The Moors

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,777
Cornwall
Were the Syrians already considered Arab even before Islamic times?
Your question is wrong (If I understood you correctly?), Syria is a region, and Syrian is someone from that region (simply). It have Arabs, Aramaeans and Phoenicians. The major inhabitants in antiquity were Aramaeans and Arabs. In fact "According to Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy, much of the province of Syria was populated by Arabs and was therefore sprinkled with numerous "Arabias" already (nominally) under Roman rule." (Arabs, Arabias and Arabic before Late Antiquity - M.C.A Macdonald).
I'm thinking they were 'Byzantine' of a sort and certainly all spoke Greek until arabic was enforced.
 
May 2016
974
Nabataea
I'm thinking they were 'Byzantine' of a sort and certainly all spoke Greek until arabic was enforced.
What? No, definitely their native tongue wasn't Greek, neither were the vast majority ethnically anything but Arab (the Syrian army of the Umayyads, the population of Syria were of various stocks indeed). Could you share sources, that argue otherwise?
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,777
Cornwall
What? No, definitely their native tongue wasn't Greek, neither were the vast majority ethnically anything but Arab (the Syrian army of the Umayyads, the population of Syria were of various stocks indeed). Could you share sources, that argue otherwise?

Not really my area but I've read that the population of Damascus was definitely Greek-speaking - not surprising having spent hundreds of years under the Empire of Rome and Constantinople. On the initial invasions of the arabs in the 7th century the rulers spoke arabic and the people mainly greek - jews were used as translators until arabic became compulsory toward the late 7th century.

Now this may have been Emilio Gonzalez Ferrin, and he's a bit bonkers anyway. But I'm not sure why arabic would be so widespread pre-Mohammed, not sure at all? Surely Syria was mostly 'Bizantine'?

The reverse concept happens in Spain. Because Zaragoza and Tortosa are full-on western Catholic today, people can't conceive very easily that they were, 100 years ago, just as Algiers and Tunis are today. Brian Catlos's studies prove all this. And of course all along North Africa, pre-arabic invasion, it was basically just as Roman as the northern shore, with Mauri inland. I would suggest that some people see Syria today and paint a picture of the year 600.

When I've got about 200 books in the bookcase, it's not alwys possible to remember 'Fred Smith's book page 137' from the tip of your tongue.

If you know what I mean.
 
May 2016
974
Nabataea
Not really my area but I've read that the population of Damascus was definitely Greek-speaking - not surprising having spent hundreds of years under the Empire of Rome and Constantinople.
Oh, I see. Damascus was a Byzantine metropolis, so not surprising the widespread of Greek, however it is more likely many of Damascus's inhabitants were multilingual, such as John of Damascus.

On the initial invasions of the arabs in the 7th century the rulers spoke arabic and the people mainly greek - jews were used as translators until arabic became compulsory toward the late 7th century.
No, the inhabitants of the region didn't speak Greek, the predominant language was Aramaic.

Now this may have been Emilio Gonzalez Ferrin, and he's a bit bonkers anyway. But I'm not sure why arabic would be so widespread pre-Mohammed, not sure at all? Surely Syria was mostly 'Bizantine'?
I never made a point on Arabic being widespread in Syria, I made a point on how the presence of Arabs is underrated and according to classical authors Syria was sprinkled with many Arabias (I didn't need to take this long road, but to give you a perspective and to erase confusion).

The Syrian army was the main force that maintained a prejudice chauvinistic Arab supremacist state. The ethnic identity of the army is not disputed, it was undoubtedly Arab in its vast majority. If anyone had the slightest acquaintance with Umayyad history, he would know that the main supplier of soldiers were Syrian Arab tribes (within the army there were various tribal factions), from the time when Muawiya married Maysun bint Bahdal, the daughter of the chief of Banu Kakb.

No sane author would argue otherwise. Frankly.