Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lajjun Fortress - The Limes Arabicus

Roman Infantry (Roman-Empire.net)

The Limes Arabicus was a desert frontier of the Roman Empire, mostly in the province of Arabia Petraea. It ran northeast from the Gulf of Aqaba for about 1,500 kilometers (930 mi) at its greatest extent, reaching Northern Syria and forming part of the wider Roman limes system. It had several forts and watchtowers.
The reason of this defensive "Limes" was to protect the Roman province of Arabia from attacks of the barbarian tribes of the Arabian desert. The main purpose of the Limes Arabicus is disputed; it may have been used both to defend from Saracen raids and to protect the commercial lines from desert-based robbers.
Next to the Limes Arabicus Trajan built a major road, the Via Nova Traiana, from Bostra to Aila on the Red Sea, a distance of 267 miles/430 kilometres. Built between 111 and 114 AD, its primary purpose may have been to provide efficient transportation for troop movements and government officials as well as facilitating and protecting trade caravans emerging from the Arabian peninsula. It was completed under Hadrian.

With Emperor Diocletian's restructuring of the empire in 284-305, Arabia Petraea province was enlarged to include parts of modern-day Israel. Arabia after Diocletian was a part of the Diocese of Oriens ("the East"), which was part of the Prefecture of Oriens and was largely Christian.

Among the units stationed in Arabia was the Legio III Cyrenaica which was responsible for the creation of the Limes Arabicus.

Under The Eastern Empire

In 395 AD the Empire made its final split into eastern and western political units.

From that point on the legions manning the defenses in the east came under full control of Constantinople.

Details on the organization of the Limes are thin at best.  But because there was little to no threat from Arabia, it is fair to say that the forts in the Palestine region were probably neglected, allowed to decay and were under staffed with troops.  What military action took place happened further north against the Persians on the Mesopotamian and Armenian frontiers.

By late antiquity the Limes Arabicus was effectively being dismantled.  Tight imperial budgets and chronic manpower shortages were important factors. Wars raged endlessly on the Persian, Balkan, Italian and African fronts. Constantinople's need for troops made them look to the "quiet" sector of the Limes Arabicus.

To fill the need for frontier troops the Eastern Emperor Anastasius I Dicorus (491-518) recognized a federation of tribal warriors from Yemen, the Ghassanids, as a Roman ally under the condition that they would protect the eastern frontier. They did their job well and occasionally fought the Lakhmids who were allies of the Persian Empire.

In 529 the Emperor Justinian recognized the Ghassanid leader Harith as king of all Arabs gave hime the rank of patricius.  In return the Ghassanids were to protect all the southeastern provinces.

There Arab soldiers were no longer just tribal warriors but professional who knew how to fight in a regular army. However, the Byzantine emperors sometimes suspected their ally because they were Monophysite Christians.

The Ghassanids remained a Byzantine vassal state until its rulers and the eastern Byzantine Empire were overthrown by the Muslims in the 7th century, following  of Yarmuk in 636 AD. 

Lajjun reconstruction.
Reproduced from: Campbell DB, Roman Roman Legionary fortresses 27 BC - AD 378. Fortress Series 43. Osprey Military Publishing, 2007. P. 63.

Legio - Camp of the 6th Roman Legion

Lajjun was established after the Bar Kochba Revolta Jewish uprising against the Romans—had been suppressed in 135 CE. 

The Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered a second Roman legion, Legio VI Ferrata, ("Ironclad"), to be stationed in the north of the country to guard the Wadi Ara region, a crucial line of communication between the coastal plain of Judea and the Jezreel Valley. 

The place where it established its camp was known as Legio

Then in the 3rd century CE, when the army was removed, Legio became a city and its name was augmented with the adjectival Maximianopolis.

The site of Legio (el-lajjun) is a vital geographical position making it a strategic crossroads for coastal, valley and hill country trade as well as the movement of troops from Egypt to Mesopotamia.

From the first to the seventh centuries the area was controlled by the Roman Empire.

