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Antiochia on the Orontes during the Roman Empire.

"For nearly a millennium the city of Antioch, located on the Syrian border of southern Turkey, reigned as one of the ancient world's great cities, renowned for its sophistication, the opulence of its buildings and broad avenues, its markets filled with exotic and luxurious goods, and, perhaps more important, its artistic and intellectual life. The city boasted a diverse population of Greeks, Romans, Syrians, and Jews and was home to leaders of the early Christian church. It was here that the evangelist Matthew is believed to have written his gospel, where the first-century bishop Ignatius codified many of the tenets of the early church, and where the fourth-century orator John Chrysostom wrote his Easter Address, the benchmark by which modern clerics still judge their own sermons."

Angela M.H. Schuster, senior editor, ARCHAEOLOGY

A Reconstruction of Antiochia on the Orontes at its height by Kayhan Kaplan, Istanbul Gedik University, Turkey

Antiochia: A Brief History

For about sixteen centuries – from its founding by Seleucus I, one of Alexander the Great’s generals, around 320 BC, to its conquest in 1268 by Baibars, the Sultan of Syria and Egypt, Antiochia “the Golden” and its citadel, perched high above the river Orontes, on Mt. Silpius, dominated the Eastern Mediterranean. At its height, in the late Hellenistic and then Roman eras, it counted well above 600,000 inhabitants and was, next to Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople, one of the four great metropolises of the Roman Empire. Its cosmopolitan population, made up of Greeks, Macedonians, Jews, Phoenicians, Armenians, Syrians, and Romans, made up one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities of Antiquity, in which all free men, irrespective of origin, held equal citizenship status. Most Antiochians spoke Aramaic and Greek and this, together with its geographical proximity to Jerusalem and its status as “capital of the East” explains why, in the first century AD, Antioch became the "cradle of Christianity" as the home of the first gentile Christian community in the world.

 

Setting up the Antiochia Scholarships Trust

It is this city’s ancient historical roots as well as its respect for cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, that inspired us to borrow its name in setting up the Antiochia Scholarships Trust.  AST EASES the hardships faced by young people belonging to local minorities or otherwise finding themselves in difficult social and financial circumstances, by helping them to pursue their dreams of a post-secondary education in Canada:

In order to accomplish these aims, we structured AST as a non-profit, network organization made up of a number of key stakeholders: prospective students and their home communities, Canadian universities and the cities they are located in, as well as AST’s donors, sponsors and partners who wish to contribute to this educational project. By assisting all stakeholders to interact and work together towards common objectives, AST would enable each of them to achieve their individual goals and to contribute to a greater purpose: that of nurturing the human capital representing the great diversity of the Middle Eastern population, so as to empower these individuals to play the critical role only they can assume in the economic development of their communities and countries, in a peaceful and tolerant environment, respecting in full the equal worth and dignity of every human being and their right to play an active part in the governance of their own destinies.