MOUNTAIN, OASIS AND STEPPE
The coastal region of what was to become the province of Syria Phoenice consisted, as we have seen, of a line of cities characterised on the one hand by a common past as Phoenician communities -- trading cities and independent naval powers -- by a common language of which rather faint traces still remained in the Imperial period, and above all by a recognised identity within Graeco-Roman culture. But how far inland we should think of a 'Phoenician' identity as extending is an insoluble problem. The question can be asked as regards the mountainous hinterland of Aradus, with the temple of Baetocaece; the chain of Mount Lebanon, also marked by temples on remote, elevated locations; the Bekaa Valley and Heliopolis; and the border-zone between the areas of Jewish and non-Jewish settlement in the hills of northern Galilee and around Mount Carmel. But Severus' division of Syria in 194 boldly classified as part of ' Syria Phoenice' places which no one until then had ever thought of as 'Phoenician'. As regards Emesa on the Orontes, there are complex questions, to which we will return. But the new province labelled as 'Phoenice' now embraced also the whole of the great mountain-chain of Anti-Lebanon and Mount Hermon, whose inhabitants Strabo had thought of as 'Ituraeans and Arabs'; and with that it included the relatively new city of Caesarea Panias on the slopes of Mount Hermon, founded by the tetrarch Philip, and, much more significantly, the ancient city of Damascus. More strikingly still, the province included Palmyra, and with it a vast stretch of steppe extending to the lower-middle Euphrates, below Dura-Europos.
In one sense the division was simply a matter of military convenience: to divide Syria into two sections, one of which, Syria Phoenice, would have only