Historical records show three settlements:  the Jewish village of Kefer Othnay, the Roman Sixth Legion Ferrata and the Roman-Byzantine city of Maximianopolis.

Research has discovered a Roman-Byzantine theater and fragments of Roman aqueducts.

Teams have been excavating Legio. Over the course of only ten full excavation days, with the assistance of American and European students working side-by-side with members of local youth and community service groups, the team dug test trenches measuring approximately 295 feet by 16.5 feet that revealed clear evidence of the camp

At the north end of this line, was found that the depressions evident in aerial photography were in fact part of a Roman camp’s typical defensive trenching earthworks, the fosse. Next to this 6.5-foot-deep ditch was the foundation of a great wall nearly 20 feet wide, evidently the main circumvallation rampart of the camp. 

Inside of that wall in the remaining 230 feet of test trenches, the team exposed rooms likely belonging to one of the barracks areas of the camp. Much of the architectural remains had long been stripped away, but within the rooms were numerous ceramic roof tiles with the legion’s mark, coins, fragments of scale armor, lead ingots and a stone table leg sculpted with the three-dimensional visage of a panther. Near the southern extent of our excavation, the putative barracks were bounded by a wide street carved in bedrock and flanked by drainage channels. 

Crossing the camp at about one-third of the length of the north-south walls, as estimated via aerial photography, this important street was probably the camp’s Via Principalis, “Main Street,” a typical feature of such castra. Considering the regular structure of Roman camps, the Porta Principalis Dextra, the main eastern gate of the camp, should lie just outside of our excavation area.

A Reflectance Transformation Image scan (RTI) in
the center shows the legion's insignia.

The degree to which the fort was manned in the later period is not known. Palestine was considered a quiet sector with many Roman troops removed and frontier defenses largely given over to the allied Ghassanid Christian Arabs.

Even with the Ghassanids patrolling the frontier there would have been regular army Roman troops stationed in Palestine and units passing through to Egypt or to Mesopotamia.  Lajjun and the other limes fortresses, if not permanently manned, would have been used on and off for temporary shelter or as a local strong point for police actions. 

Information on the Roman legions and other units stationed in the area is also minimal.  

The area was conquered by the Arab Muslims under Caliph Umar in the 7th century: the Legio III Cyrenaica was destroyed defending Bosra in 630, ending the Roman presence in Arabia.

According to some Muslim historians, the site of the 634 AD Battle of Ajnadayn fought between the army of the Rashidun Caliphate under generals Khaled ibn al-Walid and Amr ibn al-'As, and the Byzantine Empire in 634 CE was at Lajjun. 

Following the Muslim Arab victory, Lajjun, along with most of Palestine, and southern Syria were incorporated into the Caliphate. According to 9th-century Persian geographer Estakhri, Lajjun was the northernmost town in Jund Filastin (District of Palestine). Arab geographer Ibn Hawqalsupports this claim in 977.

The Crusades

When the Crusaders invaded and conquered the Levant from the Fatimids in 1099, al-Lajjun's Roman name was restored and the town formed a part of the lordship of Caesarea. During this time, Christian settlement in Legio grew significantly. 

John of Ibelin records that the community "owed the service of 100 sergeants". Bernard, the archbishop of Nazareth granted some of the tithes of Legio to the hospital of the monastery of St. Mary in 1115, then in 1121, he extended the grant to include all of Legio, including its church as well as the nearby village of Ti'inik

By 1147, the de Lyon family controlled Legio, but by 1168, the town was held by Payen, the lord of Haifa. Legio had markets, a town oven and held other economic activities during this era. In 1182, the Ayyubids raided Legio, and in 1187, it was captured by them under the leadership of Saladin's nephew Husam ad-Din 'Amr and consequently its Arabic name was restored.

Lajjun Fortress
Two hypothetical reconstructions of the legion camp based on ground penetrating radar.  The smaller option appears in white.  The larger option extends out in black.
(Jezrel Valley Regional Project)

Map showing the location of Legio in the Jezreel Valley (Israel). 
Hilly/mountainous regions in grey.

