ⓘ Chronicle of 819. The Chronicle of 819, also called the Chronicle of Qartmin, is a chronological table of important events and people from the birth of Jesus do ..


ⓘ Chronicle of 819

The Chronicle of 819, also called the Chronicle of Qartmin, is a chronological table of important events and people from the birth of Jesus down to the year AD 819 written in Syriac by an anonymous Miaphysite monk from the monastery of Qartmin. It contains lists of the Abbasid caliphs for 785–813 and the Syriac Orthodox patriarchs for 788–819.


1. Authorship and transmission

The Chronicle was discovered in a large 9th-century codex unearthed by Aphrem Barsaum in the village of Basabrina in 1911. A search for the codex could not locate it in 1984, and it seems likely that it was destroyed during the Assyrian genocide in 1915. A transcription of the chronicle made by Barsaum may still be kept somewhere in France. According to a marginal notice, the codex was copied by one Severus for his uncle David, bishop of Harrān. This David was a former monk of Qartmin who is known to have been consecrated as a bishop by Patriarch John IV of Antioch between 846 and 873. The codex also contains church canons and patriarchal letters. The Chronicle appears as a "self-contained collection of historical notices". A later hand added a historical notice of the drought of 1094–95, which places the manuscript in Basabrina by that date. The Chronicle of 819 was incorporated almost in its entirety into the Chronicle of 846. It is the later chronicles main source for the Islamic period.

The Chronicle of 819 may be the work of up to three authors, with changes in authorship coinciding with the periods 728–733 and 775–785. The signs of Qartminite authorship in the work are extensive and conclusive. Out of 125 entries, 15 mention the monastery. In 1959, the Syriac Orthodox patriarch Philoxenus Dolabani claimed without citing his source that the chronicle was the work of the "renowned scribe" Mansur, abbot of Qartmin and son of Marzuq, a priest of Basabrina. This appears to have been a mere conjecture.


2. Sources and content

The Chronicle gives roughly even coverage of ecclesiastical and secular events. For the early period, its main source is the Chronicle of Edessa, which ends in 540. It also includes material from Eusebius of Caesarea. Of the 74 entries before this year, the Chronicle of Edessa is the source for 62. Its information is not passed on verbatim, but is often abbreviated and in some cases modified, as when the Chronicle of 819 labels Ibas of Edessa a heretic. For the 7th and 8th centuries, it relies heavily on the archives of the monastery of Qartmin. These centuries take up about half the length of the chronicle. The other sources for the later centuries are less clear, but may include the lost chronicle of Jacob of Edessa died 708, which was known at Qartmin. John of Ephesus biography of Jacob Baradaeus was also used as a source.

The Chronicle s coverage of political affairs, including military encounters between the Abbasids and the Romans Byzantines, between 762 and 819 is especially valuable. The chronicle is unique among Syriac histories in completely ignoring the reign of the Roman emperor Heraclius. From the 7th century on it does not document the succession of Roman emperors and focuses exclusively on the caliphs. It does not mention the caliphs Yazīd III and Ibrāhīm ibn al-Walīd, who ruled briefly in 744, because they were not recognized in Upper Mesopotamia. The last event recorded is the consecration as patriarch of Dionysius of Tel Mahre, which is dated to 819 although it actually took place in August 818. The chronicle was probably completed shortly after this at Qartmin, as it contains more information about that monastery than any other chronicle.

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