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Cynane › Who Was

Definition and Origins

by Joshua J. Mark
published on 27 November 2015
Cynane (Creative Assembly)
Cynane (c. 357- 323 BCE, pronounced `Keenahnay') was the daughter of the Illyrian Princess Audata and King Philip II of Macedon, making her the half-sister of Alexander the Great. Following the Illyrian tradition of women as warriors, her mother raised her in the martial arts and the belief that she was the equal of any man. Cynane lived this belief and instilled the same values in her daughter, Adea, whom she raised to power at the cost of her own life. Following the death of Alexanderthe Great, Cynane sacrificed herself in arranging her daughter's marriage to Alexander's successor in order to place her in a position of power and security. Her daughter would rule with Philip III under the name Eurydice II and carry on her mother's legacy as an independent and powerful woman.


When Philip II defeated the Illyrian king Bardylis in 358 BCE he took Audata, the king's eldest daughter, as a trophy of warand a means of keeping the peace. Audata became the first of Philip's seven wives among whom was also Alexander's mother, Olympias. Audata was a true Illyrian princess, a product of her culture's practice of raising girls as warriors, and instilled these values in her daughter. She brought Cynane up in the Illyrian tradition, teaching her martial arts and to hunt, track, ride, and fight better than most men. Before she was twenty, Cynane was well known for these skills and became famous for her courage and brilliance in battle.


She grew up at the court of Philip II alongside Alexander and those friends of his who would later become the generals of his army. Any young woman in the Macedonian court would have been expected to behave herself as befitted her gender but Cynane refused to be dominated by any man. Scholar James Romm writes:
Cynane grew up at the Macedonian court but stayed true to her maternal traditions, for Illyrian women were famously tough, capable of going to war as men did. In her teens Cynane is said to have accompanied the Macedonian army on a campaign into Illyria and to have slain a queen of that country - perhaps one of her own relatives - in hand-to-hand combat. Unfortunately, no account survives of that encounter between two armed female leaders, the first such encounter known to European history (164).
Cynane rode into battle alongside Alexander and his friends on numerous occassions but became legendary after she turned the tide of battle with the Illyrians single-handedly. The Macedonian historian Polyaenus writes:
Cynane, the daughter of Philip, was famous for her military knowledge: she conducted armies, and in the field charged at the head of them. In an engagement with the Illyrians, she with her own hand slew Caeria their queen; and with great slaughter defeated the Illyrian army (1).
This particular story of Cynane's courage was most likely widely circulated by oral tradition before historians like Polyaneaus set it down in writing. Her victory over the Illyrians made her a legend but it was her struggle to control her own life, and provide a better future for her daughter, which made her of interest to the ancient historians like Polyaneus who would make her immortal.


By the will of Philip II, Cynane was given in marriage to her cousin Amyntas and gave birth to a daughter, Adea. After Philip II was assassinated in 336 BCE she tried to rouse Amyntas to action and pushed him to seize the throne but he ignored her advice. Whether he simply refused to take the counsel of a woman or was afraid to take the risk is unknown but it was a gravemistake. When Alexander the Great took the throne of his father he had Amyntas killed, recognizing that Cynane might attempt to do exactly what she had been doing. She was a widow, then, in her early twenties and would have been expected to marry again but she refused all offers and, interestingly, was able to maintain her autonomy even though it was very much in the interests of the new king to marry her off quickly to some non-threatening suitor.
There is no record of how Cynane was able to manipulate the situation and resist Alexander's designs for her life but it is clear she remained single in spite of his best attempts. He tried to neutralize Cynane by marrying her off to Langarus, King of the Agrianians (a Paeonian-Thracian tribe of Upper Strymon in present-day Bulgaria) but the groom died of a mysterious illness just prior to the marriage. While there is no proof, it is likely Cynane had Langarus poisoned in order to keep herself from becoming a pawn in Alexander's game.


Alexander had more on his mind than just subduing an upstart sister, however, and soon mobilized his army to accomplish what his father had planned for but never lived to achieve: the conquest of Persia. When Alexander left with is troops, Cynane remained in Macedonia with Adea and focused on her upbringing, teaching her hunting, riding, and fighting in the Illyrian tradition. Alexander's mother, Olympias, was a powerful presence at court and, as Olympias' jealousy concerning Philip's other wives and their offspring was legendary, it seems strange that the queen made no attempts to remove Cynane and Adea at this time. Quite likely, as Olympia was adept at court intrigue, she was simply biding her time and waiting for the right moment.
When Alexander the Great died at Babylon in 323 BCE he left an enormous power vaccum which his generals tried to fill.Alexander's half-brother, Arrhidaeus, succeeded him, a man known as a "half wit" who suffered some kind of mental impairment from an accident in his youth (or, according to some sources, from Olympia's attempt at poisoning him to remove him as a threat to Alexander). Arrhidaeus held no actual power and was only a pawn of the regent Perdiccas, Alexander's former right-hand man, and the other generals who now assumed control of the army. These four generals (known as the Diadochi, `the successors') put their pawn in play while they waited for Alexander's widow, Roxanne, to deliver her unborn child. If the child was male, they planned to declare a co-regency of Arrhidaeus and the boy while keeping actual power for themselves.