Aerial photo of Legio/Lajjun

Cut away of a Roman fortress wall.

In AD 106 the Romans under Emperor Trajan achieved control of the region east of the Jordan River, which was previously ruled by the Nabataeans. Until then, the Nabataean kingdom had provided a buffer between the Roman Empire and the threat of enemies to the east.

Historians do not know how and why the Romans took direct control. Perhaps the lack of a legitimate successor to the deceased Nabataean king resulted in a power vacuum. The Romans annexed the area and called it 
Provincia Arabia. It was governed by a senatorial legate appointed by the emperor, and its capital was Bostra (or Bosra) in southern Syria.

(Academia.edu)      (Lajjun)      (Legionary Fortresses)      (Legio III Cyrenaica)

(Biblical Archaeology)      (Romans in Arabia)      (Livius.org)

(xlegio.ru)      (Ancient worlds)      (Limes Arabicus)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Byzantine Trade Goods - Anatolia and the Caucasus, 500–1000 A.D.

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Anatolia remains one of the most important territories of the Byzantine Empire during this period. Eastern Anatolia becomes increasingly militarized in the 600s due to Persian and Arab invasions. The Iconoclastic controversy affects all the empire, including this region, until around 850, when Byzantium restors economic prosperity and military security. 

During this period, the Armenians and Georgians established themselves as relatively independent Christian states on the empire's eastern frontier. In Anatolia, Byzantine art and architecture flourishes, particularly in the sixth-century cities along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts—including Ephesus, Sardis, and Aphrodisias—and in the region of Cappadocia, notable for its medieval, rock-cut structures.

The "Antioch Chalice," first half of 6th century
Byzantine; Made in Antioch or Kaper Koraon (?)
Silver, silver–gilt; 7 1/2 x 5 7/8 in. (19 x 15 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1950 (50.4)

When it was discovered at the beginning of the twentieth century, this "chalice" was claimed to have been found in Antioch, a city so important to the early Christians that it was recognized with Rome and Alexandria as one of the great sees of the church. 

The chalice's plain silver interior bowl was then ambitiously identified as the Holy Grail, the cup used by Christ at the Last Supper. The elaborate footed shell enclosing it was thought to have been made within a century after the death of Christ to encase and honor the Grail. The fruited grapevine forming the rinceau pattern of the gilded shell is inhabited by birds, including an eagle; animals, including a lamb and a rabbit; and twelve human figures holding scrolls and seated in high-backed chairs. Two of the figures are thought to be images of Christ. 

The other ten figures have been variously identified as ten of the twelve apostles, or philosophers of the classical age, who, like the prophets of the Old Testament, had foretold the coming of Christ. The sixth-century chronicler Malalas of Antioch was among those who sought to make such links between Christianity and classical philosophy.

Pair of Jeweled Bracelets, 500–700
Byzantine; Probably made in Constantinople
Gold, silver, pearl, amethyst, sapphire, glass, quartz, and emerald plasma; Diam. 3 1/4 in. (8.2 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.1670, 1671)

These elaborately decorated bracelets have richly jeweled exteriors and finely detailed opus interassile (openwork) patterns on their interiors. The luminous beauty of pearls was highly prized in the Byzantine world. These bracelets are only two of thirty-four pieces of gold jewelry from Egypt said to have been found near Lycopolis (now Assiut) or Antinoopolis (Antinoe, now Sheik Ibada) in Egypt at the turn of the century. 

Whether discovered together, or later assembled, they represent the standard of luxury common among the elite in Egypt during the period of Byzantine rule and the close connections between the wealthy province and the capital in Constantinople. Multicolored, or polychrome, jewelry was very popular in the Early Byzantine world.

Portrait Bust of a Woman with a Scroll, late 4th–early 5th century
Early Byzantine (Eastern Roman Empire)
Marble; H. 20 7/8 in. (53 cm)
The Cloisters Collection, 1966 (66.25)

This superbly carved portrait bust presents a pensive woman with a compelling gaze. She holds a scroll, the symbol of an educated person. 

