Syria became a province of Rome in 64 BC, which is where this appears on the Biblical Timeline Poster with World History. Prior to this, The Seleucid Empire was formed around 320 B.C. and the Seleucid rulers set up their empire’s capitol in Antioch, Syria. After the Empire was forged, it began a constant series of wars against its enemies.
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The Seleucids fought against the Ptolemy Dynasty and the various rebels that rose up against their power. They battled against Asian forces in the east and waged war in the southernmost parts of their territories. The Seleucid’s were winning and losing battles and territories, and they had managed to stay in power for nearly three centuries until the arrival of the Romans.
Before Rome finally took over Syria in 64 B.C. they had already defeated the province under the rule of Antiochus III. Once they defeated Antiochus III they made the region a tributary state. They also established the Treaty of Apamea. The treaty specified Roman terms for Seleucid rulers in Syria. Some of the conditions of this treaty included surrendering 20 royal hostages to Rome for a certain period, the payment of tribute to Rome and that Syria couldn’t recruit mercenaries from Roman territories. This treaty was created in 188 B.C., and it lasted for over 70 years until the arrival of Pompey.
The Roman Republic was on the verge of becoming a powerful empire around 70 B.C. They had conquered and defeated many territories in Africa and various parts of Europe. The Romans won a series of battles and were virtually undefeated under the leadership of Pompey. Pompey made his way into Syria to annex the province or to make it a permanent part of the empire. The reason for this decision was that Rome no longer wanted to continue to keep fighting with this territory that wanted to be free from their rule. In the past, Syria was ruled from a position of independence and the reason for this was because Rome wasn’t strong enough to directly control the territories that they defeated. They had to rely on their allies to help keep outside areas compliant with their terms.
When Pompey entered Syria Antiochus XIII Asiaticus was the king. Pompey had him killed by a Syrian chieftain. The death of Antiochus XIII ended the Seleucid Dynasty. Once Syria had become a part of the Roman Empire, they were used as a buffer state to safeguard the western empire from Parthia and other anti-Roman forces in the east. Syria was also used for its wealth since it was situated in a strategic location. Many kingdoms and empires transported their goods to and through Syria.
The local inhabitants of Syria were nomadic tribes and they hadn’t had their own independence since the Assyrians conquered the territories in 700 B.C. When the Syria became a province of Rome the nomadic people were so used to living under foreign rulers that they too just complied with their new rulers.
They continued in their traditional ways of life, but they also intermingled with the Greeks who settled in the region as well. When Syria became a Roman province, they slowly adopted some of the customs of the Roman Empire. Ultimately, Rome ruled Syria up until the time that the Empire collapsed.
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