Cynane, however, saw her own opportunity in her half-brother's death and moved quickly to take advantage of it. She was only in her early thirties at the time, and a very eligible match, so she could have offered herself as a bride to Arrhidaeus but chose to raise Adea up instead. Quickly mobilizing her troops, Cynane led Adea and her army toward Babylon to force a marriage which would secure her daughter's future as well as her own. James Romm comments on this, writing:
Such a move would deeply unsettle the already shaky power structure at Babylon. It would add legitimacy to one of the two reigning kings [Arrhideaeus and Roxanne's child] and strenghthen the monarchy as a whole, thus reducing the influence of the generals. Indeed it might eliminate the board of four custodians altogether since Adea, once queen, would be able to speak and act for her royal husband (165).
Cynane would be able to seize power through her daughter and, as a daughter of Philip II and Alexander's half-sister, would naturally command the loyalty of Alexander's great army.


Upon hearing of Cynane's move, Perdiccas sent Antipater, one of Alexander's generals, against her in Strymon where she defeated him swiftly through superior tactics. Driving him from the field, she continued on toward Babylon. Perdiccas knew he had to stop her advance and so mobilized a second force to send against her. He carefully chose his brother, Alcetus, to lead the Macedonians not because of Alcetus' skill in battle but because he had been one of Cynane's companions at court when they were young. The plan seems to have been that the sight of her old friend leading an armed force against her would cause Cynane to abandon her mission and return quietly to Macedonia. Failing that, Perdiccas' hopes rested on Alcetus managing to defeat her honorably in battle and neutralize any further interference from her.
Neither of these possibilities were realized, however. When the two Macedonian forces met on the field, Cynane confronted Alcetus personally and "delivered a stinging reproach of his ingratitude and disloyalty" from the back of her horse. Polyaenus writes:
The Macedonians at first paused at the sight of Philip's daughter, and the sister of Alexander: while after reproaching Alcetas with ingratitude, undaunted at the number of his forces, and his formidable preparations for battle, she bravely engaged him; resolved upon a glorious death, rather than, stripped of her dominions, accept a private life, unworthy of the daughter of Philip (1).
Believing in her cause, and in own personal power to bend Alcetus and his generals to her will, Cynane underestimated the ambitions of Perdiccas and how far Alcetus was willing to go to keep his brother and the other generals in power; Alcetus killed her before she finished her speech.
With Cynane's death, Alcetus thought, any questions about succession would die as well and his brother and the other generals would be secure in their plans. When the Macedonian army witnessed Cynane's assassination at the hands of their general, however, they revolted and demanded that Adea, as Alexander's niece and Philip II's grandaughter, be married to Arrhidaeus as Cynane wished.


Adea married Arrhideaeus (who became Philip III) and changed her name to Eurydice, the name by which she is remembered.As her mother had imagined, Eurydice became the power behind Philip III, speaking for him and making decisions on his behalf even before the First War of the Diadochi and the death of Perdiccas. After Perdiccas' death, she assumed more power in the name of her husband, taking part in treaties, addressing public assemblies, and establishing herself as a significant political force.
Her achievements were not appreciated by Olympias, however, who had certainly never been fond of her or her mother and now took action. Eurydice was arrested under Olympias' orders, imprisoned, and then forced to commit suicide after Philip III was executed in 317 BCE. Eurydice's accomplishments reflect the values instilled in her by Cynane who refused to play by anyone else's rules. Although often overlooked by later historians, Cynane's actions following the death of Alexander the Great significantly influenced what followed after and she is remembered as a powerful and independent warrior princess at a time when most women, even those of nobility, were neither.

