Nikolaos Metaxas - Hesham M. Hassan, “Khandax / al-Khandaq: A New Approach to The Toponym”, Κρητικά Χρονικά 42 (2022), Pp. 167-201.

Published: 11 April 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/2mr3yms5zv.1
Hesham M Hassan


The purpose of this paper is to present certain facts concerning the history, etymology and symbolic role attached to the toponym Rabaḍ al-Khandaq -ربض الخندق short form: al-Khandaq- الخندق - Χάνδαξ, marking an endeavour that will result in a thoroughly new interpretation of the Byzantine and Arabic sources, in an attempt for a deeper comprehension of the historical identity of the Emirate of Crete. This paper assumes that the study of toponyms and their respective etymology can play a decisive role (not as an exclusive source of completely new information, but as an aiding element) in constructing a complete overview of Cretan history during the period of the Arab-Andalusian dominion (824-961 CE). Thus, after examining the etymology, history and course of the word "khandaq" through the ages, we will present its religious symbolism and, as a working assumption, its potential influence on the naming of the Emirate of Crete’s capital. Afterwards, we will examine the word rabaḍ and, while demonstrating the erroneous until today translation of the toponym "Rabaḍ al-Khandaq", we will pass –in light of the information of the sources and the secondary bibliography– to a new interpretation, which we deem able to provide new information on the ideological and religious identity of the Emirate of Crete. Finally, based on this new approach, we will examine a potential link between the Arabic name of the Cretan Khandax –Rabaḍ al-Khandaq– and the revolt of the suburb of Shaqunda “Rabaḍ Shakunda” in Cordoba, which took place in 818 CE. Key words: Khandax, Crete, Rabaḍ al-Khandaq, Rabaḍ Shakunda



Hellenic American University


Byzantine Period