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12726Re: deportation and repatriation

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  • Francesco Brighenti
    Aug 17, 2010
      --- In ANE-2@yahoogroups.com, "Michael Banyai" <michael.banyai@...> wrote:

      > The 70 years of exile, Thomas is speaking about, appear also in
      > the prophecy of Isaiah 23:15 and 17 about Tyre. This seems to be
      > an important Mesopotamian topos, first appearing in biblical works
      > following contacts with Assyria. It may have been a current curse
      > in standard contracts with Assyria by that time, thus being the
      > real consequence of breaking a contract closed with Assyria.

      Cf. also the case of the Persian Empire.

      Foreign workers, called _kurtash_, who were sometimes slaves,
      sometimes free people working for wages, and sometimes indentured
      servants, were resettled by the Persians in different satrapies of
      their empire. Other groups of foreig workers were settled in Babylonia by the Persians under the _hatru_ system, by virtue of which a community was allotted an area that it cultivated in family plots on condition of military service and payment of an annual tax.

      Apart from the _kurtash_ and _hatru_ systems, the Achaemenids apparently resorted to deportation of entire foreign communities when these broke some kind of 'contract' made with them. This is evinced by the deportation of some (presumably numerically large) Greek communities to Bactria and Sogdiana -- which H.G. Rawlinson has termed as the "Siberia" of the Achaemenian Empire! -- inferred on the basis of the following sources:

      * Herodotus (4.204) writes that the inhabitants of the city of Barca
      in Cyrenaica were deported by Darius I to a village in Bactria that
      was also named Barca.

      * Herodotus (6.9) also mentions a threat made by the Persian
      commanders to the inhabitants of Miletus at the culmination of the
      Ionian Revolt before the battle of Lade (494 B.C.) that their
      maidens would be deported to Bactria. This can be taken as a mere
      suggestion that the Persians used to threaten their Greek enemies to
      deport the population of their cities to the far eastern portions of
      their empire, and we aren't told they really did this to the
      Milesians; yet, this passage by Herodotus has its importance
      inasmuch as it was written a few decades after the Persian Wars.

      * Curtius (7.5.28-35) and Strabo (11.11.4) describe the episode of
      Alexander's encounter with, and subsequent destruction of, the
      alleged descendants of the Branchidae, a clan of Ionian priestly
      functionaries attached to the sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma near
      Miletus and relocated by the Persians in a settlement
      between Bactria and Sogdiana (some scholars think it was half-way
      between present-day Balkh and Samarkand). Curtius and Strabo's
      common, earlier source is Callisthenes, Alexander's historian. W.W.
      Tarn and other historians have dismissed this episode as an invention of Callisthenes', but it is possible that the Branchidae no less than the Barcaeans were deported by the Persians to Bactria-Sogdiana.

      * There is another possible example of a historical deportation of
      Greeks to Bactria by the Achaemenids: that of the inhabitants of the
      city of Kariatas (mentioned in Strabo 11.11.4 as the place where
      Callisthenes was arrested; Latin Cariatae), who like the Branchidae
      were massacred by Alexander. According to F.L. Holt (_Alexander the
      Great and Bactria: The Formation of a Greek Frontier in Central
      Asia_, Brill Archive, 1988, p. 73, n. 94), they may have been the
      descendants of Greeks from Caria in Asia Minor.

      In sum, only the deportation of the Barcaeans to Bactria seems to be
      warranted by near-contemporary souces (Herodotus), yet there are
      indications (Curtius, Strabo) that other Greek communities were
      deported by the Persian to Bactria or Sogdiana. Other such
      deportations could have simply escaped the notice of ancient

      Kindest regards,

      Francesco Brighenti
      Venice, Italy
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