The delicate, sensitive carving and the highly polished finish suggest that it was carved in Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine empire, perhaps as the funerary monument of a leading member of the imperial aristocracy. Her long fingers draw attention to the scroll in her hand, indicating her pride in being recognized as among the educated elite in an era that prized learning for both men and women.

Icon with the Deesis, mid–900s
Byzantine; Probably made in Constantinople
Ivory; 6 1/8 x 5 1/8 in. (15.6 x 13 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.133)

In the Deesis, Christ appears in glory between the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Traditionally the first witnesses to Christ's divinity, the Virgin and Saint John came to be seen as intercessors with Christ on behalf of humanity. 

This plaque was probably the central panel of a triptych, a deluxe portable icon for personal devotion. Later, in western Europe, the panel may have been used as a cover for a gospel book.

Solidus of Justinian I (r. 527–565), 538–565
Byzantine; Minted in Constantinople
Gold; Diam. 3/4 in. (1.9 cm)
Bequest of Joseph H. Durkee, 1898 (99.35.7406)

Coins connected an emperor to his subjects. Through inscriptions and images, they conveyed imperial ideals and commemorated auspicious events. The emperor paid the army and received taxes in coins, and he was responsible for maintaining their weight and purity. 

This coin was minted under Justinian, whose preference for a completely frontal portrait—rather than the traditional profile—would set a standard for the rest of Byzantine history.

Caftan, 8th–10th century
Caucasus Mountain regions
Silk, linen, and fur; Coat: H. 56 in. (142.2 cm), W. 60 in. (152.4 cm); Leggings: H. 32 in. (81.3 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1996 (1996.78.1)

The original linen coat (caftan), preserved in part from the neck to the bottom of the hem, is made of finely woven linen. A decorative strip of large-patterned silk is sewn along the exterior and interior edges of the caftan. A minute fragment of lambskin preserved as the caftan's interior attests to its fur lining. 

The woven patterns on the silk borders of the caftan include motifs such as the rosettes and stylized animal patterns enclosed within beaded roundels, which were widespread in Iranian and Central Asian textiles of the sixth to ninth century. 

The colors used in the textile include a now-faded dark blue, yellow, red, and white on a dark brown ground. The decorated silk fabrics are a compound twill weave (samit in modern classification) and the body of the garment is plain-weave linen. Two slits running up the back of the caftan make it particularly suitable as a riding costume.

See more at
Met Museum.org

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Battle of Satala - Persia Invades

Persian Cavalry  (radpour.com)

Satala - Battle of the Iberian War

The Iberian War was fought from 526 to 532 between the Eastern Roman Empire and Sassanid Persian Empire over the eastern Georgian kingdom of Iberia.

Tensions between the two powers were further heightened by the defection of the Iberian king Gourgen to the Romans. According to the historian Procopius, Kavadh I tried to force the Christian Iberians to become Zoroastrians, who in 524/525 under the leadership of Gourgen rose in revolt against Persia, following the example of the neighboring Christian kingdom of Lazica. Gourgen received pledges by Justin I that he would defend Iberia; the Romans indeed recruited Huns from the north of the Caucasus to assist the Iberians.

Violence escalated at various points where the power of the two empires met: in 525 a Roman fleet transported an Aksumite army to conquer Himyarite Yemen and in 525/526, Persia's Arab allies, the Lakhmids, raided Roman territories on the edge of the desert. By 526–527, overt fighting between the two empires had broken out in the Transcaucasus region and upper Mesopotamia, and the Persians continued to exert pressure on the Romans to obtain funds from them. Following the emperor Justin I's death in 527, Justinian I succeeded to the imperial throne. 

The early years of war favored the Persians: by 527 the Iberian revolt had been crushed, a Roman offensive against Nisibis and Thebetha in that year was unsuccessful, and forces attempting to fortify Thannuris and Melabasa were prevented from doing so by Persian attacks.

