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The Byzantines were severely defeated in this battle by their Sassanid counterparts.

But where did this battle take place i.e. what was the precise location of this battle?

According to Wikipedia, it took place outside Antioch, Syria.

But according to this, this and this, the Romans where defeated near the Dead Sea Basin

So which of the information is correct?

This should help you in answering the question.

If there's any problem in my question please inform me. Thanks!

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Questions about the historical accuracy of holy texts can get dicey, so I'll try to treat this like any other question.

First, I'm not an Islamic scholar, so I'm not going to try and work out whether the translation is "lowest land" or "nearest land", but just note there seems to be some contention about exactly what is meant in the passage in question, Qur'an 30:1-3. And I'm no expert on battles of antiquity.

What I can do, and you can do, is evaluate your sources.

When making a claim that bucks the academic norm you need good sources with good evidence. In particular when someone is trying to align history with a holy text, they need very good sources to counteract the researcher's confirmation bias. Let's take a critical look at your sources. I unfortunately can't evaluate your Arabic sources, so let's do the English ones.

Video Source: "Undeniable Quranic Miracle - Rome's Defeat at Dead Sea Basin"

The video Undeniable Quranic Miracle - Rome's Defeat at Dead Sea Basin has no sources and no credentials. It's Some Guy On The Internet making claims. They're probably repeated from somewhere, but with no sources we can't know. So while this is of no use historiographicly, though might provide some places for further research.

I'll note that I'm also Some Guy On The Internet, and a high score on History.SE doesn't make me a historian. So I cite other sources.

Video Source: "Byzantine – Sasanian War of 602–628 DOCUMENTARY"

While the video has good production value, it does not make up for its lack of sources. As before, these videos can be informative jumping off points for research, but they're not evidence themselves. I love watching folks like BazBattles myself.

And while it provides context, it doesn't appear to mention anything about the battle in question.

Video Source: "Fahad AlKandari - Faseero 2 -The lowest region on earth (Eps 5)| Ramadan 2018", a different battle, and no Romans.

Again, it provides no sources. It mostly talks about the Dead Sea being the lowest point on Earth. Critically, it doesn't link the Dead Sea to the battle. They talk about a battle. Then they talk about the Dead Sea.

The battle only seems to come up once from the unnamed "Doctor" the host is talking to. He talks about an eye witness, Straegous of Al-Quds who I believe is Antiochus Strategos, but it's unclear. The Doctor says it was "the last battle in which the Romans were defeated", that the battle was near the city of "Ariha", aka Jericho, and it happened "precisely" 15 April, 614.

Piecing this all together... 15 April 614, Antiochus Strategos's account, in the area of Jericho... this corresponds not with the Battle Of Antioch, but a Christian revolt in Jerusalem followed by a Persian siege.

There are differing accounts, but the Persian siege lasted weeks. It may have started on 15 April, or later, but one wouldn't use the word "precisely". The Roman army does not appear to have been involved, so it's a stretch to claim this is "the last battle in which the Romans (really Byzantines at this point) were defeated" as that evokes the idea of a field battle. And certainly the Romans/Byzantines would see more defeats after this.

This looks like an attempt to stretch the facts to fit the claim. Cast about to find a battle in about the right place (Jerusalem is near the Dead Sea, sort of, but at 700 meters elevation), at about the right time, involving about the right people (I guess Christians are Romans?). Then make a connection not with evidence, but by talking about them both back to back and hope nobody notices.

The claim evokes the idea that the Qur'an predicted a climactic clash of Roman and Persian armies with the backdrop of the Dead Sea! Instead we get a siege in a city 50 miles away from the Dead Sea at quite a high elevation involving not a Roman army, but a Christian revolt. Then they start talking about the Dead Sea 50 miles away to create an association between the battle and "the lowest point".

Your blog source is where things get really interesting.

Book Source: "This is the Truth - Newly Discovered Scientific Facts Revealed in Qur'an and Authentic Hadeeth"

A quick Google Books search finds The Lowest Point of Earth blog is copied from This is the Truth - Newly Discovered Scientific Facts Revealed in Qur'an and Authentic Hadeeth. Digging in, this appears to be the source of these claims. How good is this source?

What Evidence Does It Give For Its Claim?

It states that "When we investigated the lowest part of the earth, we found that it was exactly the same spot that witnessed the battle in which the Romans were defeated" but provides no reason how they determined this was the spot of the battle, let alone exactly the spot. The majority of the text is about the Qur'an and how to get people to believe them.

Professor Palmer, Argument From Co-opted Authority

Instead it makes an argument from authority centering around the authority of one "Professor Palmer".

We have Professor Palmer who is one of the foremost geologists in the United States of America. He headed a committee which organized the Centennial Anniversary of the American Geological Society.

This is Allison Palmer who appears to be a bona fide paleontologist working with the US Geological Survey. But the book hijacks his authority to lend weight to its argument. The text describes Palmer's astonishment, but all he actually confirms is that yes, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the Earth (by looking at a globe?!).

