.E..   It declined, and was destroyed by natural disasters and invaders from Western Europe. According to Spence, Atlantis was located in the vicinity of the Canary Islands, where conditions were optimal for a flourishing Neolithic civilization.  Its evidence lies in the spread of an “Atlantis culture complex” most notably to North Africa, Mediterranean Europe and Central and South America. An interesting theory is the Atlanteans are ethnically linked to the ancient Guanches and Berbers whose origins have been elusive to anthropologists. The Guanches were first described by a 12th century Arab geographer Muhammad Al-Idrisi who visited the Canary Islands and found a mysterious indigenous population.  He wrote about visiting a village:  “whose inhabitants have long and flaxen hair and the women are of a rare beauty.”  No one knows how the Guanches came to arrive on the Atlantic island. Similar to the ancient Berbers (who lived in the evocatively named Atlas Mountains of Northern Africa), the Guanches are described as physically distinct from their Mediterranean and North African neighbors.  They were tan in complexion but tall in stature and tended to be fair haired.  These characteristics lend themselves to a rich mythology, which I propose the Atlanteans capitalized on.  They were the sons of gods, the “chosen ones.”  With their high-minded claims to heredity, they managed to colonize the pre-historic world.

Location hypotheses of Atlantis are various proposed real-world settings for the fictional island of Atlantis, described as a lost civilization mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 B.C. In these dialogues, a character named Critias claims that an island called Atlantis was swallowed by the sea about 9,200 years previously. According to the dialogues, this story was passed down to him through his grandfather, also named Critias, who in turn got it from his father, Dropides, who had got it from Solon, the famous Athenian lawmaker, who had got the story from an Egyptian sanctuary. Plato's dialogues locate the island in the Atlantic Pelagos "Atlantic Sea", "in front of" the Pillars of Hercules (Στήλες του Ηρακλή) and facing a district called modern Gades or Gadira (Gadiron), a location that some modern Atlantis researchers associate with modern Gibraltar; however various locations have been proposed. It has been thought that when Plato wrote of the Sea of Atlantis, he may have been speaking of the area now called the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean's name, derived from Greek mythology, means the "Sea of Atlas". Plato remarked that, in describing the origins of Atlantis, this area was allotted to Poseidon. In Ancient Greek times the terms "Ocean" and "Atlas" both referred to the 'Giant Water' which surrounded the main landmass known at that time by the Greeks, which could be described as Eurafrasia, and thus this water mass was considered to be the 'end of the (known) world', for the same reason the name "Atlas" was given to the mountains near the Ocean, the Atlas Mountains, as they also denoted the 'end of the (known) world'.
The Canary Islands have been identified as remnants of Atlantis by numerous authors. For example, in 1803, Bory de Saint-Vincent in his Essai sur les îles fortunées et l'antique Atlantide proposed that the Canary Islands, along with the Madeira, and Azores, are what remained after Atlantis broke up. Many later authors, i.e. Lewis Spence in his The Problem of Atlantis, also identified the Canary Islands as part of Atlantis left over from when it sank.

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago and the southernmost
autonomous community of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean, 100 kilometres west of Morocco at the closest point. The Canary Islands, which are also known informally as the Canaries, are among the outermost regions (OMR) of the European Union proper. It is also one of eight regions with special consideration of historical nationality as recognized by the Spanish Government. The Canary Islands belong to the African Plate like the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, the two on the African mainland. The seven main islands are (from largest to smallest in area) Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. The archipelago includes many smaller islands and islets: La Graciosa, Alegranza, Isla de Lobos, Montaña Clara, Roque del Oeste and Roque del Este. It also includes a series of adjacent roques (those of Salmor, Fasnia, Bonanza, Garachicoa and Anaga). In ancient times, the island chain was often referred to as "the Fortunate Isles". The Canary Islands are the most southerly region of Spain and the largest and most populated archipelago of the Macaronesia region. Historically, the Canary Islands have been considered a bridge between four continents: Africa, North America, South America and Europe.

