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To a question of the place of "Night" battle near Singara

dmitriyev VA.



The battle near Singara which took place in the 340th 1 between the Roman and Persian armies is one of the most noticeable, but at the same time and the most mysterious events for all four-century history of the Roman Persian wars of the III-VII centuries

About what contemporaries gave to Singarskaya (or "night" as she is called by sources because of time of day when it ended) fight the importance, says the fact that, at least, 11 late antique and Byzantine authors (Libany [7, river of 1222; 20; 23, river 505 - 507], emperor Yulian Otstupnik [11; 21, river of 1079; 23, river 477 - 478], Ruff of Fest [2, page 525; 5; 23, river 334 - 335], Evtropy [2, page 524 - 525; 4; 23, river 317], Ammian Martsellin [13; 23, river 547 - 548; 29] 2, Jerome [6, river of 1033], Pavel Orozy [2, page 586 - 587; 8; 19], Skholastik Socrates [9; 17], Yakov Edessky [14], Idatsy [22; 24, river 574 - 575] and Zonara [25, river of 2229]) directly or indirectly pay to this event special attention in the compositions, and some of them give very extensive and executed details descriptions of the battle which happened near Singara. As a result at the first approach it seems that historical reconstruction of fight under Cyn-garoy cannot cause any serious zatrudneniy3.

However at more fixed study and comparison of the sources containing data on the event interesting us, the researcher immediately comes up against a paradoxical situation: despite the seeming abundance of factual material, it is impossible to give definite answer almost on one of the questions which are traditionally interesting the historian in the analysis of any given military

1 The question of exact date of Singarsky battle still remains debatable. According to the earliest dating, it happened in 343 g, the latest - in 348 g For more details see: [12; 27]. - Century D.

> The monograph by E. Thompson which appeared in 1947 [31] remains 2 still best generalizing work devoted to life and Ammian Martsellin's creativity. - Century D.

3 In this regard authors of "The Cambridge medieval history" in relation to Singarsky fight note that it was "the only battle [the first half of the 4th century there are EL] on which we have some detailed information" [10, river 57]. - Century D.

events, including a question of the place where there was a "night" battle near Singara.

As follows from messages of a number of late antique authors (Yulian Otstupnik [18, p. 58], Festival [30, p. 36], Evtropiya [3, page 70], Ammiana Martsellina [1, page 153] and Jerome [16, S. 236 - 237]), fight between armies of Romans under command of the emperor Constantius II and Persians led by shakhanshakhy Shapour II happened in the neighborhood of the Roman fortress of Singara who was in the Top Mesopotamia.

Singara of antique authors, as a rule, is identified with modern Sinjar [33] - the city in the north of Iraq, the center of the province of the same name which is approximately in 85 km west of the Tiger. Sinjar is located in east part of the southern foot of the rocky Ridge Jebel Sindzhar having extent from the East on the West apprx. 60 km and height apprx. 1460 m

Besides, two authors - Ruff Fest and Ammian Martsellin - call one more settlement near Singara around whom there were events described by them - Hileia [30, p, 36; 1, page 153], identified [32] with Eleyy (Ekts1a) Claudius Ptolemaeus [15, s. 73]. Fest, in addition to it, reports that in the battle-ground near Singara and Eleyy there was a settlement Nara-reya (Nararensi autem bello... superiors discessimus) [30, p. 36].

In this context it is necessary to agree with reasonable opinion of P. Peters [28, p. 44], according to which Eleya and Nararey - the same settlement located, as well as Singar, at the foot of Mount Jebel Sindzhar. The reason of their cultivation at the Festival is that the historian incorrectly treated the toponyms heard by it: Eleya it was located in the gorge on coast of the mountain small river which nowadays is called Nakhr-Giran. This hydrony Fest (or his source) apprehended as the name of a certain settlement near the place of Singarsky fight, as found reflection in the text of "The Breviary of acts of the Roman people".

