Ἡ περίπτωση τῆς Συρίας: Ἡ εὐημερία τῶν πόλεων πήγαινε χέρι-χέρι μὲ ἐκείνη τῶν χωριῶν. Τὰ χωριὰ δὲν ἀπομυζοῦνταν ἀπὸ τὴν αὔξηση τοῦ πληθυσμοῦ τῶν πόλεων, ἴσα-ἴσα: Κέρδιζαν τροφοδοτώντας τες. Ἄλλωστε, μετὰ τὸν 2ο-3ο μ.Χ. αἰ. παρατηρεῖται μιὰ κατάληψη τῆς ὑπαίθρου μὲ ἵδρυση νέων οἰκισμῶν, δηλαδὴ τὸ ἀντίθετο τῆς ἀστυφιλίας τῆς βιομηχανικῆς ἐπανάστασης:
On the view that the Greco-Roman city was a consumer city, existing parasitically at the expense of the countryside, prosperity in cities would necessary result in impoverished villages and vice versa. This was certainly not the case in the late Late Roman Near East. By far the best known part of the region is the North Syrian limestone massif with its hill-villages about which G. Tchalenko wrote a classic study forty years or so ago. Recent work, of which that of G. Tate is the most important by far, has somewhat modified Tchalenko’s conclusions. Tchalenko’s view that the ‘Massif’ was cultivated largely by peasant proprietors seems to have held. Few estates have been identified, either by inscriptions or by property walls. The villages were not linked by a road network, only by tracks, apart from the road from Antioch to Chalkis, which bisects the massif. The villages had neither shops nor workshops. Tchalenko’s identification of specialised buildings have been disproved. The villages were simply assemblies of peasants’ dwellings, the roads mere paths, the open spaces no more than unbuilt on pieces of land. The structures identified by Tchalenko as communal were in most cases not such at all.
It has also now been established that the economy of the hill villages did not from the start depend overwhelmingly on the monoculture of olives. The villagers engaged in arable farming and animal rearing as well as the growing of vines and olive plantations. In the course of the fifth and early sixth centuries the importance of the olive sector increased. It was this which made it possible to maintain a very much enlarged population without seemingly reducing the standard of living. But production of oil was nearly always on a farm or domestic scale, there were no large units of the kind found in North Africa. The effect of this revision of Tchalenko is to make it likely that the north Syrian cities provided an adequate market for the oil produced on the massif. Development of the oil production in this area, in contrast to the production of wine around Gaza, was not driven by overseas exports. This means that the prosperity of the countryside, indeed the viability of the economy of the countryside, was closely linked to that of the North Syrian cities. It follows that far from being oppressed and exploited by the cities these villages prospered by servicing them. […]
the cities flourished as long as the villages expanded, that is until around 550. Then while the villages stagnated, Antioch and other cities went into sharp decline. Plague, earthquakes and Persian raids, often involving deportation of large parts of the urban population, must account for the decline to a considerable extent, but perhaps not entirely.
W. Liebeschuetz, East and West in late antiquity: invasion, settlement, ethnogenesis and conflicts of religion [Impact of empire : Roman Empire, c. 200 Bc–AD 476 20], Leiden-Boston 2015, σσ. 263-264, 267.