The archipelago's beaches, climate and important natural attractions, especially Maspalomas in Gran Canaria and Teide National Park and Mount Teide (a World Heritage Site) in Tenerife (the third tallest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor), make it a major tourist destination.  The seven major islands, one minor island, and several small islets were originally volcanic islands, formed by the Canary hotspot. During the time of the Spanish Empire, the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to the Americas, which came south to catch the prevailing north-easterly trade winds. The name Islas Canarias is likely derived from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning "Islands of the Dogs", a name that was applied only to Gran Canaria. According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the Mauretanian king Juba II named the island Canaria because it contained "vast multitudes of dogs of very large size". It is considered that the aborigines of Gran Canaria called themselves "Canarios". It is possible that after being conquered, this name was used in plural in Spanish, i.e., as to refer to all of the islands as the Canarii-as.

The islands may have been visited by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and the Carthaginians. King Juba II (48 BC-23 AD), Caesar Augustus's Numidian protégé, is credited with discovering the islands for the Western world. According to Pliny the Elder, Juba found the islands uninhabited, but found "a small temple of stone" and "some traces of buildings". Juba dispatched a naval contingent to re-open the dye production facility at Mogador in what is now western Morocco in the early first century AD. That same naval force was subsequently sent on an exploration of the Canary Islands, using Mogador as their mission base. The Romans named each of the islands: Ninguaria or Nivaria( Tenerife), Canaria (Gran Canaria), Pluvialia or Invale (Lanzarote), 
Ombrion (La Palma), Planasia (Fuerteventura), Iunonia or Junonia (El Hierro) and Capraria (La Gomera). Roman author and military officer Pliny the Elder, drawing upon the accounts of Juba II, king of Mauretania, stated that a Mauretanian expedition to the islands around 50 BC found the ruins of great buildings, but otherwise no population to speak of. If this account is accurate, it may suggest that the Guanches were not the only inhabitants, or the first ones; or that the expedition simply did not explore the islands thoroughly. Tenerife, specifically the archaeological site of the Cave of the Guanches in Icod de los Vinos, has provided habitation dates dating back to the 6th century BC, according to analysis carried out on ceramics that were found inside the cave. When the Europeans began to explore the islands in the late Middle Ages, they encountered several indigenous peoples living at a Neolithic level of technology. Although the prehistory of the settlement of the Canary Islands is still unclear, linguistic and genetic analyses seem to indicate that at least some of these inhabitants shared a common origin with the Berbers on the nearby North African coast. The precolonial inhabitants came to be known collectively as the Guanches, although Guanches had been the name for only the indigenous inhabitants of Tenerife. In 1402, the Castilian conquest of the islands began. The Castilians continued to dominate the islands, but due to the topography and the resistance of the native Guanches, they did not achieve complete control until 1496, when Tenerife and La Palma were finally subdued by Alonso Fernández de Lugo. After that, the Canaries were incorporated into the Kingdom of Castile.

The Guanches were the aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands. In 2017, the first genome-wide data from the Guanches confirmed a North African origin and that they were genetically most similar to modern North African Berber peoples of the nearby North African mainland. It is believed that they migrated to the archipelago around 1000 BC or perhaps earlier. Strictly speaking, the Guanches were the indigenous peoples of Tenerife. The name came to be applied to the indigenous populations of all the seven Canary Islands, those of Tenerife being the most important or powerful. What remains of their language, Guanche a few expressions, vocabulary words and the proper names of ancient chieftains still borne by certain families exhibits positive similarities with the Berber languages. The first reliable account of the Guanche language was provided by the Genoese explorer Nicoloso da Recco in 1341, with a translation of numbers used by the islanders. According to European chroniclers, the Guanches did not possess a system of writing at the time of conquest; the writing system may have fallen into disuse or aspects of it were simply overlooked by the colonizers. Inscriptions, glyphs and rock paintings and carvings are quite abundant throughout the islands. Petroglyphs attributed to various Mediterranean civilizations have been found on some of the islands.