The Roman - Persian Frontier
Some 30,000 Persian troops invaded Byzantium's Armenian 
provinces resulting is the Battle of Satala.

In spring 530, the Persian attack in Mesopotamia met with defeat at the Battle of Dara. A Roman army of 25,000 men under the great Roman General Belisarius marched out to meet 40,000 Persians including large units of the Immortals. Belisarius crushed the Persians killing 8,000.

At the same time as Dara, the Persians had gained ground in the Caucasus, having subdued Iberia and invaded Lazica. The Persian shah, Kavadh I decided to take advantage of this and sent an army into Byzantium's Armenian provinces. For this task, he chose the general Mihr-Mihroe (Mermeroes).
Mihr-Mihroe began assembling his forces near the Byzantine border fortress of Theodosiopolis (Erzurum). According to Procopius, his army composed mostly of levies from Persian-ruled Armenia and Sunitae from the northern Caucasus, as well as 3,000 Sabirs
The Byzantine commanders were Sittas, who had just been promoted from magister militum per Armeniam to magister militum praesentalis, and his successor in the former post, Dorotheus

Sittas was the husband of Comito, the elder sister of the Empress Theodora, and possible father of the later empress Sophia.  He enters history in the reign of Emperor Justin I as a doryphoros ("bodyguard") in the guard of Justinian, then magister militum per Orientem.

As soon as news of the ongoing Persian preparations reached them, they sent two of their guards to spy on them. One was captured, but the other returned with information that allowed the Byzantines to launch a surprise attack the Persian camp. The Persian army scattered with some loss, and after looting their camp, the Byzantines returned to their base.

Satala Fortress East Gate
Yes, I said the same thing, "That's a gate? How do they know?"
I guess when the Persians destroy a fortress they really destroy a fortress.  

From Livius.org

The Fortress of Satala

(From Livius)  When the emperor Vespasian added Commagene to the Roman empire (72 CE), the upper Euphrates became a frontier zone; across the river were the Parthian Empire and the buffer state Armenia. The main road along the Roman border (limes) was from Trapezus on the shores of the Black Sea to Alexandria near IssusSeleucia, and Antioch near the Mediterranean in the south. The legionary bases along this highway were Satala (for the recently founded Sixteenth legion Flavia Firma), Melitene (XII Fulminata), Samosata (VI Ferrata), and Zeugma (IIII Scythica). 

Satala was chosen because it commanded not only the Euphrates, but also the road from central Anatolia to Armenia (essentially the modern E88/E80).

We would like to know more about the original settlement, but it will be hard to reconstruct it, because the site was destroyed in the mid-third century by troops of the Persian Sasanians (who had replaced the Parthians after 224), and was rebuilt several times. What can be seen today, belongs to the sixth-century reconstruction by the emperor Justinian (527-565). The circuit of the walls is too small to offer accommodation to a first- or second-century legion. The original military settlement is still lost.

Satala, Northern "Wall"

Satala, East "Wall"

Hardly anything is known about Satala's civil settlement, although it is certain that in the fourth century, there was a Christian community.
The site was fortified again in 529 by the Emperor Justinian. His historian Procopius writes:
The city of Satala had been in a precarious state in ancient times. For it is situated not far from the land of the enemy and it also lies in a low-lying plain and is dominated by many hills which tower around it, and for this reason it stood in need of circuit-walls which would defy attack. Nevertheless, even though its surroundings were of such a nature as this, its defenses were in a perilous condition, having been carelessly constructed with bad workmanship in the beginning, and with the long passage of time the masonry had everywhere collapsed. But the Emperor tore all this down and built there a new circuit wall, so high that it seemed to overtop the hills around it, and of a thickness sufficient to ensure the safety of its towering mass. And he set up admirable outworks on all sides and so struck terror into the hearts of the enemy.
This fortress survived for almost a century, but was eventually captured and destroyed in 607/608 by the Persian Sasanian king Khusrau II the Victorious (590-628).
Persian King Kavadh I

Battle of Satala

Once the Persian commander Mihr-Mihroe had finished assembling his army of 30,000 men in Armenia he invaded Byzantine territory. 