It agrees to our main and most detailed sources - Libaniya and Yulian's panegyrics - before battle the Persians crossed the river [26, s. 259 - 260, 265; 18, p. 62], being border between the Roman and Persian lands which then, at return to the territory, they had to force again; after this they suited the strengthened camp [26, s. 259; 18, p. 62] also occupied mountain tops and plains [26, s. 260 - 261].

Follows from the data reported by Libany and Yulian that between the camp of Persians around which there were main events and the river which they twice (at the beginning and at the end of battle) crossed, any natural or artificial obstacles were not. At least, Yulian, describing Shapour II's retreat, notes that the Persian tsar freely left limits of Romans, having stopped only after crossing of the river [18, river 62] i.e. when felt in perfect security.

Proceeding from the provided data and using modern cartographic materials, we will try to define the place of "night" fight.

First of all, it is obvious that the river across which report our sources about a crossing of Persians, is a Tiger. Therefore, Persians, having forced the Tiger and having landed on its right (western) coast, then moved in the direction of Singara. Most likely, the crossing occurred in the place located most closer to Singara; besides especially practical reasons (the shortest way to fortress opened from here), it indirectly is confirmed by that, as presently the road conducting from the Tiger bend to modern Sinjar exactly here runs. Besides, if attentively to look at the card, then will become obvious that other way from the Tiger to Singara just could not (and cannot) be as from all other parties on east direction the city is covered with the hilly terrains unsuitable for movement of considerable army (especially including a cavalry and a wagon train).

Following and, perhaps, the main question consists in at what distance from the Tiger the Persians set up the camp on the eve of fight as the extent of a way from Constantius II's camp to arrangement of Persians, thanks to Libaniya and Yulian's messages, is known to us - it made, respectively, 150 [26, b. 262] or 100 [18, river 60] stages, i.e. from about 27 to 18 km. At the same time it is obvious that Romans had to be somewhere to the east of Singara to block to Persians a way to fortress.

For determination of location of the Persian camp the instruction Libaniya on the fact that it was located on the flat area surrounded, however, with hillsides and tops at which the Persian shooters [26, b settled down is useful. 260 - 261]. Studying a relief of the area adjacent to Singara from the East shows that the places matching Libaniya's description there can be only three:

1) directly west of the Tiger where the hilly terrain lying along the right bank of the river passes into the plain;
2) approximately in 22 km to the zapado-southwest from the Tiger, near the present city of Tal Afar where the way to Singara lies between two ridges of hills;
3) at the southern bottom Jebel Sindzhara, but not less than in 18 km east of Singara (it is the minimum distance between camps of Romans and Persians mentioned by Yulian).

From three listed above options the first as it meets several conditions at once is represented to the most probable:

>- first, the landscape type in this area matches the description of the region of location of the Persian camp across Libany;

>- secondly, in that case the Roman army under Constantius II's command had to is inevitable to be in the mentioned mountain pass (width about 1 km) to the northeast of modern Tal Afar as the distance between the alleged camp of Persians and the specified place makes just about 20 - 25 km that will absolutely be coordinated with Libaniya's data - Yulian. Besides, the arrangement here of a position of Romans is completely justified and in purely military aspect as flanks of the Roman army were reliably protected by rocky ridges (height more than 500 m) extent in both directions bo1 -the location of the Roman camp

2 -location of the Persian camp
3 -place of speeding up by Tiger Persians
4 -modern roads

leu than on 20 km; any other area between Singara and the Tiger is not more convenient from the point of view of the organization of defense against the military units relying on actions of the cavalry making the main striking power of sasanidsky army;

>- thirdly, follows from Libaniya's description that Persians after completion of battle without any delay started a crossing on the, east coast of the Tiger [26, S. 265]; if Shapour located the camp at considerable distance from the Tiger, prosecution of Persians by Romans would be inevitable, however in sources nothing is told about it.

Thus, the complex of direct and indirect data shows that "night" battle between Constantius II and Shapour II's armies happened, most likely, on the plain stretching for 20 - 25 km to the zapado-southwest from the Tiger in the direction of Singara.

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Charles Anderson
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