The geographic accounts of Pliny the Elder and of Strabo mention the Fortunate Isles but do not report anything about their populations. An account of the Guanche population may have been made around AD 1150 by the Arab geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi in the Nuzhatul Mushtaq, a book he wrote for King Roger II of Sicily, in which reports a journey in the Atlantic Ocean made by the Mugharrarin (the adventurers), a family of Andalusian seafarers from Lisbon. reports that, after having reached an area of "sticky and stinking waters", the Mugharrarin moved back and first reached an uninhabited Island (Madeira or Hierro), where they found "a huge quantity of sheep, which its meat was bitter and inedible" and, then, "continued southward" and reached another island where they were soon surrounded by barks and brought to "a village whose inhabitants were often fair haired with long and flaxen hair and the women of a rare beauty". Among the villagers, one did speak Arabic and asked them where they came from. Then the king of the village ordered them to bring them back to the continent where they were surprised to be welcomed by Berbers. Genetic evidence shows that northern African peoples made a significant contribution to the aboriginal population of the Canaries following desertification of the Sahara at some point after 6000 BC. Linguistic evidence suggests ties between the Guanche language and the Berber languages of North Africa, particularly when comparing numeral systems. Research into the genetics of the Guanche population have led to the conclusion that they share an ancestry with Berber peoples.

According to an international investigation whose results were given in 2017, a small part of the Guanches aborigines had as relatives the first European farmers from Anatolia (Asia Minor). This data has been discovered thanks to the analysis of the genome which also confirms that the vast majority of Canarian aborigines come from North Africa but were also related to the first European farmers, whose genetics were introduced into Europe from Anatolia through the migrations of farmers during the Neolithic expansion, around 7,000 years ago.Another study in 2018 confirmed that, like the Guanches, both ancient and modern North Africans are also partly related to Anatolia/Europe. Beñesme or Beñesmer was a festival of the agricultural calendar of the Guanches (the Guanche new year) to be held after the gathering of crops devoted to Chaxiraxi (on August 15). In this event the Guanches shared milk, gofio, sheep or goat meat. At the present time, this coincides with the pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Virgin of Candelaria (Patron of Canary Islands). The island of Tenerife was divided into nine small kingdoms (menceyatos), each ruled by a king or Mencey. The Mencey was the ultimate ruler of the kingdom, and at times, meetings were held between the various kings. When the Castilians invaded the Canary Islands, the southern kingdoms joined the Castilian invaders on the promise of the richer lands of the north; the Castilians betrayed them after ultimately securing victory at the Battles of Aguere and Acentejo.

A 2003 genetics research article by Nicole Maca-Meyer et al. published in the European Journal of Human Genetics compared aboriginal Guanche mtDNA (collected from Canarian archaeological sites) to that of today's Canarians and concluded that, "despite the continuous changes suffered by the population (Spanish colonisation, slave trade), aboriginal mtDNA (direct maternal) lineages constitute a considerable proportion (42 – 73%) of the Canarian gene pool. According to this article, both percentages are obtained using two different estimation methods; nevertheless according to the same study the percentage that could be more reliable is the one of 73%. Maca-Meyer et al. states that historical evidence does support the explanation of "strong sexual a result of a strong bias favoring matings between European males and aboriginal females, and to the important aboriginal male mortality during the Conquest." The genetics thus suggests the native men were sharply reduced in numbers due to the war, large numbers of Spaniard men stayed in the islands and married the local women, the Canarians adopted Spanish names, language, and religion, and in this way, the Canarians were Hispanicized. According to a recent study by Fregel et al. 2009, in spite of the geographic nearness between the Canary Islands and Morocco, the genetic heritage of the Canary islands male lineages, is mainly from European origin.
Πηγή :

Σάββατο, 2 Νοεμβρίου 2019

Byzantine Reconquest : The Medieval Greek reconquest of Middle East

The Byzantine reconquest of Cilicia was a series of conflicts and engagements between the forces of the Byzantine Empire under Nikephoros II Phokas and the Hamdanid ruler of Aleppo, Sayf al-Dawla, over control of the region of Cilicia in southeastern Anatolia. Since the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, Cilicia had been a frontier province of the Arab world and a base for regular raids against the Byzantine provinces in Anatolia. By the middle of the 10th century, the fragmentation of the Abbasid Caliphate and the strengthening of Byzantium under the Macedonian dynasty allowed the Byzantines to gradually take the offensive. Under the soldier-emperor Nikephoros II Phokas (r. 963–969– ), with the help of the general and future emperor John I Tzimiskes, the Byzantines overcame the resistance of Sayf al-Dawla, who had taken control of the former Abbasid borderlands in northern Syria, and launched a series of aggressive campaigns that in 964–965 recaptured Cilicia. The successful conquest opened the way for the recovery of Cyprus and Antioch over the next few years, and the eclipse of the Hamdanids as an independent power in the region.