The Persians bypassed the Roman fortress of Theodosiopolis on the border and headed for Satala. While not much made of this action it is a major importance to this campaign.

In reading between the lines, the fortress was bypassed because it was far too powerful to successfully attack and capture in a reasonable amount of time.  Also, there is no way the Persians would allow a large Roman garrison to operate in their rear.  So a considerable number of Persian troops would have been left behind to hold the Romans inside the fortress.

It was a 126 mile march from Theodosiopolis to Satala through some very stark countryside.  Securing the Persian lines of communication would have involved detaching even more units from the main invading force.

After a long march the Persians set up their camp some distance from the city walls. How many Persians were there we do not know.  The historian Procopius (who was not there) says the Romans had 15,000 men and were outnumbered about two to one. That would mean the Persians did not detach any troops.  That would be wrong.

But the Romans did show up with a very powerful force that might have been in that range.  The Romans feared to take on the for more numerous Persians in open combat. Most the the Romans stayed with Dorotheus inside the city walls.  Sittas took 1,000 cavalry into the hills overlooking the fortress.
On the next day, the Persians advanced and began to surround the city, preparing for a siege. 

At this point, Sittas and his 1,000 man cavalry detachment charged down from the high ground of the hills into the rear of the Persians. The charge created a huge cloud of dust that made it hard to estimate the Roman numbers. The Persians thought they were facing the main Roman army. They quickly gathered their forces and turned to meet them.

With the Persians turned to face Sittas, the Romans in the city under Dorotheus led his own men to attack what was now the "new" rear of the Persian army. 

Despite their bad tactical position, facing attack from both front and rear, the Persian army resisted effectively, due to its greater numbers. At one point, however, a Byzantine commander, Florentius the Thracian, charged his unit into the Persian center and managed to capture Mihr-Mihroe's battle standard. Although he was killed soon after, the loss of the flag caused fear among the Persian ranks. Their army began to retreat to their camp, abandoning the battlefield.

The large Persian force may have retreated to their camp, but the Romans had no interest in following up their victory with additional attacks. That implies that the Persians were still well organized and to be feared. On the other hand, the Persians had been seriously mauled and no longer wanted to fight.

The next day, the Persians departed and returned to Persian Armenia, unmolested by the Byzantines, who were satisfied with their victory over a far larger force. 

This victory was a major success for Byzantium, and was followed by the defections of a number of Armenian chieftains to the Empire, as well as by the capture or surrender of a number of important fortresses, like Bolum and Pharangium. 

Negotiations between Persia and Byzantium also resumed after the battle, but they led nowhere, and in spring 531 war resumed, with the campaign that led to the Battle of Callinicum .

Possible Route of the Persians
It was a 126 mile march for the Persians from the Roman border
fortress of Theodosiopolis (modern Erzurum) to Satala (Sadak).
The Persians would have had to detach considerable numbers of
troops from the main army to secure their lines of communications
and surround the Roman garrison at 

Eastern Roman Army Re-enactors

By Procopius of Caesarea
(500 to 560AD)

Editor  -  Procopius is wonderful to read.  He gives us huge amounts of detail and first person accounts to events that were not seen by historians again for centuries. In the case of Satala, Procopius was not there.  I have reprinted his account because it does provide a certain amount of information.  But it is obvious by the lack of detail that Procopius is reporting to us events that were told to him by others.

And Cabades sent another army into the part of Armenia which is subject to the Romans. This army was composed of Persarmenians and Sunitae, whose land adjoins that of the Alani. There were also Huns with them, of the stock called Sabiri, to the number of three thousand, a most warlike race. And Mermeroes, a Persian, had been made general of the whole force. When this army was three days' march from Theodosiopolis, they established their camp and, remaining in the land of the Persarmenians, made their preparations for the invasion.