When it quotes Palmer we get vague niceties of this sort:

We need research into the history of early Middle Eastern oral traditions to know whether in fact such historical events have been reported. If there is no such record, it strengthens the belief that Allah transmitted through Muhammad bits of his knowledge that we have only discovered for ourselves in recent times. We look forward to a continuing dialogue on the topic of science in the Qur'an in the context of geology. Thank you very much.

This is a polite closing remark, not a ringing endorsement of a historical theory, and a curious choice to devote so much space to. Likely this is the closest thing to a supporting quote they had. It would appear This is the Truth is co-opting Professor Palmer's authority to prop up its argument.

Newspaper Source: "Western Scholars Play Key Role In Touting 'Science' of the Quran"

Daniel Golden published an article about all this in The Wall Street Journal Western Scholars Play Key Role In Touting 'Science' of the Quran (sorry about the paywall). It talks about how various reputable scientists have had their quotes about the Qur'an taken out of context by Abdul Majeed al-Zindani and his Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah.

Bucailleism [the idea that the Quran prophesied contemporary scientific breakthroughs] has been propelled by a well-funded campaign led by Prof. El-Naggar's onetime protege, Sheikh Abdul Majeed Zindani, a charismatic Yemeni academic and politician. Founder and former secretary-general of the Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah, based in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Zindani organized conferences where Dr. Simpson and other scientists appeared and were videotaped.

Mr. Ahmed, who left the commission in 1996 and now operates an Islamic elementary school in Pennsylvania, says he reassured the scientists that the commission was "completely neutral" and welcomed information contradicting the Quran. The scientists soon learned differently. Each one was given a verse from the Quran to examine in light of his expertise. Then Mr. Zindani would interview him on videotape, pushing him to concede divine inspiration.

...

Marine scientist William Hay, then at the University of Colorado, was assigned a passage likening the minds of unbelievers to "the darkness in a deep sea ... covered by waves, above which are waves." As the videotape rolled, Mr. Zindani pressed Prof. Hay to admit that Muhammad couldn't have known about internal waves caused by varying densities in ocean depths. When Prof. Hay suggested Muhammad could have learned about the phenomenon from sailors, Mr. Zindani insisted that the prophet never visited a seaport.

Prof. Hay, a Methodist, says he then raised other hypotheses that Mr. Zindani also dismissed. Finally, Prof. Hay conceded that the inspiration for the reference to internal waves "must be the divine being," a statement now trumpeted on Islamic Web sites.

"I fell into that trap and then warned other people to watch out for it," says Prof. Hay, now at a German marine institute.

Similar prodding failed to sway geologist Allison "Pete" Palmer, who was working for the Geological Society of America. He stuck to his position that Muhammad could have gleaned his science from Middle Eastern oral history, not revelation. On one video, Mr. Zindani acknowledges that Mr. Palmer still needs "someone to point the truth out to him," but contends that the geologist was "astonished" by the accuracy of the Quran. Mr. Palmer says that's an overstatement. Still, he has fond memories of Mr. Zindani, whom he calls "just a lovely guy."

Video Source: ThisIsTheTruthUncut and misrepresented scientists

The YouTube channel ThisIsTheTruthUncut did video interviews with Prof. Palmer, Prof. William Hay and other scientists featured as supporting the conclusions in This Is The Truth.

He discusses with them what This Is The Truth claims they said and how they reacted, what they actually said and how they reacted. The difference is quite stark. The scientists approached it as an honest, well-funded, if naive, examination of faith and science. They did their best to answer the sometimes vague and leading questions, and offered polite rebuttals. They detail how they were misrepresented with quotes out of context, or complete fabrications.

Unlike the book, the interviews are unedited to show they are a faithful representation. They provide a 2 minute summary.


The simple answer to the question "Where was the Battle of Antioch (613 CE) fought?" is "Antioch", maybe explaining that the sources are probably referring to the Siege of Jerusalem in 614. It could have even contrasted the claims in the sources with the actual events.

Instead it became an answer about how to evaluate sources, in particular how pseudo-science co-opts authority, a much more interesting and important than knocking down some bad claims. None of this was evident when I began answering the question and began looking at the sources.

This is an unfortunately common tactic in pseudo-science: fund a conference or foundation or film with an important sounding name, invite some experts to comment on your topic, or things related to your topic, get them on tape, and take their comments out of context to seem like they're supporting you.

This was famously done with the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? which attempted to back up claims of "water memory" and the spirituality of consciousness by taking statements from famous physicists out of context.

Dan Olson of Folding Ideas in That Time Geocentrists Tricked A Bunch of Physicists details how a bunch astrophysicists, and Kate Mulgrew, were tricked into being in a Flat Earth documentary The Principle.

There's no harm in trying to reconcile faith with science if done honestly. When the science does not support the faith you have to accept that. If you're not ready for that possibility, maybe don't ask.