By the time Nicephorus became emperor, after his successful seizure of Crete, he had decided on a grander plan to expand Byzantine territory, rather than merely sack the Arab cities and withdraw. He began his invasion in Autumn 964 and set out with an army of 40,000. He began by spreading out his lighter infantry throughout the Cilician countryside and ordered them to loot and plunder the villages in order to ensure a general atmosphere of confusion and disarray among al-Dawla's administration. Nicephorus then marched the main segment of his forces, the Imperial Army plus the forces of the themes of Asia Minor, through Arab territory and began to capture major fortresses and cities. He took Adana, Anazarbus, and around twenty other fortified cities. He then marched on to Mopsuestia. Tarsus and Mopsuestia were the two largest remain fortresses in the region. Nicephorus quickly realized, after bombarding the city, that only a prolonged siege would manage to force Mopsuestia to capitulate. Soon, with the coming of winter, Nicephorus retreated to his regional capital of Caesarea, where he passed the season preparing for next year's campaigning season on the sieges of Mopsuestia and Tarsus. At the spring of 965, Nicephorus once again collected his forces and departed for Cilicia. This time, however, Nicephorus headed strait for Tarsus. There he met the garrison outside of the walls of the city and engaged it. He decisively defeated the army and drove them back into the fortress. He then blockaded the city, raided the surrounding countryside and left for Mopsuestia, leaving the city besieged, blockade, and surrounded by destruction and desolation. He began to in turn siege Mopsuestia, bombarding the city with archers and siege engines. He then employed a similar strategy as used in the Siege of Chandax only four years earlier. He instructed his engineers to dig under the city fortifications while the Arabs were distracted and collapse the weakest perceived section of the wall. This worked, and soon the Byzantines began to pour into the city from the destroyed section. The city was then looted and razed, while Nicephorus deported all of its inhabitants. He then returned to Tarsus where the populace, after hearing of the destruction of Mopsuestia, sought terms with the Greeks. They handed over the city to Nicephorus in exchange for the safe passage of migrants seeking to emigrate to Syria, which he granted. With the capture of these two cities, Cilicia once again came under the suzerainty of Byzantium, and Nicephorus returned to Constantinople. It was around this time that on Cyprus the Byzantine general Niketas Chalkoutzes staged a coup. The nature of the circumstances of this coup are dubious due to a lack of sources, but it is clear that the Abbasid authorities had no preconceived notions of it as it was incredibly successful. The island was returned to the Byzantines and reintegrated into the Theme System.

Following the conquest of Crete, Nikephoros soon returned to the east with a large and well-equipped army and almost immediately marched into Cilicia. In February 962, he captured Anazarbos, while the major city of Tarsus ceased to recognize the Hamdanid Emir of Aleppo, Sayf al-Dawla. Nikephorus continued to ravage the Cilician countryside, defeating the governor of Tarsus, ibn al-Zayyat in open battle; al-Zayyat later committed suicide on account of the loss. He soon returned to the regional capital of Caesarea. Upon the beginning of the new campaigning season, al-Dawla entered the Byzantine Empire and began to conduct raids. This strategy, however, would prove fatal for him, as it left Aleppo dangerously undefended. Nikephoros soon took the city of Manbij. In December, an army split between Nikephoros and John I Tzimiskes marched towards Aleppo, quickly routing an opposing force led by Naja al-Kasaki. Al-Dawla's force caught up with the Byzantines, but he too was routed, and Nikephoros and Tzimiskes entered Aleppo on December 24. The loss of the city would prove to be both a strategic and moral disaster for the Hamdanids. It was probably on these campaigns that Nikephoros earned the sobriquet, "The Pale Death of the Saracens". During the capture of Aleppo, the Byzantine army took possession of 390,000 silver dinars, 2,000 camels, and 1,400 mules.