Now the general of Armenia was, as it happened, Dorotheus, a man of discretion and experienced in many wars. And Sittas held the office of general in Byzantium, and had authority over the whole army in Armenia. These two, then, upon learning that an army was being assembled in Persarmenia, straightway sent two body-guards with instructions to spy out the whole force of the enemy and report to them. And both of these men got into the barbarian camp, and after noting everything accurately, they departed. And they were travelling toward some place in that region, when they happened unexpectedly upon hostile Huns.

By them one of the two, Dagaris by name, was made captive and bound, while the other succeeded in escaping and reported everything to the generals. They then armed their whole force and made an unexpected assault upon the camp of their enemy; and the barbarians, panic-stricken by the unexpected attack, never thought of resistance, but fled as best each one could. Thereupon the Romans, after killing a large number and plundering the camp, immediately marched back.
Not long after this Mermeroes, having collected the whole army, invaded the Roman territory, and they came upon their enemy near the city of Satala. There they established themselves in camp and remained at rest in a place called Octava, which is fifty-six stades distant from the city. 
6th Century Byzantine Cavalry 

Sittas therefore led out a thousand men and concealed them behind one of the many hills which surround the plain in which the city of Satala lies. Dorotheus with the rest of the army he ordered to stay inside the fortifications, because they thought that they were by no means able to withstand the enemy on level ground, since their number was not fewer than thirty thousand, while their own forces scarcely amounted to half that number. 

On the following day the barbarians came up close to the fortifications and busily set about closing in the town. But suddenly, seeing the forces of Sittas who by now were coming down upon them from the high ground, and having no means of estimating their number, since owing to the summer season a great cloud of dust hung over them, they thought they were much more numerous than they were, and, hurriedly abandoning their plan of closing in the town, they hastened to mass their force into a small space. 

But the Romans anticipated the movement and, separating their own force into two detachments, they set upon them as they were retiring from the fortifications; and when this was seen by the whole Roman army, they took courage, and with a great rush they poured out from the fortifications and advanced against their opponents. They thus put the Persians between their own troops, and turned them to flight. 

However, since the barbarians were greatly superior to their enemy in numbers, as has been said, they still offered resistance, and the battle had become a fierce fight at close quarters. And both sides kept making advances upon their opponents and retiring quickly, for they were all cavalry. 

Thereupon Florentius, a Thracian, commanding a detachment of horse, charged into the enemy's centre, and seizing the general's standard, forced it to the ground, and started to ride back. And though he himself was overtaken and fell there, hacked to pieces, he proved to be the chief cause of the victory for the Romans. For when the barbarians no longer saw the standard, they were thrown into great confusion and terror, and retreating, got inside their camp, and remained quiet, having lost many men in the battle; and on the following day they all returned homeward with no one following them up, for it seemed to the Romans a great and very noteworthy thing that such a great multitude of barbarians in their own country had suffered those things which have just been narrated above, and that, after making an invasion into hostile territory, they should retire thus without accomplishing anything and defeated by a smaller force.

Remains of the walls and Eastern gate of Satala's late Roman fortress.
From Mavors.org

At that time the Romans also acquired certain Persian strongholds in Persarmenia, both the fortress of Bolum and the fortress called Pharangium, which is the place where the Persians mine gold, which they take to the king. It happened also that a short time before this they had reduced to subjection the Tzanic nation, who had been settled from of old in Roman territory as an autonomous people; and as to these things, the manner in which they were accomplished will be related here and now.
As one goes from the land of Armenia into Persarmenia the Taurus lies on the right, extending into Iberia and the peoples there, as has been said a little before this[19], while on the left the road which continues to descend for a great distance is overhung by exceedingly precipitous mountains, concealed forever by clouds and snow, from which the Phasis River issues and flows into the land of Colchis. 

