Towards the end of the fifth century, Barsauma, the bishop of the city of Nisibis, sat down to pen a letter to Mar Acacius, the catholicos in Ctesiphon. The purpose of the letter—the text of which was copied into the Synodicon Orientale—was to explain to Mar Acacius why the bishop had been unable to get to a synod that the catholicos had organised. The problems, he said, were that:

For two successive years we have been afflicted by a shortage of rain and a lack of necessary commodities. The mob of the tribes from the south has assembled, and because of the multitude of people and their animals, they have destroyed the villages of the countryside and the mountain. 1