Following the quelling of some civil unrest in the spring of 966, Nicephorus once again set out for the east. Nicephorus' strategy was not one of traditional Byzantine origin, but combined the tactics used by the Arabs with his own strategy. He largely avoided open confrontation, pillaging, raiding and capturing cities where he could. He marched east with his army from Constantinople, joining up with his new forces as he passed through Byzantine Cilicia, and advanced onto Syria. Nicephorus soon led his army to Antioch, where he set up a light siege and began to raid the countryside. In the fall of 967, Nicephorus captured many forts in southern Syria, and eventually came to Tripoli. He wished to meet up with his navy there, but the winds and tides were uncooperative and he could not besiege the city, and instead marched north to the fortress of Arqa, which he soon captured and looted. It was around this time in 967 that al-Dawla died. His successor, Sa'd al-Dawla, was a weak and ineffectual ruler, and by the time he ascended the throne, Hamdanid territory had become a mere battlefield on which the Byzantines and Fatimids could settle their disputes. Nicephorus did not cease the pillage of Syria until the spring of 969 when he returned to Constantinople. However, he left a large garrison in a citadel of his construction outside of Antioch in order to maintain the siege. Around a year later, Byzantine forces retook Antioch and cemented Byzantine control of the region. 
From 964 to 965, Nikephoros led an army of 40,000 men which conquered Cilicia and conducted raids in Upper Mesopotamia and Syria, while the patrician Niketas Chalkoutzes recovered Cyprus. In the spring of 964, Nikephorus headed east. During the summer he captured Anazarbos and Adana before withdrawing. Later that year Nikephoros attempted to quickly take Mopsuestia, but failed, returning to Caesarea. It was around this time that Niketas Chalkoutzes instigated a coup on Cyprus, which at the time was a shared condominium between the Byzantines and the Arabs. In the summer of 965, the conquest of Cilicia began in earnest. Nikephorus and Tzimiskes seized Mopsuestia July 13, while Leo Phokas invested Tarsus and Nikephoros and Tzimiskes arrived soon after. Nikephoros won a pitched battle against the Tarsiots, routing their forces with his "ironclad horsemen", referencing the Byzantine cataphracts. Within a fortnight, Tarsus surrendered on August 16th to Nikephoros who allowed the inhabitants to leave the city unharmed but plundered the city. With the fall of these two strongholds, Cilicia was in the hands of the Byzantines. In 967 or 968, Nikephoros annexed the Armenian state of Taron by diplomacy. In 968, Nikephoros conducted a raid which reached the city of Tripoli, raiding and sacking most of the fortresses along his path. His aim was to cut off Antioch from its allies: the city was unsuccessfully blockaded two times in 966 and 968, and so the emperor decided to take it by hunger (so as not to damage to city) and left a detachment (a taxiarchy) of 1500 men in the fort of Baghras, which lies on the road from Antioch to Alexandretta. The commander of the fort, the patrikios Michael Bourtzes, disobeyed the emperor's orders and took Antioch with a surprise attack, supported by the troops of the stratopedarch Petros, eunuch of the Phokas family. Bourtzes was disgraced for his insubordination, and later joined the plot that killed Phokas.

The Syrian campaigns of John Tzimiskes were a series of campaigns undertaken by the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes against the Fatimid Caliphate in the Levant and against the Abbasid Caliphate in Syria. Following the weakening and collapse of the Hamdanid Dynasty of Aleppo, much of the Near East lay open to Byzantium, and, following the assassination of Nikephoros II Phokas, the new emperor, John I Tzimiskes, was quick to engage the newly successful Fatimid Dynasty over control of the near east and its important cities, namely Antioch, Aleppo, and Caesarea. He also engaged the Emir of Mosul, who was under the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad, over control of parts of Upper Mesopotamia (Jazira). Relations between the Byzantines in Greece and Asia Minor and the Fatimids in Egypt had taking a steep downward turn halfway through the 10th Century. Following the disintegration of the Hamdanid Dynasty in Aleppo, tensions between the two empires continued to inflate until conflict became inevitable. However, the Byzantines looked not only to expand into the Levant and Syria, following their conquest of Cilicia, but also too expand further east into Armenia and Upper Mesopotamia, modern Iraq, in order to unite with the native Christian peoples there and to cripple the power of the Abbasid Caliph, who was nominally under the suzerainty of the Buyids. Late in 969, John Tzimiskes, a prominent leader of the Byzantine army, assassinated Nikephoros Phokas, then the Byzantine Emperor, and ascended the throne. While John had been fighting in Bulgaria, the Fatimids managed to break into the Byzantine Empire itself and laid siege to Antioch, which had been captured from the Hamdanids six years earlier. Soon, by spring 971, an invading force of Qarmatians into Fatimid Syria forced the Egyptian army too withdraw. The failure of the Fatimids to take Antioch proved the stability of Byzantium's eastern front, and, later in 971, John planned to initiate yet another eastern campaign. John left Constantinople in Spring 972 and crossed the Euphrates in October of the same year. John quickly besieged and entered the city of Nisibis which he used to stage numerous raids on the surrounding countryside. The Emir of Mosul, who was a suzerain of the Abbasid court at Baghdad, Abu Taghlib, soon agreed to pay annual tribute to the Byzantines. John then quickly moved towards Mayyafariqin, but he was unable to take the city before the campaigning season ended.