Cyprus › Origins

Definition and Origins

by Antonios Loizides
published on 22 March 2012
Cypriot Pitcher ()
Cyprus is a large island located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, east of Greece, south of Asia Minor, west of the Levant, and north of Egypt. The naming of the island is a matter of dispute amongst historians. One theory suggests that the large quantity of copper deposits on the island gave the name Cyprus, as copper has the Latin name of cuprum (the Latin symbol is Cu). Another theory is based on mythology : It proposes that the name was given by the goddess Aphrodite (also known as Kyprida ) who was born on the island.
Cyprus has always had strategic importance. It was a must-have strategic point for all major powers at different times. The island was occupied by the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Rashidun and Umayyad Arab Caliphates, the Lusignans, the Venetians, the Crusaders, the English, and finally the Ottomans.


The first human presence on the island dates back to 7000 BCE. There were two important Neolithic villages on the island, both near the modern town of Limassol: Khirokitia and Kalavasos. Khirokitia had approximately 3000 to 4000 residents, and it was the first location on the island to create a strong community with houses and social organization. At the end of the Neolithic era (c. 3900 BCE), a group of settlers from Palestine came to the island, attracted by the copper deposits.
From 3900 BCE to 2500 BCE, the Cypriots started working with copper and the island started rising as an economic force in the Mediterranean. During this time, there was profound interaction with the Egyptians, especially in art and the use of hieroglyphics by many Cypriot kings.


The Bronze Age (c. 2500 BCE to 1050 BCE), was both a time of growth and foreign occupation for Cyprus. After the end of the war with Troy and due to the Dorian invasion in Greece, the Mycenaean Greeks started permanently settling on the island (c. 1100 BCE). There were ten coastal Mycenaean kingdoms on the island. It was then that the Cypriots started feeling more Greek and adopted the Greek language and religion.
The Cypriot Archaic Era (c. 750 BCE to 475 BCE) was a problematic time for the island's inhabitants, as the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Persians succeeded one another as rulers of the island. Around 709 BCE Sargon II of Assyria extorted submission taxes from Cyprus in exchange for the island's independence. By 699 BCE the Assyrians were involved in other conflicts and had to leave Cyprus. Pharaoh Amasis of Egypt used the same policy as the Assyrians, when he claimed to be ruler of the island, around 560 BCE.



Full occupation of the island came with the Persians, around 546 BCE. The Persians came to the island in a peculiar way.When they heard that King Cyrus of Persia was heading west, the Cypriot kings sent him a message, surrendered their kingdoms to him, and even agreed to supply him with military forces in order to aid his conquest of Caria. Cyrus accepted the offer and in return allowed the Cypriots to mint their own coins and have their own leadership, but he also sent military troops and settlers to Cyprus in order to control the island and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Persians remained on the island until Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire and in doing so freed the island again. After Alexander 's death in 323 BCE, the island became part of the Ptolemaic Empire during the Hellenistic Period.
After the death of Alexander the Great, Cyprus passed on to the Ptolemaic rule. Still under Greek influence, Cyprus gained full access to the Greek culture and thus became fully hellenised.
Three Hellenistic Heads, Cyprus

Three Hellenistic Heads, Cyprus


When the Romans became the largest power in the Meditteranean, Cyprus became their focus for various reasons. It became a Roman province in 58 BCE, when Marcus Cato took control of the island. Cyprus suffered under Roman rule, along with bad management and severe taxes. The island also suffered great losses during the Kitos War (also known as the Second Jewish-Roman War) of 115-117 CE. The Jewish leader Artemion killed many Cypriots (reportedly up to 240,000), until he was defeated by a Roman army in 117 CE. Subsequently, the Roman government passed laws banning Jews from the island.
The apostles Paul and Varnavas, along with the evangelist Marcus came to Cyprus and spread Christianity among the Cypriots. Τhe Cypriots accepted the new religion, and because the Church of Cyprus was founded by Apostles, the Cypriot church had and still has the right to have her own Archbishop – autokefalus.
After the division of the Roman Empire into eastern and a western halves, Cyprus came under the rule of the Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire ).The Byzantine Emperors paid much attention to Cyprus, due to its vital position in the empire.
Alas, Cyprus' position once more proved to be a curse for the island: The Arabs, in their strategy of encircling the Byzantine Empire, started invading Cyprus, first in 648/9 CE, when Emir Moabia invaded and destroyed the city of Constantia (the capital of Cyprus at the time). The same thing happend in 653, 743, 806, and finally 911 CE, until Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas reconquered Cyprus for the Byzantine Empire (944-966 CE).