In conclusion, these sources provide no evidence to counter the existing historical narrative. Worse, they dishonestly misrepresent authorities to make it seem they support their claim.

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    At first, skimming the headlines in this post I was shocked to read that from you. I think a little distancing in the form of different formatting to mark these as quoted material might do some good. May 22 '18 at 19:24
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    @LangLangC I see what you mean. I've added quotes to help.
    – Schwern
    May 22 '18 at 19:38
  • @Schwern But the Arabic video has English subtitles, I think it's informative May 23 '18 at 8:53
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    @AbuSafwanMdfarhan I didn't notice the subtitles, thank you. I've watched it now and, as near as I can tell, it's talking about a completely different battle, the Siege Of Jerusalem in 614. This happened at Jerusalem (elevation 700m, 50 miles from the Dead Sea) between the Persian Army and Christian rebels. I've added more detail to my answer.
    – Schwern
    May 23 '18 at 18:15
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Whatever the exact location was, the battle of Antioch was obviously a lot closer to Antioch than it was to the Dead Sea.

The conquest of Antioch in 613 CE by the Persians was a decisive defeat for the Byzantines. From there, Persian/Sasanian forces quickly went on to conquer further into Palestine, including Jerusalem. The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia lays out these basic facts in several places.

According to one of the articles linked to in the question, the Roman defeat described in the Quran was more then a decade later in 627 CE. True or not, this does not seem to refer to Antioch.

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The interpretation in question is not talking about the Battle of Antioch. Despite the subtle misrepresentation of facts by above answer who claims to be unbiased yet fully appears to have a biased opinion and rather than actually looking at authentic sources just dismisses the interpretation as being against the "academic norm".

Actually the interpretation of "the lowest land" coincides perfectly with the established academic facts if you know where to look precisely.

The battle being talked about is the Siege of Jerusalem by the Sassanids in 614 CE. It actually involves the Byzantine army not just a "Christian" revolt as the above answer seems to suggest. And the location of the Siege and the ensuing encounters took place in the Jordan Rift Valley which is the lowest land depression and includes the Dead Sea basin, Jordan Valley as well as the Sea of Galilee.

Here's a good source about the details of the siege and the related events: http://self.gutenberg.org/articles/eng/Siege_of_Jerusalem_(614)

(An article from "World Heritage Encyclopedia")

Here's the key piece :

"According to Antiochus Strategos, the abbot Modestos set out to Jericho where he mustered a force from the Byzantine troops which were garrisoned there. However, once the Byzantine troops caught sight of the overwhelming Persian army encamped outside the city walls, they fled, fearing a suicidal battle. Sources vary on how long the siege lasted. Depending on the source it lasted 19, 20 or 21 days."

Hence not only were the Byzantine troops involved, but they were stationed that time in the city of Jericho, which is in fact the lowest city in the world by elevation (also one of the oldest btw): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_places_on_land_with_elevations_below_sea_level

As a side note I'll just say that when armies of that size are involved and when battles are stretched to multiple weeks, it is naïve to assume that the encounters and action will be concentrated to just a small area around a city only but even the neighboring regions will be affected by troop settlements, movement and supplies. Hence when the siege of Jerusalem is discussed the whole surrounding region is the point of context.

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  • I had to sign-in and post this as a response as the previous answer seems to provide a distorted view and tried to suggest that the claim being made is false (his bias is quite clear from the last part of his post).
    – cometraza
    Dec 5 '20 at 19:40
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    Hi, and welcome to History.SE. It's important to keep in mind the question being answered. The question is "Where was the Battle of Antioch (613 CE) fought?" and more specifically whether Wikipedia or the provided sources are correct. My answer is evaluating the source's claims. Yes, it is the Siege of Jerusalem. The sources claim they found "exactly the same spot that witnessed the battle in which the Romans were defeated", not that they happened to be garrisoned at Jericho. The sources paint a picture of a pitched battle, Strategos describes an army refusing battle. Etc.
    – Schwern
    Dec 5 '20 at 20:12
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    Rather than responding to another answer, this could be edited into a good answer about the details of the Siege of Jerusalem while contrasting (or confirming) the claims in the sources.
    – Schwern
    Dec 5 '20 at 20:14
  • Hi, the question might have been more specific but the answer you provided went into all sorts of tangents. So in a way that became part of the discussion because to the reader all those tangential points become relevant once you bring them up. So I had to clear those up a little bit as those might lead to a misleading conclusion. As far as the sources provided are concerned the doctor you quoted was quite right in identifying Jericho as the concerned area about the "lowest land" part, though of course some of his statements might be way too precise than what is implied by available evidence.
    – cometraza
    Dec 5 '20 at 20:56
  • I know it would have been better if the sources themselves would have provided a reference to authentic evidence. But the overall intention of the discourse might be correct if put into context.
    – cometraza
    Dec 5 '20 at 20:58

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