As the campaigning season ended, John appointed to the position of Domestic of the East an Armenian named Mleh; his job was to maintain stability at the frontier. During the winter of 972–3, Mleh collected a strong force of Byzantine soldiers with the objective of putting pressure on Abu Taghlib. He quickly set out for the border town of Amida, while Taghlib responded by sending an army under his brother Hibat Allah to challenge the invaders. Mleh's army was swiftly destroyed with a few survivors entering the captivity of Taghlib, including Mleh, who would die in captivity by March 974. The defeat of Mleh was significant, as it undermined the Byzantine's position with the Armenians in terms of securing a possible alliance, as well as losing their annual tribute from Mosul. The defeat of Mleh would also cause a rift to form between Taghlib and the Caliph in Baghdad, Al-Muti, on the subject of how best to deal with the threat they posed. The Armenians soon held a conference, and, after discussing with Byzantine envoys, formed a deal to accompany the Byzantines in a joint invasion of Syria and Mesopotamia in Spring 974, John marched east and joined with the Armenian forces at the capital of Taron, Muş. John swiftly advanced through Taghlib's lands, accepting tribute from Amida and Mayyafariqin in turn; he soon passed Nisibis, which was then deserted. John hoped to eventually advance on Mosul, and perhaps even Baghdad itself, thereby breaking the power of the Arabs in Mesopotamia whilst also increasing his legitimacy at home. He soon advanced into Jazira. Later that year, however, John received news from across the fertile crescent: the Fatimids had crushed the Qarmatians in Syria and were now advancing up the Levant towards Antioch, having already taken Tripoli and Beirut. John realized that the risk posed to Antioch and Cilicia was far greater than any gains to be had from possessing Baghdad, and so he soon headed west, splitting his army in two. The Armenians were sent home and the Byzantines went on to resupply and refresh the garrison at Antioch. John then returned to Constantinople to celebrate a Triumph, and returned to the east in Spring 975. John, once again, marched out of Antioch and down the Orontes, quickly taking Homs. From there he besieged and took Baalbek, and then advanced on Damascus, whose ruler, Amir Aftakin, a refugee from Baghdad who had recognized Fatimid suzerainty, surrendered his lands to John. John then marched south, taking Galilee, Tiberias, and Nazareth. Envoys from Acre soon reached John's camp on Mt. Tabor accepting a Byzantine garrison. Envoys also arrived from Ramleh and Jerusalem expressing their desire for John to take their cities. He soon took Caesarea, which would prove to be the limit of his advance. At this point John was far too concerned with the Fatimids' continual hold on the Levantine coast to advance further into Palestine. Important cities such as Tripoli, Sidon, and Byblos were still in Egyptian hands, and the clear threat these cities' garrisons posed to the integrity of Byzantine supply lines forced John to conquer these territories before advancing further. He proceeded to march to the coast and take Beirut after a fierce battle. He then marched north and took Byblos, heading towards Tripoli from there. Despite putting up a fierce siege and ravaging the countryside, John was unable to take the city. From there he marched north virtually unopposed, taking Balamea, Gabala, and numerous other cities. At this point, John now controlled all of the coast from Antioch to Caesarea, except for Tripoli. John then marched inland, mopping up any last pockets of resistance, including the cities of Burzuya and Sahyun. Governors and garrisons were appointed for the conquered cities, the administration arranged, and John returned to Antioch in September 975.