Roman walls › Origins

Ancient Civilizations

by Victor Labate
published on 31 August 2016
The many Roman walls still visible today throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, be they defensive walls such as the Servian Wall or house and monument walls, tell us a great deal about the evolution of Roman construction techniques. Roman walls went from dry-stone and sun-dried bricks walls at the beginning of Roman civilization to walls built with a concrete core and brick facing by the beginning of the Empire. These walls also provide many clues to the history of ancient Rome and the different stages of the Roman economy and society.
Roman Opus Mixtum Wall

Roman Opus Mixtum Wall


Stone Walls
The earliest Roman walls were dry-stone walls constructed by placing stones of various sizes one upon the other without the use of any kind of mortar to bind the stones together. These walls are sometimes called Cyclopean in reference to the Greek mythology giants called Cyclopes who were considered the only ones capable of lifting stones of such enormous weight.Developments in stone cutting techniques led to construction using stones of the more similar size and form and by the 6th century BCE, the Romans had developed a wall construction method which increased the wall's strength called opus quadratum described by Latin author Vitruvius in De Architectura. Blocks of stone of the same height were set in parallel courses without mortar alternating, on the face of the wall, the longer and the shorter side of the stone block. Romans used blocks of limestome or tuff which was abundant in Rome and its surroundings, for example in quarries such as Grotta Oscura noting that tuff is a type of rock made of volcanic ash which is relatively soft and therefore easy to cut.
Sun-dried Brick Walls
Before the invention of concrete, house walls were built with stones or sun-dried mud-brick. Sun-dried mud brick or adobe has been used throughout the world for thousands of years. It is durable in dry climates and is known to have excellent thermal insulation properties. Adobe is made by mixing earth (sand, silt and clay) with water and an organic material such as straw or dung and cut into small units so that it can dry quickly without cracking. In order to ensure that walls did not crack, socles made of stone or rubble about 35 cm (14 inches) wide for single-store houses and wider for two-story houses were laid as foundations on the ground. Sun-dried mud bricks were then placed and bonded together with mud.


Concrete Revolution
By the late 3rd century BCE, the Romans revolutionized construction with the invention of concrete. Concrete was developed by experimenting with a type of mortared rubble construction called opus caementicium. It was made by adding a volcanic dust called pozzolana to mortar made of a mixture of brick or rock pieces, lime or gypsum, and water. Pozzolana which contained both silica and alumina, created a chemical reaction which dramatically strengthened the cohesiveness of the mortar. Modern concrete is about ten times stronger than Roman concrete but the pozzolana contained in opus caementiciummade Roman concrete more durable against the elements. For example, recent research by US and Italian scientists has shown that Roman harbors in the Mediterranean made of Roman concrete have remained intact after 2,000 years of constant pounding by the sea while the concrete of modern harbors begins to erode after only 50 years of exposure to seawater.
City Wall of Stone & Opus Caementicium, Roman Empuries (Detail)

City Wall of Stone & Opus Caementicium, Roman Empuries (Detail)

With the opus caementicium discovery, the Romans started building walls made of concrete at a much faster pace than with cut-stone constructions. Walls had an inner core which consisted of caementa (fist-sized stones) laid in abundant mortar and a facing with stone or brick, which also made walls more pleasant to look at. The facing and the core of the wall were laid and rose together as a single unit, with two masons working on opposites sides. There were many types of facings. Opus incertum, introduced around the late 3rd century BCE, was a facing which consisted of small blocks of stone placed in a random pattern. Opus reticulatum was introduced by the late 2nd century BCE and was a more regularized facing eventually consisting of square or pyramid shaped blocks of tuff set in a diagonal grid pattern. Many scholars believe that opus reticulatum was a more efficient way of constructing walls and required labor that was less skilled as tasks could easily be divided. The appearance of the opus reticulatum technique also coincides with the increase in the supply of slave labor.
During the 1st century CE, the use of the opus testaceum wall construction technique superseded opus reticulatum. Opus testaceum was a brick faced concrete rather than tuff or other stones. In the middle of the first century CE, most walls were predominantly faced with small bricks of a triangular shape. One reason for the development of brick facing was the development of the brick industry and the great fire of Rome in 64 CE under Nero which led to the building of fireproof structures. Opus mixtum is another type of opus reticulatum and was a technique which became common in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. In the opus mixtum technique, panels of reticulatum were separated by bands of brick facing. It is believed that this technique saved on manpower and on bricks which were relatively expensive at the time. The resulting strip design can be seen in many buildings of the Late Empire and on the walls of Constantinople. The strip design was also commonly used in the later Byzantine Empire and even influenced the design of Medieval cathedrals such as the Orvieto Cathedral in Italy.
Opus Reticulatum Wall, Pompeii

