), a Roman fortress situated on a low sandy island in the Tigris, at about 60 miles below the junction of its E. and W. branches, about three miles in circumference, and surrounded on all sides by mountains.
According to Ammianus Marcellinus (20.7.1
) the ancient name was Phoenicia.
As it was situated in a territory occupied by the tribe of the Zabdeni, it owed its name of Bezabda, a corruption of the Syriac words Beit-Zabda, to this circumstance. The Romans granted it the privileges of a municipal town; and in the reign of Constantius it was garrisoned by three legions, and a great number of native archers.
It was besieged by Sapor A.D. 360, and captured. On account of the obstinate resistance of the inhabitants, a fearful massacre followed, in which neither women nor children were spared. Nine thousand prisoners, who had escaped the carnage, were transplanted to Persia, with their bishop Heliodorus and all his clergy.
The exiled church continued under the superintendence of his successor Dausus, who, A.D. 364, received the crown of martyrdom along with the whole of the clergy. (Acta Mart. Syr.
, Asseman, vol. i. p. 134--140.)
Constantius made an unsuccessful attempt to recover this fortress. (Asmm. Marc. 20.11.6; Milman's Gibbon,
vol. iii. p. 207; Le Beau, Bas Empire,
vol. ii. p. 340.) The Saphe (Σαφῆ
) of Ptolemy (5.18
) which he places between Dorbeta and Debe, has been identified by some with Bezabda. (Comp. Σαφά, Plut. Luc. 22
.) Mr. Ainsworth (Journal Royal Geog. Society,
vol. xi. p. 15) assigns Hisn Këifa
to Saphe, and Jezíreh
The fortress occupies the greater part of the island, and is defended .by a wall of black stone, now fallen into decay. (Kinneir, Travels,
p. 450; Chesney, Exped. Euphrat.
vol. i. p. 19; Ritter, Erdkunde,
vol. i. p. 146; St. Martin, Mém. sur l'Armenie,
vol. x. p. 162.)