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The ruins of Antioch on the Orontes lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey. Founded near the end of the 4th century B.C. by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch's geographic, military and economic location, particularly the spice trade, the Silk Road, the Persian Royal Road, benefited its occupants, and eventually it rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the Near East. Antioch is called "the cradle of Christianity,Ē for the pivotal early role it played in the emergence of the faith. It was one of the four cities of the Syrian tetrapolis. Its residents are known as Antiochenes. The Antioch mint reopened after Anastasius' reform of 498 to assist the metropolitan mint at Constantinople in issuing the new denominations of copper coinage. The city was renamed Theoupolis after it was nearly destroyed by an earthquake on 29 November 528. Antioch was the first major mint lost in the slow decline of the Byzantine Empire. The last coinage was issued during the reign of Phocas and the city was lost to the Arabs in 636. Once a great metropolis of half a million people, it declined to insignificance during the Middle Ages because of warfare, repeated earthquakes and a change in trade routes following the Mongol conquests, which then no longer passed through Antioch from the far east.