Opus Reticulatum Wall, Pompeii

The Introduction of Fired Clay Bricks
Sun-dried mud-bricks were much weaker than fired clay bricks and could only be used for smaller constructions. As a result, stones or stone reinforcements were required for larger constructions that had no concrete in them. It is only starting from the reign of Augustus (27 BCE – 14 CE), that techniques invented by the Greeks were widely adopted to make fired clay bricks.Fire clay bricks were made from clay: clay had to be extracted from deposits, ground, mixed with water and shaped in the form of bricks. These bricks were dried and then fired in a chamber at temperatures of around 1,000 C. The clay bricks, initially green, took a red-brown color as the iron minerals naturally contained in the clay became oxidized.
The Romans developed brick-making techniques and bricks became the primary building material in the 1st century CE for the walls of houses, Roman baths, and monuments. Bricks were mostly used as a facing for concrete walls in Italy whereas in the provinces they could be used as the wall's main structural material with bands of bricks extending the full thickness of the wall. Contrary to popular belief, marble was not common in Rome. It was actually not found anywhere close to Rome and therefore was rarely used until the reign of Augustus, the founder of the Roman Empire, who famously said: "I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble". Even during the time of Augustus though, marble was only used as a facing for the walls of a few monuments such as the Temple of Venus and the Basilica Julia.
Roman Stamped Bricks

Roman Stamped Bricks

Roman bricks were longer and of a lesser height than modern bricks and made in a variety of shapes and sizes (square, rectangular, triangular, round) with the longest bricks measuring over 90 cm (3 ft) in length. The most common brick size was 1.5 Roman feet by 1 foot (1 Roman foot = 0.97 modern foot or c. 30 cm). Roman legions, who stamped bricks with their mark, also spread Rome's brickmaking know-how throughout the empire. By the early 2nd century CE, brick stamps included the name of the consuls for the year of production, thereby making it easier for archaeologists to date a specific construction.


Servian Wall
The Romans built massive walls to defend their cities and sometimes their military camps. The method with which these walls were built changed as construction methods evolved. Initially walls were built using tightly-fitting massive irregular stone blocks similar to the walls built by the Myceneans. One of the first important defensive walls was the Servian wall (11 km or 7 mi long) named after the Roman King Servius Tullius and built around the 6th century BCE. The wall was 3.6 m (12 ft) thick at its base and up to 10 m (32.8 ft) high. It was improved following the sack of Rome by the Gauls in the 4th century BCE and proved very effective against Hannibal 's army during the Second Punic War. It was built using large blocks of tuff, easily available near Rome, placed one upon the other using the opus quadratum technique. Some sections of the wall had a deep ditch to render it taller and other sections had ramps of earth along the inside of the wall to make it thicker and serve as a base for Roman soldiers.
Aurelian Walls
By the beginning of the Empire, Rome had grown outside of the Servian wall's perimeter and the wall was gradually removed during the first three centuries of the empire as Rome's territory and military strength grew. It is only during the Germanic invasions of the 3rd century CE that Emperor Aurelian built the 19 km (12 mi) long Aurelian Walls around Rome which encompassed a larger area than the previous Servian walls. They had a tower every 30 m (97 ft) or so and by the 6th century CE they possessed 383 towers, 18 main gates and were outfitted with an array of sophisticated defensive weapons including catapults.
Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall

Frontier Walls
Rome had only a few walls defending its borders. Hadrian 's wall was built from 122 to 128 CE on the Pictish frontier to protect the borders of the Roman province of Britannia. It was constructed using only local materials, not concrete which required large quantities of water and not bricks which could not be locally produced in massive quantities. The wall had a core of earth or clay with stones and was faced with large stones in a soft mortar. It was 117.5 km (73 miles) long, it was from 3 m (9.8 ft) to 6 m (20 ft) thick and up to 6 m high. The wall had a fort every five Roman miles (7.5 km or 4.7 miles) comprising garrisons of infantry and cavalry.
The Antonine Wall was built from 142 to 154 CE further north of the Hadrian Wall mainly to protect the border from the Caledonians. It was approximately 63 km (39 miles) long, 5 m (16 ft) wide and 3 m (10 ft) high. The wall had stone foundations but it was built out of turf and not out of stone which is the reason why it is barely visible today. It was abandoned only eight years after completion due to its limited effectiveness.


As construction techniques evolved, so did the methods to construct walls. Wall construction in ancient Rome was also influenced by external factors such as the availability of construction materials and the easy supply of slave labor or manpower such as in the case of many defensive walls were built by Roman soldiers. Be they defensive walls or walls for buildings or monuments, the large number of ancient Roman walls still standing today offer us ample information on the history of ancient Rome and convincing evidence of their durability.


Article based on information obtained from these sources:
with permission from the Website Ancient History Encyclopedia
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