In this place from the beginning lived barbarians, the Tzanic nation, subject to no one, called Sani in early times; they made plundering expeditions among the Romans who lived round about, maintaining a most difficult existence, and always living upon what they stole; for their land produced for them nothing good to eat. Wherefore also the Roman emperor sent them each year a fixed amount of gold, with the condition that they should never plunder the country thereabout. And the barbarians had sworn to observe this agreement with the oaths peculiar to their nation, and then, disregarding what they had sworn, they had been accustomed for a long time to make unexpected attacks and to injure not only the Armenians, but also the Romans who lived next to them as far as the sea; then, after completing their inroad in a short space of time, they would immediately betake themselves again to their homes. 

And whenever it _so_ happened that they chanced upon a Roman army, they were always defeated in the battle, but they proved to be absolutely beyond capture owing to the strength of their fastnesses. In this way Sittas had defeated them in battle before this war; and then by many manifestations of kindness in word and in deed he had been able to win them over completely. For they changed their manner of life to one of a more civilized sort, and enrolled themselves among the Roman troops, and from that time they have gone forth against the enemy with the rest of the Roman army. They also abandoned their own religion for a more righteous faith, and all of them became Christians. Such then was the history of the Tzani.
Gravestone of a Roman legionary
soldier and his wife from Satala.

Beyond the borders of this people there is a cañon whose walls are both high and exceedingly steep, extending as far as the Caucasus mountains. In it are populous towns, and grapes and other fruits grow plentifully. And this canon for about the space of a three days' journey is tributary to the Romans, but from there begins the territory of Persarmenia; and here is the gold-mine which, with the permission of Cabades, was worked by one of the natives, Symeon by name. 

When this Symeon saw that both nations were actively engaged in the war, he decided to deprive Cabades of the revenue. Therefore he gave over both himself and Pharangium to the Romans, but refused to deliver over to either one the gold of the mine. And as for the Romans, they did nothing, thinking it sufficient for them that the enemy had lost the income from there, and the Persians were not able against the will of the Romans to force the inhabitants of the place to terms, because they were baffled by the difficult country.
At about the same time Narses and Aratius who at the beginning of this war, as I have stated above,[20] had an encounter with Sittas and Belisarius in the land of the Persarmenians, came together with their mother as deserters to the Romans; and the emperor's steward, Narses, received them (for he too happened to be a Persarmenian by birth), and he presented them with a large sum of money. 

When this came to the knowledge of Isaac, their youngest brother, he secretly opened negotiations with the Romans, and delivered over to them the fortress of Bolum, which lies very near the limits of Theodosiopolis. For he directed that soldiers should be concealed somewhere in the vicinity, and he received them into the fort by night, opening stealthily one small gate for them. Thus he too came to Byzantium.

Little remains of Satala. Here is a small portion of their ancient Roman aqueduct.

The "Eternal Peace"

After six years of combat the Iberian war was basically a draw.  The Romans had won the Battles of Dara and Satala, but Persian losses were so high in the Battle of Callinicum it was effectively a Pyrrhic victory.  After Callinicum the Romans captured some forts in Armenia, and effectively repulsed a Persian offensive.

Justinian's envoy, Hermogenes, visited Kavadh immediately after the Battle of Callinicum to re-open negotiations but without success. Justinian therefore took steps to bolster the Roman position, trying, at the same time, to engage Kavadh diplomatically. Kavadh died shortly afterwards, and in spring 532 new negotiations began between the Roman envoys and the new Persian king, Khosrau I, who needed to devote his attention to secure his own position. 

The two sides finally came to an agreement, and the Eternal Peace, which lasted less than eight years, was signed in September 532. Both sides agreed to return all occupied territories and the Romans to make a one-off payment of 110 centenaria (11,000 pounds of gold). 

The Romans recovered the Lazic forts, Iberia remained in Persian hands, but the Iberians who had left their country were allowed to remain in Roman territory or to return to their native land.

The Iberian War had ended.  But in only eight years yet another new Roman-Persian war broke out in Lazica.

(Procopius - History of the Wars Book I XV)      (Sittas)      (Livius.org - Satala)

(Mavors.org)      (Iberian War)      (Satala-530)

The Eastern Roman and Persian Empires