Hard and Soft Power on the Eastern Frontier: A Roman Fortlet between Dara and Nisibis, Mesopotamia, Turkey, Prokopios’ Mindouos?
By Chris Lillington-Martin
The Byzantinist: The Newsletter of the Oxford Byzantine Society, No.2 (2012)
Introduction: This paper considers historical perspectives on recently discovered archaeological evidence in what was the sixth-century Roman-Persian frontier region. I will consider a site, located by satellite image prospection, near two ancient published quarries, and argue for its identification as a Roman, perhaps sixthcentury, fortlet. Historical evidence will be presented which suggests the fortlet may be identified as Mindouos, recorded by Prokopios.
The topographical evidence can be viewed via Google Earth with the coordinates provided. I field-walked the area in October 2007 and May 2011. It is located between the hamlets of Kasriahmethayro and Guneyli, approximately 40 km southeast of Mardin and 20 km west of Nusaybin (Nisibis) on the E90 road and 2 km north of the border with Syria. The possible fortlet is within sight of the sixth-century Roman fortress of Dara (Oğuz) and Nisibis, a Persian city in the sixth century. The area is watered by several tributaries of the Tur Abdin and the potential fortlet site is located at the base of a limestone spur with superb views overlooking the Syrian alluvial plain of approximately 500 m elevation. Cereal crops are grown today in the local alluvium. The underlying geology is of limestone, which is visible in the hills from the edge of the plain.