Basil II ( c. 958 – 1025), nicknamed the Bulgar Slayer was senior Byzantine Emperor for almost 50 years (976 – 1025), having been a junior colleague to other emperors since 960. He and his brother Constantine were named as co-rulers before their father Romanos II died in 963. The throne went to two generals, Nikephoros Phokas (r. 963–969) then John Tzimiskes (r. 969–976), before Basil became senior emperor. Once the internal strife was quelled, Basil turned his attention to the Empire's other enemies. The Byzantine civil wars had weakened the Empire's position in the east, and the gains of Nikephoros II and John I had nearly been lost to the Fatimid Caliphate. In 987–988, a seven-year truce with the Fatimids was signed; it stipulated an exchange of prisoners, the recognition of the Byzantine emperor as protector of Christians under Fatimid rule and of the Fatimid Caliph as protector of Muslims under Byzantine control, and the replacement of the name of the Abbasid caliph with that of the Fatimid caliph in the Friday prayer in the mosque at Constantinople. This lasted until the long-time vizier Yaqub ibn Killis died in 991. Fatimid caliph Al-Aziz Billah chose to pursue a more aggressive stance in Syria and appointed Manjutakin as governor of Damascus.

Encouraged by the defectors after the death of emir Sa'd al-Dawla, Al-Aziz decided to renew his attacks on the Hamdanid Emirate of Aleppo, a Byzantine protectorate, perhaps expecting Basil would not interfere. Manjutakin invaded the emirate, defeated a Byzantine force under the doux of Antioch Michael Bourtzes in June 992, and laid siege to Aleppo. The city easily resisted. In early 993, after thirteen months of campaigning, a lack of supplies forced Manjutakin to return to Damascus. In 994, Manjutakin resumed his offensive and in September scored a major victory at the Battle of the Orontes against Bourtzes. Bourtzes' defeat forced Basil to intervene personally in the East; with his army, he rode through Asia Minor to Aleppo in sixteen days, arriving in April 995. Basil's sudden arrival and the exaggeration of his army's strength circulating in the Fatimid camp caused panic in the Fatimid army, especially because Manjutakin, expecting no threat, had ordered his cavalry horses to be dispersed around the city for pasture. Despite having a considerably larger and well-rested army, Manjutakin was at a disadvantage. He burned his camp and retreated to Damascus without battle. The Byzantines besieged Tripoli unsuccessfully and occupied Tartus, which they refortified and garrisoned with Armenian troops. Al-Aziz now prepared to take to the field in person against the Byzantines and initiated large-scale preparations but they were abandoned upon his death.

Warfare between the two powers continued as the Byzantines supported an anti-Fatimid uprising in Tyre. In 998, the Byzantines under Damian Dalassenos, the successor of Bourtzes, launched an attack on Apamea but the Fatimid general Jaysh ibn al-Samsama defeated them in battle on 19 July 998. This defeat drew Basil back into the conflict; he arrived in Syria in October 999 and remained there for three months. Basil's troops raided as far as Baalbek, placed a garrison at Shaizar, and burnt three minor forts in the vicinity of Abu Qubais, Masyath, and 'Arqah. The siege of Tripoli in December failed while Hims was not threatened. Basil's attention was diverted to developments in Georgia following the murder of David III Kuropalates; he departed for Cilicia in January and dispatched another embassy to Cairo. In 1000, a ten-year truce was concluded between the two states. For the remainder of the reign of Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (r. 996–1021), relations remained peaceful as al-Hakim was more interested in internal affairs. Even the acknowledgement of Fatimid suzerainty by Abu Muhammad Lu'lu' al-Kabir of Aleppo in 1004 and the Fatimid-sponsored installment of Aziz al-Dawla as the city's emir in 1017 did not lead to a resumption of hostilities, especially because al-Kabir continued to pay tribute to the Byzantines and al-Dawla quickly began acting as an independent ruler. Al-Hakim's persecution of Christians in his realm and especially the 1009 destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at his orders strained relations and, along with Fatimid interference in Aleppo, provided the main focus of Fatimid–Byzantine diplomatic relations until the late 1030s.

Following the loss of Cilicia and Antioch, the Hamdanid state began to deteriorate rapidly. A string of rebellions would fracture and crush the dynasty's power, and the state would barely last to the end of the century before being vassalized and subsequently dissolved by the Fatimid Dynasty of Egypt, which would in turn rise to dominate the Levant and the near east for centuries. Byzantium, on the other hand, would continue to expand under the successive emperors Nicephorus, John II Tzimiskes, and Basil II. In fact, the Byzantines would see nearly unchecked expansion for over a century from the conquests of Cilicia and Antioch, only finally being subdued by the Seljuk Empire at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.
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